* * * SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2014 COSTA FIRST NOVEL AWARD * * *
Outrageously funny and completely original, Chop Chop by Simon Wroe is the story of a hapless young chef in the crazed world of the professional kitchen, featuring lust, revenge, neurosis and haute cuisine.
'A greasy, hilarious tale of loyalty, revenge and dark appetites. A gripping look behind the kitchen wall' Shortlist
Two months behind on his rent, young graduate Monocle swallows his dreams and takes the only job he can find: the lowest-rung chef in a gastropub in Camden. Here he finds himself surrounded by a group of deranged hoodlums (his co-workers) and at the mercy of an ingenious sadist (the head chef, Bob). What follows is a furiously-paced, ribald, raucous and unexpectedly touching tale of loyalty and revenge, dark appetites and fading dreams, and a young man finding his way in the world as he is plunged into the fat and the frying pan and everything else besides.
'Perfectly baked [with] a rich, gooey pool of dark comedy hiding beneath the surface' Independent
'Lively, amusing and alarmingly informative' Daily Mail
'Arch comedy ... Dave Eggers channels Anthony Bourdain' Kirkus
'Twisted, surprising and above all genuinely funny' William Sutcliffe
'Raucous and inventive, peopled with technicolour characters and savagely funny' A D Miller
'A complete page-turner. Reminiscent of Kitchen Confidential but with an entirely fresh voice' Thomasina Miers
'A brutally funny look at the world of professional cooking' Gary Shteyngart
'Furiously funny, fast, surreal' Anya von Bremzen
Simon Wroe is a former chef who writes about food and culture for Prospect and the Economist, and regularly contributes to a wide range of publications including The Times, Guardian, Telegraph and Evening Standard. In 2014 Chop Chop was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award. He is 30 and lives in London.
In his fiction debut, Wroe, a freelance journalist and former chef, invents (or possibly recalls) the life of a chef. The narrator, Monocle, is so nicknamed by his fellow chefs because of his English degree. He is an aspiring writer living in London's Camden Town, who, in order to pay rent, unwillingly accepts a job at a restaurant called the Swan, where he suffers the bizarre and darkly comical torment of his boss, Bob, a culinary dictator ("Bob wanted soldiers, psychopaths, and masochists"). Amid the diabolical name-calling and the intentional spilling of boiling caramel to ensure his workers have real chef hands, Bob orchestrates an array of undeserved disciplinary actions for his workers. The worst punishment is a time-out in the refrigerator next to live lobsters that Bob personally detanks for the occasion. Despite his suffering, Monocle returns to the stove daily, out of stubbornness inherited from his unsupportive and egocentric father. Then Bob's tyranny is challenged with the arrival of crafty and crude chef Ramilov who also threatens the future of the Swan. Wroe's imaginative metaphors and gritty kitchen colloquialisms are the key ingredients in a story that will appeal to anyone with a taste for the morbid and the whimsical.