STORY WRITTEN BY JARREAU FREEMAN
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Author Dana Bate, of Rydal, loves to cook and has an extremely large cookbook collection, she said chuckling at herself. In this ample assortment, are works by Ina Garten, Jamie Oliver and Dorie Greenspan, as well as “It’s All Good,” the second cookbook by actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who she wrote with chef Julia Turshen.
“I had been cooking out of a celebrity cookbook recently,” Bate said referring to “It’s All Good.” “I was really impressed with how the recipes turned out, and how often I found myself coming back to the book.
“I started thinking, there is no way she developed all those recipes herself. She has a million things going on — she has appearances, she’s in movies — there is no way she had time to vet all those recipes. Sure enough, when I looked more closely, not just at that cookbook, but at other celebrity cookbooks, buried in the acknowledgments or sometimes right on the cover, there’s the name of a ghostwriter. There is someone else involved and doing a lot of the grunt work.”
Bate’s curiosity about the world of celebrity cookbooks and ghostwriters and her love for cooking, served as inspiration for her third book “Too Many Cooks,” which was released Oct. 27 by Kensington Books.
“Too Many Cooks” tells the story of Kelly Madigan who scores a job in London as a cookbook ghostwriter for actress, lifestyle expert and wife of an emerging politician Natasha Spencer, who’s also notorious for being a bit of selfish diva.
In the midst of dealing with Natasha’s unpredictable behavior, testing recipes and developing a friendship with Natasha’s husband, Kelly is learning there’s truly no foolproof recipe for a happy life, although their maybe some foolproof recipes.
“The story is about Kelly finding her own voice,” Bate said. “She writes as other people for a living, she pretends to be someone else, but this is the story of her finding her own voice and learning who Kelly is, oppose to just being the woman behind the curtain that makes other people’s dreams come true.”
While Bate laces the book with humorous moments, such as Natasha’s quest for the perfect kale burger that has to be the right color green, have the right amount of beans and can’t be too heavy, she also incorporates yummy sounding recipes Kelly concocts, such as sesame chicken, which is a special nod to the Bate’s late grandmother.
“I find with writing about food, the characters drive the food, but it’s also an opportunity for me to do a little hat tip to someone I know or someone I knew. This recipe has importance to me, but it also fit into the story,” said the 34-year-old writer. “This is a recipe we make in our family all the time – I make it, my mom makes it. Everybody likes Mom-mom’s Sesame Chicken. It was an ode to her that can live on in fiction.”
There is also a recipe for Bate’s mom’s chocolate mousse, a banana bread recipe Bate’s has spent years perfecting and a recipe for dried apricot canapés. These recipes are listed in the back of the book for readers to tryout themselves, she said.
“Too Many Cooks,” which is now available, can be purchased on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, Indiebound.org and iTunes.
For the women and men who read Bate’s new book, she wants them to not only, enjoy the delicious recipes, but discover the importance of finding their voice and standing up for themselves.
“Sometimes it takes time to do that – to find out who you are and what you want,” she said. “But all that’s really important is that you do.”