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Where There's a Whisk

de Sarah J. Schmitt

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Romance. Young Adult Fiction. Young Adult Literature. HTML:

Life is what you bake it.

Peyton Sinclaire wants nothing more than to escape her life as a diner waitress in her small, North Florida town and attend culinary school. Top Teen Chef, Food TV's new show that pairs reality TV drama with a fast-paced culinary competition, is her ticket out of her boring future. It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance to make her dreams come true and Peyton is determined to prove to herself, and the world, that where you're born does not determine where you can go. However, once on the show, Peyton quickly discovers that there is more to the competition than just a well-seasoned dish. 

As things start to heat up on and off the set, Peyton will have to prove to the judges that she deserves to win while trying to untangle what is real and what is scripted drama, and decide what she is willing to risk to win before her dreams end up on the chopping block.

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Thank you to Netgalley for an arc of this book!

This book is very light and fun--centered on a teen reality TV cooking competition, our main character is Peyton, a girl from a small town looking to earn a cooking scholarship. Peyton is imperfect, and is relatable as a result. While she has a father in prison, and a mother who is described as depressed and reliant on her sister, Peyton doesn't want to earn a scholarship through playing up her background--she wants to use her cooking skills. As it is centered on a reality TV set, there is lots of drama, and many little twists, but all around it's a solid book and quick read for students who are interested in cooking at all.

The only complaint I would have is that the pacing and character development feels odd at times. For example, Inaaya, who is described as Peyton's closest friend on the show, is cut from the show without the reader being able to see the how or why behind the decision, and is then barely mentioned until the closing scene--would love to see more on their friendship and more humanizing of each character! The pacing towards the end also appeared rushed at times, but the moments of food description helped slow it down and give the reader a sense of closure.

I do not see myself teaching this text necessarily, but I would love to keep a copy in my classroom for students to access. ( )
  ACLopez6 | Feb 25, 2023 |
Mix several cups of drama with a tablespoon of showtime pizzazz and a pinch of romance to get a mix of nerves, concerns, mistrust and simple fun.

Peyton can't believe she was chosen to participate in the first Top Teen Chef cooking show. The prize, a scholarship to a culinary university, is the only way she believes she can escape her otherwise difficult life. But not only her past becomes a part of the show's scripted drama, but the relationships with the other contests are throwing loops she'd rather avoid. Still, she may not be able to if she wants to win the show.

I grabbed this one up with very high hopes, and while this wasn't quite as good as I was wishing it might be, it still held its own. The novel starts at the cooking show, a few moments before Peyton makes her first walk out into the spotlight. Her confusion and nerves are clear as she meets her contenders one by one for the first time. That this isn't only a cooking show but a reality show, the cameras follow them everywhere, the contestants live together, and scenes (faked as also real) play a role. It's cooking with a huge heap of drama...and that's why it wasn't as I'd hoped.

In the first part of the book, we do see Peyton cooking a bit and hear her thoughts as she chooses her recipes. The actual cooking is summed up pretty fast (which it needs to be to avoid boredom), and it is fun to picture her working through the kitchen with the different themes and difficulties. Unfortunately, the cooking only stays front and center during the first part of the book and slowly fades into the background as the drama of the set takes over. Now, drama is necessary to hold the plot. But there are so many plot threads weaving along...or possible plot threads is a better term.

There a many characters, which each bring a different background and twist, but they pop in and out without ever gaining much depth. Peyton has a tough past, but it's basically ignored. Her 'enemy' during the show is never fleshed out or the problem really addressed. The romance is superficial. Friendship is a glance. Even the difficult judge is there as required but without reason. This book could have gone in so many directions and it took none of the paths. What was left was an entertaining read but it lacked any depth...which is too bad because it could have been an awesome read.

Still, I wouldn't say this one isn't worth picking up. It's an easy read with a very quick pace, tons of humor, enough tension to keep those pages turning, and Peyton is a character to like. I did enjoy reading this one and read it in one sitting. It just that it was good when it could have been great. I received an ARC through Netgalley. ( )
  tdrecker | Jul 26, 2021 |
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Romance. Young Adult Fiction. Young Adult Literature. HTML:

Life is what you bake it.

Peyton Sinclaire wants nothing more than to escape her life as a diner waitress in her small, North Florida town and attend culinary school. Top Teen Chef, Food TV's new show that pairs reality TV drama with a fast-paced culinary competition, is her ticket out of her boring future. It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance to make her dreams come true and Peyton is determined to prove to herself, and the world, that where you're born does not determine where you can go. However, once on the show, Peyton quickly discovers that there is more to the competition than just a well-seasoned dish. 

As things start to heat up on and off the set, Peyton will have to prove to the judges that she deserves to win while trying to untangle what is real and what is scripted drama, and decide what she is willing to risk to win before her dreams end up on the chopping block.

.

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