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The Chef's Secret

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  720 ratings  ·  186 reviews
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 hi
Paperback, 352 pages
Published February 12th 2019 by Atria Books
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Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Jun 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: drtbr2
I’ve wanted to read a Crystal King novel for some time, and I’m excited to have started with The Chef’s Secret! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Renaissance Italy comes to life in this beautiful novel rich in historical detail. At the center of the story is Bartolomeo Scappi, the well-known and well-loved chef to popes.

When Scappi dies, his inheritance goes to his nephew, Giovanni, who was also his apprentice. Of note is that Scappi leaves to Giovanni two locked boxes with keys with orders to burn them. Along with
Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical-fic
Totally Awesome Great GIF - TotallyAwesome Awesome Great GIFs

What a wonderfully delectable novel! You know those books you enjoy so much that they just linger with you? The mere mention of them, of the author, the slightest memory of the characters or the cover, just makes you feel all squiggly-happy inside? That is how Crystal King's novel Feast of Sorrow: A Novel of Ancient Rome is for me, and so I was delighted to learn she has a new book! As much as I wanted to read it, I was also ambivalent, worried that Ms. King couldn't possibly write another novel
Feb 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Crystal King has a knack for writing about food that leaves you salivating and hungry for snacks at every turn and I absolutely love her second novel which is set in 1577.

Bartolemeo Scappi, papal chef to Pope Gregory dies and his nephew and apprentice, Giovanni, takes his place in the Vatican’s kitchens. Giovanni inherits everything from his uncle including his job and his journals and letters. From there a mystery unfolds revealing past secrets of his family, dramatic love affairs, mysterious
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I first learned about this author from Catherine on the Sarah's Book Shelves podcast, episode 2 - I was intrigued by the concept of historical foodie fiction so I requested an eARC of The Chef's Secret from Edelweiss (this came out February 12, 2019.)

Even though it took me a while to read, and I read it between other things, there are a lot of itches scratched by this novel. First is the food, of course. The two main characters are the Pope's chef in Renaissance Italy, so there is a lot of discu
Bartolomeo Scappi (1500-1577) was a legendary Italian chef to several popes and author of one of the bestselling cookbooks of all time. Not much is known about him. The known facts, such as him dedicating his cookbook to his nephew and apprentice, Giovanni Brioschi, and bequeathing some jewelry to a sister named Catherina, are incorporated into the story. And all the popes he worked for and are involved in this story are true.

After the death of Bartolomeo in 1577 Rome, his nephew discovers Barto
Heather Webb
Aug 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A veritable feast for the senses, The Chef's Secret is part mystery, part love story, and all sumptuous sixteenth century Italy. This tale of one of the world's first celebrity chefs--Bartolomeo Scappi, a DaVinci of Renaissance cuisine--sent me on a quest to know more, and to my kitchen to experiment-- a sign of a great historical novel. Readers will delight in a plot as juicy as Scappi's braised beef! ...more
Feb 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: net-galley
This book was just so much fun to read. The story was set in the 1500's in the Vatican kitchens and featured the head chef and his nephew. The food descriptions were just mind blowing. Some of them were mouth watering and some of them were ones I would never eat. The artistry was unbelievable. I love the author even had Michelangelo making sugar molds for a banquet.

Bartol0meo was the head chef of the Vatican when he passed away. He left everything, his wealth and recipes, to his nephew who wa
Medieval history has always been my favorite time period, which is why I minored in medieval history while earning my Bachelor's degree. I also love my historical fiction to be based on real people and real events then throw in the fact that Italy is my favorite place in the whole world, so to say I was over the moon when asked to read and review The Chef's Secret by Crystal King would be an understatement!

I just spent 2 weeks this past April in Italy visiting Rome, Florence, and Venice, and Kin
The Lit Bitch
Feb 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I first saw this title, it made me hungry.

The cover art did nothing to help that situation either. The trey of wine and fruit looks so appealing and I couldn’t help but think that I needed to crack open a bottle of wine to commemorate the beginning of this book!

Now if truth be told—I am neither a foodie or a wine drinker, but for this book I felt like I totally could be! I thought it sounded like a fun and interesting story told in a unique setting–so I said yes to reading it.

My sister got
Amy’s Booket List
Jun 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Months ago, I was given the chance to feature this book on its release day. When i featured the release, I was sad that it wasn't available for review. But then, as opportunity would have it, The Chef's Secret became available to review and I jumped at the chance. To say that I am excited to read this book is an understatement.

I have always loved historical fiction, but I have to say I haven't read a lot based in the 16th century. I especially love historical fiction based on real people and eve
The Chef's Secret is a yummy (pun intended) mystery filled with food, forbidden love and murder that revolves around a set of journals and secret letters. How appetizing does that sound?

Bartolomeo Scappi is a chef right out of the history books. He lived from 1500-1577 and served many Popes and was even the author of a best selling cookbook, which he dedicated to his nephew Giovanni. The author used that as the base for this book and I loved the direction it went.

Giovanni plays center stage as h
Davida Chazan
Talk about luscious literature! Crystal King’s new novel, set in 16th century Italy, is a work of culinary, biographical fiction about Bartolomeo Scappi, a man who was chef to popes and royalty, and the legacy he hands down to his protégé, Giovanni. “The Chef’s Secret” is a must read for lovers of historical fiction, and you can find out why in my newest #bookreview on my blog now. ...more
Dec 21, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Slight trepidation going on because, you know, food. Just makes me think of all the food shows I’ve watched (never by choice except for the delight that is the Great British Bake Off) and have never enjoyed. In fact the only enjoyable thing about them has always been for me the historical factoids behind the recipes. So I figured maybe it’ll be like that but in a book form. But actually this turned out to be a pleasant surprise in that, while food is mentioned often and in copious amounts and ne ...more
Amy Bruno
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Warning: Don't read this book on an empty stomach!

Scrumptious food, mystery, and forbidden romance merge in a masterful way in this un-put-down-able historical from Crystal King!

When Bartolomeo Scappi, a famous Italian chef who works for the Pope, dies he gives his estate to his beloved nephew and protege Giovanni, along with a box of letters and journals that Bartolomeo expressly asked for him to burn. Unable to do so before finding out what is in them, Giovanni's curiosity gets the better of
This is a historical fiction story based on the life of Bartolomeo Scappi, a revered Italian Renaissance celebrity chef.

Scappi was born in 1500 in Dumenza, Lombardy, Italy, and moved to the Vatican to chef for six popes. He was a contemporary of Michelangelo, and wrote a cookbook of over 1000 recipes which you can still find in print today: The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi (1570): L'Arte Et Prudenza D'Un Maestro Cuoco.

Those are the facts, now to the story. The story grabs those scant details and
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc-netgalley
I received this from in exchange for a review.

Set in the 1500's with duo timelines, Giovanni pieces together the details of Scappi’s past and 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.

Thomas Robinson
Oct 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A Secret Everyone Should Know

A delicious romp through Renaissance Rome, Crystal King's A CHEF'S SECRET is everything that a great dish should be: assembling the very best ingredients, it is prepared with skill and care and presented with panache.

Sprinkling fictional events and relationships into a grand confection of documented history well told, King takes us on a thrilling journey that offers all the things I like best: fabulous food, intrigue and adventure, earnest underdogs to root for, per
Whitney Scharer
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is delicious in every sense of the word! I (smartly) brought it to read while I was on vacation, and spent the entire time drooling over the gorgeously written food and cooking scenes. Bartolomeo Scappi was a chef to several popes, and prepared lavish feasts for them at a scope that is almost unimaginable to us today. Equally interesting were the depictions of the simple food Scappi and his nephew were made to prepare for the more austere popes. The story alternates between two timelin ...more
Lisa Leone-campbell
Chef Bartolomeo Scappi, the head cook for the Popes during the 1500's in Rome, dies suddenly and leaves most of his estate to his nephew, apprentice Giovanni Scappi who then steps into the head cook role

Giovanni is given Bartolomeo's cooking knife and a set of keys and is told to destroy what is in the boxes. Giovanni's curiosity gets the better of him and he opens one of the boxes to find his Uncle's journals dating back years, Unfortunately much of the journals are unreadable because they are
Anjali Duva
Nov 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Exquisitely researched, this page-turning story has it all: mystery, intrigue, history, gastronomy, and just the right amount of romance. Immerse yourself in Renaissance Italy with Crystal King's second excellent historical novel. A treat. ...more
Jenny Q
Check out my Q&A with Crystal King for the Historical Novel Society! ...more
Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Bartolomeo Scappi, the cuoco secreto to the pope died suddenly in 1577. In his will Barto leaves his estate and name to his nephew and apprentice, Giovanni. When Giovanni is readying himself to take over his uncle's role, another kitchen apprentice tells him that upon his deathbed Barto gave him keys to several lock boxes and made him promise to burn the journal s inside. Giovanni can not resist the pull of his uncle's secrets and dives into Barto's life. After deciphering the code that many ent ...more
Andrea Guy
I have to admit when I think of Renaissance Italy I don't think of food, I think of art, but then again food is art.

This book is about the life of Bartolomeo Scappi chef to many popes. His life is a lot more than you'd think and its brought to you care of ciphered journals that his nephew Giovanni was supposed to burn.

The book will grab you from the very start. The writing is engaging and the book well researched and the characters are so well rounded that you feel close to each of them. The re
Reeda Booke
The year is 1577 and Bartolomeo Scappi, the famous Vatican chef, has died. Giovanni, his nephew who has long been his apprentice, has inherited almost everything, including his recipes and the many journals where his uncle has chronicled his life. He was supposed to burn them, but he was curious about the man he loved and had taught him so much. And therein he learns that his uncle had many secrets.

Dangerous secrets.

This was a fantastic look into the life of a famous chef, of which little is kno
Jennifer S. Brown
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This dual timeline novel of two chefs--Bartolomeo Scappi (a real life famous Renaissance chef) and his protege Giovanni--is a fast-paced read. I loved immersing myself in the 16th century and the papal politics. The two chefs cook for popes and the intrigue of that world is fascinating. The heart of this story is the secrets Bartolomeo kept and Giovanni's quest to uncover them, through Bartolomeo's coded journals. At the same time, we learn of both Bartolomeo's romance and Giovanni's. There are ...more
Connie Whitcomb
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this book -- the food, the characters, the swashbuckling, the suspense, the mystery, the history -- all equally intriguing. It would make a fantastic movie.
Shree Aier
Aug 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written. There's food, sex, passion, love, lust, murders, mysteries and everything you want in a book. ...more
The Chef's Secret is a story of mystery and food, obviously. A former chef to the Pope and Cardinals leaves journals. His nephew reads them instead of burning them as instructed. It's an interesting read with some history, family and culinary aspects. It's not my favorite, but it's not bad, either. Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review. ...more
Nov 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
No one does sixteenth-century Italy like Crystal King. The secrets, betrayals, and echoes through generations will astound. Sumptuous and delectable.
Linda Zagon
Feb 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Linda’s Book Obsession Reviews “The Chef’s Secret” by Crystal King, Atria Books, February 12, 2019

Crystal King, Author of “The Chef’s Secret” has written an intriguing, entertaining, captivating and unique novel. The Genres for this story are Fiction , Historical Fiction with the author’s interpretation, and Romance. The timeline for this story is around the Renaissance and the 16th Century in Italy. The author describes her colorful cast of characters as complex, and complicated.

Bartolomeo Scap
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Crystal King is the bestselling author of THE CHEF'S SECRET and FEAST OF SORROW. A culinary enthusiast and social media professional, 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 Harvard Extension School, Boston University, Mass College of Art, UMass Boston and GrubStreet, one ...more

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“He let his fingers tease her until she uttered soft cries. Stella spread her legs further and wider as his hand explored, touched, and pleasured every part of her womanhood.
She untied her outer bodice and lifted her breasts so they spilled from her corset. Her hands rubbed and played with her nipples. She knew what excited Bartolomeo. He continued to pleasure her while she touched herself, and he stroked his erection until he was near to bursting. Finally, he pulled her forward and slid into her, and her exclamation was louder than either of them expected. She clamped a hand over her mouth, wide-eyed.
He did not release her. Instead, he slowed his motion, and once he felt sure no one could have heard them, he began to rock against her, deeper and harder. The bed began to creak, but he was lost in the depths of his desire.
When she reached her climax, her cries more urgent and sustained, he lost control and spilled into her, his hips bucking a few more times. His legs threatened to give way with pleasure and exhaustion.”
“The second course would feature six butter statues, one of which was an elephant, and another Hercules fighting the legendary monster Cerebus. A monstrous pastry stag was the centerpiece of that course, with red wine gelatin bleeding from where an arrow had pierced its side.
The final course included six monstrous statues made of pastry: Helen of Troy; a nude Venus; a camel with a king upon its back; a unicorn with its horn in the mouth of a serpent; Hercules holding open the mouth of a lion; and Poseidon and his mighty trident. There were 361 bowls and plates of candied fruits: coconuts, apricots, grapes, pears, and melons, as well as plates of almonds, pistachios, pine nuts, and a variety of cheeses.”
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