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Georgia's Kitchen

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Overview

At thirty-three, talented chef Georgia Gray has everything a woman could want—the top job at one of Manhattan’s best restaurants; a posse of smart and savvy gal pals who never let her down; and a platinum-set, cushion-cut diamond engagement ring courtesy of Glenn, the handsome entertainment lawyer who Georgia’s overbearing mother can’t wait for her to marry. The table is set for the ambitious bride-to-be until a scathing restaurant review destroys her reputation. To add salt to ...

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Georgia's Kitchen

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Overview

At thirty-three, talented chef Georgia Gray has everything a woman could want—the top job at one of Manhattan’s best restaurants; a posse of smart and savvy gal pals who never let her down; and a platinum-set, cushion-cut diamond engagement ring courtesy of Glenn, the handsome entertainment lawyer who Georgia’s overbearing mother can’t wait for her to marry. The table is set for the ambitious bride-to-be until a scathing restaurant review destroys her reputation. To add salt to her wounds, Glenn suddenly calls off the wedding.

Brokenhearted, Georgia escapes to the Italian countryside, where she sharpens her skills at a trattoria run by a world-class chef who seems to have it all—a devoted lover, a magnificent villa, and most important, a kitchen of her own. Georgia quells her longings with Italy’s delectable offerings: fine wine, luscious cheeses, cerulean blue skies, and irresistible Gianni—an expert in the vineyard and the bedroom. So when Gianni tempts Georgia to stay in Italy with an offer no sane top chef could refuse, why can’t she say yes?

An appetite for something more looms large in Georgia’s heart – the desire to run her own restaurant in the city she loves. But having left New York with her career in flames, she’ll need to stir up more than just courage if she’s to realize her dreams and find her way home.

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  • Georgia's Kitchen
    Georgia's Kitchen  

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A delightful meal of a read—delicious and satisfying. This new writer is one to watch!"
—Katie Crouch, New York Times bestselling author of Girls in Trucks and Men and Dogs

“All the right ingredients—a heart-warming heroine, a romp through Tuscany—make for a delicious book that leaves you hungry for more."
—Julie Buxbaum, author of The Opposite of Love and After You

“A fun read that women of all ages can relate to.”
—Giada De Laurentiis, New York Times bestselling author of Everyday Italian.

"Jenny Nelson delivers on her debut with a rich and delicious read. With a fresh, charming and spirited voice, Nelson will have readers cheering for Georgia!"
—Jane Porter, author of Flirting with Forty and Odd Mom Out

"Jenny Nelson is no flash in the pan; this delectable concoction of gastronomy and self-discovery, spiced with fashion and romance, will have her fans clamoring for more."
—Daphne Uviller, author of Super in the City

"Georgia Gray's adventures in the kitchens of New York City and Tuscany and with love on both continents, makes for a thoroughly enjoyable read. This glamorous and delicious tale will have readers cheering as the plucky heroine moves from disaster to dreams-come-true."
—Giulia Melucci, author of I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781439173336
  • Publisher: Gallery Books
  • Publication date: 8/3/2010
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 1,084,383
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Jenny Nelson

JENNY NELSON lives with her husband, twin daughters and dog in Millbrook, NY and Manhattan, where she was editor and producer at iVillage.com, Vogue.com and Style.com. This is her first novel.

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Read an Excerpt

Georgia's Kitchen


By Jenny Nelson

Gallery

Copyright © 2010 Jenny Nelson
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9781439173336

Georgia turned onto a tree-lined street of brick town houses and brownstones, stopping when she reached a gunmetal-gray low-rise that shared none of its neighbors’ quiet charm. Strips of smoky glass sliced through the facade, and a row of porthole windows ran under the roofline: the restaurant. An architectural travesty or triumph, depending on which side of the design camp you fell, but it got people talking, which was, after all, the point. MARCO was discreetly stamped in a cement block over the door, though as far as Georgia knew, no one had ever noticed this so-called sign. If you had to ask, you didn’t deserve to eat there.

Heaving open the vaultlike door, she walked through the steel-blue dining room, past the polished nickel tables and chairs and the white, ultrasuede banquettes, her heels clicking across the terrazzo floor. The floral designer freshened a mammoth arrangement on the lacquered bar, replacing spent stems with Casablanca lilies, irises, and peonies—all white, a Marco dictum.

The daily staff meal and meeting began promptly at three, and Bernard, the restaurant’s laser-tongued general manager, had zero patience for latecomers. Six four-tops shoved together created a makeshift communal table, and seating was first come, first served. As waiters, cooks, and busboys rushed in, Georgia took her seat, instinctively turning her engagement ring—a cushion-cut diamond on a platinum band—to the underside of her hand, subway-style. Unpolished nails and nicked-up hands, unfortunate but unavoidable occupational hazards of chefs everywhere, were hardly the ideal backdrop for such a splendid ring. But Glenn wanted her to wear it, and not on a chain around her neck as she’d prefer. He wanted it on her left ring finger as on every other bride-to-be.

He was still sleeping when she’d left their apartment early that morning to head to the fish market with Ricky, her sous-chef. She kissed Glenn good-bye, first on his forehead, then on his lips, hoping he’d wake up and kiss her back, which he did for a second before rolling over and mumbling something she couldn’t understand. Their conflicting work schedules had never allowed for a ton of snuggling time, but lately sleepy kisses and barely intelligible See you laters were as good as it got.

“Hey, Chef, long time no see.” Ricky slid into the seat next to her, tossing his yellow hair out of his eyes. Wearing baggy shorts down to his knees and tube socks pulled so high they could have been tights, he looked more clown-school grad than classically trained chef. He wrinkled his nose and sniffed the air. “Did you forget to shower after our fishing trip? Or is it me who smells like a salty dog?”

“Definitely you, Rick,” said Georgia. “I’ve Purelled my fingers to shreds.”

She and Ricky had met years earlier while working for a tyrannical boss whose idea of a good time was throwing knives at a corkboard decorated with Polaroid pictures of his staff. Since then, they’d cooked side by side in cramped kitchens all over Manhattan, and when Georgia was promoted to head chef at Marco, she’d insisted on hiring Ricky as her second-in-command. Not only was he a culinary savant who could tick off twenty-nine different kinds of basil and the best uses for each, but he was one of the few people who told her exactly what he thought. About everything.

Bernard strode to the table, trademark red clipboard tucked under his arm, wire-rim specs perched on his nose. “Good afternoon, everyone. It’s Friday and we have a big night.” He tapped his pencil on the clipboard. “Socialites, B-list actors, even a low-ranking politician.”

No one was better at building buzz than Marco, former chef and current proprietor of his eponymous restaurant, and the faux foodies couldn’t eat it up fast enough. Though his menu was uninspired and his decor was as slick as his demeanor, his restaurant was booked months in advance, and even the five-and-dimes, the least desirable time slots, were reserved weeks out.

“And,” Bernard continued, “rumor has it Mercedes Sante from the Daily may be dropping in. You know what that means. If anyone spots the old bag, punch it into the computer ASAP. We fucked up the Herald, let’s not fuck this one up too.”

Rumors of wig-wearing reviewers flooded the restaurant, but unless an actual source was named, everyone rightly assumed they came from Marco, who had somehow graduated elementary school without learning the story of the boy who cried wolf.

Three busboys brought out the staff’s “family meal”: a bowl of soupy spinach, a platter of spaghetti doused in a watery red sauce, and a plate of mini-meatballs directly from Costco’s frozen-food section. As usual, this family meal would never be served to an actual member of Marco’s family, not even his wicked stepmother.

Georgia listened as Bernard rattled off her daily specials for the servers, then allowed them small tastes of the samples the prep team had prepared. There was a beautiful branzino they’d picked up at Hunts Point; a house-made taglierini with peas and ramps from the Greenmarket, slivers of bresaola, and shaved pecorino; polenta with wild-mushroom ragout; risotto with baby artichoke, asparagus and mint; sautÉed periwinkles; and herb-stuffed leg of lamb.

Having inherited the regular menu directly from Marco, who balked at even the tiniest change, Georgia’s opportunity to cook the way she wanted was showcased in the nightly specials. There was no way she’d leave their fate in the hands of the waiters until they were completely schooled on the preparation details. Nor would she ever serve anything less than first-rate.

“Do you guys have any questions?” she asked after they popped their first tastes.

“Is there butter in this branzino al sala?” asked a ruddy-cheeked guy who was the latest addition to the team, his mouth full of fish.

“First, sala is a room. It’s sale—as in ‘salt.’ But only tell people that if they specifically ask, otherwise they’ll assume it’s too salty. And tell them the salt, which dries into a hard crust that’s cracked open at the end, preserves the fish’s natural flavors and juices as it cooks so it’s moist and tender. And no butter, just olive oil, fresh thyme, chervil, and lemon.”

“Push this one, guys. We’re selling it at thirty-three bucks a pop,” Bernard said without looking up from his clipboard.

“Really?” Georgia said. “A little high for my taste, but almost worth it.”

“So, it’s rich and flavorful?” the new guy continued hopefully.

She shook her head. “Subtle and delicate. Tell them we only serve this when the branzino is really top-notch. Say that and it’ll fly.”

Georgia had waited tables while getting her degree at the Culinary Institute of America and knew exactly what to say to make a dish sell out. She also knew how to guarantee it’d be on the next day’s lunch menu in a slightly different, and likely chopped, form.

“Uh, okay,” he said, popping another bite into his mouth.

She ran through the rest of the specials, going over their selling points until the waiters knew them cold. When conversation turned to the new Zac Posen–designed wait uniforms, she rocked back her chair and stared up at the glossy blue ceiling, wondering how much longer she could stand working at Marco, or rather for Marco. Granted, there was the generous paycheck. And the exposure. Without it, she’d never be able to open her own place. Having seared her skin in some of the city’s top kitchens, she was ready, really ready, to run her own restaurant. But planning a marriage and planning a business was way too much planning, even for an Überplanner like Georgia. Though she hated to admit it, her engagement was sapping her energy.

It didn’t help that Glenn was so busy defending his clients at the entertainment law firm where he worked that he barely had time for anyone else. When they’d first met, he spoke of becoming a public interest lawyer, but law school, his parents, and the promise of a fat paycheck killed his idealism fairly quickly, or at least put it on hold. Now the plan was to cash out at forty-five and work for an NGO, but until then, work/client schmoozing/partying took precedence over just about everything. Last week he’d had Georgia reserve at Marco for his biggest client, hip-hop star Diamond Tee. Apparently a huge Tee fan, Marco made sure the Cristal was flowing all night long. When it came to celebs, A-, B-, or even C-list, Marco was the best kiss-ass in the business.

“Yes, Georgia, even you.” Georgia’s chair fell forward with a thud. Bernard, who’d removed his tiny specs, stared at her.

“What was that, Bernard?”

“I said Marco doesn’t give us free gym memberships for nothing. He wants everyone to look good—even those of you in the kitchen. And we’re putting together a team for the Corporate 5K, if anyone’s interested.”

“Are you saying I’m fat?” Georgia sucked in her stomach the way she’d been trained to do by her whippet-thin mother back when she was a pudgy six-year-old.

“Fat? No. But remember: working out is as good for the mind”—Bernard touched his glasses to his forehead—“as it is for the middle. That’s it, everyone. Have a good night.” He nodded to Georgia, straightened his tie, and marched out to the floor, a picture of competence. Even the way he walked, as if an invisible cord were holding his carriage perfectly erect, was efficient.

“Now Marco’s making us work out too? As a team? What’s next—group therapy? A sweat lodge? Or maybe just a drum circle?” Ricky didn’t bother concealing his contempt. Several months back, his parents had flown in from California for a visit. Aging hippies, they’d arrived at Marco smelling of patchouli and home-spun yarn and were ignored, made to spell their last name—Smith—a half-dozen times, and at last shunted off to a doily-size table in Siberia, all thanks to Marco, who’d checked them out from the tops of their multicolor caps down to their ergonomic shoes. While Georgia had her own reasons for disliking her boss, Ricky would never forget the slight to his mom and dad.

While he went outside to smoke, Georgia headed to the locker room, eager to get the night started. The minuscule room was empty. A couple of lockers lined one wall, and a flimsy mirror hung behind the door. During her first week on the job Marco had ripped down the mirror, emptied a bindle of coke on it, and chopped it up with his maxed-out credit card while Georgia stood by, pretending it was no big deal that her brand-new boss was doing lines in front of her. He offered her one, and she smiled politely and mumbled something about needing to get back to the kitchen. Of course she’d known the restaurant industry could get crazy, but it wasn’t until Marco that she’d seen it in full-blown action. When she told Glenn the story, he barely raised an eyebrow. “In the restaurant?” was all he had to say.

Before anyone could barge in, Georgia slipped out of her street clothes and into her work uniform. Wearing shapeless khakis, white chef coat, and black clogs, she probably wouldn’t turn any heads. But at thirty-three, she was tall and trim, any pudginess long gone thanks to her thrice-weekly runs at the Reservoir. Her eyes were green and catlike, her skin fair and clear, the type that pinkened from the slightest exertion, and her nose, long and thin, would have cast an aristocratic air were it not for the slight bump on the bridge, a remnant from a childhood roller-skating accident. As a college boyfriend once remarked, she looked as if she’d stepped out of the pages of a Victorian novel, a proper English lady, sun parasol and all. Except the hair. Unruly curls on a good day, a downright frizz fest in the summer and in a hot kitchen. Which is why at that very moment she was assiduously twisting her dark-chocolate-colored mass into submission. Two bobby pins dangled from her lips, and her eyes were narrowed with concentration.

“Georgia. I was looking for you.” Georgia stared up into the slickly handsome face of Marco, boss, restaurateur, onetime chef, one-night stand. He had the jutting cheekbones, pillow lips, and perma-tanned skin of a daytime-soap star.

“Oh, hey, Marco.” The bobby pins dropped to the floor with a barely audible ping.

“How’s it going? Planning the wedding?”

If there was one thing Georgia couldn’t stand, it was talking to guys she had slept with—particularly her boss—about her upcoming nuptials.

“Yup. Going smoothly. Very smoothly.” She bent down to pick up the pins.

“That’s great, Georgia.” He held her gaze for a second too long. “So, Bernard told you about Mercedes Sante.”

“He sure did. Exciting.” She tried to force her hair behind her ears and felt it instantly spring back. “I’m sure everyone will do great.”

“I wanted to talk to you about that.” He looked down, put his hands behind his back, and cleared his throat like a high school football coach psyching up the team for the homecoming game. Georgia noticed his hair was thinning.

“A good review from the Daily, as you know, can bring in unprecedented business.” He smirked. “Not like we really need it, but you never know.”

She obliged him with a tight smile.

“But it can also make or break a chef. Especially an attractive Food Network–worthy chef like yourself. You know what I’m saying?”

Georgia tried to remember why she had slept with him in the first place. Was it the devastating news that Glenn had cheated on her? The lobotomizing trio of bone-dry Sapphire martinis downed in response to said news? The fateful decision to play “Crazy” on the jukebox right before last call?

“Sure thing, Marco. Don’t worry. It’ll be great. I better run.” She stepped around him carefully, so as not to brush even one button on his custom-made Borrelli shirt.

By nine o’clock, Georgia felt as if her clogs had been Krazy Glued to the floor. They must have done 150 covers, almost all of them seafood. As she’d predicted, the branzino special was a hit and was eighty-sixed an hour and a half after open. Despite the crush, the kitchen was holding its own, and most of the dishes were coming up on time. She’d replated more than usual, but at least everything had been at the window when she’d needed it.

“Did we get a write-up in the Junior League Digest or something? What’s with all the salmon, sauce-on-the-side requests?” she asked Ricky.

“Close. Tell magazine. The ‘Shit Girl’ issue.”

“You mean ‘It Girl’?”

It, shit, what’s the dif? If you’re blond, were born on Park Avenue, and are married to an investment banker, chances are you’re at Marco tonight.”

“Hence the disproportionately large number of arugula salads. Got it. Speaking of Park Avenue princesses, are you coming to see Lo tonight?” Lo was one of Georgia’s two best friends and, at the moment, a folksy singer-songwriter. This followed stints as a film production assistant, a junior copywriter, and an apprentice herbalist; there was no telling how much longer her Joni Mitchell phase would last. The house phone rang before Ricky could answer.

“Chef! Glenn!” yelled a dishwasher from across the kitchen.

“Take over, Rick.” She picked up the extension as he began expediting, calling out orders to the line cooks. “Hey, sweetie. How are you?”

“I miss you.”

“Me too. What are you doing?”

“I had to meet Diamond Tee up at Piece in Harlem. He wouldn’t take no for an answer.”

“Please tell me you’re not bailing on Lo’s show.” Last-minute cancellations had become part of Glenn’s MO lately.

“I’m not bailing. I’ll be there.”

“Good. I feel like I haven’t seen you in forever.”

“You mean that wasn’t you who kissed me good-bye this morning?”

“No, it must have been your other fiancÉe.”

“Her again. If I don’t make it to the restaurant, I’ll definitely make it to the show. The Rumpus?”

“The Rumpus.”

“Okay, George. I’ll see you there. Promise.”

“Great. And give my regards to Mr. T. Oh, wait, that’s the guy who kicked Rocky’s ass, right?”

“Funny,” Glenn said before she hung up.

Ricky looked over. “Your dude coming tonight?”

“He is,” Georgia said. “He promised.”

“Awesome.” Ricky held up his hand for a high five.

Georgia swatted it away. “I’m not sure having my fiancÉ agree to meet me at a dive bar on the Lower East Side is worth a high five.”

“I guess a high five is a little excessive.” He dropped his hand. “Low five?”

She laughed. Sometimes Ricky and she got along so well it seemed a shame they couldn’t just get it over with and fall in love. But he’d never made her belly ping or her neck tingle or distracted her so much she couldn’t think of anything other than how sexy his forearm was. Glenn did.

Bernard burst through the swinging door and into the kitchen. “Table fifteen. She’s here.”

Georgia and Ricky looked at each other blankly.

“None other than Mercedes Sante herself. She’s disguised as a fat carpetbagger,” Bernard said. “On second thought, I don’t think she’s disguised at all. Check out her order—you better make that guinea hen sing like a canary.” He turned to the rest of the staff. “People of the kitchen, the vippiest of VIPs is in our midst. Let’s make everything perfect. And if anyone has some spare ecstasy to slip into her, er, hen, that wouldn’t hurt either.”

Ricky pulled up the order. “Holy shit, Chef. In addition to the hen, she wants the grouper—when’s the last time we served that? The venison, ditto, the special risotto, ravioli, the lamb, that rabbit no one but Marco likes, Oysters Marco, the beet salad, and the three special apps.” He looked at Georgia. “We’re screwed. Aside from the specials, she ordered the worst things on the entire menu.”

“It’s Marco’s funeral, not ours,” Georgia said, knowing full well that if the famed food critic wasn’t happy, it was Georgia’s future that would swoosh straight down the toilet. But a great Mercedes Sante review would catapult her into the top echelon of New York City chefs, Food Network–ready, as Marco put it. Even more important, it would enable her to open her own restaurant. With a glowing review, financing would be a cinch; she’d have investors lining up outside her apartment, fat checkbooks in tow. Taking a few deep breaths, she mumbled a quick prayer to Ganesh. Two and a half, she begged the Hindu god and remover of obstacles, just two and a half forks. Please. She set to work.

Word of Mercedes’s arrival spread as fast as the latest starlet-in-rehab rumor, and the kitchen sprang into high-alert reviewer mode. This was slightly different from high-alert celebrity mode, in that the food mattered more than the booze, and at night’s end not even a smidgen of the check would be comped. The goal was for Mercedes to eat like a queen, and to assume every other no-name diner did too.

Georgia walked from station to station, staring over the shoulders of the line cooks, scrutinizing the dishes they prepared, sampling sauces, poking meats, stirring pots, sticking her nose everywhere, her spoon everywhere. Her manner was steady and calm despite the oppressive heat and cacophony of clanking pans, clashing blades, grinding machinery, and doors heaving open and closed. Only her hair betrayed her frazzled nerves, poking out like bunches of past-its-prime frisÉe. The two parallel lines etched between her eyebrows, the “elevens” as Glenn’s mom referred to them, deepened with concentration. Her skin flushed pink, then rose, finally settling somewhere around unripe strawberry.

She dipped her spoon into the special risotto. “Not bad. A tad more butter to finish.”

The cook nodded. “Yes, Chef.”

Georgia looked around. “Where’s my grill guy?”

No one answered. Leaving the station during service was not tolerated. During a review was unthinkable. She turned to the line cooks. “All hands on deck. Got it? Tell him if he doesn’t get his fucking ass back now, he’s fired. I mean it.”

The kitchen stopped for a split second. Georgia was known as one of the coolest chefs around. She rarely cursed (mostly because she wasn’t very good at it), wasn’t above plucking a chicken, and made everyone from the new guy washing dishes right on up to Ricky feel appreciated. Sure, she was a bit of a control freak, but compared to the pot-slamming, dish-dumping antics of some of her peers, this was easily overlooked. In return, she demanded full accountability from her kitchen.

“Sure thing, Chef,” said the cook.

Georgia grabbed a board of basil chiffonade from the garde-manger, who was in charge of cold apps, and slipped it into the garbage. “Try again. And make it pretty. Please.”

He pulled out another bunch of basil, rolled the leaves into a fat joint, then gracefully sliced the roll into thin ribbons.

“Lovely,” Georgia said. She’d worked in too many kitchens where the head chef berated his cooks into creating what he wanted without offering a word of thanks or the tiniest smidge of a compliment. Never, no matter who was sitting in the dining room, would she become That Chef.

After wiping up the last drop of misplaced sauce, she green-lighted the appetizers. The servers came to pick up, and a doe-eyed girl who looked like Bambi and talked like a trucker gave her a thumbs-up.

“She’s drinking like a mother-fucking fish,” she whispered. “That’s gotta be a good sign.”

Georgia nodded. Drinking was good. It meant Mercedes was thoroughly enjoying herself, and if she wasn’t, whatever she didn’t like might be a little hazy when it came time to put pen to paper.

When the app plates came back to the kitchen with nary a scrap in sight, Georgia allowed the smallest of smiles to escape her lips. The cooks had prepared three versions of each entrÉe, and she chose the best-looking for Mercedes’s table, waiting until the last minute to sauce and garnish. She eyeballed the entrÉes one final time before their tableside debut, drizzling extra green-peppercorn sauce on the venison and rearranging the sprigs of spiny rosemary on the lamb. An old boss had dubbed her Chef Georgia O’Keeffe, and she still considered presentation one of the most important elements of restaurant food. The waiters whisked away the entrÉes, so beautifully plated it seemed almost a shame to eat them, and she watched them go, then took a step back and stretched her hands to the tin ceiling.

“Nice job, Chef.” Ricky patted her back. “You done good.”

“You too, Rick. Whatever happens…” She left her thoughts unsaid. Whatever happened would set the course for the rest of her life. It was that simple.

© 2010 Jenny Nelson



Continues...

Excerpted from Georgia's Kitchen by Jenny Nelson Copyright © 2010 by Jenny Nelson. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 41 )
Rating Distribution

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(21)

4 Star

(7)

3 Star

(8)

2 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 41 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 6, 2010

    Romance and food - what more could you want from a novel?

    I really got into this book. You can really relate to Georgia. The storytelling style and pace of the narrative pull you in right from the beginning and you are eager to find out where the story is going. This is a perfect book, funny - well-paced - and written in a very engaging style. I definitely recommend you check it out.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 20, 2010

    A CAPTIVATING NOVEL YOU WON'T BE ABLE TO PUT DOWN!

    I read this novel every spare moment I had until I finished it. It is hard to leave for long. One gets caught up in the life of Georgia, of her challenges and frustrations, of her failures and aspirations. It is so easy for any of us to relate to. As Georgia moves from New York to Tuscany, and back to New York, the author does a brilliant job of making us feel as if we are there with her. Throughout the novel, one also learns quite a bit about the politics of the kitchen in restaurants, which is fascinating. And for those who like to cook, the book is an inspiration.

    This engaging novel leaves one wondering what Georgia will do next. Hopefully there will be a sequel!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 20, 2010

    successful debut

    To combine a character-driven plot that takes an unexpected turn or two or three with finely drawn descriptions of the locales where the book is set and the food produced there is quite a feat and Jenny Nelson pulls it off successfully in her first novel- Georgia's Kitchen. Her characters- from Georgia on down to the clueless doorman are multi-dimensional and believable, and her ear for dialogue is pitch-perfect. Nelson's knowledge and love of Tuscany and the food produced there are obvious, to the extent that I wondered why I could even think of vacationing anywhere else! She writes with authority and familiarity about life in New York City, and knows what goes on in restaurants- both in and out of the kitchen. Descriptions of the various dishes- their ingredients, preparation, and presentation left me salivating!
    Thjis book has it all! What next, Georgia??

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2010

    I loved it!

    I just finished Georgia's Kitchen and am sad to put it down. I thought it was terrific and will recommend it as my next book club pick.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 10, 2010

    Eat and Drink this BOOK!

    In preparation for a vacation on European time, I got up really early for several mornings and read -- now this book makes me want to change my plans from France to Italy. It's great getting to know Georgia, but her lifestyle had me hungover by 9:00 AM. All that wine, all that fantastic food, all those sexy Italians. But the author also really pegged a certain milieu in our city -- as a New Yorker I liked feeling "in" on so many references. And while it is too facile to read fiction as biography, I certainly hope the author's husband is equal parts Gianni and Andrew with only a dash of Glenn thrown in for the stylish gifts. Yes, dark chocolate is a health food, and everyone loves ensalata caprese. Everyone will love this book too. BUT Zola's anti-heroine is the only "Nana" I know -- does this portend a dark sequel???

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 8, 2010

    it is ok

    It is a typical,good novel. It was interesting,but sometimes unplesant to read,bacause of the "F" words. I would not buy her next book. A really good writer should be able to tell even a harsh story and create an atmosphere in a book whithout cursing or using slang.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 20, 2010

    Cheers to the author!

    Great contemporary interpretation of adventurous desires and love of food with international flair. I would highly recommend this book for both men and women! It truely gives insight to a modern women's tastes. The book makes me long for the bustle and fine cuisine of New York City.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 13, 2010

    Great read!!!!!

    I bought this book just before going on vacation to the beach, but after reading Georgia's Kitchen it feels like I went to Italy. The plot is very well developed; the characters are so real and easy to relate to; the food is amazing (mouth watering). It is a funny, interesting and catchy novel that I would definitely recommend to read. And I think it would become a great movie, hope to see it soon.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 24, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Sweet Taste of Italy

    I wanted to read Georgia's Kitchen initially merely for the Italian connection. I have never been to Italy but I have long dreamt of travelling there and I counted on this book allowing me to live out my passport-laced fantasies. Georgia's Kitchen did that and more.

    The book was a scrumptious treat from start to finish, between the descriptive and mouth watering foods described to the warm terracota of Tuscany to the desire for Georgia to open her own restaurant.

    I loved the character of Georgia, from the funny way her parents met and she was conceived to her troubling relationship with her mother to her devotion to her deceased grandmother to her loyal friends and adorable dog. I was invested in Georgia and her story and author Jenny Nelson deserves praise for accomplishing this task.

    I also appreciated that Georgia had to struggle and work hard not only during her stay in Tuscany but also in order to accomplish her dream, owning her very own restaurant. It wasn't an overnight process and it made the story much more relatable.

    The supporting characters in Georgia's Kitchen were a delightful mix of flighty, fun, sarcastic and stuffy, from the Marco employees to the kitchen staff in Tuscany to the New York investors.

    I enjoyed my stay, albeit a too brief one, with Georgia and I think women of all ages will too. I hope that Ms. Nelson will allow us to catch up with Georgia again in the future.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2010

    Loved this book!

    What's not to love? Georgia's Kitchen has gorgeous locales, fast-paced city living, a resilient heroine, and lots of delicious food. The story is lively and interesting and Nelson's descriptions are spot-on. I'm really hoping that a sequel is in the works!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 23, 2010

    Travel to a Better Place

    I cannot recommend "Georgia's Kitchen" highly enough! It is a fun read without being 'fluff.' The characters grab your attention, the dialogs are believable and interesting (you want to know what these people are thinking!). Setting description is one of Jenny Nelson's REAL strengths, the reader is transported to a different place (and is maybe a bit disappointed to find him/herself still at home). Georgia escapes and we with her. Her self-discovery brings her back to earth in a 'much better place.'

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 20, 2010

    DEFINITELY WORTH YOUR TIME

    Georgia's Kitchen, a novel of self-discovery and development, provides a charged emotional ride with plenty of surprising plot-turns, drama, suspense and adventure. Georgia Gray, the protagonist, is completely sympathetic, flaws and all, a strong, smart woman who gets stronger and, more importantly, wiser in the course of the action, but not until she's been sucker-punched a couple of times. The descriptions of the restaurant scenes in NYC and Tuscany are convincingly evocative, carrying that ring of authenticity which makes all the difference. Nelson's passages convey loads of information, yet are swift and supple-even making the reader feel smarter about and somehow more alert to life--and tuned to the human emotions and the five senses. Nelson is equally skilled in close-up, the middle distance-one of my favorites in fiction-- and long-shot. The secondary characters are also fully-realized, no pushovers or stick figures here. I highly recommend Georgia's Kitchen.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 23, 2011

    Kritters Ramblings

    One woman is not happy in her relationship, not happy at her job and can't figure out who to change it all. So after the relationship falls apart and the job is gone, she heads to Italy to find a new balance in her life. With kitchens in Manhattan and Italy at the center, food is a major character in the book and this author nailed the descriptions of each dish and made me quite hungry while reading!

    I fell in love with Georgia and wanted to become her friend which makes me fall deeper into any book - a connection the characters is key in my book. Although there is heartache and relationships in this book, it was refreshing to have the woman try to find the balance in her life within herself instead of depending on others for it.

    A wonderful piece of women's fiction that will make you want to visit both Italy and New York for the food and the atmosphere. A strong woman at the center and a depth to the story makes this book a piece of women's fiction in my mind and one worth picking up.

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  • Posted November 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Fun, delicious read

    If you're in the mood for an escape to Italy but your bank account doesn't quite agree, have a look at Georgia's Kitchen, a charming book that will transport you to a trattoria nestled in Tuscany's rolling hills. You'll also spend a good deal of time in bustling New York City, where Georgia lives full-time as a chef until her career takes a hit from a bad review and her romantic relationship crumbles. Off to Italy it is, then, for Georgia, where her passions become clear to her - and to a local named Gianni. Georgia's Kitchen is a fun, delicious read that just may inspire you to dig deeper and follow dreams simmering below the surface. Nelson's writing is descriptive but tight - and foodies will love reading about Georgia's exquisite creations, particularly as she strives to create the Tuscan trattoria's signature dish. This book would be great to take on vacation or even just to cuddle up with for a little while each evening, savoring each chapter. Four espresso cups out of five!

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  • Posted October 27, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Great Debut!

    Georgia's life seems to be right on track. She is the head chef of Marco, a popular hit restaurant in New York City, which is about to receive a three fork review that will set Georgia on the path of her dreams. Her upcoming nuptials are only weeks away and soon she will have almost everything she has planned, aside from the children. Unfortunately for Georgia, plans change, life throws curve balls and people are finicky. All in one fateful day Georgia's life changes setting her on course to rebuild and rediscover herself. Georgia finds herself in the heart of Italy opening up a restaurant for a friend while learning and healing. What Georgia once found to me the most disastrous day of her life, ends up to be the best thing that could ever have happened to her. With determination and hard work, Georgia leaves Italy to make her dreams come true, finding happiness in the process.

    Georgia's Kitchen was a delightful read for me. I really enjoyed how the story starts and end in New York City while stopping off in romantic Italy for a spell. The chef topic and culinary aspects were wonderful and well researched. The author was authentic and seemed to know her way around the biz. I really enjoyed the characters in this novel. They were all well developed and understood. Each brought a little something different to the story and I can't imagine the novel without each of them. This novel encompassed a lot of topics and I felt each was explored adequately. Georgia's fateful day almost makes the reader happy for her, even though you know you'd be devastated at the time. The character has obvious talent and charm that ensures the reader she will be okay no matter where she plants her feet.

    The writing style of this novel was my least favorite part. While most of it was easy to read, some parts were a little difficult for me to move though as they bored me with too much detail. These sections had detail that was not pertinent to the storyline. I understood them because of the culinary references but didn't really feel they were quite needed in the book. They seemed to take away from the book rather than add to it for me. Overall, I read this novel fairly quickly and enjoyed it! It is worth the time and effort to read, especially if you love culinary novels or a good chick lit. The novel is very up to date in its terms and internet media references. I enjoyed many aspects of this novel despite the very few counterparts. I would recommend it to a friend and I look forward to more from this debut author.

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  • Posted October 13, 2010

    Like an Old Pal

    I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Georgia in Jenny Nelson's first novel. She reminded me of an old pal and I found her charming, down to earth, and totally relate-able. This was a book that pulled me in from page one and kept me wanting to read more. I loved that Georgia made unexpected decisions, followed her heart, and was surrounded by friends who bucked tradition. I especially enjoyed Georgia's time in Italy. Though I have never been, Ms. Nelson's picturesque descriptions made it jump to the top of my list. The author has a knack for not only creating beautiful pictures in the reader's mind but also creating characters that you feel like you should have on speed dial. Can't wait for book number 2 from this promising young author!

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  • Posted October 10, 2010

    libro fantastico!!!

    FABULOUS fun and truly heartfelt. Literally couldn't put it down. You will immediately become entranced by the sassy clever Georgia. Vivid, flawed, and charming characters. They are beautifully described and truly come to life. You will definitely want a glass of brunello and some branzino after you finish this delicious book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2010

    Sooooo Unbelievably PREDICTABLE

    I bought this book because my library didn't carry it. Clue number 1. Now I am stuck with it. It sounded cute but and had good reviews but in the end it is one of the most predictable, blah books I have read. If you are bored out of your mind, it's something to read. If you want something that is hard to put down and makes you question where the author is going with the storyline...keep on looking and rest easy that you aren't missing anything by letting this one pass you by.

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  • Posted October 7, 2010

    loved it! true, fun & delicious

    I picked up this book to take with me on summer vacation; instead I spent 2 evenings on the couch and finished it pre-vacation!

    Jenny Nelson has such an engaging style and Georgia's story grabbed me from the start. As a recently departed, former NYCer, I found Nelson's descriptions of the city - the restaurants, the food, the clothes, the people, the scene, the pace, the chatter, all of it! - to be refreshingly spot-on. I also have years of experience working in a fast-paced NYC restaurant and found the 'front of the house/back of the house' theme of the story to be not only true, funny and telling, but also a great structure for a book. This attention to detail and the quick pace of the story made it hard to put down. I found myself rooting for Georgia and even though I was pretty sure she'd land on her feet, I really wanted to know what was next for her. Reading it was like being transported to NYC and Italy too - a perfect summer read or an escape anytime. Plus, the foodie talk and recipe descriptions are mouth-watering - yum!


    I'm looking forward to whatever Jenny Nelson does next!

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  • Posted September 21, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A Yummy Food Lover's Novel

    Georgia's Kitchen is a great read for anyone who loves novels that combine the worlds of food and fiction. Georgia is a woman I think many of us can relate to--you think you've got it all, then find out maybe it's not what it appeared to be. So what do you do? Go out and reinvent your life! All of the characters are fully developed, the descriptions of the food are delicious, and anyone who has ever wanted to go to Italy will devour this book in one gulp. I couldn't put it down. Perfect for reading groups who like to concentrate on food-themed books. The book includes questions for discussion and a chat with the author. It's going on my Staff Recommends at my B&N pronto!

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