Love à la Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm (2018)
Two teenagers join a group of other students at a prestigious cooking school and find themselves falling in love in Paris.
There was a lot to enjoy about this book. I'm a sucker for anything Paris-related, so I loved the setting. The boarding school/cooking program was also pretty cool; it was fun seeing these kids from all over the world live and study together. The secondary characters were so diverse and added a great friendship element to the book (especially Hampus!). The descriptions of food were just magical - I really wanted some baguettes and croissants while I was reading!
Now, onto Henry and Rosie, our main characters. They were well-developed and I especially enjoyed that they each had a wonderful family to connect with at home. Henry's mother could be overbearing, but she was just trying to open his eyes to other possibilities than cooking (knowing how hard it was for her own husband to work in a restaurant). The romance at the center of the story left a lot to be desired, though, at least for me. It was cute how they met on the plane and Rosie and Henry obviously had a great connection, but so much of their burgeoning relationship was hampered because no one knew how to communicate. Literally one conversation could have cleared everything up. The back and forth got frustrating, and I didn't really like how many times Henry was short or cold with Rosie and she just brushed it off. 3.5 stars
Sous Chef: 24 Hours on the Line by Michael Gibney (2014)
Chef Michael Gibney combines his knowledge of food and years of experience in the kitchen to create a "day in the life" of a sous chef in a New York City restaurant.
I'm always amazed by people who can cook - like, really cook - and I love food, so the idea of working in a restaurant has always appealed to me. After reading this book, however, I would never want to be a sous chef in a fine dining establishment. Man, it is HARD! The days are long, starting with prep hours before the doors even open, and the pressure is high. It amazed me how many people are involved, from the dishwashers to the line cooks to the executive chef, and how they all must work together in perfect harmony to keep the service moving. If one person makes a mistake, it can throw everyone else off. Timing and precision are so necessary.
This was a quick read, less then 200 pages, but at times it felt really wordy. So much information was imparted, it was overwhelming. There was a glossary at the back that I probably should have checked out more than once, just to understand what the author was talking about. 4 stars