Macauley, Wayne. The Cook. Text Publishing: Melbourne, Australia 2011. 8vo lg SC 304pp
Power through service, says Head Chef. It's one of the first lessons taught at Cook School, where troubled youths learn to be master chefs by bowing to decadence and whim, by offering up a part of themselves on every plate.
It's a motto Zac takes to heart. A teenage boy with a difficult past, he throws himself into the world and work of haute cuisine. He has dreams of a future, of escaping the dead-end, no-hope lot of his fellow cooks. He wants to be the greatest chef the world has seen. He thinks he's taken his first steps when he becomes House Cook for a wealthy family. Never mind that the family may seem less than appreciative. Or refined. Or deserving. Power through service.
But as the facade crumbles and his promised future looks unlikely to eventuate, Zac the Cook is forced to reassess everything. Sweet turns sour and ends in bitter revenge.
Blackly funny and deliciously satirical, The Cook feeds our hunger to know what goes on in the kitchen, while skewering our culture of food worship.
Wayne Macauley is a Melbourne writer. He has published two novels, Blueprints for a Barbed-Wire Canoe (2004) and Caravan Story (2007). His short-fiction collection, Other Stories (2010) has been shortlisted for the 2011 Queensland Premier's Awards.
Author Website: www.waynemacauley.com