Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Blog Tour and Giveaway: The Chef's Secret by Crystal King

Book Details:

Book Title: The Chef's Secret by Crystal King
Category: Adult fiction, 352 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Atria/Simon & Schuster
Release date: Feb 12, 2019
Tour dates: Feb 11 to 28, 2019
Content Rating: R (for a couple of explicit, but loving, sex scenes (no abuse or rape) and minor curse words)

Book Description:

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 protégé, 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.

To follow the tour, please visit Crystal King's page on Italy Book Tours.

Buy the Book:

Meet the Author:

Crystal King is an author, culinary enthusiast, and marketing expert. 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 several universities including Harvard Extension School and Boston University, as well as at GrubStreet, one of the leading creative writing centers in the US.

A Pushcart Prize–nominated poet and former co-editor of the online literary arts journal Plum Ruby Review, Crystal received her MA 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 but considers Italy her next great love after her husband, Joe, and their two cats, Nero and Merlin. She is the author of Feast of Sorrow.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram


  1. Your books take place in Italy. Have you ever been there?
    I began traveling to Italy over a decade ago, right as I finished the first draft of my first novel, Feast of Sorrow. I realized that exploring the world through books and through Google Earth wasn't enough and that I needed to walk in the places that my characters had walked. It has made a huge difference because I can describe all sorts of things that are impossible unless you've been in a place. For example it's an incredible feeling to actually walk in the calle--the alleys of Venice. It's a sensation that is really difficult to describe until you have been there. It's an impossible city, a warren of bridges and small thin streets and sky that you can barely see. It makes such a big difference when I can accurately describe how long it takes to walk from one place to another or what the sights that my character would see as they were taking that walk. It also has given me the ability to add in certain aspects of plot that are based upon setting which I wouldn't have been able to do without being there. When I began going to Italy I also quickly became obsessed. Absolutely obsessed. I began learning the language as well. My husband and I travel there once a year at minimum. I am desperately in love with Rome.  From the moment I first arrived in that city, I fell in love with the people, the history, the art, food, and culture of Italy.

  1. If you could put yourself as a character in your book, who would you be?
This is hard because I don't think of myself like my characters. Maybe Stella, Bartolomeo’s great love. Although, it's funny, when I wrote Feast of Sorrow, my husband said, “oh you are  just like Thrasius,” who was one of the main characters in that book. I was floored, because I think I'm nothing like him, but apparently my subconscious is! When I finished The Chef’s Secret, I asked him if I was like Giovanni and he said absolutely not, so I think I might have successfully taken myself out of the book which is good.
  1. Do you have another profession besides writing?
I do. I work as a social media professor for a technology company. I develop video lessons on how to use all the social media platforms. Eventually I hope that I am only writing books, but it's hard for authors to make a living today. Until I'm able to do that, I am lucky to have a day job that I also really love.

  1. Do you ever get writer’s block? What helps you overcome it?
    I don't. If anything, I get stopped by not having enough time or I don't feel motivated--which is different than being blocked. I don't think I would ever be somebody who could suffer from writer's block--knock on wood. I went to school for my M.A. in critical and creative thinking, and as part of my thesis, I developed writing exercises for authors in progress-- authors who are stuck with parts of their plot. And if I ever feel stuck, I go to one of those exercises to unstick myself. I also spend a lot of time talking to myself and working through plot problems. This sounds funny but it's super helpful for me. I'm the person that you might be next to at a stoplight in your car, and you look over and that woman is just talking away to herself. That would be me asking myself questions. What if this happened? How do I get this character to do that? And I just explore all those ideas and questions out loud. It's amazing how often answers will come to me when I'm talking to myself.
  2. Do you ever cook any of the recipes described in your book? Yes! That's one of the most exciting things to me about exploring the lives of Italian culinary heroes. I think to really know my characters I have to cook the foods that they would have cooked or at least make a grand attempt to. The recipes aren't always easy to decipher, and many of the ingredients are not as familiar today to a modern palate. Or they are things we just don't eat any more. For example, peacock, crane, calves eyeballs, hedgehog, or porcupine. But there are many things.There are many things in the 1570 cookbook that Bartolomeo Scappi wrote that we would find delicious, including apple crostata, braised beef, mushroom soup, fritters, and so much more. I include many of these recipes in The Chef’s Secret Companion cookbook, which can be found here. And if you are interested in ancient Roman food, check out my page all about the cuisine of that time, and you can also download the Feast of Sorrow companion cookbook too.
  3. Favorite travel spot? I am always desperate to go back to Rome or anywhere else in Italy but room is where my heart is.
  4. Favorite dessert?   I'm a freak for ice cream and it's even better if it's gelato. Unfortunately, it's very difficult to have great gelato in the United States, particularly because of certain laws we have on how you make ice cream and gelato in this country.

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends March 7, 2019

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