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?
|Publisher:||Novelstream dba Interlude Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.60(d)|
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Chef Evan Stanford is far more than a just classy chef. He has fulfilled many of his life’s dreams, but feels stuck, with nothing else to shoot for in his mind. When he meets Patrick Sullivan, an Irish-American cook at a Brooklyn diner (think: greasy spoon) who is just a few credits short of being a Culinary Institute graduated pastry chef, there aren’t instant fireworks and hearts and flowers flying. What we get in Chef’s Table is a well-developed love story with two very realistic characters. Their relationship develops over time, with all the stops and starts you’d expect from a couple of men from very different backgrounds, with very different goals and dreams. Watching them merge their separate paths throughout the course of the first half of the book was an emotional journey told as only Charles can. Did you notice in that last paragraph that I said “first half of the book”? That’s right. The best part of this book for me came after the protagonists got together, because Charles showed what it’s like to live in a relationship with someone over time. There is more to this story than a meet cute and a falling-in-love. Evan and Patrick have to make a go of their relationship. These are adults with adult responsibilities and adult problems, and they have to grow together or they will grow apart. Charles creates this tension masterfully, without clichéd, unnecessary angst. Life brings enough angst of its own, don’t you know? No need to throw in cheating, old flames, or silly arguments. Showing two people living out their lives together in a relationship is not easy, but Charles is a master at it. Charles also interjects laugh-out-loud humor along the way. My husband literally laughed out loud at a couple of the passages I read for him after I snorted a few too many times while reading before bed. I don’t think I have ever read a book that has made me laugh as hard as this one, as well as brought tears to my eyes. Watch for Rosey and Angel, and Roger, and Dini the dog. Their antics will have you rolling with laughter. And my favorite- the SpongeBob reference. I am not a foodie. I don’t dine out at fancy restaurants. I don’t cook fancy food or have the entire Williams-Sonoma (or even Pampered Chef) catalog in my kitchen. I get by with family favorites, comfort food, and casseroles. A lot of casseroles. Needless to say, I wasn’t sure at first that I could get into a book about a high-class chef and his kitchen. Thank goodness I was willing to give it a try. If you are looking for a book filled with clichés and thinly created characters, this is not the book for you. If you are looking for a well-written, compelling story with characters you can fall in love with while they are falling for each other? Pick up a copy of Chef’s Table. You won’t regret it.
Five months ago, I was lucky enough to meet Lynn Charles at a book signing for another author we both admire. We shared a quick hug as I searched for my place in line, but as that was essentially the end of our encounter, I was left wanting to spend more time with her. I feel the same way about Chef’s Table. I could read about these men, their friends, their lives, for several hundred more pages and still be clamoring for more. This is not to say the book is too short — in fact, of the books currently available from Interlude Press, Chef’s Table is among the longer ones — but that their story is so engrossing that I would gladly read about their trips to the pharmacy or an afternoon spent doing laundry and watching the news. As it was, I sped through the book in a matter of hours, stopping (reluctantly) only to sleep and work. I didn’t want to put it down. Knowing that Lynn had worked with a chef to get the terminology and descriptions right, I was a little nervous when I opened the book for the first time, afraid that I would get bogged down by phrases I didn’t understand. My worries were unfounded; though Lynn does use a fair bit of “chef speak” throughout the book, new terms are usually clarified in layman’s terms right away, often in the form of Evan explaining something to Patrick or vice versa. I feel like I learned a little bit about cooking by reading this book, and I certainly didn’t set out intending for that to happen. I really should have known better, though — I’ve read other, unpublished stories Lynn has written, often about topics unfamiliar to me, and she has always, somehow, managed to write about the more technical aspects in ways that are as accessible as they are lyrical, making even the uninitiated feel right at home wherever the story may be set. In the case of this book, that is often the hustling, bustling kitchens Patrick and Evan know so well. Like the cover, this book is vibrant and joyful and often whimsical, but it’s not all fluff. There’s decidedly more to it than that, and it’s in the hard moments that Evan and Patrick — like all humans — really show their mettle. Their tempers — and temperaments — get the best of them sometimes, but they push through and come out the other side a little better for it. I will admit, I didn’t particularly like Evan at first. He struck me as a snob, and I don’t have patience for snobs, even fictional ones. He grew on me as I learned his story, though, and I came to love him fairly quickly, despite his tendency toward hot-headedness when stressed. Patrick, on the other hand? I fell in love with him in the time it took him to say 14 sentences (I counted). I don’t think I’ve ever been so truly enraptured by a character that quickly, but something about his Irish charm turned my head the same way it did Evan’s. Patrick is a delight. Together? They’re irresistible, just like this novel. One suggestion: Before you sit down to read Chef’s Table, I recommend you do two things: make sure you’re not reading on an empty stomach, and have something tasty nearby anyway. Trust me, you will get hungry reading this luscious book. Don’t be like me; I started reading on an empty stomach and went in search of something sweet around the time Lynn started describing Patrick’s delectable cheesecakes, only to find someone had eaten the last slice of pumpkin pie.