- The Last Chinese Chef, a Novel
- Nicole Mones © 2007
- ISBN 978-0-547-95373-8 (pbk)
- 278 pp. plus discussion guide and recipes
A foods and restaurant critic, Maggie McElroy, learns that her husband, killed a year earlier in an auto accident, may have fathered a child in China. She is angry, sad, and confused, but wants to know if a part of her husband still exists. She’d postponed having a child with him, although she knew he longed for children.
Her boss sends Maggie to China to interview and write about Sam Liang, a young Chinese/American man who planned to open a restaurant. However, his investor backed out. Then he enters a competition for the best chef in China. He realizes that ‘guanxi’—the practice of favors because of connections– hinders his chances of winning over an inferior chef.
Maggie changes her story to the competition. She follows Sam in his preparations and realizes she’d never tasted real Chinese food. Maggie is impressed. She’d never cared for American style Chinese food, so hadn’t ever written about that cuisine.
She finally meets the little girl supposedly fathered by her husband and is allowed to take a DNA sample for paternity testing. Her reaction to the results surprises everyone. Later Maggie meets the child’s mother and requests something unusual for the woman with whom her husband committed adultery.
Naturally, she and Sam find themselves attracted to each other. But will romance blossom?
The Last Chinese Chef explains in a fascinating way many things about China. Having lived in China, I often participated in but didn’t appreciate the culture that is expertly written about in this novel.