Selected to the July/August 2021 Indie Next List by the ABA!
For as long as he can remember, Curtis Pith has been obsessed with becoming a chef like Lucas Taylor, host of Super Chef. And Curtis has a secret: Taylor is actually his long-absent father.
So when Taylor announces a kids-only season of Super Chef, Curtis finally sees his chance to meet his dad. But after Curtis wins a spot in the competition and arrives in New York to film the show, nothing goes as smoothly as he expected.
Chris Negron grew up outside Buffalo, New York, where he spent a huge chunk of his childhood collecting comic books and loving sports. But it was the hours of playing Dungeons and Dragons in friends' basements that first gave him the dream of one day writing his own stories. That dream kept him company through college at Yale University and years of programming computers for big companies. DAN UNMASKED is his debut novel, and he now lives outside Atlanta with his wife, Mary. Visit him at www.chrisnegron.com.
Who knew that just what I needed in this bleak winter was such a heartwarming book? Super Chef is full of soul and delicious food and a level of complexity that you might not expect. I loved how adept all the kids were in the kitchen but had a lot to learn outside of it, and the adults all felt real and fully integrated into the narrative. The challenges of being on a reality show were deftly captured, as well as the emotional pressure. By the unexpected ending, I was totally swept away by the book, and I can't wait to see what Negron writes next.
I had the wonderful opportunity to read an advanced copy of The Last Super Chef. Once again, Negron expertly intertwines the fun aspects of storytelling along with real life lessons.This book isn't just about a young man who loves to cook (and boy, does he love to cook) but it takes head on an absent father and Parkinson's. Even with all the serious storylines, the book is so good I couldn't put it down!
I haven't had this much fun reading a book about cooking since All Four Stars by Tara Dairman. I like to think of myself as a culinary enthusiast, always curious to try new ingredients and dishes and I especially enjoy a story that highlights these skills. Plus as an added bonus both books have a Crème brûlée incident and speak to that inner foodie in me.
The Last Super Chef is a cross between the Golden Ticket from Willy Wonka, and the talented kids from Master Chef or Chopped Junior. The story follows along with each of the kids as they're selected to compete, start to prepare their dishes, including the prep work, utensils, descriptions of the scrumptious ingredients and the final presentation of their completed work to the judges. Each of Chef Taylor's challenges was designed to not only test their cooking skills, aptitude and how well they could work together, it also included a special theme for each challenge, based off the skills needed for an exceptional chef. I love how the story highlights kids from a variety of culinary backgrounds and introduces new ingredients, while exposing the reader to other cultures foods, including dishes from Kyoto, Japan, Mexico City and from Boston, Illinois and New York. Those Crème brûlée cupcakes and Jambalaya sound to die for!
The story is so much more than just the cooking competition, although this is the meat and potatoes of the book, there is also the emphasis of how a TV personalities life can become an international conversation. Speculation, rumors and questions about issues can arise at any given moment that don't pertain to anyone else but the individual. It highlights the pressures that kids place on themselves to live up to their expectations and those of their parents. And also the disappointment of letting yourself down by not feeling you can measure up. Yet, it's also hopeful by illustrating the importance of teamwork, friendship, a strong family support, and a dash of kindness go a long way in helping you succeed. If you enjoyed All Four Stars, love watching cooking shows and competitions, or know of a young culinary enthusiast, The Last Super Chef will certainly satiate their appetite. **A huge thank you to Chris Negron and Edelweiss + for the E-ARC**
This book was received as an ARC from HarperCollins Children's Books in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own.
I absolutely loved this book. Being fans of kid food competition shows and previously reading Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff that Made Me Famous by Kathryn Williams, I knew I was in for quite the treat with The Last Super Chef. Curtis' story was super relatable and the plot twist of the century that the host of The Last Super Chef Lucas Taylor is Curtis' biological father was just pure brilliance. My interest was strongly invested from beginning to end and I could not put this book down. I loved the book so much that I might recommend it for our next Battle of the Books competition and I know our participants and young community will enjoy this book very much.
We will consider adding this title to our JFiction collection at our library. That is why we give this book 5 stars.
One part Willy Wonka, one part MasterChef Junior, The Last Super Chef is a whirlwind of a story in the hands of a master storyteller. Chris Negron opens your heart to 11-year-old Curtis Pith and his deep-rooted need to both save his family and connect with the Super Chef himself—the man he believes to be his father. From the precise descriptions of cooking techniques to the dishes and ingredients the young chef manages, readers will be drawn into the culinary world as if they had never been elsewhere. You don’t need to be a fan of cooking to enjoy this heartfelt tale of a young boy trying to find himself, but in the hands of Negron, young readers will find more than enough reason to wonder if they, too, could be the Last Super Chef. For kids and adults alike, this is must have on your shelf.
I was lucky to read an advance copy of Chris Negron’s newest book, The Last Super Chef. This is a great read for anyone who cooks or watches cooking shows. It’s also a wonderful example of how to think of children. The young people in this book are intelligent, competitive, and empathic individuals. In other words, they are wholly human!
In addition, the book finds a way to include themes and lessons that benefit readers of all ages. As a middle level teacher, I certainly think the children I know will love this book. But, don’t stop there—parents and teachers will enjoy the story as well. Great job, Chris!
The Last Super Chef is an entertaining middle grade book about food, family, and finding your tribe. Set in a cooking competition between five kids with the backdrop of an intriguing mystery surrounding Curtis and Chef Taylor, this story provides plenty of highs and lows and a seriously mouth-watering experience.
Curtis Pith is a masterful chef. He can take top ingredients and make amazing dishes. Or he can take the last few things in the pantry and whip up a tasty dinner. He has a wealth of cooking information in his head, from recipes he uses every week to dishes from the other side of the world. That’s not so unusual for a chef. But it is unusual for an 11-year-old.
Usually he cooks dinner for himself and his little sister Paige while their mother works evenings. And he makes sure never to miss an episode of Super Chef. Each season of the competition cooking raises the stakes just a little. Chef Lucas Taylor, the original Super Chef, runs the weekly contests with his two sous chefs, and Curtis stays glued to the television to learn as much as he can from the master.
And then the Super Chef makes an announcement. He is retiring from the show. But he wants to see the future of the business. He wants to find the next Super Chef, and for that he is looking for a kid. The show will be accepting video submissions for kids, and the top five will be chosen to be on the show, The Last Super Chef. As soon as Curtis finds out about this competition, he knows he has to be in it. He has to win it. First, there is the cash prize of $250,000, which would change their lives. He could buy his mother a house, and she wouldn’t have to worry so much about her job.
But there’s something else, something Curtis has never told anyone. Chef Taylor is his father.
When he’d been in second grade, he had asked his mother who his father is. She burst into tears trying to tell him. She was finally able to tell Curtis that he was a chef, a super chef, and then she pointed towards the television, where Lucas Taylor had been, on his show Super Chef.
So the second reason Curtis wants to be, no, needs to be on The Last Super Chef, is to finally meet his father in person.
Every night for a week, a new winner is announced on the news. Curtis watches each night as one contestant after another is named, and it’s not until the last night that they come knocking on his door. His video of him making a single perfect cheese soufflé was enough to get him on the show.
Suddenly, he’s off to New York City to meet the other four contestants and compete to be the Last Super Chef. As the challenges whiz by and he makes friends with the other kids, he has to fight against his anxiety as well as his growing resentment at Chef Taylor being so distant all those years. Clearly, he had the means to help the family, to come visit and see how Paige and Curtis were doing as they grew up. So what kept him so far away?
Will Curtis be able to put his feelings aside and win the competition, or will he let his feelings distract him too much? Will he be the Last Super Chef? Or will be find something even more valuable than that title?
Author Chris Negron has taken a little but of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and mixed in some Master Chef Junior to create The Last Super Chef. This story of family, food, friendship, and a madcap cooking competition is just as fun and charming as you would hope. If you’ve got kids who are fans of cooking shows and competitions, then they will chow down on this novel. It keeps the flavor of the reality show with a lot of off-screen moments, and the characters are the kids you could find in any neighborhood school.
I absolutely loved The Last Super Chef. It’s a fun play on the reality competition shows but also has a real depth of feeling and family in the story. It’s smart and funny, interesting and charming, and genuinely heart-warming. This one is an instant classic!
Egalleys for The Last Super Chef were provided by HarperCollins Children’s Books through NetGalley, with many thanks.
Curtis Pith is a culinary genius and he’s only in the 5th grade. He has learned almost everything he knows from the best cooking show ever, Super Chef, which features the best chef in the world, Lucas Taylor, who also happens to be Curtis’s father, except no one knows that. Curtis only knows because his mom let it slip a few years ago, but Curtis hasn’t told anyone, not even his little sister Paige or his best friend Tre.
When Super Chef announces a new contest for kids, Curtis is determined to win. Not just for the $250,000 prize that would be enough to buy a house for his mom and sister, but because he wants to meet his father in person.
Curtis’s audition video is good enough to get him a spot on the reality television competition show with four other kid chefs. Curtis realizes quickly that winning isn’t going to be easy because they are just as good as he is, if not better. The other contestants have distinct personalities and motivations in a way that was similar to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
It might seem like a cooking show wouldn’t be a page-turner, but it totally is. The extreme cooking challenges that Curtis and the other contestants face are grueling and intense. With plenty of detail about ingredients and cooking techniques, young gourmands are going to eat this up. But even if you’re not interested in cooking, the fast-paced action is spellbinding.
I highly recommend that you order up a serving of The Last Super Chef. It’s a delicious cooking adventure that was as heartwarming as it was exciting.
This was such a good book. The show in the book was very reminiscent of Hell’s Kitchen and it was so much fun to read about Curtis and how he loved to cook and was so excited to audition for the Last Super Chef since he is so passionate about cooking. His sister is so cute being his sous chef and his best friend Tre who helped them film the audition video when they broke in to their landlord’s house. Curtis just idolizes Lucas Taylor who is Super Chef but he resents him as well since he thinks that Lucas is his father from something his mom said when he was really little which is why he wants to be a chef since he thinks it’s his calling since his father is the Super Chef. He goes to the competition not only to win the prize which will help them get a new house and that his mom won’t have to work as much but also to finally meet who he thinks is his dad. It was really fun to see all the other audition winners and how they interacted with each other with the competition which doesn’t have any being eliminated every round just has a winner and whoever has the most points at the end wins the competition. This was a really good story and fast read and the ending was really good and about how you don’t have to be perfect and that you are still great even if you need some help sometimes.
Thanks to Harper Collins Children’s Books and Netgalley for the complimentary copy of this book in e-book form. All opinions in this review are my own.
4.5 stars!! Curtis has been a faithful viewer of the show Super Chef since he was seven, and as a result he’s developed amazing talents in the kitchen. He can cook anything from appetizers to desserts, as well as international dishes for his younger sister and his mom in their tiny apartment kitchen. The descriptions of his dishes (especially the cupcakes - YUM!) will leave you drooling and wishing he would take over your kitchen. When the Super Chef unexpectedly announces the show is ending, Curtis is devastated, until he learns five kids will be chosen to compete in a cooking contest for a $250,000 prize. He quickly decides he can be one of the five and win the money to save his family.
This heartfelt story about five kids who are extremely talented and knowledgeable in the kitchen, is not only about the competition, but also about how much they learn about themselves, their families, teamwork and kindness toward one another. It’s about the tremendous pressure they put on themselves as they all strive to please their parents, win the prizes and in Curtis’s case be the best possible role model for his sister and to the best possible son.
This MG book is available 7.6.21. It’s one you’ll want to preorder for the aspiring chefs in your family, as well as your MG readers looking for a really good story to add to their summer reading list.
Thank you to @netgalley and the publisher for the preview copy of this book.
This was a really fun read, especially for fans of cooking shows like Top Chef, Chopped, and The Great British Bake-Off. Curtis Pith has loved cooking since he was in second grade, when an off-handed comment by his mother led him to believe that Lucas Taylor, The Super Chef, was actually his father. He believes that cooking is in his blood and is his destiny. This isn't easy since his mother can't always afford to buy the ingredients he wants. But he makes due with what he can, whipping up fun meals for himself and his younger sister while their mother is at work. When the Super Chef announces a kids' contest, Curtis knows that he has to enter. He heads off to New York to face his fears and his destiny. Not only does this have a wealth of cooking knowledge, it also takes a long hard look at following our own dreams and not the expectations of our families. Highly recommended for grades 4 & up.
(My only small quibble would be that the contestant from Mexico City would not care about being home for Thanksgiving.)
* I received a copy of this through NetGalley in return for my honest opinion.
This was a cute concept, but had a lot of things that didn't work for me. Young Curtis Pith dreams of being a chef, not just because he enjoys it, though he really does, but because he thinks that it is in his blood, he believes that Super Chef Lucas Taylor is his father. When the Super Chef announces that not only will this be his last season but that he is hosting a competition for 5 kids who could be the next chef, Curtis feels that he has to be in the competition. Fast forward through Curtis, his sister, and his best friend breaking into their landlord's house across the street, and he somehow makes it into the competition. Curtis is used to people fawning over his food, but once at the competition he realizes that while all of his self-taught knowledge is great, the others have had more training from family and more access to expensive ingredients. The competition is challenging on Curtis as he is obsessed with telling Taylor and yet afraid to do so. Other than getting distracted in some of the competitions, Curtis does have a great deal of talent and does well in the competition.
One of the things that frustrated me was that Curtis seemed to think that he was above the rules. He decided to sell fancy cupcakes at a high school basketball game. No school would let that happen, they use those sales for fundraising. He breaks into the house across the street because his landlord has an awesome kitchen. And since when would a house like that be across the street from an apartment building? I highly doubt that any production company would let 5 11 year olds go to NYC without a parent with them, rather having a college intern as a personal babysitter. The other contestants think they are the best, but the majority of them don't even necessarily seem to enjoy cooking. Where is the love of the experience? I get that we are teaching pre-teens to already have their own businesses, but they should at least love what they do.
Kids that love cooking shows will enjoy this book. It was a fun book, just not one that made me want to read it.
The Last Super Chef reads like a behind-the-scenes expose of MasterChef/MasterChef Junior. Lucas Taylor is an easy stand-in for multi-Michelin starred chef Gordon Ramsay, and Curtis could be any of the contestants that have participated over the years.
Obviously, there are some differences — the main one being the long-lost father storyline — but the overall passion, competition concept and cookery are not only similar, but feel true to the circumstances.
The Last Super Chef can be divided into two parts — the cooking competition and everything else. And that’s to the book’s benefit.
When the kids are competing, that’s where all the action is. It’s tense, and it’s tunnel vision. It’s all about getting through the next hour (or less) with the best outcome possible. These are the parts of the book that get the readers’ heart racing and the pages flipping.
It’s in the quieter, noncompetition moments where the creativity comes through. This is where Curtis and the other kids become the characters you care about. It’s where they discover each other’s strengths and weaknesses and learn to work together.
If The Last Super Chef’s strength is in these two contrasting parts. They create a push-pull balance that makes it enjoyable for readers who are fans of cooking, and those who aren’t.
And on the topic of cooking, it’s clear author Chris Negron has done his research. He gives readers enough information to understand the concept of what’s being made without spoon feeding it. There’s a lot of nuance here that’s to be appreciated.
The Last Super Chef is an engrossing read that should appeal to a wide cross-section of readers.
Thank you to HarperCollins and NetGalley for this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Eleven-year-old Curtis Pith loves to cook. His favorite show is Super Chef, a cooking competition show hosted by Chef Lucas Taylor. But Curtis has a secret – Chef Taylor is his long-lost father! And when Chef Taylor suddenly announces that he will be retiring and launches a campaign for kids to submit entries to be the Last Super Chef, Curtis is beside himself! He, along with his sister and best friend, gain entry into his landlord’s fancy kitchen. Under time constraints until the landlord returns, Curtis whips up a grand cheese soufflé. Amazingly, Curtis is one of five chosen from around the world. But when he gets to New York, the competition and pressure are more than he bargained for.
This is a great middle grade read for kids who really enjoy cooking shows (and even those that don’t watch!). The story is well written and the characters are well developed. The one thing that kept me from giving this book 5 stars was So 4.5 stars from me!
This book started off fine enough, but I eventually got annoyed with the narrator's voice and the talks about food, food, food. I know this is the whole point of the book, but it just got to be too much for me because it looks like this kid is only about food and has no other hobbies. Also, the way the narrator speaks in the audiobook was so annoying that I felt that most people don't even talk like this.
Anyway, I ended up skipping many chapters because of all the annoying parts of this book (narrator's voice) so while I can't say much about the story at this point, I can say that it annoyed me the way the narrator read this story. Maybe it's the voice, maybe it's the narration. Maybe it's something else entirely. Can't remember how many chapters I skipped, but I tried to listen to the shorter ones because I was so annoyed with this guy's voice. And the story. So, maybe it was all of it put together.
So glad this one is over. I have the physical book but am debating sharing it with anyone because I was not into this one at all. I hope others will enjoy it despite my feelings about it.
4.5 stars rounded up. This was such a fun middle grade fiction; I think it's best suited for 3rd-6th grade, and kids who love being in the kitchen.
I felt like this sweet story was: 1/3 Great British Bake Off 1/3 Iron Chef 1/3 Willy Wonka with a dash of family, friendship, and believing in yourself.
It's a sweet story, and would make for a really fun read aloud. I definitely saw Curtis' train wreck happening, but I think that was what Negron intended. However, I did not predict everything at the end.
Overall, I loved the food talk. I loved the friendships built. I loved how Curtis developed as a character. It's a great story that flows well.
Some favorite quotes: "I was kneading my tiny, doughy idea into some kind of shape in my brain. A baguette, maybe. Possibly a boule." pg2
"Life's pretty unfair when you're in fifth grade and completely powerless." pg16
"We're looking for kids passionate about cooking, kids who already have the talent to thrive and the drive to survive." pg45
"I really cannot believe the chef would say anything is more important than Harry Potter." pg143
"If you learn how to listen close enough, food tells you how it's doing, when it's going to be done, and how good it's going to taste, long before you ever lift a fork of it to your mouth." pg186
"You know how things are around here. There's basically two speeds. Waiting around and-" "Pandemonium." pg215
"For once you can just concentrate on being the First Curtis Pith." pg406
I was lucky enough to receive this book as a digital ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Young elementary and upper elementary kids will love this book about young aspiring chef Curtis Pith. Don't let his bitter name fool you, Curtis has the confidence that he was born to be a chef, even though many times his mom couldn't afford the ingredients. So when Curtis is able to enter the contest of his dreams, The Last Super Chef and meet Chef Lucas Taylor, his hero, he jumps at the chance. With his single mom's economic troubles, Curtis has more on the line with the contest than anyone knows. I thought at first that this book would be a morality tale in the way of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with the mysterious chef offering the keys to the kingdom, but this couldn't be further from the heart-warming tale that I read. Teachers can use this text with internal conflicts and struggles as well as a lesson in why point of view is so very important.
Curtis doesn't have a dad, just a mother and a sister. But they are a close family and that is enough. Curtis has a passion, cooking and he has taught himself to be amazing with the help of reality TV show competition, Super Chef. For some unknown reason the show is ending but before it does they are having a competition for children to pick the last Super Chef. Curtis decides to send in his video to hopefully be picked for the show. I loved the book. I cared about the characters and the mystery of why Curtis s dad, the Super Chef doesn't acknowledge the family kept me reading frantically to find out. Recommended.
Isaac and I read this ARC together at bedtime. He loves cooking competitions so this was tailor-made for him, and he liked it a lot (in spite of the main character acting, in Isaac's words "cringey" throughout). I thought the book could have benefitted from lopping off a bunch of pages' worth of internal monologue, which got kind of repetitive after awhile. I will for sure buy this for my library.
Thanks to #NetGalley for this early read in exchange for an honest review. I loved this middle grade book SO much! Curtis lives with his mom and his sister and they are barely making it by. Curtis enters to compete on a cooking show for kids. He also thinks the host, "The Super Chef" is his father. I think this book will teach kids some great life lessons and also maybe inspire them to start cooking as well. I cannot wait to get my hands on a hard copy of this book!
This is an excellent middle grade book that got me thoroughly hooked! I loved following Curtis’ journey to win a TV cooking competition and learn the truth about his absent father. Hilarious chaos ensues at every turn, and I couldn’t help rooting for this talented and sometimes misguided main character. This book was great fun but also deals with important issues about family and illness. A must read for anyone who loves to cook (or eat)!
This was such a heartfelt story! A fun combination of Iron Chef and Willy Wonka, with great themes of family and friendship. This middle grade novel is perfect for young readers with a love for the culinary arts.
This books will be coming in July, 2021.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you NetGalley!
This is fun story to read with lots of references to high level cooking. The characters are interesting and fun to get to know. I particularly liked how much Curtis kept in his head (to his own detriment) and how by the end of the story, he was engaging more with others to try to solve problems. Very fun read!
I read this book concurrently with my son this week. He thought the book was so good he could not put it down. I also found it highly enjoyable and a wonderful novel for tweens and teens. While the focus of the novel is a super chef competition for kids, the themes of family, friendship and socio-economics run throughout the book. I highly recommend you read this with your tween/teen!
Like listening to a chopped show, which of course I love. I anticipated the fact that the Super Chef was not really Curtis’s father like he thought. It made me want to name a dog Kiko after the darling Japanese character. It had some tough themes, handled well. My kids enjoyed the parts they listened to.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
I like so much about this book; the premise, the ending and how each challenge had a real life lessonattached. I also really liked the characters. I don't like cooking or cooking shows but I liked this book.