FOOD WHORE by Jessica Tom

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Click to purchase

A Novel of Dining and Deceit

I do love me some foodie fiction so I was very excited to hear about this debut novel. Jessica Tom is a food blogger from Brooklyn, NY who blogs about dining in New York and also posts her own recipes. I poked around her site and found out the original title was “Bad Taste” which I have to say I much prefer. Food Whore will be a turnoff for some people and I wasn’t particularly enamored of it. But the publisher was, so there you go.

The book centers around Yale graduate Tia Monroe who has been accepted into a graduate food studies program at NYU. She moves to NYC as does her boyfriend, a botanist, who lands the job of his dreams. Tia has applied for an internship with her idol, Helen Lansky (think Ruth Reichl) and brings a gift of cookies for her. She is waylaid by Michael Saltz, the uber powerful NY Times restaurant critic, who tosses the cookies and keeps her from Helen.

Saltz is enamored of her palate and facility with language and offers her a deal she can’t refuse. His palate has gone awry; he has lost all sense of taste. He offers her an unlimited budget and access to a personal shopper at Bergdorfs, lunches and dinners at the best and hottest restaurants in NY in exchange for her writing his reviews (that he revises at will) and she is sucked in. He dangles the internship with Helen as she struggles to resolve the internship she’s been assigned at one of New York’s finest restaurants – in the coat room.

This tangled web eventually closes in on Tia, but not before she ruins several relationships along the way. The publisher is promoting this as “The Devil Wears Prada meets Kitchen Confidential,” which certainly got me to read it, but it is more about the evils of ambition then what really goes on…where? In a restaurant? At the New York Times? At the graduate school of New York University? Really none of those, so that was a bit disappointing. Nonetheless this was a good story, it drew me in even though I really didn’t like any of the characters. I know I was supposed to forgive Tia, even understand why she did what she did, but maybe I’m not the most forgiving person because I couldn’t.

10/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

FOOD WHORE by Jessica Tom. William Morrow Paperbacks (October 27, 2015).  ISBN 978-0062387004. 352p.

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