I don’t know about you, but I grew up begging my parents to switch the channel to Food Network so I could check in with the latest rendition of Iron Chef: America or Cupcake Wars.
(Small aside: host Justin Willman once responded to my tweet and this remains my favorite random anecdote to share).
The recent trend of romances and novels based around foodie reality TV suggests it is not just me who loves these shows. You can’t look at a new release list without bumping up against some variation of two people involved in food TV falling in love.
Common theme though it may be, I’m not yet tired of reading these books. Romance, made-for-TV drama, and delicious food descriptions — what’s not to like?
Sadie on a Plate takes this formula and gives it a forbidden romance twist. Sadie works as a chef in the Seattle restaurant scene, until a breakup with her boss results in an incident that she fears may have damaged her reputation beyond repair. Thankfully, right around the same time she hears back from the producers at Chef Supreme.
She jets off to New York, hoping the competition will restart her career. On the plane, she meets a fellow chef with whom she has amazing chemistry… except things aren’t so simple as they seem, and their magical afternoon together just might have unexpected consequences on her fresh start.
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What I Liked
Sadie is a Jewish woman who is passionate about her culinary lineage. I am not Jewish and haven’t eaten much Jewish food, so it was really interesting to hear Sadie describe the inspiration behind her recipes. The food descriptions were, hands down, my favorite part of this book.
I also appreciated the diversity offered by the contestants on Chef Supreme, which showcased a number of cultures and identities that I thought were, overall, handled well. It was so interesting to see the different personalities translate to the kitchen.
Even though this book has a romance element, Sadie’s journey to confidence in herself and in her dishes really takes center stage, which made the story that much more engaging.
The ending in terms of the competition itself wasn’t what you might expect, which I also enjoyed.
What I Didn’t Like
The romance, for me, was a little underdeveloped by nature of the setup. It had that flare of “insta-love” I’ve heard people complain about. Several elements of how things developed between the two also felt predictable, which left me wishing for something more from this part of the story.
At times I felt like it was kind of hard to connect with Sadie as a narrator — she had a certain distance that made it challenging for me to understand who she was. I think this is partly intentional, since she is working to understand herself after having her confidence shaken, but at times I wanted to feel closer to her as a person.
In all, I very much enjoyed Sadie on a Plate. The reality TV setting allows for so much inherit drama and intrigue in the plot, and I love the behind-the-scenes look at the process of filming. By the end I found myself wishing I could try Sadie’s food, because it all sounded amazing.
I recommend this book to Food Network fans, readers who love to cook or learn about food, and to readers who like a forbidden romance story. If you enjoyed Rosaline Palmer Takes The Cake, this feels like a readalike due to the reality TV setting and romance elements.
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