Chef’s Table by Lynn Charles ~ Book Review by Ulysses

Chef_sTable_COVER_a364a6b1-bd5a-4dda-9755-4b641a11807cTitle: Chef’s Table

Author: Lynn Charles

Publisher: Interlude Press

Cover Artist:

Rating: 4.0 of 5 Stars

Publication Date: 12/02/2014

Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)

Genre: Contemporary, Humor/Comedy, M/M Romance

Blurb:

Chef Evan Stanford steadily climbed New York City’s culinary ladder, earning himself the Rising Star James Beard award and an executive chef position at an acclaimed restaurant. But in his quest to build his reputation, he forgot what got him there: the lessons on food and life from a loving hometown neighbor. Patrick Sullivan is contented keeping the memory of his grandmother s Irish cooking alive through the food he prepares in a Brooklyn diner. But when Chef Stanford walks in for a meal, Patrick is swept up by his drive, forcing him to reconsider if a contented life is a ful­filled one. The two men begin a journey through their culinary histories, falling into an easy friendship. But even with the joys of their burgeoning love, can they tap into that secret recipe of great love, great food and transcendent joy?

My View:

Heavens, there’s a lot of food in this book. I’d recommend reading it after dinner, or you’ll get cravings.

I can’t think of any other books I’ve read that focused so intensely on food; but plenty of wonderful films come to mind. There’s “Babette’s Feast,” and “Like Water for Chocolate,” and the fabulous Disney animated romance “Ratatouille.” More recent films have included “Chef” (which has several points in common with this book) and “The 100-Foot Journey” (which has Helen Mirren and the gorgeous Indian superstar Manish Dayal). All of these stories have at their core the passion for cooking, and in all of them food is a major character.

Oh, and something else they have in common: no gay people at all.

So, even if I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I did, I would be grateful to Lynn Charles for giving us a story about a couple of brilliant cooks (well, a chef and a cook, and you’ll have to read it if you don’t know the difference) whose lives center on food; and who happen to be gay.

Evan Stanford is at the top of his game, a hot young chef at an elegant Manhattan restaurant. He manages a big kitchen and his food is known for its creativity and quality. But something is off about Evan’s life, and it’s not just loneliness.

Patrick Sullivan is Brooklyn born and bred, and having not quite finished cooking school, he’s settled in at a local diner, putting his own special spin on the standard fare his boss offers to neighborhood regulars.

Then one evening, after a particularly tough shift, Evan brings his staff to eat at Patrick’s diner. He not only notices how cute the cook is, but also how amazing his desserts are.

Although leisurely in its pacing, this book is all about food and romance. Lynn Charles builds up our understanding of both Evan and Patrick as they learn about each other through their love of cooking. She also enriches the narrative with strong secondary characters, from Perci—Evan’s culinary nemesis—to his lifelong friend Ambrose (known as Rosey) and his right-hand sous-chef, Robin. Patrick has his waitresses, Angel and Mimi. Add into the mix Evan’s parents and Roger, the maybe-homeless guy who who hangs out near Patrick’s diner. Through these lesser ingredients we get much of the flavor of the two protagonists. We see them through each other’s eyes, and through the eyes of the people around them.

And, if you don’t know what sfogliatelle is, you will after you’ve read “Chef’s Table.”

Like so many good M/M romances, this would make a great film, better indeed than many rom-coms that draw in huge audiences and rack up big bucks. There is real chemistry here, and not just in the kitchen. The power of food and love together is irresistible.

Since Hollywood is not likely to become interested in gay romance in my lifetime, I guess you’ll just have to read this book to see what I mean.

Links

Chef’s Table on Goodreads
Interlude Press
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA

I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

Brandilyn
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