A Tasty Read: The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones

For Maggie McElroy, life as she knew it was tasting the everyday cuisine of the American people and writing about it in her weekly food column for Table magazine. Maggie is a food writer who's been living a simple life on a houseboat since the untimely death of her husband, Matt. She's faced one day with a phone call that requires she travel to China for an unthinkable mission that will put closure to her late-husband's death.

Like any good editor looking for a different story, Maggie's gives her a food writing assignment for her journey. She is to interview one of China's great chefs, Sam Liang, as he plans to launch a new venue in Beijing. Maggie hesitantly accepts and is off to deal with news that could shatter her heart-while at the same time, hunt down a delicious story for the publication.
When she arrives, she learns Sam's restaurant will not be opening and he wants nothing to do with being the subject of any story. Personally, she finds herself mapping her way through a web of people and places to get to the bottom of a surprise Matt may have left behind.

As the story grows and Maggie's plot thickens, she edges her way into Chef Sam's world and convinces him to share his journey of preparing for China's Olympic culinary competition and to forget and let go of the failed restaurant opening. And for anyone in love with international cuisine, this is where the story captivates. As Maggie sits back and watches Sam work in the kitchen, she finds herself becoming increasingly interested in the Chinese-American culinary wonder, as well as discovering a world of food that she never imagined.

Though at times a bit predictable beginning as mystery, turned exploration, leading to love and culinary adventure, The Last Chinese Chef is a quick, enjoyable read for anyone who chooses to sit down at Mones' table.

Mones is also the author of the books Lost in Translation and A Cup of Tea, and is a frequent contributor to Gourmet magazine.

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