“No Man Is an Island,” by TiGeorges Laguerre with Jeremy Rosenberg (Rare Bird Books, $15.95), isn’t so much a cookbook as it is a memoir of a life spent cooking, from a chef whose life probably deserves not one, but a dozen memoirs.
Jean-Marie Montfort Hebert Georges Fils Laguerre goes by the name TiGeorges, as does his restaurant, TiGeorges’ Chicken, one of the only Haitian eateries in Los Angeles. It was that restaurant near Echo Park that became the LA center of disaster relief after the earthquake that devastated Haiti in 2010. And that restaurant nearly burned to the ground after an electrical fire only months after the earthquake.
Laguerre’s book weaves between these catastrophic events, but it also covers his childhood in Port-de-Paix, Haiti, his early days cooking in Los Angeles, and the genesis of the restaurant, which has reopened after fire repairs.
TiGeorges the restaurant is a cultural center as much as a place to eat, where the Haitian community gathers, where musicians play and where Laguerre continues to make astonishing roast chicken on the grill he built at the front of the eatery, a contraption that looks more like a medieval catapult than a normal rotisserie. TiGeorges the author has created a kind of cultural center with this book, dishing out his food and his life in equal, colorful measure.