Taste Test

Taste Test

4.3 6
by Kelly Fiore

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If you can grill it, smoke it, or fry it, Nora Henderson knows all about it. She's been basting baby back ribs and pulling pork at her father's barbeque joint since she was tall enough to reach the counter. When she's accepted to Taste Test, a reality-television teen cooking competition, Nora can't wait to leave her humble hometown behind, even if it means

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If you can grill it, smoke it, or fry it, Nora Henderson knows all about it. She's been basting baby back ribs and pulling pork at her father's barbeque joint since she was tall enough to reach the counter. When she's accepted to Taste Test, a reality-television teen cooking competition, Nora can't wait to leave her humble hometown behind, even if it means saying good-bye to her dad and her best friend, Billy. Once she's on set, run-ins with her high-society roommate and the maddeningly handsome—not to mention talented—son of a famous chef, Christian Van Lorten, mean Nora must work even harder to prove herself. But as mysterious accidents plague the kitchen arena, protecting her heart from one annoyingly charming fellow contestant in particular becomes the least of her concerns. Someone is conducting real-life eliminations, and if Nora doesn't figure out who, she could be next to get chopped for good.

With romance and intrigue as delectable as the winning recipes included in the story, this debut novel will be devoured by all.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Nora Henderson learned to cook in her father’s North Carolina barbecue joint. Christian Van Lorton honed his skills as the son of a New York City celebrity chef. Now they’re competing to win a ,000 scholarship to culinary school in Paris. A cooking competition reality show for teenagers is such a good idea that it’s not surprising a Top Chef spinoff for teens is actually in the works. Debut author Fiore persuasively details the constraints of being on this kind of show, from the strict security measures to the way producers try to pump up rivalries to increase ratings. Where she’s less believable is in the idea that the teens are still taking classes and juggling papers on culinary history amid their cooking challenges, and, more importantly, in her depiction of Nora and Christian’s is-it-hate-or-is-it-love relationship, in which their chemistry plays second fiddle to too many obnoxious exchanges. Justice, love, and the best chef prevail, but the story’s overly broad strokes, including a melodramatic sabotage subplot, undermine its potential pleasures. Ages 12–up. Agent: Hannah Brown Gordon, Foundry Literary + Media. (Aug.)
Children's Literature - Anita Lock
Nora Henderson loves to cook. She also loves her dad and her best friend, Billy. The one thing that she does not relish, though, is staying in Weston, North Carolina for the rest of her life. That is when Billy steps in and encourages Nora to submit an application to Taste Test, a teen reality-show cooking competition. The prize is a scholarship to the International School of Cuisine in Paris, France and $50,000 to be used for culinary career advancement. Nora applies, doubtful that she will be one of the chosen. But to her surprise she is accepted; and before long her bags are packed and she is on her way to North Sullivan, Connecticut in the middle of January. Dealing with the temperature change is not the only challenge that she is confronted with upon settling into her new surroundings. Out of twenty contestants, her first encounters are with Joy, her egotistical roommate, and Christian, the narcissistic and strikingly attractive son of an internationally renowned chef. Both quickly become earmarked as Nora's annoying nemeses. Fortunately, Nora rises above the din of adversarial badgering and condescending remarks by building friendships with her allies, Angela and Gigi. However, the tide turns when Angela and Nora's bothersome rival, Joy, become victims of unexplained catastrophes and are eliminated during the cook-off challenges. Nora determines to find the culprit, but is constantly interrupted by Christian's suave yet ensnaring invitations to become friends. Behind Christian's mixed messages, Nora begins to see his human side and finds herself smitten, but dares not let that show since they are top competitors. And though a love-hate relationship ensues, Christian and Nora are named the finalists, but the competition is not over until the real perpetrators of the catastrophes make their appearance. Tender but spicy, Fiore's debut novel is replete with unexpected twists that make this a delightful book to the very end. Reviewer: Anita Lock
VOYA - Adrienne Amborski
Mix Food Network with a teen reality show, and the result is a recipe for a delicious debut by Fiore. Hailing from a small town in North Carolina, Nora Henderson dreams of pursuing a career in the culinary arts. Having spent her childhood as her father's assistant at their popular Smoke Signals BBQ restaurant, Nora is no stranger to the kitchen. Pressured by her best friend, Billy, to enter the Taste Test contest, Nora reluctantly agrees to submit an application. Nora is surprised was she is chosen for the chance to compete on Taste Test, a reality cooking show where the contestants are high school students. With nervous anticipation, Nora enters the fast-paced and cutthroat world of reality television competitions. Upon arrival at the North American Culinary Academy in Connecticut, Nora meets the other contestants. First impressions are made, and standing out from the crowd is the extremely handsome and sardonic Christian Van Lorten, who immediately insults Nora by referring to her cooking background as "Hillybilly food." With the stakes high, Taste Test proceeds with recipe challenges, eliminating contestants at each round. Inexplicable accidents and shady alliances add to the story's drama. Ending with a new world of possibilities for Nora, Taste Test leaves the reader eagerly anticipating a sequel. Taste Test will appeal to teen readers who enjoy a strong female protagonist who is not afraid to speak her mind. The sarcastic word play between Nora and Christian, along with the romantic tension, creates an entertaining and contemporary read. Recipes at the end of the book are a nice addition. Reviewer: Adrienne Amborski
VOYA - Gwen Amborski
Taste Test is a funny, sweet, romantic read with a little bit of suspense. Nora is a strong heroine that will draw female interest to this novel. Fiore's writing is easy to read, which makes the book fast paced. Taste Test is a good beach book or an escape for a rainy day. Fans of Catherine Clark will enjoy this book. Reviewer: Gwen Amborski, Teen Reviewer
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—Nora Henderson has been cooking in her dad's BBQ restaurant her whole life. But Weston, North Carolina, is a tiny town, and she wants out. She applies to compete in the hottest new reality show, Taste Test, where teens vie for a scholarship to the International School of Cuisine in Paris and a $50,000 cash prize. The aspiring chefs are friendly but also ultracompetitive, and battle lines, including the requisite drama and sabotage, are quickly drawn. Nora learns that all's fair in love and war, and that sometimes the good guy can finish first. This debut novel is a sweet confection about overcoming the odds and being true to oneself. Nora is an everygirl with a realistic voice and a great sense of humor about her fish-out-of-water situation. Readers who are not interested in cooking will still relate to the reality-show setting and enjoy the friendships and romance. The food descriptions are mouthwatering, and the contestants' recipes included in the back matter feature sophisticated flavors that might even get some readers cooking.—Laura Lutz, Pratt Institute, New York City
Kirkus Reviews
This debut about a reality show for young chefs has enough spice to keep readers feasting all the way through. Nora has been cooking all her life; her dad runs a barbecue restaurant that's legendary in their part of North Carolina. She loves the reality TV show Taste Test, in which teens vie for a $50,000 scholarship to a famous Paris cooking school, and she enters it as a contestant. As soon as she arrives, sparks fly. Handsome Christian is the privileged son of a famous chef, and his friend Joy hobnobs with celebrities. They treat Nora as a redneck. Nora and Christian turn out to be the major talents among the contestants, but the tension that generates convinces many that they're hiding a romance. As the contest progresses, someone appears to be sabotaging the show. Amid all the turmoil, can Nora concentrate on winning, and does she really have a chance? Fiore creates some likable, enjoyable characters, especially in Nora and Christian, and keeps the narrative zooming along with all the urgency of a real reality show. She spends only a few chapters on the actual cooking challenges, focusing instead on the conflict between Nora and Christian. Readers will spot the romance potential immediately, but the story stretches out that prospect for as long as possible. Contestants may lose, but readers won't. (recipes) (Fiction. 12 & up)

Product Details

Walker & Company
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Kelly Fiore has a BA in Creative Writing from Salisbury University and an MFA in Poetry from West Virginia University. Cooking and writing are two of Kelly's greatest passions; others include cupcakes, facials, and VH1 Classic. She lives in Maryland where she lives with her husband and son. Taste Test is her debut novel.

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