2019 Printz Winner for The Poet X, Elizabeth Acevedo’s much anticipated sophomore novel With the Fire On High, is a book about embracing your passions, and charting your future. Emoni Santiago, an Afro-Boricua high school senior has had a gift for cooking since she was young. She and her toddler daughter live with her supportive grandmother, but Emoni needs to decide where she wants to go to school and what she wants to do after graduation. When her school offers a new class, “Culinary Arts: Spain Immersion,” Emoni has a chance to immerse herself in cooking in a way that she can start to see what is possible with her gift.
Foodie readers will swoon over Acevedo’s writing on food and cooking, and it will leave them hungering for more. Here are a few delicious titles about food and cooking to pair With the Fire On High:
A la Carte by Tanita S. Davis
In the world of celebrity chefs, Lainey is frustrated with the sheer lack of representation of African-Americans, women, and vegetarians. She sees this as an opportunity, and dreams of her own cooking show. After Simeon, her best friend and crush, leaves town, Lainey wants to take a break from cooking, but soon finds solace back in the kitchen.
Cub by Paul Coccia
Theo dreams of opening his own bakery one day. When his friend signs him up for a cooking competition, a challenge for him as he is more baker than chef. There he captures the attention of the hot celebrity chef Kyle Carl Clark, again pushing him out of his comfort zone as he hasn’t seen himself as boyfriend material (a result of a lot of body shaming). As he moves forward in the competition he has to navigate the attention coming at him, and what he is willing to do to launch his career.
Finding Yvonne by Brandy Colbert (Amelia Bloomer List – Young Adult Fiction 2019)
Raised mostly by her father, a renowned L.A. chef who has always been supportive of her, Yvonne has been on the path to attend a music conservatory and becoming a professional violinist since her early tween days. As she nears graduation and that next life step, Yvonne is having second thoughts if this is the direction she really wants to go. As she struggles with this big life decision, along with two different love interests, she finds solace in baking. Yvonne finds she has a real talent for baking, and maybe enough to pursue a career as a pastry chef.
Hungry Hearts: 13 Tales of Food & Love edited by Elsie Chapman and Caroline Tung Richmond
Hungry Hearts Row, a foodie nirvana, interconnects these 13 short stories from writers Sara Farizan, Sandhya Menon, Sangu Mandanna, Rebecca Roanhorse, Adi Alsaid, Phoebe North, Jay Cole, Rin Chupeco, Karuna Riazi, S.K. Ali, and Anna-Marie McLemore. Ranging from rom-com to horror, readers will feast on pasteles to soup dumplings while enjoying the intersections of food, family, and friends.
Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments, With Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies by Laura Esquivel
This modern day food-writing classic is set at the De la Garza ranch in turn-of-the-century Mexico where the youngest of three daughters, Tita, is destined never to marry so that she can take care of her mother in her old age. Growing up in the kitchen on the ranch, Tita falls in love with Pedro, who is destined to marry Tita’s older sister. As the years go by, Tita infuses her cooking with magic and emotion, which sways power over all those that imbibe.
The Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsberg
During a hot Phoenix summer, Maximo, who loves to cook, is hired to help Jordan get his father’s former food truck up and running. As neither knows the first thing about running a food truck they cook up some creative problem solving that might not always up to code. The business is starts seeing some success at the same time a romance starts to bloom between Max and Jordan.
North of Happy by Adi Alsaid
After his brother’s death, Carlos Portillom, who has dual citizenship, leaves Mexico City and his father’s college plans for him to pursue his dreams of becoming a chef. He heads to Seattle where he gets a job at a renowned restaurant as a dishwasher, but secretly hopes that he will have opportunities to show his culinary skills to the head chef. Problems ensues when he starts falling for the chef’s daughter.
The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo
Another romance that is set amongst the food truck scene. Sentenced to work on her Korean-Brazilian father’s fusion food truck KoBra for the sweltering summer after a prom prank goes awry, Clara Shin is teamed up with her archnemesis Rose Carver. In the neighboring food truck is the heartthrob Hamlet Wong that has caught Clara’s eye and heart.
Bloom by Kevin Panetta
Now that high school has ended, Ari is excited to move to the city, and leave the small vacation town. Before he leaves he needs to find a suitable replacement to help his parents with their bakery. Hector is taking a year off from culinary school to help sort out his late grandmother’s estate and will be the perfect baker to replace Ari. As Ari begins to train Hector, things start to really heat up in the kitchen.
Check, Please! #Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu (Great Graphic Novels for Teens 2019, Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers 2019, William C. Morris Debut YA Award 2019)
Vlogger Eric Bittle, a.k.a. Bitty, is starting college on a skating scholarship, and will be playing on the hockey team. As a former figure skater, he brings speed and agility to the team, but he also brings something else – baking. Bitty has got a pie for every occasion, and his constant need to bake keeps the team in constant sweets.
Food Wars! Shokugeki No Soma by Yuto Tsukuda
This manga series is set at the elite Tokyo Totsuki Saryo Culinary Institute. Soma Yukihira enrolls at the institute after his plans to take over his father’s restaurant as chef are halted when his father closes the restaurant to travel. Only the best survive at the school, and the school prides itself on it cooking competitions, and it student occupied Council of Ten Masters.
Meal by Blue Delliquanti
Having been devoted to entomophagy, the eating of insects, Yarrow moves across the country to work at a new restaurant dedicated to showing the world this often less seen, but sustainable way of eating.
Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of A Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton
From her childhood in rural Pennsylvania to the owner of the acclaimed restaurant Prune in Manhattan’s East Village, Hamilton, with frank and sometimes salty honesty, chronicles her journey in and out of the food scene. Much in the vein of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, foodie teens with appreciate how she never glosses over her misdeeds as she moved from a teen waitress to brazenly deciding to open her own restaurant without having cheffed anywhere else.
Make It Messy: My Perfectly Imperfect Life by Marcus Samuelsson
In this young reader’s edition of his Yes, Chef, Samuelsson brings teens readers into the experiences of his youth that led him to his more humble celebrity chefdom. He tells his journey of losing his parents to tuberculosis in Ethiopia and being adopted by a Swedish couple to finding his way into the kitchen. With a more positive than gritty portrayal of the culinary world, Samuelsson passion for food, people, and life shine through.
Notes From A Young Black Chef by Kwame Onwuachi
still in his mid-twenties, Onwuachi’s coming of age story shares his journey from his complicated childhood to the restaurant world of New York City then to opening one ot the most elite restaurant in Washington DC. He shows how persistence, savvy and hard work steered him to a more satisfying course in cooking than the one he was on, even if it wasn’t always successful.
Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley (Alex Awards 2014, Great Graphic Novels for Teens 2014, Outstanding Books for the College Bound and Lifelong Learners 2014)
Told in graphic novel vignettes, Knisley recounts her childhood growing up around delicious tastes as the daughter of a chef mother and gourmand father. Whether if it is in the kitchen making, or around the table eating, she shows the magic of food and family and togetherness.
—Danielle Jones, currently reading Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me
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