The Chef's Secret by Crystal King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I first learned about this author from Catherine on the Sarah's Book Shelves podcast, episode 2 - I was intrigued by the concept of historical foodie fiction so I requested an eARC of The Chef's Secret from Edelweiss (this came out February 12, 2019.)
Even though it took me a while to read, and I read it between other things, there are a lot of itches scratched by this novel. First is the food, of course. The two main characters are the Pope's chef in Renaissance Italy, so there is a lot of discussion of incredible feasts and elaborate dishes. On top of that is the story of a chef and his master teacher, a chef who leaves his property and possessions to him (including his last name!) when he dies. His journals are written in code, so there are elements of mystery and codebreaking and secrets. Everything is couched in deep historical research that doesn't bog down the story but really adds a lot to it. (I loved the author note at the end which points out which pieces she took from history and which she made work for the story, and the sources she relied on.)
The author also has some historical recipes to accompany the book and anything Renaissance Italy on her website. There is a tart that accompanied a major plot point, and I'm tempted....
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