When celebrities write cookbooks, I cringe. If a person is beautiful enough to get acting gigs in Hollywood, they should not, just for the sake of a balanced universe, be a good enough cook to write a book. It doesn’t seem fair. The nice part is most celebrity inspired cookbooks aren't great and chefs across the world feel better about themselves for it.
I was at the grand opening of the new Hastings in Nampa and I came upon the Gwyneth Paltrow cookbook, My Father's Daughter. Always the skeptic, I grabbed the book to search out its fatal flaw, whatever that might be. But I was surprised: It wasn't as terrible as I thought it would be.
I'm not going to give out too much credit, though. Paltrow name drops on recipes: “Blah, blah, blah. Leonardo and I love this recipe.” And she overplays her “working mom” card. Come on. People are going to buy her book because she's famous. Playing the working mom card is over the top and so unecessary.
The book does have some redeeming qualities. The best thing about it is Paltrow's sincerity about her father, Bruce Paltrow. He might have been a high-powered Hollywood producer, but through her eyes, it seems that he cared about his family. You can see the reverence that Gwen has for her father in the introduction and in many of the recipes, and writing the book was part of her mourning process over losing him. I can respect that.
In all, My Father's Daughter will not go down in the annals of history as a great cookbook. Nothing in it is truly remarkable—yet another recipe for mac and cheese?—but it is a tour de force of food porn pictures and celebrity cooking, as well as an homage to Paltrow's father. Maybe that's enough.