Edina native Donny Enriquez is no stranger to serving up bold flavor. Turning to food as a form of creative expression for most of his life, Enriquez sought to make his passion more accessible to all. In November 2020, after developing his own college catering business and cooking show, he launched his first cookbook titled Not Your Mother’s Cookbook targeted at beginner cooks in collaboration with Barstool Sports, a digital media company that produces sports and pop culture-centered content.
“So many cookbooks out there assume that you already have this baseline of knowledge of [cooking techniques and terminology],” Enriquez says. “I wanted to write a cookbook that is simple that anyone can pick up regardless of skill level and that you can actually learn something from the it and not be intimidated.”
Similar to what he describes as a textbook, Enriquez explains that his is truly a step-by-step learning experience. Broken down into various sections, the book provides readers with a baseline understanding of salt and seasonings, staple pantry items, equipment and tools (i.e. pots, pans, knives and hand tools), cooking terminology and techniques. Beginning with the basics, it starts with recipes from the simplest, and most important meal of the day, breakfast and eventually works its way up to more complicated dishes.
“I really do think that this is a stepping stone, an entrance to cooking that most people don’t have,” Enriquez says.
Advising users to follow the contents of the book chronologically, Enriquez says that this is so the user can develop foundational skills from simple, cheaper ingredients like chicken or eggs before moving to complex proteins like beef or fish.
“You learn as you go,” he says. “Everything in cooking translates and carries over.”
What makes this book so unique is the interactive, visual component that comes with it. On some of the pages there is a QR code that is available for readers to access additional 30 second YouTube video tutorials demonstrating corresponding techniques in the recipe from a bird’s eye view. By the end of this book, home cooks will be able to read any cookbook or online recipe with full understanding of what it means and how to execute it. “It is a launching pad into the culinary world,” Enriquez says.
Donny’s Culinary Journey
Even with a passion for cooking, it wasn’t until about seven years ago that Enriquez began to take it more seriously. After gaining exposure to the culinary universe from his uncle Chris Johnson, owner of a New York City restaurant, he fell in love. He began working in restaurant kitchens throughout high school to gain additional experience before opening his own catering company in college, The College Cook. Developing a variety of gourmet finger food from the comfort of his fraternity kitchen, Enriquez eventually gained a following for his delectable options and soon partnered with one of the top bars on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus to craft a late-night and brunch menu.
After two and a half years of school he left for five months to backpack across southeast Asia to fuel his passion for food and travel. “There are always detours but stick with it, have a good attitude and be ready to take risks,” he says. “If you bet on yourself, that is the best gamble that you can make.” Cooking his way through Asia, Enriquez eventually connected with Barstool Sports. Starting as a production intern, he traveled back to China in 2018 to learn more and then began developing his brand further through his cooking show, The College Cooking Show.
Later that year, he was also discovered by the Food Network’s Chopped, a show where four chefs compete and turn baskets of mystery ingredients into a three-course meal. Originally thinking that the inquiry was a joke, his family encouraged him to jump on the opportunity. Having faith in his abilities, Enriquez did not really prepare or study for the experience like the other college competitors claimed to have done. Rather, he says that he went in with an open mind so that he could perform to the best of his ability, and he did just that. Making it as a finalist in the show, he says that the best part was the opportunity to cook for renowned chefs like Martha Stewart, Scott Conant and Amanda Freitag.
“I’ve always known I was good at cooking and talented, but to hear it from Martha Stewart was really elevating,” Enriquez says.