“Queering the Kitchen: A Manifesto” by Daniel Isengart— Reclamation

Isengart, Daniel. “Queering the Kitchen: A Manifesto”, Outpost 19, 2018.


Amos Lassen

There are many publishers today who are publishing gay themed books and/or books by gay authors. Many of them are familiar with my work are regularly send me books and then there are others like Outpost 19 who send their books to the people on their list and are reluctant to add new names but let’s face it, publishing is an expensive business and while the only reason they have ever given me for not sending me review copies is that they only have a limited few of such copies and I have to accept that or do without reading some very good books. Once such book is Daniel Isengart’s “Queering the Kitchen” (and the second Isengart book in recent times). Because I wanted to read this, I actually bought a copy and it was a wise purchase.

Isengart says that this is a “manifesto for reclaiming the lost history and influence of gay men in the culinary arts” and he goes on to explain that “gay identity has long been openly linked to the decorative and performing arts — fashion, interior design, dance, opera, and theater and he adds the kitchen to that list.

It is well known that gay men widely populate America’s food industries yet “their role and impact remain firmly in the closet.” In “Queering The Kitchen”, Isengart makes a case for coming-out industry-wide.

Many gay men felt safe cooking at home behind closed doors because at home, they could be themselves. Isengart explores the hidden histories and customs while also mentioning those gay men who were out of and in the kitchen— Dean & Deluca, James Beard, Craig Claiborne and many others. With the rise of gay identity, there has been a concurrent counter – Emeril Live and other media phenomena that replaced culinary with a lowbrow kitchen activities. Isengart also mentions the kitchens of Anthony Bourdain and many lesbian chefs. You might very well be surprised at what you read here.

Daniel Isengart is a writer, cabaret entertainer and private chef living in New York City.

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