Today I am so pleased to welcome Bru Baker to Joyfully Jay. Bru has come to talk to us about her latest release, King of the Kitchen. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Today I’m kicking off a mini blog tour for King of the Kitchen, which comes out on Nov. 3. A big thanks to Joyfully Jay for having me on the blog!
King of the Kitchen is partially a love story and partially a love letter to food. I love to cook (and eat!), so incorporating that into a book felt really natural. Plus, restaurant kitchens are places that emotions can run high, which makes them a great setting to throw two rivals together and watch the fallout! Add in a few bad first impressions and some really high career stakes, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster, which is exactly what Beck and Duncan are in the beginning. But food brings them together—like it so often does—with some hilarity and mishaps along the way.
Since they’re chefs and the book centers around their work together on a celebrity cooking show, food takes center stage pretty often. I had a blast testing recipes for the book, and so did my kids—especially when my experimentation went awry and they got to order pizza or have some sugary cereal instead of asparagus soup.
My food isn’t as elegant as Beck’s classic dishes or as edgy as Duncan’s forays into molecular gastronomy, but like both of them, I find that spending time playing around in the kitchen is a fun way to blow off some steam.
I’ll be sharing a recipe at each of my blog tour stops over the next week, both food you’ll find Beck and Duncan making in the book and my own personal favorites. Today here on Joyfully Jay I’m sharing my fool-proof frittata recipe, and on other tour stops I’ll have recipes for my favorite garlic and shallot pasta (Gay List Book Reviews, Nov. 5), roasted brussel sprouts with a balsamic glaze that will blow your mind (Prism Book Alliance, Nov. 9), and homemade egg rolls that were a family secret until now (The Novel Approach, Nov. 10).
Refrigerator Velcro Frittata
This can be made with pretty much anything in your refrigerator, which is what makes it such a versatile recipe. It’s great for breakfast, but it’s also perfect for dinner alongside a fresh salad and some crusty bread.
I’ve purposefully left this open for you to use whatever type of vegetable, protein, and herbs you have on hand. You really can’t go wrong!
8 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup of milk
2 ounces of cheese (Parmesan, Mizithra, or gouda are my favorites, but use what you’ve got)
1 1/2 cups of cooked vegetables, chopped (squeeze moisture out of high water content veggies like spinach)
3/4 cup of cooked meat, chopped (beans also work)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh herbs, chopped or 1/2 tablespoon dried herbs
Preheat oven to 350F. Combine eggs, salt, pepper, milk, cheese, and herbs in a bowl.
Heat a 10-inch nonstick oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add the butter or oil, then sauté the veggies and meat until warm. Pour in the egg mixture and stir until evenly distributed. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, using a spatula to push back the edges as they start to solidify so the egg mixture from the middle can reach the edges to cook.
Put the pan in the oven, uncovered, and bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until the middle is set. Let cool for a few minutes after cooking and cut into wedges to serve.
“Beck, I don’t know if you’ve formally met Duncan. Duncan, this is Beck,” Sadie said, an undertone of warning in her voice. “This is his restaurant.”
“It’s very nice,” Duncan said tightly, earning an approving nod from Sadie for at least trying to be civil.
Beck didn’t take the same cue, though. He was holding himself so rigidly upright that Duncan was tempted to check and see if the crisp navy-blue three-piece suit he was wearing still had a hanger in it. The great Beck Douglas was apparently too suave for a run-of-the-mill black tuxedo. Not that it would have helped him blend in—someone as attractive as Beck would have stood out no matter what he was wearing.
“Have you landed at a restaurant yet, Duncan? I hear your father is eager to get you on at one of his. Though I’m not sure how much of a step up they’d be from the dive diner.”
Unlike Beck’s first insult, this one did manage to strike a nerve with Duncan, but he clenched his jaw and forced himself to remain impassive. He was sure Sadie knew how much the taunt had affected him, but she didn’t do much more than ease a fraction of a bit closer to him, her silk sheathe dress brushing against his hand, warmed by her skin. Duncan wasn’t sure if she meant to comfort him or to remind him they were in Beck’s restaurant—Beck who was her boss—so he shouldn’t make a scene.
Duncan pursed his lips, bringing his hand up to stroke his jaw thoughtfully. “Vincent’s restaurants are dives? What does that make this place, then? He has more Michelin stars at his flagship restaurant than all Christian’s places combined, and Christian has a hell of a lot of restaurants. What does that tell you, hmm?”
Despite his rocky past with his father and the bitterness he felt toward Vincent’s life choices, Duncan wouldn’t stand for anyone insinuating Vincent wasn’t a success. He was. He hadn’t gone to culinary school, but he had more awards and accolades than most classically trained celebrity chefs. Certainly more than Christian, who had gone to the same fancy, overpriced school that Beck had.
The press liked to play Christian and Vincent as jocular rivals, but they weren’t. They’d both apprenticed for the same chefs as they’d been coming up in the culinary world, and there had been a lot of jealousy and fighting between them even then. It had only escalated as their restaurant empires had grown, to the point that any interaction between them ended in shouting and insults.
The two couldn’t really be together for long without fur flying. Kind of like his dealings with Beck, actually. Except with a lot more hostility and epithets.
“No response to that?” Duncan asked.
“That was uncalled for, and I apologize. I do respect Vincent and his culinary ability,” Beck said stiffly, and Sadie relaxed beside Duncan. Duncan waited, knowing the other shoe was going to drop soon. “You, on the other hand, cook in a diner. So don’t think you can claim any of his gravitas, no matter what the press thinks.”
Duncan narrowed his eyes. “That’s a big word, gravitas. Are you sure you know what it means? I thought all your education was in fancy French sauces, not mundane things like vocabulary.”
Duncan could tell from the way Beck’s eyes flashed he’d scored a hit, but for some reason he felt guilt instead of pride. He’d taken the low blow, he knew, and it felt wrong. Duncan blew out a frustrated breath, shaking his head. He wasn’t usually this argumentative. Something in Beck seemed to bring it out in him.
“I’m sorry. Friends? Or at least tolerant acquaintances?” Duncan quirked an eyebrow at Beck, who seemed to have been stunned into silence by Duncan’s sincere apology. “You have a great place here. It’s gorgeous. Best wishes, good tidings, and all that. Congrats.” Duncan tipped his now-empty beer bottle in Beck’s direction. “Thanks for the drinks.”
Rising kitchen talents Beck Douglas and Duncan Walters have been on the foodie paparazzi radar for years, since their status as heirs to two of the biggest celebrity chef empires around makes them culinary royalty. Beck is known for his charm and traditional food as cohost of his uncle’s popular TV cooking show, while Duncan earned himself a reputation as a culinary bad boy, both for his refusal to work in his father’s restaurants and his avant-garde approach to cooking.
They’re also heirs to a food rivalry that could put the Hatfields and McCoys to shame, and when they’re photographed in the middle of a heated argument, the press goes wild with speculation. Damage control ensues, with a fake friendship engineered by PR cronies that leaves both of them secretly pining for more.
Beck chafes under his uncle’s micromanagement, and Duncan’s relationship with his homophobic father becomes even more tenuous when Beck and Duncan start getting closer. It’s hard to hide their chemistry on national television when Duncan joins Beck’s cooking show, but they won’t be able to take their relationship—or their careers—to the next level without breaking a few eggs.
Bru Baker has been writing for Dreamspinner Press since December 2012. She believes in Happily Ever Afters, but she almost always makes her characters work to get there. She and her husband live in the Midwest with their two young children, whose antics make finding time to write difficult but never let life get boring.