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The Cook

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  352 ratings  ·  85 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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3.59  · 
Rating details
 ·  352 ratings  ·  85 reviews


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Anna
Jan 01, 2012 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
...more
C.
Nov 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to C. by: MU bookshop
My god that was disturbing, and not just the ending.
Janice
Jan 30, 2012 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.)
Mark Staniforth
Nov 07, 2012 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
...more
Lisa
Feb 22, 2013 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
...more
Sophie
Oct 03, 2011 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
...more
Liz
Apr 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
It's kind of hard to review The Cook because the prose style honestly felt like when I took too much codeine. That said the plot was definitely entertaining and I made it to the end despite the style, which is more than I can say for some other works. Author has a weird thing about Asians though it seems
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
...more
Belinda
Jun 05, 2012 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
...more
Rosemary
Jan 15, 2012 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!
Felicity
Nov 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Intriguing and thought provoking
Reilly Windsor-Daly
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018
This is a weird book, a very weird book. The ending was so out there, that there is no way anybody could see it coming, and it someways I found that annoying. There was no reason for it to happen, and it was less of a twist than a complete change in plot.

The lack of punctuation was infuriating, especially the lack of speech mark, made even worse by the conversational style of narration. You had no idea when someone was speaking and when he was commenting. It made the book difficult to read, and
...more
Jo
Mar 10, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: book-club
1.5*
This was such an odd book. I almost didn't make it to the end but I'm actually somewhat glad I did - simply because something significant actually happened in the plot, even if it was strange and disturbing.

The Cook is a great example of why inverted commas are essential punctuation marks for speech, as the absence of them (and the other frequent punctuation errors) made this book hard to read. To start with I appreciated the effect this had, but it grew old quickly and didn't make reading
...more
Jesse
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Omgggg I loved this book so much, I loved how dark it was. I really felt the conflict between being enthralled by the food descriptions and disgusted by the detail of the slaughtering of animals in order to obtain the meat.

What a great story, culminating in a life Drawing - posing naked - disturbing dynamic

My new favourite term as it both excites and freaks me out is "glassy eyed" as I'll remember it in reference to an alcohol-poisoned dead-in-the-womb lamb

Amazing book
Christina
Jun 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was something. I enjoyed and hated it at the same time. That ending though..It's one of those books that, for a moment, made me rethink eating meat.

It took a while to get into the rhythm of the book. The lack of punctuation drove me crazy at first. But once you started to understand Zac, the easier it was to read.
This is not a book for food lovers with a soft stomach. This book is dark, filled with gore and will force you to think about all of the steps that go into your food.
Jaymes
Feb 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
The authors choice not to use punctuation was a poor one, in my opinion. I couldn’t settle into the story, I had to pause frequently to get my bearings, to the point it just wasn’t enjoyable.

I was actually very surprised to see how many positive reviews this book had, considering that fact.

Overall, I was really let down by this book.
Amanda
Mar 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
I liked this book. I actually liked this book. As an English major the lack of punctuation did irk me a little bit but ultimately I got passed it. If you want your appetite ruined by the end of the book (in a good way) or are just in need of some disturbing reading, give this one a gander.
Pradip Nagpal
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you want to see a movie through a book - just don't miss this one. The plot was so well explained that you can just picture that happening in front of you.. but do not take things for granted as what we read may not be what we see!!! Caution for the plot but a lovely read!
Kurt Chircop
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant and gripping novel about upping the ambition level to eleven and getting consumed by it. Loved the shocking twists. Had to re read a particular part 3 times because I was not expecting it.

Plus points for really detailed culinary jargon.
Melissa Giardina
May 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What. A. Book.
Alison Condliffe
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
Once I got used to no punctuation I got immersed in the world of Zac and cooking. Very original, disturbing and funny.
Louise Poole
Jan 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
I very much enjoyed reading this book despite its lack of punctuation but I found the ending very disturbing and could not read it till the end!
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
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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
Kimbofo
Jan 12, 2013 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 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
...more
Sally906
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
J. Simons
Dec 16, 2013 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
...more
Annabel Smith
Mar 28, 2012 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
...more
Marg
Dec 08, 2012 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
...more
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Punctuation please! 3 13 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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