My latest release from Harlequin Blaze, SIZZLE is at its heart a food book. The story takes place in California on the set of Premier Chef–The Masters. All of the chefs are skilled professionals but all have different reasons for being in the competition–some are trying to prove something to themselves, others are trying to prove something to the world. Staci Rowland is squarely in the first camp. She wants to prove that all the talent and potential she showed as a young chef is still there. Remy Cruzel…I’m sorry Remy “Stephens” is trying to prove to himself that he can cook and isn’t just getting by on his family name.
Every important event in my life is associated with a meal, I don’t know if that’s because of my Italian-American maternal side or just good-natured love of food, but it’s a fact. When I eat a dish I’m always assailed by memories. Like how my grandmother served steamed broccoli cold instead of hot. Or how my mother always added a dash of garlic powder to it. When I eat broccoli I’m back in my grandmother’s house sitting at the coffee table with my sisters eating coldish broccoli flavored with garlic powder.
Here’s a snippet from SIZZLE:
He didn’t say anything else on the drive and when they pulled up to the roadside diner on Sepulveda and everyone piled out of the vehicles, Remy took her hand and stopped her.
“I just wanted us to be together when we go up there. What is it about this place that speaks to you?”
“The tradition of it,” she said. “And it reminds me of a trip I took with my mom and grandmother to New York City. We ate in a diner there…it was a good trip. The only real vacation I had with my mom since she was working all the time. When I take a bite of the pastrami sandwich here I remember that day and her laughter.”
Staci feared she’d said too much but Remy just nod¬ded. “For me it’s beignets at Café du Monde. My dad and I used to walk down there every Sunday morning and I’d sit while he read the paper. It was just the two of us…”
“Food should do that every time,” Staci said. “I can’t always capture it but that’s why the traditional recipes are important. Finding that familiar flavor and taking it some place new.”
“Yes,” he said.
But Staci could tell that he was lost in his own thoughts. She wondered if she’d given away too much by bringing him here but then she had learned over the years that most people only saw what they wanted to in her and in themselves. Remy wouldn’t realize how important food was to her and her past or that it was the key to her future.
What’s your strongest food memory?
I’m giving away electronic copies of SIZZLE today to three lucky blog participants. Normally I’d say happy reading, but today it’s bon appetite!