The Chef's Secret
A captivating novel of Renaissance Italy detailing the mysterious life of Bartolomeo Scappi, the legendary chef to several popes and author of one of the bestselling cookbooks of all time, and the nephew who sets out to discover his late uncle’s secrets—including the identity of the noblewoman Bartolomeo loved until he died.When Bartolomeo Scappi dies in 1577, he leaves his vast estate—properties, money, and his position—to his nephew and apprentice Giovanni. He also gives Giovanni the keys to two strongboxes and strict instructions to burn their contents. Despite Scappi’s dire warning that the information concealed in those boxes could put Giovanni’s life and others at risk, Giovanni is compelled to learn his uncle’s secrets. He undertakes the arduous task of decoding Scappi’s journals and uncovers a history of deception, betrayal, and murder—all to protect an illicit love affair.As Giovanni pieces together the details of Scappi’s past, he must contend with two rivals who have joined forces—his brother Cesare and Scappi’s former protégé, Domenico Romoli, who will do anything to get his hands on the late chef’s recipes.With luscious prose that captures the full scale of the sumptuous feasts for which Scappi was known, The Chef’s Secret serves up power, intrigue, and passion, bringing Renaissance Italy to life in a delectable fashion.

The Chef's Secret Details

TitleThe Chef's Secret
Author
ReleaseFeb 12th, 2019
PublisherAtria Books
ISBN-139781501196423
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Mystery, Cultural, Italy, Food and Drink, Food

The Chef's Secret Review

  • Jenna
    January 1, 1970
    What a wonderfully delectable novel! You know those books you enjoy so much that they just linger with you? The mere mention of them, of the author, the slightest memory of the characters or the cover, just makes you feel all squiggly-happy inside? That is how Crystal King's novel Feast of Sorrow: A Novel of Ancient Rome is for me, and so I was delighted to learn she has a new book! As much as I wanted to read it, I was also ambivalent, worried that Ms. King couldn't possibly write another novel What a wonderfully delectable novel! You know those books you enjoy so much that they just linger with you? The mere mention of them, of the author, the slightest memory of the characters or the cover, just makes you feel all squiggly-happy inside? That is how Crystal King's novel Feast of Sorrow: A Novel of Ancient Rome is for me, and so I was delighted to learn she has a new book! As much as I wanted to read it, I was also ambivalent, worried that Ms. King couldn't possibly write another novel I would enjoy as much as her previous book. I didn't want to be disappointed, but how could I possibly resist reading this new one?? No way, no how, could I resist!Thankfully, The Chef's Secret proved to be just as brilliant and enjoyable. The novel is loosely based on the life of Bartolomeo Scappi, chef to several popes in the 16th century, of whom not much is known. With exquisite prose, Crystal King delivers a tale of passion and romance, murder and intrigue. Upon Bartolomeo's death, his nephew and apprentice Giovanni inherits the majority of his estate: Position and money, his recipes, his chef's knife -- and a secret that will change Giovanni's life forever. Bartolomeo has left instructions for Giovanni to destroy his journals which are written in code. Unable to do so, Giovanni sets out to decipher these journals, setting him on an unforgettable journey. From the vast kitchens of the Vaticano to the canals and i palazzi of Venezia, we follow Giovanni as he uncovers a dangerous story, one which will shake the very foundation of Giovanni's life. This book is difficult to put down, and is full of everything you could possibly want in historical fiction. Romance, mystery, an illicit affair, danger, intrigue, revenge. I love that Crystal King calls the cities by their Italian names. They are more beautiful than the anglicized versions we English-speakers use and add authenticity to the story. Crystal King, having now written two unforgettable books, has made it to my list of favourite authors. I look forward to reading much more of her work in the future! If you love historical fiction, you must read Crystal King's books!I was invited to read The Chef's Secret by the publisher and given a free digital galley. In return I have given my honest and unbiased review. Grazie mille to Crystal King and Atria Books. Thank you for giving me such a delicious reading experience!
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  • Ace
    January 1, 1970
    Crystal King has a knack for writing about food that leaves you salivating and hungry for snacks at every turn and I absolutely love her second novel which is set in 1577. Bartolemeo Scappi, papal chef to Pope Gregory dies and his nephew and apprentice, Giovanni, takes his place in the Vatican’s kitchens. Giovanni inherits everything from his uncle including his job and his journals and letters. From there a mystery unfolds revealing past secrets of his family, dramatic love affairs, mysterious Crystal King has a knack for writing about food that leaves you salivating and hungry for snacks at every turn and I absolutely love her second novel which is set in 1577. Bartolemeo Scappi, papal chef to Pope Gregory dies and his nephew and apprentice, Giovanni, takes his place in the Vatican’s kitchens. Giovanni inherits everything from his uncle including his job and his journals and letters. From there a mystery unfolds revealing past secrets of his family, dramatic love affairs, mysterious murders and plots for revenge. Alternating between Bartolomeo’s story which begins in 1523 present day story of Giovanni, who is unsure of his abilities in the kitchen and even more uncertain about the title he has just inherited. In attempting to unravel his uncles rich and sordid past he develops his own set of guilty secrets and vendettas. A great historical read which will take you to Venice, Rome and the secret hallways of the Vatican. 5 stars.Thank you to Atria Books for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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  • Emma
    January 1, 1970
    Review to follow!
  • Heather Webb
    January 1, 1970
    A veritable feast for the senses, The Chef's Secret is part mystery, part love story, and all sumptuous sixteenth century Italy. This tale of one of the world's first celebrity chefs--Bartolomeo Scappi, a DaVinci of Renaissance cuisine--sent me on a quest to know more, and to my kitchen to experiment-- a sign of a great historical novel. Readers will delight in a plot as juicy as Scappi's braised beef!
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  • Bandit
    January 1, 1970
    Slight trepidation going on because, you know, food. Just makes me think of all the food shows I’ve watched (never by choice except for the delight that is the Great British Bake Off) and have never enjoyed. In fact the only enjoyable thing about them has always been for me the historical factoids behind the recipes. So I figured maybe it’ll be like that but in a book form. But actually this turned out to be a pleasant surprise in that, while food is mentioned often and in copious amounts and ne Slight trepidation going on because, you know, food. Just makes me think of all the food shows I’ve watched (never by choice except for the delight that is the Great British Bake Off) and have never enjoyed. In fact the only enjoyable thing about them has always been for me the historical factoids behind the recipes. So I figured maybe it’ll be like that but in a book form. But actually this turned out to be a pleasant surprise in that, while food is mentioned often and in copious amounts and never appetizing (taste buds have certainly changed since those days), the book is indeed a work of historical fiction and the plot has to do with much more than food preparation. It is based on a life of a famous Italian chef of the 1700s and as you’d guess from the title, a life of a secret, or several. Upon his passing it is up to his nephew/apprentice/inheritor to learn these and sometimes quite literally to decipher them from the diaries the man has left behind. Huge invasion of privacy, sure. But in this case it’s somewhat justified by the fact that what the young man uncovers is in every way life changing. The journals chronicle chef’s life and lifelong forbidden love affair with an unnamed princess all set among the gastronomically indulgent who’s who of the era. It’s luxurious, exciting and very romantic, without (kudos to the author) slipping the slippery slope into women’s fiction. The modern portion of the narration is set under the famous comet of the 1577, which makes for a great mood lighting as it were. The diaries cover the decades preceding it. The mysteries and secrets are all pretty exciting. Personally I enjoyed the way the author took a real life person with very limited available biographical data and imagined an entire life for him, often utilizing other real life persons and facts from the era. Pretty clever, albeit occasionally the facts were manipulated to suit the story, wherein arguably the opposite approach would have been more challenging and clever. Either way it was a lovely read, fairly light and plenty entertaining and, unlike The Great British Bake Off, didn’t make me hungry at all. Recommended, especially for fans of historical fiction. Thanks Netgalley.
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  • Annette
    January 1, 1970
    Bartolomeo Scappi (1500-1577) was a legendary Italian chef to several popes and author of one of the bestselling cookbooks of all time. Not much is known about him. The known facts, such as him dedicating his cookbook to his nephew and apprentice, Giovanni Brioschi, and bequeathing some jewelry to a sister named Catherina, are incorporated into the story. And all the popes he worked for and are involved in this story are true.After the death of Bartolomeo in 1577 Rome, his nephew discovers Barto Bartolomeo Scappi (1500-1577) was a legendary Italian chef to several popes and author of one of the bestselling cookbooks of all time. Not much is known about him. The known facts, such as him dedicating his cookbook to his nephew and apprentice, Giovanni Brioschi, and bequeathing some jewelry to a sister named Catherina, are incorporated into the story. And all the popes he worked for and are involved in this story are true.After the death of Bartolomeo in 1577 Rome, his nephew discovers Bartolomeo’s story through the letters from a woman named Stella and through Bartolomeo’s journals.Bartolomeo’s journal begins in 1525 Venice. At the age of 18, he begins his humble journey in the kitchen, working for Cardinal Grimani.In 1528, he meets “the most beautiful girl in the world.” She is of noble birth. Therefore, he can’t have her, but he can make her long for the food he makes. His creativity in the kitchen arises.When Stella gets married to cardinal’s brother and moves to Rome, Bartolomeo follows her. In Rome he continues working for cardinals and continues making a name for himself.As Giovanni unravels his uncle’s story, his own story progresses as well. He follows in his uncle’s footsteps. And not only in the kitchen, but also by meeting the most beautiful woman named Isabetta.The story involves a lot of intrigue, including poisoning and murders to remove unwanted witnesses. This kind of intrigue reflects the time period and its reality. But it should have a drop less of intrigue. And instead, as it is a story of a chef and his creations, it should involve two important senses of smell and taste by bringing stories of making different dishes. There are mentions of menus, which were prepared for feasts, but they do not awake those two important senses, which are vital when it comes to food.Overall, it is an engaging story and it is always interesting to learn about a lesser-known person who made a mark in [email protected]/BestHistoricalFiction
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  • Karen Kay
    January 1, 1970
    I received this from netgalley.com in exchange for a review. Set in the 1500's with duo timelines, Giovanni pieces together the details of Scappi’s past and he must contend with two rivals who have joined forces—his brother Cesare and Scappi’s former protégé, Domenico Romoli, who will do anything to get his hands on the late chef’s recipes.4☆
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  • Whitney Scharer
    January 1, 1970
    This book is delicious in every sense of the word! I (smartly) brought it to read while I was on vacation, and spent the entire time drooling over the gorgeously written food and cooking scenes. Bartolomeo Scappi was a chef to several popes, and prepared lavish feasts for them at a scope that is almost unimaginable to us today. Equally interesting were the depictions of the simple food Scappi and his nephew were made to prepare for the more austere popes. The story alternates between two timelin This book is delicious in every sense of the word! I (smartly) brought it to read while I was on vacation, and spent the entire time drooling over the gorgeously written food and cooking scenes. Bartolomeo Scappi was a chef to several popes, and prepared lavish feasts for them at a scope that is almost unimaginable to us today. Equally interesting were the depictions of the simple food Scappi and his nephew were made to prepare for the more austere popes. The story alternates between two timelines: one of Scappi as a younger man, and one of his nephew uncovering Scappi's secrets through the journals he left behind after his death. There's so much drama and intrigue in this book--I couldn't put it down! A wonderful read.
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  • Jennifer S. Brown
    January 1, 1970
    This dual timeline novel of two chefs--Bartolomeo Scappi (a real life famous Renaissance chef) and his protege Giovanni--is a fast-paced read. I loved immersing myself in the 16th century and the papal politics. The two chefs cook for popes and the intrigue of that world is fascinating. The heart of this story is the secrets Bartolomeo kept and Giovanni's quest to uncover them, through Bartolomeo's coded journals. At the same time, we learn of both Bartolomeo's romance and Giovanni's. There are This dual timeline novel of two chefs--Bartolomeo Scappi (a real life famous Renaissance chef) and his protege Giovanni--is a fast-paced read. I loved immersing myself in the 16th century and the papal politics. The two chefs cook for popes and the intrigue of that world is fascinating. The heart of this story is the secrets Bartolomeo kept and Giovanni's quest to uncover them, through Bartolomeo's coded journals. At the same time, we learn of both Bartolomeo's romance and Giovanni's. There are quite a few twists, and I don't want to give anything away, but this is a terrific historical novel.
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  • Anjali Duva
    January 1, 1970
    Exquisitely researched, this page-turning story has it all: mystery, intrigue, history, gastronomy, and just the right amount of romance. Immerse yourself in Renaissance Italy with Crystal King's second excellent historical novel. A treat.
  • Linda Zagon
    January 1, 1970
    Linda’s Book Obsession Reviews “The Chef’s Secret” by Crystal King, Atria Books, February 12, 2019Crystal King, Author of “The Chef’s Secret” has written an intriguing, entertaining, captivating and unique novel. The Genres for this story are Fiction , Historical Fiction with the author’s interpretation, and Romance. The timeline for this story is around the Renaissance and the 16th Century in Italy. The author describes her colorful cast of characters as complex, and complicated.Bartolomeo Scap Linda’s Book Obsession Reviews “The Chef’s Secret” by Crystal King, Atria Books, February 12, 2019Crystal King, Author of “The Chef’s Secret” has written an intriguing, entertaining, captivating and unique novel. The Genres for this story are Fiction , Historical Fiction with the author’s interpretation, and Romance. The timeline for this story is around the Renaissance and the 16th Century in Italy. The author describes her colorful cast of characters as complex, and complicated.Bartolomeo Scappi is the first major chef that has served Popes and others in Italy, and also has written a cookbook. Upon his death, he leaves most of his wealth to his nephew and apprentice, Giovanni. Bartolomeo’s last wishes are that Gioavanni burn his papers and journals. Unfortunately, just like Pandoras’ box, Giovanni can’t leave well enough alone, and starts to read his Uncle’s journals and papers. What is inside, is extremely dangerous and can cause devastating consequences to a number of people, including Giovanni. Giovanni also has the threat of his brother and a former apprentice, who both want what Giovanni has inherited.Crystal King has vividly described many of the feasts and foods and banquets of the time. I appreciate the author’s writing style. There is suspense, mystery, romance, betrayal and loyalty. I would recommend this book for those readers who enjoy the marriage of fiction and history. I received n ARC from NetGalley for my honest review.
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  • Pamela
    January 1, 1970
    In 1577, Giovanni’s beloved uncle, chef Bartolomeo Scappi died. He left his entire estate to Giovanni, including two keys to strongboxes and instructions to burn, without reading, the contents of the boxes. Giovanni’s curiosity gets the better of him and he reads the most current journal and becomes more curious when Bartolomeo switches to a written code to conclude the journal. He also finds a letter from a woman that hints at a love affair.Set in Rome, this novel is written in the first person In 1577, Giovanni’s beloved uncle, chef Bartolomeo Scappi died. He left his entire estate to Giovanni, including two keys to strongboxes and instructions to burn, without reading, the contents of the boxes. Giovanni’s curiosity gets the better of him and he reads the most current journal and becomes more curious when Bartolomeo switches to a written code to conclude the journal. He also finds a letter from a woman that hints at a love affair.Set in Rome, this novel is written in the first person using Giovanni to tell the story of his uncle. The writing is such that readers will be hooked from the first page. But King’s writing is not without issues—she uses Italian for some places and things which quickly begins to look like an artifice and becomes distracting. There is a plethora of characters that are introduced, but the reader never knows them well because of the use of the first person to tell the story. King takes her time telling the story yet keeps the interest of the reader as she moves her story along.
For the reader who loves historical fiction with a touch of mystery, intrigue, and secret love affairs, this is a must read. This will also be a “foodie’s” dream book because of the scrumptious descriptions of the unique feasts Bartolomeo created for his employers.
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  • Joshualyn Prater
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC copy from netgalley for my honest review, so thank you netgalley and publishers for offering me this book! ♡ A captivating novel of Renaissance Italy detailing the mysterious life of Bartolomeo Scappi, the legendary chef to several popes and author of one of the bestselling cookbooks of all time, and the nephew who sets out to discover his late uncle’s secrets—including the identity of the noblewoman Bartolomeo loved until he died.When Bartolomeo Scappi dies in 1577, he leaves I received an ARC copy from netgalley for my honest review, so thank you netgalley and publishers for offering me this book! ♡ A captivating novel of Renaissance Italy detailing the mysterious life of Bartolomeo Scappi, the legendary chef to several popes and author of one of the bestselling cookbooks of all time, and the nephew who sets out to discover his late uncle’s secrets—including the identity of the noblewoman Bartolomeo loved until he died.When Bartolomeo Scappi dies in 1577, he leaves his vast estate—properties, money, and his position—to his nephew and apprentice Giovanni. He also gives Giovanni the keys to two strongboxes and strict instructions to burn their contents. Despite Scappi’s dire warning that the information concealed in those boxes could put Giovanni’s life and others at risk, Giovanni is compelled to learn his uncle’s secrets. He undertakes the arduous task of decoding Scappi’s journals and uncovers a history of deception, betrayal, and murder—all to protect an illicit love affair.As Giovanni pieces together the details of Scappi’s past, he must contend with two rivals who have joined forces—his brother Cesare and Scappi’s former protégé, Domenico Romoli, who will do anything to get his hands on the late chef’s recipes.With luscious prose that captures the full scale of the sumptuous feasts for which Scappi was known, The Chef’s Secret serves up power, intrigue, and passion, bringing Renaissance Italy to life in a delectable fashion. The cover and title is what originally drew me to this book. This is my first book by this author. It was alltogether an easy read. ♡ I give this book a 3.5 star rating!
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  • Jypsy
    January 1, 1970
    The Chef's Secret is a story of mystery and food, obviously. A former chef to the Pope and Cardinals leaves journals. His nephew reads them instead of burning them as instructed. It's an interesting read with some history, family and culinary aspects. It's not my favorite, but it's not bad, either. Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Maureen Crothall
    January 1, 1970
    Oh my! This book, and her previous one, have thrilled and delighted me, I add another favourite author to my list and wait in anticipation.
  • Jenni Walsh
    January 1, 1970
    The Chef's Secret is aptly titled. The chef, Bartolomeo Scappi, had quite a few skeletons in his closet, to be uncovered by his apprentice/nephew, Giovanni, after Scappi's death. The novel is told in both men's POVs, allowing us to experience Scappi's scandals as they happen and also as Giovanni unravels a lifetime of his uncle's secrets. The result is gripping --and Crystal King's knowledge of Renaissance Italy was evident on every single page, creating a story lush with details. Brava!
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  • Shree
    January 1, 1970
    A story set in renaissance Italy and centering around gastronomical delight is every Italophile's perfect idea of a book. This book fit's that box perfectly. The plot is loosely based on 16th century cook(or "Cuoco" in Italian) Bartolomeo Scappi. Scappi served several Popes. He is also famously known for his mammoth of a book of recepies - Opera dell'arte del cucinare. The story begins with the funeral of Bartolomeo Scappi. He bequeaths his estate - his favorite knife, a collection of his recipe A story set in renaissance Italy and centering around gastronomical delight is every Italophile's perfect idea of a book. This book fit's that box perfectly. The plot is loosely based on 16th century cook(or "Cuoco" in Italian) Bartolomeo Scappi. Scappi served several Popes. He is also famously known for his mammoth of a book of recepies - Opera dell'arte del cucinare. The story begins with the funeral of Bartolomeo Scappi. He bequeaths his estate - his favorite knife, a collection of his recipe and a vast sum of money - to his nephew Giovanni. He also gives keys to his safe containing his personal diary and asks him to burn them. The diary is coded to maintain the secrets, but Giovanni ends up decoding it and stringing together the story Scappi's life in the process. The diary holds treacherous secrets which when fallen into wrong hands would literally lead to the doom of Giovanni and his family. The writing is delightful. The writer took her sweet own time to build the plot thread by thread. There were few place where the story felt like it slacked and turned a bit boring, but just then another plot twist would come in to make things interesting again. I felt the pacing to be rather different and surprising in a sense for such a story line. It felt like a sinusoidal wave with alternating moments of slack and thrill. Being a Vegetarian, the dishes described in the book apart from the pies seemed a bit overwhelming. However, it was quite interesting to read about sugar sculptures and Papal history.
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  • Linda Zagon
    January 1, 1970
    Linda’s Book Obsession Reviews “The Chef’s Secret” by Crystal King, Atria Books, February 12, 2019Crystal King, Author of “The Chef’s Secret” has written an intriguing, entertaining, captivating and unique novel. The Genres for this story are Fiction , Historical Fiction with the author’s interpretation, and Romance. The timeline for this story is around the Renaissance and the 16th Century in Italy. The author describes her colorful cast of characters as complex, and complicated.Bartolomeo Scap Linda’s Book Obsession Reviews “The Chef’s Secret” by Crystal King, Atria Books, February 12, 2019Crystal King, Author of “The Chef’s Secret” has written an intriguing, entertaining, captivating and unique novel. The Genres for this story are Fiction , Historical Fiction with the author’s interpretation, and Romance. The timeline for this story is around the Renaissance and the 16th Century in Italy. The author describes her colorful cast of characters as complex, and complicated.Bartolomeo Scappi is the first major chef that has served Popes and others in Italy, and also has written a cookbook. Upon his death, he leaves most of his wealth to his nephew and apprentice, Giovanni. Bartolomeo’s last wishes are that Gioavanni burn his papers and journals. Unfortunately, just like Pandoras’ box, Giovanni can’t leave well enough alone, and starts to read his Uncle’s journals and papers. What is inside, is extremely dangerous and can cause devastating consequences to a number of people, including Giovanni. Giovanni also has the threat of his brother and a former apprentice, who both want what Giovanni has inherited.Crystal King has vividly described many of the feasts and foods and banquets of the time. I appreciate the author’s writing style. There is suspense, mystery, romance, betrayal and loyalty. I would recommend this book for those readers who enjoy the marriage of fiction and history. I received n ARC from NetGalley for my honest review.
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  • Suanne
    January 1, 1970
    I chose to read this book because I’ve lived extensively in Italy, I’ve read Crystal King’s The Feast of Sorrow and enjoyed her approach to food. The Chef’s Secret did not let me down. The descriptions of food were enough to make me salivate remembering the pasta and other delights I ate there. Written in dual points of view alternating between Bartolomeo Scappi, the private chef to multiple popes, and his protegé/nephew Giovanni. Scappi was a famous chef and wrote on of the best-selling cookboo I chose to read this book because I’ve lived extensively in Italy, I’ve read Crystal King’s The Feast of Sorrow and enjoyed her approach to food. The Chef’s Secret did not let me down. The descriptions of food were enough to make me salivate remembering the pasta and other delights I ate there. 

Written in dual points of view alternating between Bartolomeo Scappi, the private chef to multiple popes, and his protegé/nephew Giovanni. Scappi was a famous chef and wrote on of the best-selling cookbooks of all times. Much of the book is divulged as Giovanni reads his uncle’s diaries. Giovanni must first solve the riddle of the coded sections then piece together his uncle’s life and the name of Scappi’s one true love.The book seemed well-researched, the Italian accurate as well as the descriptions of Rome and Venice. In the 16th century, if you’ve seen the TV programs about the Medici, the Sforzas, and the Borgias, apparently poisonings, swordplay, treachery, and infidelity were rampant. This book combines all that—part romance, part mystery, part intrigue—and delightful, sensual descriptions of food. It is a quick, fun read.
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  • Katherine
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoyed Feast of Sorrow by Crystal King and jumped at a chance to request a galley of her new book (provided by Atria Books through NetGalley). The Chef's Tale is also historical fiction with a lot of food details that will make a reader hungry. This time her story is centered around Bartolomeo Scappi, a chef to several popes in the 1500's and the author of a popular cookbook. The scant details known about him are worked into the story and the remaining unknowns of his life allow for King to c I enjoyed Feast of Sorrow by Crystal King and jumped at a chance to request a galley of her new book (provided by Atria Books through NetGalley). The Chef's Tale is also historical fiction with a lot of food details that will make a reader hungry. This time her story is centered around Bartolomeo Scappi, a chef to several popes in the 1500's and the author of a popular cookbook. The scant details known about him are worked into the story and the remaining unknowns of his life allow for King to create a story about a nephew who discovers a secret in Scappi's journals after he dies. I enjoyed The Chef's Secret, although not as much as her previous book. I liked the setting, food, and historical details the most; I also liked the story, but at times it felt too manufactured or too neatly resolved. It still had me turning the pages however and I would be interested to see what King writes next. 3.5 rounded up to four stars.
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  • Deborah Norkin
    January 1, 1970
    I was lucky enough to get an advanced reader copy of Crystal King's second novel, The Chef's Secret. From the first page, I was transported into Renaissance Italy. Everything, from the language to the setting, was flawless. The characters were like people I might meet on the street if I happened to live a few centuries ago. The plot was believable and story flowed naturally. All the twists and turns kept me guessing. If it weren't for the author's statement at the end that informed me what was f I was lucky enough to get an advanced reader copy of Crystal King's second novel, The Chef's Secret. From the first page, I was transported into Renaissance Italy. Everything, from the language to the setting, was flawless. The characters were like people I might meet on the street if I happened to live a few centuries ago. The plot was believable and story flowed naturally. All the twists and turns kept me guessing. If it weren't for the author's statement at the end that informed me what was fact and what was fiction I would have believed it was all fact. I'm sure Crystal must have spent hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of research to master such ease with the prose and subject matter but you wouldn't know it. Michelangelo said the sculpture is already within the marble, you just have to take away the extra bits. That's how I felt while reading this book. Crystal found the story that was already there. Brava!!
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  • Ethel
    January 1, 1970
    After the death of his uncle Bartolommeo in 1577 Rome, his nephew Giovanni discovers his uncle's secrets when he finds his journals, including an illicit love affair. Bartolomeo Scappi was a legendary Italian chef to several popes and author of one of the bestselling cookbooks of all time. His nephew, Gio, was his protege and followed in his footsteps after the famous chef's death The setting in Renaissance Italy is rich in history, the plot is also rich in intrigue, passion and rivalries. There After the death of his uncle Bartolommeo in 1577 Rome, his nephew Giovanni discovers his uncle's secrets when he finds his journals, including an illicit love affair. Bartolomeo Scappi was a legendary Italian chef to several popes and author of one of the bestselling cookbooks of all time. His nephew, Gio, was his protege and followed in his footsteps after the famous chef's death The setting in Renaissance Italy is rich in history, the plot is also rich in intrigue, passion and rivalries. There are twists and turns everywhere as Scappi's secrets are revealed in his journal! Reading through this book, as a foodie, I found the descriptions of the food and feasts to be sumptuous. These banquets/feasts were for the wealthy and while they were lavish, I much prefer "peasant" food!The book was interesting, a great read. I would definitely recommend this to any fan of historical fiction. Now I will go to Ms. King's website and try my hand at some of the recipes. I did venture to the author's site and found several recipes that were adapted to today's life and some of which I will certainly venture to attempt. My thanks to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Erika
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Netgalley and Touchstone for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. What an amazing novel filled with love, mystery, friendship, family, food that will have you salivating, all beside the beautiful sights of Rome. The novel centers around Bartolomeo Scappi, the private chef for the Pope in the 1500's and his nephew Giovanni who starts to discover much about his life after he passes. What a fascinating behind the scenes view into the Vatican and how all the elaborate meals used to Thank you to Netgalley and Touchstone for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. What an amazing novel filled with love, mystery, friendship, family, food that will have you salivating, all beside the beautiful sights of Rome. The novel centers around Bartolomeo Scappi, the private chef for the Pope in the 1500's and his nephew Giovanni who starts to discover much about his life after he passes. What a fascinating behind the scenes view into the Vatican and how all the elaborate meals used to be prepared there. You could almost smell the food being prepared and view the surroundings as you were reading - it was so enjoyable! I would highly recommend this to anyone who has an interest in the food of Italy and the history behind it.
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  • Kathleen Gray
    January 1, 1970
    How cool is a dual time line novel set in 16th century Italy based on the life of what is arguably the first celebrity chef? Very cool. This highly readable and entertaining novel is about Giovanni's effort to piece together the life of his uncle Bartolomeo, who left him his estate, his knife, and most of all, his journals. Told in Giovanni's voice, it traces Bartolomeo's rise. It's got all the intrigue you can imagine- there are Popes, there are plots, there are unscrupulous relatives and other How cool is a dual time line novel set in 16th century Italy based on the life of what is arguably the first celebrity chef? Very cool. This highly readable and entertaining novel is about Giovanni's effort to piece together the life of his uncle Bartolomeo, who left him his estate, his knife, and most of all, his journals. Told in Giovanni's voice, it traces Bartolomeo's rise. It's got all the intrigue you can imagine- there are Popes, there are plots, there are unscrupulous relatives and others, and there's a love story. AND, best of all, there are gorgeous descriptions of food. There are a lot of characters, some of who you will find yourself googling to see if they are real (many are). Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. Those interested in this time period will relish this novel, which was an immersive and fascinating read.
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  • Julie
    January 1, 1970
    The Vatican, 1577: When Maestro Scappi, chef to the pope dies, his nephew and apprentice Giovanni is instructed to burn his uncle’s coded journals. But Giovanni’s curiosity gets the best of him and as he reads about Scappi’s life, he learns terrible secrets that could put his own life in danger. This decadent novel has something for everyone: history, passionate affairs, intense rivalries, mystery, vendetta, and of course FOOD. Set against the background of Renaissance Rome with historical figur The Vatican, 1577: When Maestro Scappi, chef to the pope dies, his nephew and apprentice Giovanni is instructed to burn his uncle’s coded journals. But Giovanni’s curiosity gets the best of him and as he reads about Scappi’s life, he learns terrible secrets that could put his own life in danger. This decadent novel has something for everyone: history, passionate affairs, intense rivalries, mystery, vendetta, and of course FOOD. Set against the background of Renaissance Rome with historical figures throughout, this novel is a sumptuous feast of intrigue and culinary delights. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.
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  • Kathleen
    January 1, 1970
    This was such a fun read. Filled with lots and lots of food. So interesting to read about the menus of the 1500s and how incredibly elaborate the feasts were. On top of this, the story has a great story line with a really good mystery that is presented and solved through journals that have been coded. Also, prevalent - The Great Comet of 1577! Who knew there was such a thing? So much interesting material in this book and I really felt like I learned so much about a place and time of history that This was such a fun read. Filled with lots and lots of food. So interesting to read about the menus of the 1500s and how incredibly elaborate the feasts were. On top of this, the story has a great story line with a really good mystery that is presented and solved through journals that have been coded. Also, prevalent - The Great Comet of 1577! Who knew there was such a thing? So much interesting material in this book and I really felt like I learned so much about a place and time of history that I didn't know much about. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to read an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Terrie L Winkates
    January 1, 1970
    Marvelous historical fiction! From the start engaging and full of adventure. Interesting on many levels; Rennasiance Iltaly, the Vatican, culinary delights, family relationships and intrigue. The story opens with “Barto” recalling the trials of this life;, spanning from young apprentice cook to the Chef for several Popes. It’s the inbetween that is captivating. Forbidden love and the appalling decisions that accompany it. Then we meet his nephew and apprentice Giovanni who is All innocence until Marvelous historical fiction! From the start engaging and full of adventure. Interesting on many levels; Rennasiance Iltaly, the Vatican, culinary delights, family relationships and intrigue. The story opens with “Barto” recalling the trials of this life;, spanning from young apprentice cook to the Chef for several Popes. It’s the inbetween that is captivating. Forbidden love and the appalling decisions that accompany it. Then we meet his nephew and apprentice Giovanni who is All innocence until he inherits his late Uncles journals. The action never stops and includes numerous twists and turns. This book was hard to put down! Thank you to Simon and Schuster and Net Galley for an advance copy of this book. Crystal King is an authoress to watch.
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  • Paula Ptomey
    January 1, 1970
    Wow! The Chef's Secret is an amazing story that will keep you guessing what the next turn of events will be. Giovanni's uncle the great Chef Bartolmeo Scappi has died. He has left almost everything to his nephew/apprentice, including his journals that his nephew is to destroy. However Giovanni does not follow his uncle request, and soon discovers more than he could even imagine about his uncle. Will it end well?? The Chef's Secret will keep you coming back to finish it and solve the puzzles. The Wow! The Chef's Secret is an amazing story that will keep you guessing what the next turn of events will be. Giovanni's uncle the great Chef Bartolmeo Scappi has died. He has left almost everything to his nephew/apprentice, including his journals that his nephew is to destroy. However Giovanni does not follow his uncle request, and soon discovers more than he could even imagine about his uncle. Will it end well?? The Chef's Secret will keep you coming back to finish it and solve the puzzles. The food that is discussed will fill you with desire for good food. Enjoy!
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  • Penmouse
    January 1, 1970
    The Chef's Secret by Crystal King is a bit mystery, a bit romance, a bit history tossed in with a potful of a cook's life making it a wonderful book to read. I won't give away the plot except to write if you love history and cooking you will love this book. You will also love this book if you loved reading Feast of Sorrow, written by King, and a book I adored too.Recommend.Review written after downloading a galley from NetGalley.
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  • Penmouse
    January 1, 1970
    The Chef's Secret by Crystal King is a bit mystery, a bit romance, a bit history tossed in with a potful of a cook's life making it a wonderful book to read. I won't give away the plot except to write if you love history and cooking you will love this book. You will also love this book if you loved reading Feast of Sorrow, written by King, and a book I adored too.Recommend.Review written after downloading a galley from NetGalley.
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