“Love á la Mode” by Stephanie Kate Strohm is a delightful story of two young wanna-be chefs who win a year in Paris studying cooking at the école (school) of a famous chef. The story is told in alternating chapters narrated by the two main characters.
In some ways, Rosie Radeke and Henry Yi couldn’t be more different. Henry grew up with his parents, running their Korean restaurant in Chicago, and knowing that he wanted to be a chef like his father. Rosie, on the other hand, grew up in rural Ohio where the fanciest (and practically only) restaurant in town was the Cracker Barrel. Yet Rosie loved to bake, and she yearned to be a pastry chef in her future.
They meet on the airplane from Chicago to Paris, and even the meeting is adorable in Strohm’s capable hands. The school itself is fascinating to read about, and the other characters, including the “mean girls,” are international versions of the cast of characters at any high school.
There is a tiny bit of a love triangle, a heap of misunderstandings, lots of angst, and some lovely cooking mixed in with the romance. The descriptions of the food, including the pastries, will make any reader’s mouth fill with saliva, and that reader will definitely want to head for the nearest bakery.
While the book is aimed at young adults, there’s nothing in it that would preclude middle grade readers from enjoying it as well. And even if one is not a fan of the cooking networks, he or she will enjoy this light-hearted romp through Paris and restaurants.
Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by Disney-Hyperion, the publisher, for review purposes.