My Obsession with Food Network…And My Lack of Culinary Skills

You’ve all heard the expression, “One should eat to live, not live to eat.”  Fortunately, or unfortunately, I probably fit more into the “live to eat” category. I love food (though don’t think the relationship is unhealthy…..yet) and some of my favorite memories are with friends and family gathered together sharing a meal together. Food can be a wonderful way for people to bond, share, and connect.

As I mentioned in my Holiday Drinks Post, I am a big Food Network fan. Some of my favorites were Good Eats, 30 Minute Meals, Everyday Italian,  and Ace of Cakes.  The food looked delicious and I always wished I had the  skills and knowledge to reproduce those dishes.  I was especially fascinated with how much science and research Alton Brown put into Good Eats. The visual elements of the show made it so much fun, and showcased his film background. I can hardly talk about Food Network without mentioning powerhouse Rachael Ray and her 30 Minute Meals. I am constantly amazed at how much she is able to accomplish in thirty minutes (even though she takes shortcuts and a lot of “help from the store” as she puts it).

But the sad thing is, as much of a foodie as I am, I’m incredibly inept in the kitchen. I can’t do much without a recipe, have no knife skills to speak of, and can’t manage much more than scrambled eggs by myself.  I have a penchant for keeping the burners on high so the food will cook faster. My dad keeps telling me to turn the dial down, and cooking slower will produce a more tasty product. Who knew? For some reason, whenever I try to chop veggies or whatever else, I end up with pieces that are uneven in size and shape. I admire and envy those who can chop an onion like a professional chef and can whip up things on the fly.  I didn’t inherit my father’s knack of being able to open the fridge and pantry, throw things into the pan and cook up something delicious. He has some sixth sense of how long something will take to cook, and how much seasoning is needed which was not passed down to me.

It looked this good when I was done-I swear! Uuhh–maybe not.

Compounding the problem is the fact that I grew up in a restaurant family, so ostensibly, I should have some skill to speak of, right? Except the fact of the matter is, growing up, if I needed food, I just went to the restaurant, and my parents would just cook meals there and bring it home for us. There was never any real need for me to learn how to cook. Why bother when free food is only 10 minutes away? I once was tasked with making chicken salad by myself from scratch. I kid you not, I started at about 7pm and didn’t finish until after 11. It took me 4 hours to make a damn bowl of chicken salad! Clearly, there’s a problem here. But it did end up being quite tasty, if I do say so myself.  I considered it a huge achievement.

I see a lot of similarities and parallels to writing and cooking. Both can be painstaking and demanding professions that require time, dedication, creativity, and passion. If you’re in the business, it’s gotta be because you love it. Cooking is a labor of love, just like writing. I agree wholeheartedly with Rachael when she says that it’s easy to pick up the phone and make a reservations, but taking the time and effort to prepare a meal for a loved one really shows you care!  And for me, there is something magical about being able to create something out of nothing  Our tools are keyboards and words, theirs are stoves, pans, fruits, vegetables, meats, whisks, etc.

Naturally, this means romances that feature the hero and/or heroine as a chef are appealing to me. Cooking can be a hot and steamy business, and many romance authors have taken advantage of the sensual possibilities of heating things up in the kitchen, and elsewhere. One of my all time favorites is Laura Lee Guhrke‘s Secret Desires of a Gentleman, where the heroine, Maria Martingale a talented pastry chef, engages in a battle of wills with hero Phillip Hawthorne, Marquess of Kayne. Maria seduces all of Phillip’s senses with her delectable confections, and he succumbs to the allure of her chocolate tarts long before he succumbs to his desire for Maria herself.

The second book in Jill Shalvis’s Lucky Harbor series, The Sweetest Thing, stars Tara Daniels, who ends up running a B&B with her two half-sisters Maddie and Chloe. She starts off as a cook at the Eat Me Cafe while they get the B&B up and running but ends up running the kitchen at the Lucky Harbor Beach Inn and makings pastries and meals. What I love most is that Tara gives her recipe funny and adorable names like “Life’s a Peach Muffins” and “Bottom of the Barrel Waffles” and “Life Sucks Golf Balls Casserole”. In fact, Jill even published Heating Up the Kitchen: Recipes with Love from Lucky Harbor, where she shares actual recipes of foods mentioned in the books.

I could go on and list Sherry Thomas’s Delicious and Nora’s Lessons Learned and Summer Desserts, but I think it’s time I turn it over to you guys.

Do you like cooking? Are you a good cook? Are you addicted to Food Network like me? Any other romances with cooks and chefs as the hero or heroine I can add to my ever growing TBR pile? LET ME KNOW! Let’s talk down below in comments! 

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13 thoughts on “My Obsession with Food Network…And My Lack of Culinary Skills

  1. Louisa Edwards has a couple of great romance series that are exclusively foodie romances and of course Lauren Dane’s steamy Delicious series. Oh I can’t wait to see if other readers have some great recommendations. I’m always on the lookout for more great foodie romances. I haven’t read the Secret Desires of a Gentleman, yet, so thankyou! I’m actually a passably good cook if MrMr’s enthusiasm is any indication. And I get my geek on my researching and recreating historical feasts, so any historical romance novel that includes food and feasting immediately captures my interest. They key is keeping it, eh? 🙂

    • I’ve heard of Louisa but haven’t read any of her books yet, though I’ve heard good things. Thanks for the rec! And I have Lauren Dane’s Lush on my Kindle.

      I think you’ll LOVE Secret Desires. It’s my absolute favorite book by LLG. And Eloisa probably has a lot of good food scenes in her books, but specific books/scenes escape me at the moment.

  2. I’m a genuine “foodie.” What’s a “foodie?” Someone who likes to eat, likes to cook and loves to especially talk about or write about food. Somebody please stop me!

  3. I’d call myself a bit of a foodie too, but I confess I haven’t looked to marry that with the romances I read. I have read Thomas’s Delicious, and may have to track down the other titles you mentioned. After all food can be sensuous!

  4. Hi Lisa! I found your link from The Romance Dish where today I’m blogging about – dun, dun, dun – my own foodie romance, Feel the Heat! Yep, I’m one of those foodie romance authors, though my skills are nowhere near as honed as my chef characters. My favorites are Louisa Edwards and I like Amanda Usen, too. Have you read, Bet Me by Jenny Crusie? It’s more amateur cooking rather than professional, but the food tie-in is strong. Chicken Marsala…yum.

    • Hi Kate! Thanks for coming by and commenting. I love the Romance Dish and the ladies who run the site. 🙂 PJ and Andrea are wonderful.

      And what a coincidence, lol. I will definitely have to check out Feel the Heat. Sounds good.

      You are not the first person who has recommended Bet Me. One of these days, I’ll have to read it!

  5. I write foodie romance 🙂 I have two digital novellas out right now (only 99 cents a pop!) with a third on the way (I will not make the bun in the oven joke, I will not make the bun in the oven joke, I will not…) and a foodie print series coming out from Kensington starting in September. Feel free to pop on over (argh, with the food references. I swear, they never leave me!) to my website to get a feel for them! I also adore Louisa’s books, Amanda Usen’s work, Victoria Dahl’s Donovan Family Brewery books, Julie James’s A Lot Like Love (wine store owner) and upper-level love Barbara O’Neal’s The Lost Recipe For Happiness. Donna Kauffman also writes cupcakery.

    I really could go on and on! 🙂

    • Hi Kim.
      Thanks so much for coming by and commenting!

      And yes, how could I have forgotten Julie’s A Lot Like Love! 🙂 Thanks for all of your recommendations. I am popping over to your site right now!

  6. I like food, but I can be a pretty finicky eater. I love Food Network. And there are some show’s on their sister channel, The Cooking Channel, I like too.

    The lastest two of Meg Benjamin’s Konigsburg series feature chefs: Don’t Forget Me and Fearless Love. Allie, one of the supporting characters in numerous books is also a chef. There’s even a short story in which she’s competing in a Food Network-like competition (it was written before the real Cooking Channel debuted).

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