The Bionic Chef by Cheryl Douglass

The Bionic Chef: Cooking With or Without HandsThe Bionic Chef: Cooking With or Without Hands by Cheryl Douglass
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What an inspiring book this is! I’m no chef and no foodie, either, but you don’t have to be either to appreciate this book. The author suffered a devastating infection which resulted in the amputation of both hands and both feet. She now has prosthetic limbs. Many people in her situation would totally give up and descend into a spiral of self-pity and depression. Instead, the author has accepted what she could not change and has found myriad ways to cope with her situation and resume a normal lifestyle, including cooking.

The first section of the book is the fascinating story of her illness and recovery and is well worth the price of the book just for that. But the book is neither self-congratulating nor an appeal for sympathy. Rather it is a practical guide for others with similar disabilities on how to get on with your life, especially in the kitchen, but elsewhere, as well. I was intrigued by the ingenious adaptations and workarounds she has developed that enable her to cook. She identifies numerous implements (including brand names and photos!) that work for someone with prosthetic hands, especially myoelectric limbs like hers. She even tells you where to buy them and how to modify them if necessary and where to store them. She can chop onion, garlic, or meat and peel those sticky labels off produce with the right tools. This book is as much about attitude as it it about cooking. It’s lighthearted and upbeat throughout. Her story can help anyone with a disability learn how to cope and have a positive outlook on life.

Most of the book consists of recipes, and anyone who enjoys cooking can benefit from those, as the author has a reputation as very good cook. I don’t cook and can’t attest to those, but if they are anywhere close to the quality of the rest of the book, I’m sure they’re excellent. One last note: followers of my blog know how picky I am about grammar, spelling, and writing style in general. This book was a joy to read for its clarity and fine writing, too.

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