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Taste Test

Taste Test

4.3 6
by Kelly Fiore

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


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)
Top Chef Season 5 favorite and Top Chef All Star Fabio Viviani
The perfect recipe for love!

Product Details

Walker & Company
Publication date:
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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Taste Test 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it could npt put the book down it was so amazing it is a totally must read book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MyHeartHeartsBooks More than 1 year ago
I loved every single minute and every single page of Taste Test. Before Kelly Fiore's debut novel, I was in a reading funk. I couldn't get enough of Taste Test, and once I finished the last page, I flipped back to the first page so I could prolong my reading experience. Taste Test tells the story of Nora competing in a high stakes cooking competition. The prize of $50,000 and a scholarship to a prestigious cooking academy in Paris could open so many doors for Nora, a girl who from North Carolina who grew up learning to cook at her father's Barbecue restaurant. However the competition isn't easy and it's filled with privileged rich kids who were raised with the culinary best in their silver spoons. When mysterious and strange "coincidences" occur, Nora begins to suspect theirs more happening then she suspected. I definitely want a second helping of Taste Test. There just doesn't seem to be enough. I really felt like I connected with Nora and what she was dealing with, even though I never experienced anything like it. There is a universality in this work, that makes it so relatable. Taste Test is about love: love of what you do and maybe another kind of love as well. ARC provided by publisher on Netgalley.
LovinLosLibros More than 1 year ago
I was quite excited to see this pop up on NG and even more excited when I got approved. I really enjoy cooking and while I've never really gotten into the cooking shows on TV, I still thought this would be a really fun story. And it was. While I would say this was just meh for me- I still enjoyed reading it. However, I found the characters to be very one-dimensional and didn't really see any character development. I liked the main character Nora ok, but I did find her to be a bit immature. Especially when it came to Christian. But we'll get to him in a minute. Nora earns a spot on Taste Test and naturally has to deal with the assumptions that she's nothing but a country bumpkin from a few of the elite, rich kids. She is determined to prove herself and that she has a fighting chance of winning. Upon setting foot on the bus, she is immediately insulted and criticized by both Joy and Christian- two of the aforementioned elite, rich kids. What reality tv show would be complete without drama, right? Joy is a pampered princess who we think has something going on with Christian. It turns out Joy's taste in guys is a bit more advanced, which leads Nora to believe there is bias amongst the judges. Nora and Christian have an interesting dynamic. They go from insulting and hating one another one minute to questioning their feelings for each other the next. Yet, I just didn't quite buy it. Christian is a straight up douche. He ran hot and cold the entire book with Nora. One minute he'd be insulting her, the next he'd be playful and teasing, and in the next he would be serious and almost vulnerable. It was hard to get a read on him and whether he was genuine or not because of the back and forth. They acted rather childish when it came to one-upping the other. I would have liked Christian a bit more had he shown some kind of redemption or bettering of his character in the end. But I didn't see that myself. Personally, I didn't find myself swooning over him at all. Now, Billy, Nora's best friend? YES. He was sweet, caring, and encouraging. He is defensive of Nora and you can tell he has feelings for her. However, there really seemed to be no point in introducing his character as a potential love interest. It didn't go anywhere and seemed a bit awkwardly incorporated into the story. Such a shame- I would have preferred those two with one another, because it's a relationship I could actually believe. But Nora is too caught up with her infatuation/revenge with Christian. I did like how there were interviews and such placed strategically through the novel. I thought that was pretty cool how the interrogator was trying to pit contestants and friends against each other and get the kids to try and say things they didn't necessarily mean. It was very realistic to what real reality tv shows try to do. I also liked the competitions and I wish we had seen a bit more of those instead of focusing on the drama surrounding it. We do have a bit of mystery and intrigue in this book. Someone is trying to sabotage the competition by injuring contestants. Trying to figure out who was guilty of such heinous acts was really kind of neat, even though I hated who it ended up being. Overall, not a bad read- there were definitely aspects I really liked and I tried not to focus on how much I disliked the love interest and just enjoy the story for what it was. *Received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review*
rockygirl1 More than 1 year ago
I was so excited when I saw this book.  I couldn’t wait to read it.  And when an ARC of the book fell in my hands? I did a happy dance (a dancer I am not, luckily my kids are still young enough that they are not easily embarrassed, but let me tell you, the day is coming, and I am not about to stop dancing in public!) I couldn’t wait to dive into this one, but unfortunately, other commitments made me have to hold off for almost a month.  But FINALLY! I have been able to read it.  Cue the happy dance music. So, I fell in love with Nora immediately.  I mean she has spunk.  She is not intimidated by anyone on the show and she is loyal to a fault to her friends.  Who wouldn’t want a friend like that? And to be honest? Christian? the main male lead, wasn’t seeing the attraction.  But, he grew on me.  A lot.  I’ll admit that by the end I was really cheering for him and Nora.  But we won’t go into details cause that would be spoiler-ish, and we all know that I don’t do that! Nora’s friends are great too. I also loved the concept of the book.  I admit it. I’m a closet reality show junkie.  My hubby hates it, but I will watch any of them.  My current favorite is the voice (I mean Adam Levine? YUM!) So this was right up my alley! And teenagers competing and cooking is amazing. And even cooler? Kelly Fire includes ACTUAL recipes in the book.  Of actual stuff that the contestants cook on the show! And my favorite part, the cover is adorable and totally sets the tone for the whole book! Yeah, this book was AMAZING. I try not to give out my 5 ratings to often to make them mean something, but this book totally eared it.  I couldn’t wait to get to the end and find out who was behind all the accidents on the sets, and I promise its probably NOT who you thought it was either! (Kelly also sent me the coolest swag with the book, but I promise that had nothing to do with the review but may have had a lot to do with all the dancing that was going on in my house! I would take a picture of the spatula set that she sent, but I’m pretty sure that my daughters have confiscated them as I haven’t seen them lately! but the bookmarks totally rocked!)
PrettyInFiction More than 1 year ago
Taste Test by Kelly Fiore is one of those books with such a cute concept that you just have to read it. The second I read the synopsis I knew, good or bad, I'd be reading this one. And I enjoyed it! A lot, actually. It was fun and creative and perfect for a quick read at the beach. The story takes place on the set of a teen reality cooking show, which is just about the coolest concept ever. Or, I think it is, at least, because I can't seem to stop watching reality cooking shows! They're addictive and so was this book (and the mystery that went along with it). I have to admit, I wish Fiore had picked an aspect of this story and stuck with it though. I felt between the romance, the mystery and the cooking, everything was stretched too thin. It all felt vague. If she'd pushed the cooking or mystery to the forefront and let the romance settle into the background Taste Test might have become one of my favorites. But as it is, I think it'll just become a cute book I read one time. Let's talk about the love interest for a minute. I can't say I fell for Christian, but I can't say I didn't either. He was a jerk from the beginning of the book and he didn't grow or change much throughout the story, but what seventeen year old boy would mature in just a few months? Especially months spent on the set of a reality show! The thing about Christian is that, even though whenever he's feeling insecure he reverts back to a thirteen year old caveman, he still has a good heart underneath that bravado and you do get glimpses of the man he might become, but he's not becoming that man in this book. So, no, maybe he's not the love interest that will stick with you and have you swooning all over yourself, but his character is a realistic take on a spoiled seventeen year old boy and I appreciate that. Plus he's one heck of a cook! The thing that really makes this book stand out for me is the contestant recipes for the dishes they make throughout the show. There's everything from Nora's Three Chili Macaroni and Cheese to Joy's Lobster Bisque with Roasted Corn and Potato Shreds. Mmm. Yum. My mouth was watering the whole time I was reading so it only makes sense Fiore leaves the reader with a few fantastic sounding recipes! While Taste Test might not have the consistency to stick with you after you put the book down, it's entertaining while you're reading and will leave you dying to try out some of those recipes. I highly recommend to fellow Food Network junkies and to anyone looking for a light, but very cute, story.