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Recipes for Disaster: A Memoir

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Starting with the Thanksgiving turkey that never quite finishes cooking, then moving to the polenta that unceremoniously goes runny and the guests that arrive a day early—there is no topic Tess Rafferty fails to encounter, or hilariously recount. Recipes for Disaster is as though Bridget Jones wrote a culinary narrative—the most pristine of intentions slowly disappear, as Starting with the Thanksgiving turkey that never quite finishes cooking, then moving to the polenta that unceremoniously goes runny and the guests that arrive a day early—there is no topic Tess Rafferty fails to encounter, or hilariously recount. Recipes for Disaster is as though Bridget Jones wrote a culinary narrative—the most pristine of intentions slowly disappear, as does the wine along with any hope of a seamless and well-orchestrated dinner party. Told with heart, humor and honesty; this memoir goes beyond culinary catastrophe and heartwarmingly unveils the lengths we go to in order to please our family, friends, and ourselves—and proves that it's not the food that counts, but the memories. Aptly timed for all the Thanksgiving chefs about to enter the holiday gauntlet; or the guests headed to their dinners—this is the perfect book to read and then savor.


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Starting with the Thanksgiving turkey that never quite finishes cooking, then moving to the polenta that unceremoniously goes runny and the guests that arrive a day early—there is no topic Tess Rafferty fails to encounter, or hilariously recount. Recipes for Disaster is as though Bridget Jones wrote a culinary narrative—the most pristine of intentions slowly disappear, as Starting with the Thanksgiving turkey that never quite finishes cooking, then moving to the polenta that unceremoniously goes runny and the guests that arrive a day early—there is no topic Tess Rafferty fails to encounter, or hilariously recount. Recipes for Disaster is as though Bridget Jones wrote a culinary narrative—the most pristine of intentions slowly disappear, as does the wine along with any hope of a seamless and well-orchestrated dinner party. Told with heart, humor and honesty; this memoir goes beyond culinary catastrophe and heartwarmingly unveils the lengths we go to in order to please our family, friends, and ourselves—and proves that it's not the food that counts, but the memories. Aptly timed for all the Thanksgiving chefs about to enter the holiday gauntlet; or the guests headed to their dinners—this is the perfect book to read and then savor.

30 review for Recipes for Disaster: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Pamela Ribon

    I flew through this light-hearted, delightfully snarky memoir about food, friends, and self-inflicted anxiety. Full disclosure: I'm a friend of the author, so I also read with constant fear that my own asshole antics at her home over the years would be exploited for your pleasure. I'm almost positive none of the drunks in this book are me. Get yourself a copy to read while you tend your next roux. I flew through this light-hearted, delightfully snarky memoir about food, friends, and self-inflicted anxiety. Full disclosure: I'm a friend of the author, so I also read with constant fear that my own asshole antics at her home over the years would be exploited for your pleasure. I'm almost positive none of the drunks in this book are me. Get yourself a copy to read while you tend your next roux.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    I really do need to add a "shelf" titled "skimmed-only-because-of-lack-of-time." With the bad weather and extra time at home, I've been plowing through a stack of library books just to see what they are about and get a feel for the appeal. This one appeared to be fun so I ended up reading some of the chapters and skimming others. I don't normally recommend doing this and it also makes it difficult to give a fair rating but this does appear to be a breezy humorous food memoir (the author wrote fo I really do need to add a "shelf" titled "skimmed-only-because-of-lack-of-time." With the bad weather and extra time at home, I've been plowing through a stack of library books just to see what they are about and get a feel for the appeal. This one appeared to be fun so I ended up reading some of the chapters and skimming others. I don't normally recommend doing this and it also makes it difficult to give a fair rating but this does appear to be a breezy humorous food memoir (the author wrote for the comedy show The Soup for 7 years) with a focus on entertaining even though she's not necessarily the hostess with the mostest. However, I would have like to have been invited to one of her dinner parties as they appear to be a blast--runny polenta, no music, and all.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Schweitzer

    It's not really fair to this book that I took almost an entire year to finish it. It was actually the first book I picked up in 2014, in January. It got lost on my bedside table, buried under books that had movies coming out soon or that had to go back to the library. I'm sad I let it sit so long because it's a fun book. Also, I've been meaning to try some of the recipes. This is a light and fun memoir with recipe. I identified strongly with it because Tess Rafferty is a foodie with a crazy list It's not really fair to this book that I took almost an entire year to finish it. It was actually the first book I picked up in 2014, in January. It got lost on my bedside table, buried under books that had movies coming out soon or that had to go back to the library. I'm sad I let it sit so long because it's a fun book. Also, I've been meaning to try some of the recipes. This is a light and fun memoir with recipe. I identified strongly with it because Tess Rafferty is a foodie with a crazy list of allergies. My list is different, but I am also a food-fanatic with a crazy list of allergies. Her stories are fun, identifiable and a good read. I did feel parts were disjointed at times, but that may be due to my neglect. I should probably reread it some time over the course of a week or two rather than a year. If you're looking for something to read after hitting the better publicized memoirs of Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling or Amy Poehler, this is a good place to look.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kate Woods Walker

    This light, amusing foodie memoir falls somewhere between the sensibilities of Chelsea Handler and Mindy Kaling. Tess Rafferty is funny, she's fairly unpretentious and she wrote a book because...well, because she could. I was attracted to Recipes for Diaster because I'm a fan of The Soup and because I just concluded a long and trying reading series about food that included some of the worst books I've encountered in awhile. I needed to cleanse my palate and remind myself that lighthearted prose s This light, amusing foodie memoir falls somewhere between the sensibilities of Chelsea Handler and Mindy Kaling. Tess Rafferty is funny, she's fairly unpretentious and she wrote a book because...well, because she could. I was attracted to Recipes for Diaster because I'm a fan of The Soup and because I just concluded a long and trying reading series about food that included some of the worst books I've encountered in awhile. I needed to cleanse my palate and remind myself that lighthearted prose still existed. Former Soup writer Rafferty delivered. Her frequent changes in verb tense were distracting, and she listed a bit toward a few Yuppie/Hipster stereotypes, but the book was good enough to move me off high center. A quick, pleasant read.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    This book was difficult to get into. It was too self-indulgent and long-winded for me, similar to Amy Poehler's book, except Amy is really famous and didn't need to do as much to familiarize us with who she is, in contrast to this author who doesn't have as strong of name recognition. So in some ways it was too long-winded and in other ways I wish she would have gotten us more familiar with herself and the other characters in the book. Failed to paint a picture in that sense. The connection to f This book was difficult to get into. It was too self-indulgent and long-winded for me, similar to Amy Poehler's book, except Amy is really famous and didn't need to do as much to familiarize us with who she is, in contrast to this author who doesn't have as strong of name recognition. So in some ways it was too long-winded and in other ways I wish she would have gotten us more familiar with herself and the other characters in the book. Failed to paint a picture in that sense. The connection to food is far-fetched, and it's not an interesting story to say you enjoy cooking and good wine, let alone get drunk a lot and eat $22 pastas. There were several passages that I laughed at, and I'd pay to see Tess do stand-up. But I would not recommend this book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    John

    A memoir centered around the theme of culinary disasters, although there are instances where the author congratulates herself for pulling off a successful event as well, recipes included. Lots of observations on life in Los Angeles, where she seems to be relatively happy by the end of the book. I'm not a prudish reader, but felt her language was rather ... crude at times, so for that reason I'd be hesitant to recommend the book to friends. A memoir centered around the theme of culinary disasters, although there are instances where the author congratulates herself for pulling off a successful event as well, recipes included. Lots of observations on life in Los Angeles, where she seems to be relatively happy by the end of the book. I'm not a prudish reader, but felt her language was rather ... crude at times, so for that reason I'd be hesitant to recommend the book to friends.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kara

    Reading this book was like talking to the drunk girl at the office party. You feel pity for her, because she's ruining her reputation, but you can't get away because she thinks you're her new best friend. I'm surprised that Tess Rafferty is a comedian, because this book wasn't funny. It was painful. Reading this book was like talking to the drunk girl at the office party. You feel pity for her, because she's ruining her reputation, but you can't get away because she thinks you're her new best friend. I'm surprised that Tess Rafferty is a comedian, because this book wasn't funny. It was painful.

  8. 5 out of 5

    S

    Anyone who has every had people over to eat should be able to relate to this book. Not as laugh-out-loud funny as you might expect, but a solidly engaging book that does pull out the occasional chuckle. Her style is down-to-earth and easy to like, and even when she is writing about some absolutely snobbish, ridiculously Los Angeles stuff she is not afraid to call herself on it. I liked that she was the first to admit that, with all her allergies, she is also one of those difficult people to cook Anyone who has every had people over to eat should be able to relate to this book. Not as laugh-out-loud funny as you might expect, but a solidly engaging book that does pull out the occasional chuckle. Her style is down-to-earth and easy to like, and even when she is writing about some absolutely snobbish, ridiculously Los Angeles stuff she is not afraid to call herself on it. I liked that she was the first to admit that, with all her allergies, she is also one of those difficult people to cook for - but with the attitude that that is no reason to forgo the enjoyment you can get from good food. It was cool that there were relevant recipes for most of the chapters, but I didn't get why there were only recipes for some chapters, and not all. Still, a few of those some chapters gave me something I want to try - specifically, the Molasses Cinnamon Bread!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Neil McGarry

    I'll confess that I purchased Recipes for Disaster purely out of appreciation for author Tess Rafferty's wonderful "Aftermath" video. I don't care for cooking and I'm no foodie, which would seem to set me up to dislike this book, but I was delighted to find it charming and engaging. Rafferty has a dry, sardonic wit--always a hit with me--and I was intrigued (and sometimes aghast) to hear about the pitfalls of trying to make it in LA. This entire memoir is like one long dinner party, in which Raf I'll confess that I purchased Recipes for Disaster purely out of appreciation for author Tess Rafferty's wonderful "Aftermath" video. I don't care for cooking and I'm no foodie, which would seem to set me up to dislike this book, but I was delighted to find it charming and engaging. Rafferty has a dry, sardonic wit--always a hit with me--and I was intrigued (and sometimes aghast) to hear about the pitfalls of trying to make it in LA. This entire memoir is like one long dinner party, in which Rafferty treats you not only to fancy, well thought-out recipes but to glimpses into a world that's just as unfamiliar as many of the dishes. I'm glad I was invited to this party.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    Funny and charming memoir by one of the writers from The Soup. This really is a foodie memoir, with touches of trying to succeed in Hollywood. As someone who hates cooking and only does it because children need to eat, it was hard for me to relate to Tess's desire to cook perfect meals but I appreciated the way this fit into her life. It is interesting how her dinner parties go up the food chain (pun intended) as she finds more and more success in Hollywood. I loved the do it yourself grilled ch Funny and charming memoir by one of the writers from The Soup. This really is a foodie memoir, with touches of trying to succeed in Hollywood. As someone who hates cooking and only does it because children need to eat, it was hard for me to relate to Tess's desire to cook perfect meals but I appreciated the way this fit into her life. It is interesting how her dinner parties go up the food chain (pun intended) as she finds more and more success in Hollywood. I loved the do it yourself grilled cheese bar - brilliant. All in, a very fun read, and I think a foodie/cooking type would like it all the more.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition

    Really funny! Tess Rafferty is one of the writers for "The Soup" and this is kind of a memoir/recipe book. She starts off with her first Thanksgiving dinner with an assortment of friends with issues and younger brother who may or may not show up. I tried her Holiday Breakfast bread and the recipe was so odd(no eggs or oil of any sort, but 1 1/2 cups of assorted sweeteners)that I thought maybe she was just joking about the recipe part of her book, but it actually tasted like bread and was really g Really funny! Tess Rafferty is one of the writers for "The Soup" and this is kind of a memoir/recipe book. She starts off with her first Thanksgiving dinner with an assortment of friends with issues and younger brother who may or may not show up. I tried her Holiday Breakfast bread and the recipe was so odd(no eggs or oil of any sort, but 1 1/2 cups of assorted sweeteners)that I thought maybe she was just joking about the recipe part of her book, but it actually tasted like bread and was really good if you toasted a slice with lots of butter. I may just try her roast turkey with stuffing for Thanksgiving...

  12. 5 out of 5

    KJ

    It's been a while since I won this but I finally got around to reading it. I wish I had done so sooner! This book is HILARIOUS. Tess really knows how to make you laugh, even when reading about extremely awkward situations. Her stories are funny, her tips hilarious, and her recipes totally do-able. The entire time I felt like I was hearing a story from a friend. Reading this made me want to start having dinner parties of my own! I loved it so much I have already started recommending this book to It's been a while since I won this but I finally got around to reading it. I wish I had done so sooner! This book is HILARIOUS. Tess really knows how to make you laugh, even when reading about extremely awkward situations. Her stories are funny, her tips hilarious, and her recipes totally do-able. The entire time I felt like I was hearing a story from a friend. Reading this made me want to start having dinner parties of my own! I loved it so much I have already started recommending this book to others!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Rafferty takes us to dinner (admittedly too high class for the likes of me), gets us drunk on good wine and leaves our sides cramped from laughing so hard. I've been a fan of The Soup for a long time and I really enjoyed this feel-good memoir. Rafferty's OCD reminds me of my husband so I'm not sure she and I could ever be friends but I'd love for her to have me over for a dinner party. I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. Rafferty takes us to dinner (admittedly too high class for the likes of me), gets us drunk on good wine and leaves our sides cramped from laughing so hard. I've been a fan of The Soup for a long time and I really enjoyed this feel-good memoir. Rafferty's OCD reminds me of my husband so I'm not sure she and I could ever be friends but I'd love for her to have me over for a dinner party. I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Betsy

    Rafferty's funny recounting of dinner party triumphs and failures is an engaging and quick read. It suffers a bit from a lackluster editing/proofreading job though -- the writing was witty, but several sentences needed an editor's touch, and required repeated readings to get the intended meaning. Repeated use of "whip cream" instead of "whipped cream" is an example of a detail the editor overlooked. Rafferty's funny recounting of dinner party triumphs and failures is an engaging and quick read. It suffers a bit from a lackluster editing/proofreading job though -- the writing was witty, but several sentences needed an editor's touch, and required repeated readings to get the intended meaning. Repeated use of "whip cream" instead of "whipped cream" is an example of a detail the editor overlooked.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir/food and entertaining advice /humorous book. It's well written, with enough snark to be entertaining , but with some seriously good recipes and down to earth advice on having people over for dinner in a way that you can enjoy too without driving yourself crazy. Tess Rafferty is a comic and comedy writer living in California; she was (is?) a writer for, and actress on, "The Soup." I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir/food and entertaining advice /humorous book. It's well written, with enough snark to be entertaining , but with some seriously good recipes and down to earth advice on having people over for dinner in a way that you can enjoy too without driving yourself crazy. Tess Rafferty is a comic and comedy writer living in California; she was (is?) a writer for, and actress on, "The Soup."

  16. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Duffield

    I spend 97% of my day thinking about food in one way or another. I loved going along Tess' journey to a successful cook and host. It reassures me that I too will get there... one day. I passed the book onto a friend who then in turn passed it to her mom, etc. It's making the rounds and people are enjoying the book almost as much as the recipes she encludes. I spend 97% of my day thinking about food in one way or another. I loved going along Tess' journey to a successful cook and host. It reassures me that I too will get there... one day. I passed the book onto a friend who then in turn passed it to her mom, etc. It's making the rounds and people are enjoying the book almost as much as the recipes she encludes.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Yvonne

    Smart, funny, moving...and the recipes look easy and delicious. The last page of How to Enjoy a Good Meal with Friends, was especially touching. I even wrote that passage down and posted where I can see it to remind me of what's important in life..."to take time out to be a person". Thank you Tess for creating a memorable journey of life and throwing in some great recipes as well. Smart, funny, moving...and the recipes look easy and delicious. The last page of How to Enjoy a Good Meal with Friends, was especially touching. I even wrote that passage down and posted where I can see it to remind me of what's important in life..."to take time out to be a person". Thank you Tess for creating a memorable journey of life and throwing in some great recipes as well.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Paula

    I bought this book for my sister in law for Christmas 2 years ago and decided to check it out from the library. It's relatively funny, I mean, I find her funny, but can't in any way relate to her life. That's an important thing for me. I'm not single, childless, or funny on my own, but I do love to cook, so I stuck it out to the end. I bought this book for my sister in law for Christmas 2 years ago and decided to check it out from the library. It's relatively funny, I mean, I find her funny, but can't in any way relate to her life. That's an important thing for me. I'm not single, childless, or funny on my own, but I do love to cook, so I stuck it out to the end.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I literally laughed out loud at lines I was too embarrassed to repeat. Not politically correct, but hilarious none-the-less. She makes entertaining seem so attainable.. She's not afraid to share her disasters as well as her triumphs - which left me thinking, well if she can do it - certainly I could! I literally laughed out loud at lines I was too embarrassed to repeat. Not politically correct, but hilarious none-the-less. She makes entertaining seem so attainable.. She's not afraid to share her disasters as well as her triumphs - which left me thinking, well if she can do it - certainly I could!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    a fairly quick and funny read. also i learned a lot about what i should and should not do if i ever find myself playing the hostess at a dinner party or large holiday gathering. love how she makes cooking seemingly difficult or pretentious meals seem like no big deal and totally doable just so long as there's a cocktail in your hand. a fairly quick and funny read. also i learned a lot about what i should and should not do if i ever find myself playing the hostess at a dinner party or large holiday gathering. love how she makes cooking seemingly difficult or pretentious meals seem like no big deal and totally doable just so long as there's a cocktail in your hand.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Cory

    Starting out, I didn't think I would like this. It didn't follow the format that I thought it would, and I wasn't sure I liked the characters. But it ended up being both touching and amusing, and it held my interest. The few recipes included didn't bowl me over, and I'm still not sure I'd want to be friends with the author, but I liked it well enough. Starting out, I didn't think I would like this. It didn't follow the format that I thought it would, and I wasn't sure I liked the characters. But it ended up being both touching and amusing, and it held my interest. The few recipes included didn't bowl me over, and I'm still not sure I'd want to be friends with the author, but I liked it well enough.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Abbie

    Weirdly, there were some typos, and I felt as if Tess Rafferty (who, by the way, I have never actually heard of? I picked up this book because of the fun cover?) was, though amusing, not the kind of person whose dinner parties I would necessarily want to attend. But the cooking concept was cute, and it was cute to sort of wrap all of the anecdotes around food. I like food.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    this is a really quick funny read about a woman and her boyfriend who loves to cook and entertain others. It contains different stories from dinner parties they have hosted and includes the good and the bad. Most of them have many comedy of errors. I thought the book was entertaining and was also a light and joyful read.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kayt18

    I won this from goodreads. I enjoyed this book for the humor, the inside stories of the comics that surrounded Ms Rafferty and the wonderful recipes described in just the way I need them. Nice light read with fun antidotes, great dinner parties and true relationship info.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Deborah

    I won this through the goodreads first-reads program. I never watched her show or even knew who she was before reading this book. I really enjoyed this book. It's mostly stories about dinner parties, but also includes a few recipes and tips. I won this through the goodreads first-reads program. I never watched her show or even knew who she was before reading this book. I really enjoyed this book. It's mostly stories about dinner parties, but also includes a few recipes and tips.

  26. 4 out of 5

    JDAZDesigns

    A nice quick read that is honest and open about all things in the kitchen. Spiced up with a few drops of her life and the passion to feed. It won't make you want to run to the oven but it will let you know that hey, sh*t happens. Serve the darn food anyway! A nice quick read that is honest and open about all things in the kitchen. Spiced up with a few drops of her life and the passion to feed. It won't make you want to run to the oven but it will let you know that hey, sh*t happens. Serve the darn food anyway!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    This was a fun book to read for anyone who loves to cook and entertain. I love making people delicious food and I hope one day to have a place to host these parties, much like Tess. She was funny, real and she made me feel like I was actually at her dinner parties.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Linda Strawn

    I enjoyed it! I am a foodie who loves to cook and entertain so I really ate this book up so to speak. I am not the drinker she is but I found this book funny and entertaining. I am even going to make boyfriends chili recipe (vegetarian version) and her cinnamon molasses bread.

  29. 4 out of 5

    gundiegirl

    http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/...# http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/...#

  30. 4 out of 5

    LM

    This was cute and funny.

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