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The Cook

3.61  ·  Rating Details  ·  262 Ratings  ·  71 Reviews
A delicious satire of our contemporary obsession with food, cooking and fine dining, The Cook is a wild and darkly funny novel.
Zac, a teenage boy with a difficult past, throws himself into the world and work of haute cuisine but when sweet turns sour, his mind turns from first-class service to revenge.
Published to rave reviews in the UK, Australia.
Paperback, 245 pages
Published October 3rd 2011 by Text Publishing
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Jan 01, 2012 Anna rated it really liked it
So Wayne Macauley, a satirist worth his salt, has been round for a while. Good ole’ Black Pepper Press took a punt on his skewered cheese-dreams of Australian aspiration. Not just suburban oiks, the obvious target, but those artistes applying for the wafer-thin dinner mints of grant funding and greater glory. Check out his early books.

But not before you read this one. My, this is a good book. If Jude the Obscure was obsessed by making it to Masterchef instead of Christminister you might get an i
Feb 26, 2016 Janice marked it as dnf  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I can't read this book. There is no punctuation within the sentences. I find it too distracting to try and figure out the sentence and to be thinking about the lack of commas, quotation marks, sentence structure. I picture Sally from TC writhing in utter agony.

One newspaper reviewer said it was "astonishingly original". (Oops in keeping with the style of the book that sentence should have read one newspaper reviewer said it was astonishingly original.)
Nov 07, 2011 C. rated it really liked it
Recommended to C. by: MU bookshop
My god that was disturbing, and not just the ending.
Feb 22, 2013 Lisa rated it really liked it
Shelves: australia, c21st, cooking
Remember that riveting book Under the Skin by Michael Faber? A macabre mystery that by covenant amongst reviewers kept its dark secret quiet so that each reader could experience the shock? I hope The Cook receives the same respect because it’s so brilliantly done, it would be a shame to have it spoiled by careless reviews.

How best, then, to review it here? Carefully, carefully. Enough to entice you to find a copy and read it, not enough to spoil it….

Well then, it’s the story of Zac, a boy from t
Oct 26, 2011 Sophie rated it it was amazing
Seventeen year-old Zac has been chosen to attend the exclusive Cook School, a program for underprivileged youths run by a famous chef. Here he discovers a passion for cooking, and dreams of becoming a world-famous chef with his own restaurant. Eventually he lands a job as the personal chef for a very wealthy family, but things start to go a bit wrong...

This is very far from being a feel-good inspirational novel, but a darkly humourous and satirical look at the celebrity chef phenomenon and haute
Mark Staniforth
Nov 07, 2012 Mark Staniforth rated it liked it
Take Anthony Bourdain's 'Kitchen Confidential'. Add a heap of rabid ambition and a glug - no, make that a bucket-full - of gore, and you get, more or less, Wayne Macauley's wildly entertaining tale of a teenage delinquent turned aspiring chef, 'The Cook'.
Actually, for all its obvious comparisons with Bourdain's biographical account of his life in the world's high-end, high-testosterone kitchens, it has to be stressed that as a work of fiction, 'The Cook' is entirely unique.
This is the account of
Barbara Nelsen
Apr 04, 2015 Barbara Nelsen rated it really liked it
Oh, what a wicked, wicked book! At first I was put off by the stream-of-consciousness style of writing (if you require proper punctuation, or are opposed to meat, this is not the novel for you) but once I got used to it it made the tale flow beautifully. It was like being inside Zac's head and listening to his thoughts. If you like to cook I'd say you would enjoy the food descriptions (especially if you are familiar with French terminology - if not, you'll learn something).
Mr Macauley leads us,
Jul 05, 2012 Belinda rated it liked it
I did not see that coming! Wow! Absolutely stunned at the ending. Not expecting that at all!

A wonderful take on not just the culinary world, but social status and heirarchy, and the concept of who serves whom. It was quite refreshing to read a novel that hadn't actually been edited of punctuation and grammar - it made it all the more authentic that this 16 year old boy was narrating his story.

I don't think I've ever read a book that has surprised me with such an intriguing twist before. A great
Mel Campbell
Foodist culture is utterly grotesque and depraved, and thank god for a work of fiction that skewers it as neatly and convincingly as Steven Poole's polemic 'You Aren't What You Eat'. I loved this book.

I found 'The Cook' fun and easy to read, although I see from other Goodreads reviews that others struggled with Zac's garrulous, unpunctuated voice. I found it had a wonderful combination of cunning and naïveté, which at first makes you root for him in his journey as a chef, allowing his creepy ob
Jan 15, 2012 Rosemary rated it really liked it
What rollicking story written by a boy from the wrong side of the tracks who ends up in a cooking school for 'delinquent' older teens in the country near Melbourne. It is funny, thought-provoking (e.g. the class system, what is important in life) and has a couple of sys prising twists. It doesn't take long to read. Too bad our book group (a bit serious our book group) didn't select it for one of our monthly reads, but it was a suggestion. Enjoy!
Jul 28, 2014 Denise rated it liked it
Saw Wayne Macauley at a recent taping for a television show and he mentioned his book so thought I would borrow from the library. I found this an unusual book. Starts off in those long sentences that teenagers sometimes use when they can be bothered talking, which was fair enough as it was written from the point of view of a 19 year old. As the book progressed, in terms of a year in Zach's life, I found it wildly unbelievable - not sure if Macauley meant it that way - but the ending had a twist ...more
Aslihan Fer
Sep 16, 2014 Aslihan Fer rated it really liked it
İlk başlarda kitaptaki noktalama işaretlerinin minimum düzeyde kullanılmasının Saramago etkisi olduğunu düşündüm ancak ilerledikçe baş karakterin dağınık duygudurumunun ve yazım tekniklerinden çok haberdar olmamasının bundan daha iyi aktarılamayacağını farkettim. Kitabın akıcılığı da bu şekilde her sayfada daha çok arttı ya da ben anlatım tekniğine alıştıkça daha kolay okundu, bilemiyorum.
Ve kesinlikle sürpriz bir sondu, küçük beklentilerle alıp sonunda nefesimi tutacak hale gelmemi sağladı. O
Dec 02, 2012 Felicity rated it it was amazing
Intriguing and thought provoking
Angela Long (Carter)
I admire any author who attempts new ways of storytelling and Wayne Macauley has definitely done this in his latest offering 'The Cook'. However I don't believe he achieved a fully rounded product.
Although the lack of punctuation is not new, Peter Carey successfully used this in 2000 with his award winning novel "True History of the Kelly Gang"; it is definitely not a popular writing tool and creates it's own challenges for the reader. I found myself having to stop and make the decision on where
The first thing that hit me about this book was the punctuation – there isn’t any – a pet hate of mine. I have been known to not read the book and strike an author off my ‘to read’ list if they dare do it. God gave us full stops, commas, quotation marks and the rest for a reason – to use – for clarification and understanding. BUT – there was something about the story that kept me reading despite my scratching my head and reading a paragraph more than once to try and figure out the flow. THE COOK ...more
Heathercheryl Stevenson
I won an advance reading copy of The Cook from Goodreads. This is a very difficult book to read, not because of content but for some reason the paragraphs have no punctuation and I find myself having to go back over sentences(?), trying to decipher where each sentence begins and ends. What a distraction. I have almost given up a few times but in spite of the lack of simple punctuation, the story is mildly interesting. Can't say more than mildly because of all the distraction. I will add to this ...more
Annabel Smith
Mar 28, 2012 Annabel Smith rated it really liked it
Wayne McCauley’s third novel The Cook is a satire about a group of disadvantaged youths who are given a second chance to make something of themselves at Cook School. The novel pokes fun at the cult of celebrity chefs and reality television but it also engages with class issues and the impact of the global financial crisis.

The story is told from the point of view of Zac, a ruthlessly ambitious Cook School student, who is so single-minded in his goal of changing his life through this opportunity t
Dec 07, 2014 Kimbofo rated it really liked it
I thought the Brits were obsessed with cooking shows and celebrity chefs, until I got sucked into watching MasterChef Australia on satellite TV last year. The series, which is based on the original British MasterChef but is 100 times more sensational and loud and bombastic, was screened six nights a week for several months and turned cooking into an Olympic-like sport. It was so over-the-top ridiculous (and puffed-up) that most of the time I watched it so that I could take the mickey out of the ...more
David Hebblethwaite
Mar 07, 2013 David Hebblethwaite rated it liked it
Zac is a young offender whose rehabilitation is to be sent to a rural cookery school run by a famous chef.

Here Zac finds his calling when he discovers the world of fine food. While others on the scheme fall by the wayside, Zac diligently pursues his craft, studying classical French cookery books; breeding his own lambs for his dishes. After leaving the school he is given a job as the private chef to a wealthy Melbourne family. Zac sees this as good practice for his dream of opening a high-end re
J. Simons
Dec 16, 2013 J. Simons rated it it was amazing

In this, his third novel, Macauley takes the reader on a delicious journey into the faddish world of expensive dining through the eyes of seventeen-year-old Zac, a teenage delinquent who has opted to train at a Cook School instead of being shipped off to a young offender’s institute.

Imbued with a natural talent for high-end cuisine, Zac quickly realises that serving the rich will be his key to financial success. Soon he is concocting his own recipes to show off to the elusive Head Chef, even fa
Tracy Terry
The story of one young man's determination and almost obsessive desire to succeed no matter what the cost, I found The Cook an interesting, if not always enjoyable or easy, read.

Given the current debate on organic foods and the fact that many children know little of how the food they eat is produced this was a topical and timely read though as a non-meat eater I found much of it a little too graphic.

Written in the first person by main character, Zac, a young man of limited education. At first
Aug 23, 2012 Simone rated it it was amazing
This book was facinating. I really enjoyed this book, there was no anxt because the main character Zac was a sociopath and we all know that they don't feel much in the way of anxt.

The author wrote a complex, layered story in a very interesting way. The writing was, for the most part without puncutation. This could have been because the main character was uneducated and the narrative was completely from his point of view. I think that the author did it to make us think about what Zac was really s
Le koala Lit
Sep 11, 2012 Le koala Lit rated it really liked it
Je n’avais jamais lu un roman comme celui ci. Tout d’abord, un style particulier, sans ponctuation (sauf des points et majuscules) ce qui ralenti un peu la lecture. Mais aussi, un rythme parlé, qui nous fait suivre le fil des pensées de Zac, ses obsessions et sa minutie dans la préparation de chaque plat.
Je ne sais pas par où commencer.

Text Publishing

Zac à 16 ans lorsqu’il intègre Cook School. Il est issu d’un milieu défavorisé mais trouve sa voie dans la cuisine, et veut à tout prix atteindre l
Dec 15, 2012 Marg rated it really liked it

The Cook by Wayne Macauley was released here in Australia last year by Text Publishing. I had certainly heard of it, and I had meant to read it before now but I just hadn't quite managed to do so yet. I borrowed it from the library a few weeks ago. When it was named as the most under-rated book of 2012 I knew I had to make an effort to actually read it. The award "aims to shine a light on some of the fantastic titles that are released by independent publishers and members of the Small Press Netw
Oct 13, 2013 Caroline rated it really liked it
I could not put this book down. Sure Zac is a sociopath and perhaps that's not for everyone, but the intensity of his ambition, his singlemindedness, his complete lack of regard for the feelings of others, really drew me in. The actual settings of Cook School and the grim destruction that occurs there, followed by the depressing brokenness of the Melbourne home he works in, would not normally have engaged me, but Zac does not feel any of its sadness. The human tragedy around him completely goes ...more
Jul 13, 2012 Kathy rated it liked it
Shelves: abc-bookclub
I enjoyed this book, even though usually the intentional lack of punctuation bothers me. I settled into the rhythm smoothly enough and it did contribute to the effect the author wanted to have. It wouldn’t have been as successful if it had normal writing.

The book is filled with a lot of in-depth depiction of cooking processes and also a focus on using the freshest and best ingredients. I had to skim through the pages of where the character was dealing with the butchering of animals but I agree
Jul 17, 2014 sevda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
dark, mysterious and frightening. it kept its secrets till the end. had more than a few inspiring sentences about food, but mostly it was pretty damn creepy. i liked it a lot, the ending was brilliant.

the lack of punctuation was absolutely unnecessary imo. why-oh-why did you had to torture us like that, Wayne?
Oct 12, 2015 Ros rated it really liked it
A good read, interesting, read almost in one sitting. The (almost) lack of punctuation disconcerted me at first but I found that convincing for a 16 year old boy in trouble with the law and gradually got used to it. I found I needed to suspend belief about the level of Zac's culinary skills after only eight months at Cooks School but convinced myself (or the author convinced me) he was highly motivated and certainly the author showed him this way. His last meal cooked for his first employer was ...more
Oct 16, 2011 Fred rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people with strong stomachs who like recent Australian fiction with an edge
Recommended to Fred by: I bought it myself, no recommendations
Bought this one with my would-be chef son in mind, and fortunately read it first. It's very entertaining, though it's often a bit hard to empathise with the protagonist. It's written as a diary, and the deliberately dodgey (read "almost non-existent") grammar is interesting while still easy to understand. Very Australian (half in the bush outside Melbourne, half in the seriously wealthy suburbs of Melb) with a good sense of place. Parts of it are really funny, but sometimes the satire gets a bit ...more
Jan 18, 2016 Kristina rated it liked it
This had a pessimistic inevitability about it despite the protagonist's blind optimism. It will show up meat-eaters hypocricy in a brutal fashion and make you think about vegetarianism. I got bored with a lot of the menu descriptions and having to break down paragraphs into phrases and sentences.
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Punctuation please! 3 12 Jan 23, 2015 10:18PM  
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Wayne Macauley is the author of the highly acclaimed novels: Blueprints for a Barbed-Wire Canoe, Caravan Story and, most recently, The Cook, which was shortlisted for the Western Australian Premier’s Book Award, a Victorian Premier’s Literary Award and the Melbourne Prize Best Writing Award. His new book Demons will be available in August 2014. He lives in Melbourne.
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