Fiction for Foodies

Celebrate Culinary Arts Month in July with these delicious novels – from drama to romance to mystery – which all feature chefs at work.

The School of Essential Ingredients book jacket

Eight people come together for cooking class at Chef Lillian’s restaurant each week in The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister. Their stories are told in vignettes tied together by the pleasure of food in this “remarkable debut” (Publishers Weekly).

Kate Jacobs, the bestselling author of The Friday Night Knitting Club, takes on the world of celebrity chefs in Comfort Food. About to turn fifty, Chef Augusta’s TV show “Cooking with Gusto!” ratings are falling and Augusta is forced to make changes that include the much younger Carmen Vega. Augusta must deal with the changes and a possible love interest while suffering a mid-life crisis.

Author of the acclaimed Brick Lane, Monica Ali writes a multicultural tale set in a modern London hotel restaurant in her newest novel, In the Kitchen. Executive chef Gabriel Lightfoot’s life unravels as he dreams of opening his own restaurant, cheats on his girlfriend, and deals with one of the restaurant’s porters found dead in a storeroom. 

Last Bite book jacket

Former executive chef to Julia Child and culinary television producer, Nancy Verde Barr brings her experience to fiction in Last Bite: A Novel of Culinary Romance. 29-year old Casey is executive chef for a morning news show that sets the backdrop for her developing romance with another chef in this “leisurely paced yet utterly charming love story” (Library Journal).

For a lighthearted romance, pick up Deep Dish by Mary Kay Andrews. Set in the South, Gina’s TV cooking show gets canceled after her boyfriend is discovered sleeping with her sponsor’s wife. Gina ends up in a reality show competition with handsome Tate, host of another local cooking program, as they both vie for a spot on the Cooking Channel.

In State of the Onion by Julie Hyzy, White House Assistant Chef Olivia Paras smacks an intruder with a frying pan. Although admonished to stay out of it by the Secret Service, Olivia pursues the mystery – all the while cooking up some delicious food for the President.

For an “enjoyable romp” (Publishers Weekly), Claire Johnson sets the scene for Roux Morgue in a cooking school in San Francisco. Pastry chef Mary Ryan finds a cop, her ex-husband’s sexy best friend, surprisingly enrolled in the class she teaches and tensions are high between the new and old chefs at the school. Suddenly one of the chefs is dead – and Mary realizes it might not be accidental.


Angela Kille

Angela Kille is a librarian at the Kansas City Public Library.