Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal
When Lars Thorvald’s wife, Cynthia, falls in love with wine—and a dashing sommelier—he’s left to raise their baby, Eva, on his own. He’s determined to pass on his love of food to his daughter—starting with puréed pork shoulder. As Eva grows, she finds her solace and salvation in the flavors of her native Minnesota. From Scandinavian lutefisk to hydroponic chocolate habaneros, each ingredient represents one part of Eva’s journey as she becomes the star chef behind a legendary and secretive pop-up supper club, culminating in an opulent and emotional feast that’s a testament to her spirit and resilience. Each chapter in J. Ryan Stradal’s startlingly original debut novel tells the story of a single dish and character, at once capturing the zeitgeist of the Midwest, the rise of foodie culture, and delving into the ways food creates community and a sense of identity
The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert
In downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Chef Lou Johnson works tirelessly to build her beloved yet struggling restaurant, Luella’s, into a success. She cheerfully balances business, friends, and fiance…until fate intervenes. She’s just baked her fiancé a rich, delectable coconut cake, but when she drops by his apartment with the birthday surprise, she discovers him in the buff with an intern. Sardonic British transplant Al writes pseudonymous, scathing restaurant reviews for the local paper. When a tip sends him to Luella’s, little does he know he’s arrived on the worst day of the chef’s life. The review practically writes itself: underdone fish, scorched sauce, distracted service—he unleashes his worst. The day that Al’s review runs, he meets Lou drowning her sorrows at a pub, and the two strike up a conversation. Accepting the Englishman’s challenge to prove there’s more to the Milwaukee food scene than cheese and beer, Lou introduces her friend to the city’s best. Its only a matter of time before they fall in love…but when the truth comes out, will it be possible to overlook the past and savor a future together?
With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
Ever since she got pregnant freshman year, Emoni Santiago’s life has been about making the tough decisions—doing what has to be done for her daughter and her abuela.
The one place she can let all that go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness.
Even though she dreams of working as a chef after she graduates, Emoni knows that it’s not worth her time to pursue the impossible. Yet despite the rules she thinks she has to play by, once Emoni starts cooking, her only choice is to let her talent break free.
Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev
Dr. Trisha Raje is San Francisco’s most acclaimed neurosurgeon. But that’s not enough for the Rajes, her influential immigrant family who achieved power by making its own non-negotiable rules: never trust an outsider, never do anything to jeopardize your brother’s political aspirations and never, ever, defy your family. Trisha has been guilty of breaking all the rules, but finally has a chance to redeem herself. So long as she doesn’t repeat her old mistakes. Up-and-coming chef DJ Caine has known people like Trisha before, people who judge him by his rough beginnings and place pedigree above character. He needs the lucrative job the Rajes offer, but he values his pride too much to indulge Trisha’s arrogance. Then he discovers that she’s the only surgeon who can save his sister’s life. But before a future can be savored there’s a past to be reckoned with….
The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller
When Olivia Rawlings, Boston pastry chef extraordinaire, sets not only her flambé dessert but the entire building alight, she escapes to Vermont stay with her best friend, Hannah, who lives in a town famous for Bag Balm and contra dancing. Since her previous post at the exclusive Boston club has probably also gone up in smoke, Olivia gratefully accepts a job at the Sugar Maple Inn, not realizing at first that she’s been hired to help the cantankerous owner reclaim the inn’s blue ribbon status at the annual county fair apple pie contest. Livvy soon finds herself immersed in small-town life, and when she meets Martin McCracken, a native who has returned to take care of his ailing father, she begins to understand that she may not be as alone in the world as she once thought