Catherine Bruns is a USA Today Bestselling author of many cozy mystery series: Cookies & Chance Mysteries, Cindy York Mysteries, Italian Chef Mystery, High Heels Mystery, and Maple Syrup Mystery series. She is also a contributor to the Aloha Lagoon Mystery series. Catherine is a member of the Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. She is also a former newspaper reporter and press release writer. She began writing when she was eight. Catherine currently lives in upstate New York with her family.
The Italian Chef Mystery series is the series of hers that I discovered while shelving new mystery titles. It’s engaging and relatable, while also containing mysteries that aren’t easy to solve. Penne Dreadful is the first in the Italian Chef Mysteries. Italian recipes are included at the end! (Major plus if you like to cook or if all the food talk in this series makes you hungry!)
Tessa Esposito is a local Italian chef. While she has worked in a handful of restaurants, she’s most known for her love of cooking for her family and friends. It doesn’t hurt that she has also won awards and accolades for her sauce. Eventually Tessa wants to open a restaurant of her own with her husband, but she knows that it will be longer down the road. Life, however, has other plans for Tessa and her family.
After her husband Dylan’s fatal car accident, Tessa is struggling to find her way. It’s been hard to get back into the swing of everyday life without her partner. When her cousin Gino, a local police detective, knocks on the door with news, she discovers that Dylan’s death wasn’t the accident that they all thought it was. They need Tessa to help them figure out why someone would have wanted to kill her husband.
Confused and desperate to find out what happened to Dylan, Tessa starts working at Dylan’s favorite local pizza parlor, Slice. Hired as the new chef, Tessa relishes her new role cooking and starts to find herself again. Slice was the last place that Dylan was seen before he died. Tessa believes that something shady is happening behind the scenes at Slice, something that only becomes more apparent the longer she works there. The more she investigates, the more secrets she finds. Tessa may be finding answers to some questions, but at what cost?
This book is also available in the following format:
Italian Chef Mystery series
- Penne Dreadful (2019)
- It Cannoli Be Murder (2020)
- The Enemy You Gnocchi (2021)
Burnt is a comedy drama telling the story of Adam Jones, a chef in Paris who lost everything because of drugs and alcohol. Adam was a two-star Michelin chef at a restaurant in Paris, known as an incredible chef who spent his days working on creating recipes that exploded with flavor in your mouth. He strove to NOT be consistent and to be different every time he cooked.
After a disastrous blowout at his restaurant and an abrupt disappearance from Paris, Adam puts himself on a self-imposed three year exile in New Orleans. Once he feels he has paid his a-million-oyster-shucking penance, he moves to London, looking up old friends from when he worked in Paris and hustling to get a job as a head chef in a fine-dining restaurant.
Adam desperately wants to get that elusive third Michelin star. In order to do so, he must find a restaurant willing to hand over the reigns to him. Working to make his dream come true, Adam scours London looking for the best chefs and restaurant people to have at his side as he works on recipes and designs a menu to his standards. The people Adam meets force him to confront issues from his past, as well as force him out of his cooking comfort zone. This movie is full of second chances and redemption as Adam works to overcome his reputation and reach for that third Michelin star.
I enjoy a good travel documentary, but what really hooks me in are the ones that focus on the local food that can be found and enjoyed when you are on vacation. I’ll Have What Phil’s Having is what I would call a food travel documentary and definitely fulfilled my wish for more of a focus on food than the sites that you would see in a traditional travel documentary.
I’ll Have What Phil’s Having follows Emmy Award-winner Phil Rosenthal, the creator of the hit show Everybody Loves Raymond, as he travels around the world looking for fantastic food in various countries and cities. Phil visits six sites: Tokyo, Italy, Paris, Hong Kong, Barcelona, and his hometown, Los Angeles. At each place, he seeks out what he thinks to be the world’s best food, looking for chefs, ground-breaking style-setters, and leaders in the culinary world to expand his palate and find places where both locals and tourists go to find the best food.
What I loved about this documentary is that Phil was looking for restaurants and chefs that both kept the food traditions of their communities alive and also were working to create new foods, ideas, and restaurants. He acknowledges that he looks for places that both tourists go to, but that going off the beaten path and looking for places that the locals know of will sometimes lead you on a new adventure.
This documentary caught and held my interest because of the wide variety of food he tested, the places he visited, and because of his hilarious commentary and facial expressions as he experienced anything new for the first time. He also gives tours of the famous and historical sites around as enticement for visiting the places that he is at as well. Highly recommended.