Cookbook Review: Eating Well to Win by Richard Ingraham

Note: I received a digital advance reader copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

With a rather generic cover and title, this book got passed over initially when I saw it on NetGalley, but after reading the glowing Amazon reviews, I decided to give it a chance. I had no idea that Richard Ingraham was NBA superstar Dwyane Wade's personal chef. By extension, he also cooks for Dwyane Wade's wife, Gabrielle Union, who is more exciting of a celebrity to me since I still watch Bring It On whenever it's on TV (guilty pleasures).

Ingraham understandably uses the NBA connection as a theme for his book, cooking up recipes that are both healthy and gourmet--perfect for an athlete and Hollywood actress. The beginning contains a foreword by Dwyane Wade that is basically an enthusiastic endorsement for Ingraham, who we learn, has become a part of their family over the years. Ingraham talks briefly about what it's like being a personal chef, then dives right into his recipes, which are split up into Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Dessert. Pretty self-explanatory. The dessert section is rather small, but between the other three, this book is packed with recipes.

If you are fans of Wade or Union, it's interesting getting a glimpse of what they eat at home. Even if you aren't fans, or have no idea who they even are, the recipes themselves are creative, modern, and enticing. His breakfast selections were immediate winners in my book, with delicious-sounding recipes like Sweet  Potato Waffles with Caramelized Bananas, Cheddar and Chive Cornbread Waffles with Curry Fried Chicken, and Blueberry Poppy Seed Pancakes with Lemon Creme Fraiche. He explains that part of being a personal chef is keeping up with food trends, so there are a couple of recipes for smoothie bowls and avocado toast as well.

The Lunch section is full of colorful, light dishes that are significantly fancier than any of the lunches I eat. Dishes like Roasted Salmon with Sriracha Honey Glaze and Baby Kale Salad, and Crab and Shrimp Cake with Southern Style Succotash and Curry Ponzu Emulsion. It's clear that Wade and Union eat a lot of seafood, quinoa, farro, and kale, as you will see them prepared in a number of new and creative ways in this book. Some of the recipes include pretty expensive ingredients like truffle honey, lump crab, etc. I can see why a personal chef for the stars wouldn't need to worry about a meal budget, but for the average Joe cooking from this book, it's something to consider.

One thing that got me excited--several Caribbean-inspired dishes! I don't see enough Caribbean food in cookbooks nowadays. For any lovers of conch out there, there's two recipes in here that feature conch. The Dinner section is where Ingraham really gets to stretch his culinary chops, and his recipes could show up on any restaurant or catering menu. This book will make you wish Ingraham was your own personal chef! Seriously, I envy their life.

Each recipe is accompanied by a color photo of the prepared dish, which I especially appreciated. His plating is beautiful and different from standard food photography plating. It seems more authentic here, as if he took these pictures right before sending the food out to his famous clients. The quality of the food photography isn't on par with other recent cookbooks out there, but I didn't find it a huge problem.

The one thing I did want to comment on is the lack of blurbs/stories before each recipe. I really look forward to reading those, as it helps me get a sense of what's going on in the chef's head while creating these dishes. It helps me develop a more personal connection to the cookbook. Without it, the recipes seem less memorable. For instance, he does include the story behind his recipe for Toffee Black Bean Brownies. This made me extra excited to make this recipe, and I will remember that story when I think back on this cookbook. If only more of these stories made their way into the cookbook, it would stand out more to me.

Overall Rating: 4/5

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