Author: Diane Michaels
She has the perfect job. Scratch that. Had the perfect job.
Mia’s job as head chef at a farm-to-table restaurant is her dream come true. Being stuck in a small town in the Catskills? Not so much.
But when she’s invited to work on a cooking show in New York City, she realizes her family matters more to her than ambition.
And then one pitcher of margaritas turns her life upside down.
Picking up the pieces in Brooklyn, she meets Juan, whose sparkling eyes and easy laugh immediately cure her homesickness.
But Mia is after the big prize: taking NYC’s culinary world by storm.
She doesn’t have time for love. Especially after her dream job becomes the stuff of nightmares.
As Mia’s troubles boil over, Juan tries to lower the temperature. Instead, he turns up the heat. Has he offered her a lifeline, or is he leading her away from everything she wants?
Although Home Cooking is the third novel in the Empire State of Mind series, it can be read as a standalone. The story features characters that are present in the other books in the series. As someone who did not read the rest of the series, I wondered if I would be lost, however, that was not the case and I was able to understand everything that occurred in this story perfectly. It is a short novel that is perfect for anyone looking for a nice easy and quick read. The story is light-hearted and entertaining and I found my interest peaked to read the rest of the series.
Mia is the head, well only, chef at her brother’s resort in Jimmy Creek located in the Catskills. It is slightly remote and the resort offers guests both traditional hotel-like rooms and new glamping tents. Mia loves creating new recipes from the produce from her parents’ farm and local meat providers. She suddenly receives a voicemail from a tv producer for a job that she applied for months ago prior to taking the resort job. Although the original show did not pan out, this is for a brand new cooking show with a well-known tv celebrity chef. The position they are offering is for a behind the scenes head chef position for the prep kitchen in New York City. As Mia dreamt of being a New York chef, she decides to take the chance on the new position. Luckily, her friend Katie, also a chef, is in need of a job and is the perfect replacement for her Jimmy Creek position.
Mia’s new job is working for tv chef, Chet, who is all over the place with his choices and does not always stick to the planned meals, which leaves more work for the behind the scenes chefs. This is the main conflict as Mia tries to adjust to life in the fast-moving adaptable tv world with the help of her sous chef, Imani. Although Imani tries to get Mia to go with the program as this opportunity is great experience for their resumes, Mia has a hard time adjusting. Her reactions to this job makes me wonder what she though the job would be as she is just the chef who prepares the delicious meals for the cameras and the prep ingredients for the tv chef to use for him and his guest star when they are on camera. It became a little wearing as Mia always seemed to think that the tv crew were in the wrong if they made last minute changes or something went wrong on set. Granted, there is no way Mia could control everything or plan for every circumstance, but it seemed that Mia never really tried for the most part. Her apartment in Brooklyn is income based, which means that it is affordable living and works perfectly for Mia. It also is an added bonus that the super of the building is a handsome man who can fix the many things that seem to go wrong in her apartment. Juan, the super, seemed nice enough and I like the glimpses the reader gets into his life with him and his grandmother. I wish that there was more, though, as it seemed there was not enough time to truly connect to him or the idea of him and Mia becoming a couple.
Overall, the writing is very easy to read and is very relatable. It has a very humorous flair to it that make it a very entertaining read. The writing almost feels conversational where it feels as if it is a friend telling you a story. While the writing was fun, I just wish the story had more details. It felt as if there was a ton of potential to get to know Mia and her relationships with others, her love interest, Juan, her co-worker, Imani, and the tv crew. The overall theme of finding out what you want to do and maybe the path you think you’re on might not be the right one was well-done as Mia’s life started out with her working in Jimmy Creek and ended up a whole different way. It was a fun story and I would gladly read more from this author.