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Publisher's Summary

Named a Favorite Book for Southerners in 2020 by Garden & Gun 

"Donovan is such a vivid writer - smart, raunchy, vulnerable and funny - that if her vaunted caramel cakes and sugar pies are half as good as her prose, well, I'd be open to even giving that signature buttermilk whipped cream she tops her desserts with a try." (Maureen Corrigan, NPR)

Renowned southern pastry chef Lisa Donovan's memoir of cooking, survival, and the incredible power in reclaiming the stories of women

Noted chef and James Beard Award-winning essayist Lisa Donovan helped establish some of the South's most important kitchens, and her pastry work is at the forefront of a resurgence in traditional desserts. Yet Donovan struggled to make a living in an industry where male chefs built successful careers on the stories, recipes, and culinary heritage passed down from generations of female cooks and cooks of color. At one of her career peaks, she made the perfect dessert at a celebration for food-world goddess Diana Kennedy. When Kennedy asked why she had not heard of her, Donovan said she did not know. "I do", Kennedy said, "Stop letting men tell your story." 

Our Lady of Perpetual Hunger is Donovan's searing, beautiful, and searching chronicle of reclaiming her own story and the narrative of the women who came before her. Her family's matriarchs found strength and passion through food, and they inspired Donovan's accomplished career. Donovan's love language is hospitality, and she wants to welcome everyone to the table of good food and fairness. 

Donovan herself had been told at every juncture that she wasn't enough: she came from a struggling southern family that felt ashamed of its own mixed race heritage and whose elders diminished their women. She survived abuse and assault as a young mother. But Donovan's salvations were food, self-reliance, and the network of women in food who stood by her. 

In the school of the late John Egerton, Our Lady of Perpetual Hunger is an unforgettable Southern journey of class, gender, and race as told at table.

©2020 Lisa Donovan (P)2020 Penguin Audio

What the critics say

"Donovan...reveals the struggles and hard-fought lessons that have made her the courageous woman that she is today....[W]ritten in a fierce and visceral style....In a world that all too often credits male chefs for the culinary contributions of women and people of color, [Our Lady of Perpetual Hunger] is a valuable addition to the culinary memoir canon." (Booklist)

 "Donovan... chronicles her career as a chef and her unrelenting passion for the culinary arts, but she also digs into her family history, offering keen reflections on the intersections of race and gender and spirited discussions of work, class, and opportunity....  [Our Lady of Perpetual Hunger] is not just a lively story of a talented pastry chef at the top of her game; it’s also a profoundly relatable memoir of the pervasive push back against female success. A fresh voice with a recipe for empowerment." (Kirkus)

"[A] fiesty confessional.... Donovan’s candid, passionate memoir will resonate with anyone who has worked in professional kitchens, and particularly women." (Publishers Weekly)  

What listeners say about Our Lady of Perpetual Hunger

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  • Clare
  • 2020-08-31

I can see why Dave Chang raved about this book

Lisa is a wickedly creative story teller. She weaves the folds of her life in just like folding butter into her pastries. The results,
Decedent. Note, she doesn’t “sugar coat” her life. She, as Chang says, has strategically placed fucks throughout the story. Not overbearing, but perfectly placed. Highly recommended.

1 person found this helpful

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  • cocobean
  • 2021-06-09

Great memoir not great narration

Loved the book and the content. The narration was not my favorite. It was read in a very monotone voice which made it a little hard to get into. But Lisa’s story of the heartache she’s been through and how she’s overcome it was beautiful to learn. Also her descriptions of living in poverty were very on point. I remember being a new mother myself and having many of the same experiences. I absolutely love the sentiment of “Stop letting men tell your stories.” It really made the book for me.

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  • Angelyn
  • 2021-05-01

She Spoke My Truth

Never before have I felt so connected to someone that I did not know, and better yet, to the divine feminine. As I heard my own story pour from the authors lips, with slightly nuanced details, I felt joined in sisterhood with Lisa and generations of women who have navigated this world through the lens of a mother, a fighter, a survivor. It’s the voices of women like Lisa, which I hope will guide my own daughter as she meanders through her own maze of existence. Thank you for sharing your life, paving the way, and reminding girls/women/people that they can live life through their hearts rather than succumb to the status quo!

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  • Wasabi
  • 2021-02-16

Thank You Chef!

What an amazing story and from the heart telling of what it is to be a woman with the heart of a Chef. I really needed this book, thank you.

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  • Steve Seguin
  • 2021-01-11

Take Up Thy Place Among Culinary Greats

I am absolutely telling everyone about this story. Already gifted it to my sister. What a genuinely touching memoir. This is a book that makes you want to write. Share your stories. Makes you feel less alone in this incredibly screwed up world. I am grateful to be alive in a time stories such as Lisa Donovan’s are being shared and passed along to a generation of cooks and chefs who truly are some of the most loving and genuine people on the planet. Thank you Chef Lisa, I am in awe of your story.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2021-01-03

My heart is overflowing

Her story, heart strength and prowess is undeniable. Listening to someone so perfectly articulate experiences that parallel my own in uncovering and finding our lineage/passion/hurt/family history left me weeping. A must read for all.

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  • Cheryl L.
  • 2020-12-18

best ever account

as a woman chef she puts into words what we all want to scream out loud

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  • Nhouse
  • 2020-11-16

Powerful Story

Great author and narrator. Powerful story about the world at large and the world of women in professional kitchens. Obviously I am not a woman and this book was eye opening for me and leaves me with so many questions for the strong women in my family.

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  • Melanie Robinson
  • 2020-11-13

Beautiful

Simply beautiful, heartbreaking, inspiring, and a reminder of how much harder women have to work to achieve their dreams. I’m a better person for listening to Lisa’s story.

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  • Tracy
  • 2020-10-15

Beautiful and moving .

Lisa's writing and narration is very special and heartfelt. You don't have to be a "foody" to enjoy this feast of a memoir. I laughed and cried. Highly recomend. Thank you Lisa for writing your story and sharing it with us. You are a champion.