Let’s make one thing very clear – I LOVE the Food Network.
For a long time, not only did I not like to cook, but I really didn’t know how to cook. When I moved into my first apartment by myself I had to learn fast. I couldn’t afford to eat take-out every night.
First, I learned some basics from my grandpa who had been a chef. I would sit with him at the nursing home and tell him about something I wanted to make. His face would light up and he’d give me tips. I’d take mental notes and go home to put his instructions to good use.
Second, I subscribed to Blue Apron. I loved that they sent all of the ingredients I needed and the recipe was super easy to follow. After a few months, I could go to the grocery store and figure out ingredients to buy to make a dish.
But it all came together when I started watching the Food Network. The Kitchen helped me learn the basics and helpful tips; Chopped taught me how to use random ingredients in my pantry to make a cohesive meal; Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives gave me a list of restaurants for my bucket list; and Guy’s Grocery Games helped me understand how to use the grocery store to my advantage.
I never thought I would ever like to cook, let alone love it. But making dinner is my favorite time of day. I have a specific playlist I put on and sometimes I pour a little wine. It’s my happy me-time. I’ve become a total foodie. Once I began to love cooking and watching the Food Network, I started to look for fiction about chefs – you know, “kitch-lit”. I love a good fiction centered on food.
Because it’s summer, I was looking for a light, fun read – something quick and cute. I settled on Hello, Sunshine by Laura Dave. I loved Dave’s Eight Hundred Grapes, so I figured I’d check this one out. So, how does Hello, Sunshine and my obsession with cooking and the Food Network tie together? Well, the main character, Sunshine McKenzie is a disgraced Food Network star.
Here’s the synopsis from the back of the book:
“Sunshine Mackenzie has it all…until her secrets come to light. Sunshine is living the dream—she’s a culinary star with millions of fans, a line of #1 bestselling cookbooks, and a devoted husband happy to support her every endeavor. Sunshine Mackenzie has it all…until she gets hacked.
When Sunshine’s secrets are revealed, her fall from grace is catastrophic. She loses her husband, her show, the fans, and her apartment. She’s forced to return to the childhood home—and the estranged sister—she’s tried hard to forget. But what Sunshine does amid the ashes of her own destruction may well save her life.” (Dave, Laura. Hello, Sunshine, 2018)
This book is what most people would call a “beach read”, but what I like to call a “palate cleanser”. I read it after An Absolutely Remarkable Thing (which, while fun, made me think a lot) and A Woman is No Man (which is incredibly heavy and serious). I wanted something fun to clear my head in between.
I don’t mean any disrespect when I call Hello, Sunshine a palate cleanser. Quite the opposite, actually. I LOVE these kinds of books – I eat them up because they’re so delicious. In fact, this book had the all the ingredients I need for an enjoyable read:
- It was about a chef.
- It mentioned the Food Network by name.
- It took place in a coastal town.
- It takes place in summer.
This book was a cute, quick read. However, I found the main character, Sunshine, unlikable. She’s pretty selfish and a little full of herself. I didn’t agree with a lot of the decisions she made and I don’t feel like she completely redeemed herself in the end. I found her a pretty flat character and I didn’t like her much. Sunshine is pretty self-aware, though, because she tells the reader flat out in the first three pages that you won’t like her. That was an interesting choice and actually helped me get into the story.
But even though the book wasn’t a favorite, it still helped me clear my head.
PS: If you’re interested in reading Laura Dave, I liked Eight Hundred Grapes A LOT more. I’d recommend starting with that one!
Because it’s summer and the main character’s name is Sunshine. I needed to pair it with a bright wine. I chose Colorfast Chardonnay from Bright Cellars.
I’m not a fan of most Chardonnays, but I received this beautiful bottle in my latest Bright Cellars delivery. I thought the bottle was so bright and cool; it screamed summer. At first I tasted notes of apple and papaya. But a second sip brought out buttered bread and peaches. It tastes and feels creamy, but not heavy. This is a great Chardonnay for summer!
Do you like to read “palate cleansers”?
If you’re interested in checking out Bright Cellars, use my referral link to get a $50 credit on your first order!
*I was not compensated for my review. All thoughts and images are my own.*
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