Isengart, Daniel. “The Art of Gay Cooking: A Culinary Memoir”, Outpost 19, 2018.
Daniel Isengart is a cabaret performer and private chef in New York City who knows how to deliver one delectable meal after another with ease. Isengart sees home cooking as an essential part of living a creative life. Now Isengart has decided to share his life with readers in a very witty and well-written memoir that takes us from his grandmother’s kitchen in southern Germany to his formative childhood years in Paris to the attic apartment in Brooklyn Heights where he lives with his husband and to the fancy and posh homes of his clients in Manhattan and the Hamptons. He moves back and forth through intimate anecdotes and wry observations about the culinary world and over 250 easy-to-follow recipes. As he does, he explores his rich, gay life that is devoted to beauty and art where the home kitchen is always the focal point.
Isengart cleverly composed his memoir as an homage to “The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook” and it apes Toklas’s idiosyncratic style and echoing her eccentric tone. He shows us that home cooking is not a lost art. This is also a memoir of his life in present-day New York. In sharing his various adventures and experiences as a European-born bohemian artist-performer who lives a double life as a private chef to the very rich, he has created a fascinating and delicious book that features experimental writing, anecdotes of the artistic life, queer theory as it explores the nature of love and devotion. However, this is first and foremost a book of instruction, with some very sound kitchen advice and recipes for people interested in doing a better kind of cooking. Having read it, I wanted Daniel J. Isengart and his husband to come spend a weekend with me. (Justin Spring is quite an erudite intelligent man that makes me want to write a cookbook so I can spend weekend with him). Isengart manages to give us a memoir of New York in the 1990s with all of its gossip and drama. “Daniel Isengart’s The Art of Gay Cooking is hugely entertaining, provocative, and useful–an Alice B. Toklas Cookbook for a new generation. I love this book.” – Luke Barr, author of Ritz and Escoffier and Provence, 1970. We explore if there is such a thing as “gay cooking”?
Gertrude Stein held her famous Parisian salon at 27 rue de Fleurus, where Pablo Picasso, who claimed various annoying eating restrictions, and Francis Picabia liked eggs. But to the next best thing, is in Brooklyn Heights where Alice B. Toklas is Daniel Isengart, 48, a former cabaret singer and a personal chef. He lives out his peculiar romantic culinary fantasy daily in the attic apartment he shares with his partner, Filip Noterdaeme, a conceptual artist.
Isengart writes things down and this is how he was able to write his memoir, “The Art of Gay Cooking.”He began performing in New York in the 1990s at Bar d’O and other places. He certainly knows the difference between himself and Toklas. Isengart wants us to live in a time when domesticity, or “dough-mysticism.”
The book is something of a blueprint “for kindling this love flame of dough-mysticity in your own home.” He includes recipes from Gertrude Stein, Toklas as well as many of his own. He teaches us about giving, gratitude and identity.