The Chef’s Secret by Crystal King

Publication Date: February 12, 2019

Atria Books

Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook, eBook

Genre: Historical Fiction

A captivating novel of Renaissance Italy detailing the mysterious life of Bartolomeo Scappi, the legendary chef to several popes and author of one of the bestselling cookbooks of all time, and the nephew who sets out to discover his late uncle’s secrets,including the identity of the noblewoman Bartolomeo loved until he died.

When Bartolomeo Scappi dies in 1577, he leaves his vast estate, properties, money, and his position to his nephew and apprentice Giovanni. He also gives Giovanni the keys to two strongboxes and strict instructions to burn their contents. Despite Scappi’s dire warning that the information concealed in those boxes could put Giovanni’s life and others at risk, Giovanni is compelled to learn his uncle’s secrets. He undertakes the arduous task of decoding Scappi’s journals and uncovers a history of deception, betrayal, and murder, all to protect an illicit love affair.

As Giovanni pieces together the details of Scappi’s past, he must contend with two rivals who have joined forces, his brother Cesare and Scappi’s former protege, Domenico Romoli, who will do anything to get his hands on the late chef’s recipes.

With luscious prose that captures the full scale of the sumptuous feasts for which Scappi was known, The Chef’s Secret serves up power, intrigue, and passion, bringing Renaissance Italy to life in a delectable fashion.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

My Thoughts:

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour!  Thank you to Amy @hfvbt for the opportunity to read this book. I absolutely adored this book!  I loved traveling back to Renaissance Italy and getting lost in this fictional account of the life of Bartolomeo Scappi.  I felt like this book is somewhat personal to me.  My entire family is Italian-American and to this day, I can still remember all the wonderful food that my grandmothers, great-grandmothers and great-aunts used to cook.  I can still smell fresh basil and sauce made with tomatoes from their gardens.  I watched my grandmother mix eggs and flour and make homemade pasta and ravioli. Our family used to have wonderful feasts for the holidays filled with great food and family. I loved reading about this time period and about Italy and I found myself longing to go back to visit Rome and Venice again.

Wonderfully written and researched, this is a great book for anyone, especially if you love food, Italy, and historical fiction.  Scappi was considered the first “celebrity chef” and he wrote one of the bestselling cookbooks ever.  He was the chef to popes and cardinals, but his own life was a bit of a mystery.  This book is filled with history, intrigue, mystery, and romance.  Some readers may think, “I don’t want to read a book that takes place in 1578.” Do not let that deter you! This book is such a treat. Fast-paced (I couldn’t put it down) and filled with lovely descriptions of Italy and the food they ate at the time.

I am so grateful I got an opportunity to read this book! Thank you so much to Atria Books, Crystal King and HFVBT Blog Tours!

Praise for The Chef’s Secret

“King’s characters are drawn as lovingly, as sensually as the food and the Vatican world she describes, and the plot itself – part secret-code mystery, part love story – moves like a well-paced meal.” (Boston Globe)

King supplies all of the elements historical fiction fans expect in a juicy Renaissance tale, including luscious meals, erotic interludes, and deaths by poison and blade. This rich tale should satisfy the appetites of fans of historicals. (Publishers Weekly)

“In The Chef’s Secret, Crystal King serves up a delectable read stuffed with passion, danger, and a plot worthy of Dan Brown. This fast-paced, engrossing novel brings Renaissance Rome and the Vatican to life through the eyes of a famous papal chef. You won’t be able to put it down.” (Stephanie Storey, author of Oil and Marble)

“A veritable feast for the senses, The Chef’s Secret is part mystery, part love story, and all sumptuous sixteenth century Italy. This tale of one of the world’s first celebrity chefs, Bartolomeo Scappi, a DaVinci of Renaissance cuisine, sent me on a quest to know more, and to my kitchen to experiment, a sign of a great historical novel. Readers will delight in a plot as juicy as Scappi’s braised beef!” (Heather Webb, international bestselling author of Last Christmas in Paris)

“The Chef’s Secret is a sumptuous buffet, serving up a love story (two of them!); mystery and suspense so thick you could cut it with, well, a chef’s knife; and such a vibrant panorama of Ancient Rome you’ll feel you’ve walked its streets and inhabited its kitchens. Anyone who loves history, food, a great story, read this novel! Warning: it will make you hungry.” (Jenna Blum, New York Times and international bestselling author of Those Who Save Us and The Lost Family)

“Crystal King’s The Chef’s Secret is a fabulous immersion in the world of renaissance Italy, full of passion, intrigue, secrets, danger, and of course food. Come hungry!” (Melodie Winawer, author of The Scribe of Siena)

With adventure, engaging characters, and an absorbing mystery, King expertly blends fact with fiction, intrigue, and a powerful love story. Well written and perfectly paced, The Chef’s Secret is a fascinating immersion into sixteenth-century Italian life, an introduction to the world’s first celebrity chef, and a reminder of the power of food to influence a civilization. (Booklist)

About the Author

Crystal King is the author of THE CHEF’S SECRET and FEAST OF SORROW. A culinary enthusiast and social media professional, her writing is fueled by a love of history and a passion for the food, language and culture of Italy. She has taught classes in writing, creativity and social media at Harvard Extension School, Boston University, Mass College of Art, UMass Boston and GrubStreet, one of the leading creative writing centers in the US. A Pushcart-nominated poet and former co-editor of the online literary arts journal Plum Ruby Review, Crystal received her M.A. in Critical and Creative Thinking from UMass Boston, where she developed a series of exercises and writing prompts to help fiction writers in medias res. She resides in Boston.

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Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, June 18

Review at Tar Heel Reader

Review & Interview at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, June 19

Review at 100 Pages a Day

Thursday, June 20

Review at My Reading Chronicles

Interview at Jathan & Heather

Friday, June 21

Review at Amy’s Booket List

Guest Post at Let Them Read Books

Monday, June 24

Review at A Chick Who Reads

Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Tuesday, June 25

Review at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

Excerpt at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Wednesday, June 26

Excerpt at The Lit Bitch

Review at Orange County Readers

Thursday, June 27

Review at Book Frolic

Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Friday, June 28

Review at Mama’s Reading Corner

Feature at What Is That Book About

Monday, July 1

Review at Comet Readings

Review at Stephanie’s Novel Fiction

Tuesday, July 2

Review at Melissa Reads

Review at Clarissa Reads it All

Wednesday, July 3

Review at Henry and Benny’s Book Nook

Guest Post at A Bookish Affair

Thursday, July 4

Review at Just One More Chapter

Friday, July 5

Review at Coffee and Ink

Review at Girls Just Reading

Review at Book Reviews from Canada


During the Blog Tour, one winner will receive a set of Feast of Sorrow and The Chef’s Secret! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on July 5th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Giveaway is open to US only.

Only one entry per household.

All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.

The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

The Chef’s Secret


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