This romp through the world of celebrity chefs, trendy restaurants and foodies, by Catholic author Greg Watts, follows the career of gastronomic wizard Frank Darley. Not content with his prime time TV show, series of best-selling recipe books and swarms of admiring fans - he has set his sights on the prestigious Golden Pan award - and devised an audacious plan with which he hopes to defeat all his rivals. Without introducing any spoilers here - suffice it to say - things don't go quite according to plan.
Fast-moving and funny - in a style reminiscent of Tom Sharpe - the portrayals of life behind the scenes in the TV studios and prestigious restaurant kitchens are hilarious. Watts has a good ear for dialogue and fine sense of the ridiculous.
I particularly liked his description of new food: Gluten-free cupcakes with icing made from Mexican edible flowers, Russian Tacos filled with mixed crocodile, Chinese kangaroo noodle burgers, Bolivian southern fried squirrel fritters, haggis and dehydrated cactus powder curry. Etc.
Politically correct, he is not, though. I think some people may find Frank Darley's comments on Vegans, government advice on nutrition and people with food allergies, a bit jarring. Others will cheer of course.
This is Greg Watts' first novel, but second writing foray into the world of dining out. His Ole! Ole! Passion on a Plate: The Rise of Spanish Cuisine in London has won the UK category of Best Foreign International Cuisine World Cookbook Awards.
His many earlier books include: From Gangland to Promiseland - a biography of John Pridmore; Labourer in the Vineyard about Pope Benedict and a biography of Mother Teresa.
The Man Behind the Menu by Greg Watts ISBN- 978-0993188527 published by Milestone Books, is available from all good bookshops.
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