Author: Lisa Joy
Michael Joseph RRP $32.99
Review: Monique Mulligan
Light and fluffy like a souffle, Yes Chef! is an entertaining and quick read just right for when you need a little escapism. With cooking shows and the foodie scene enjoying ongoing popularity, Yes Chef! is set in the trendy restaurant scene, complete with big-headed chefs, irritating customers and fancy cooking. Chick-lit wouldn’t be complete without romance, and that’s served up as well, though there are a couple of appetisers before the main course.
Taking restaurant reservations for one of London’s most successful restaurant empires is not as fun as it sounds – especially when there’s an annoying boss hovering around. When Becca Stone is asked to fill in as PA to celebrity chef Damien Malone, it seems like a good escape route, even if it is only temporary. Before long, Becca is caught up in a whirlwind of travel, reality TV and opening nights, and disastrous dates (though chaos might be a better way to describe it); she’s working long hours, trying to stay one step ahead of the sleazy chef and his difficult wife, leaving her friendships to wallow in the wake of her career. Like so many who are caught in this lifestyle, a choice has to be made … will Becca choose her friends and a better work-life balance, or continue to put up with chaos to further her career?
Lisa Joy taps into the contemporary issues of work-life balance and uses the foodie scene as a fun and relevant backdrop. Yes Chef! will especially appeal to Gen Y and Z readers … and if they have an interest in the food scene, even better. The all-too-common hero-worship of celebrity chefs/trainers allows for some comic relief (as in, “What a tosser!”) as do a number of the food-related scrapes and some of the minor characters (the Greek Alexi made me laugh, despite his tiny role).
I did feel that the writing was a bit jumpy – the transitions weren’t as smooth as they could have been and at times I had to go back a few pages to check I hadn’t missed something. Events were mentioned that I couldn’t recall reading about, such as Becca sleeping with Aaron (I remembered that she had put him off after her first date). Perhaps this was intentional, to convey Becca’s busy-ness and the gaps in between seeing her friends, but I found it confusing.
Overall, though, a fun read that’s more about friendship than romance, and proved to be a refreshing break between darker mystery/crime novels.
Available from good bookstores and Penguin Books Australia. My copy was courtesy of Penguin Books.
Bookish treat: The Greek feast Becca and her friends enjoyed made me salivate. Luckily, I had some galaktaboureko (Greek custard pie) in the fridge.