Book Review: Taste Test by Kelly Fiore (also some foodie programming ideas)
The Tween in my house is obsessed with Chopped on The Food Network. There have been times when we have sat there and watched several episodes in a row. In fact, as someone with a mother who goes out of her way not to cook, she seems to watch a lot of The Food Network. And yet, she shows no interest in wanting to cook herself. Although she wants me to tell you that she CAN scramble an egg. There, you have been told. Maybe she dreams of being Nora from Taste Test.
Nora Henderson is a teen growing up in a small, Southern hometown with her widowed (but dating) father who runs a BBQ joint with a respectable reputation. Her best friend (and potential love interest?) Billy encourages her to apply for the televised cooking contest Taste Test, and she gets in. So she packs up her bags and moves to a cooking school campus where she takes culinary classes by day and competes in a variety of cooking contests by night. Christian is her biggest competition, and the sparks are really flying in the kitchen – the romantic kind and the literal kind as a sink goes boom, taking someone out of the competition. It soon becomes clear that someone is sabotaging the competition, and if they don’t find out who soon it may go too far.
Christian – An extremely confident, spoiled legacy chef who is trying to break free from his father’s shadow and ruling thumb. Some serious sparks fly between him and Nora who are in a cut throat competition to prove they are the best.
Gigi – Nora’s quickly made best friend on the show and an underdog to be sure.
Joy – Nora’s roommate, arch nemesis, and entitled brat.
Many of the contestants are not who they seem to be, which adds some fun mystery and suspense elements to the book.
Taste Test is a fun, behind the scenes look at reality TV. It includes some producer interviews which highlight how the producers try to manipulate both contestants and the competition by planting thoughts, misrepresentation, etc. In that vein, this is a great title to pair with the upcoming Reality Boy by A. S. King (a MUST read) and Chomp by Carl Hiaasen to help readers get a better understanding of how “real” their reality tv really is. At the end there are recipes.
Taste Test is also a light mystery. But in the end, it is also a pretty fun romantic read in the they think they hate each other so much but don’t realize they are really attracted to each other way. It has a little bit of the Rom Com vibe to it, which there isn’t enough of in teen books if you ask some of my teen readers. It’s clean, easily recommendable to a wide range of age groups, fun, and flirty. I am definitely adding it to my collection and recommend that you do the same.
Also, there is some fun promotional stuff you can do with this title. We have already outlined quite a few cooking ideas that you can do so add this book to the cooking book list, put together some displays, and do your own Iron Chef/Cupcake Wars inspired cooking program with teens.
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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