Lou Jane Temple:
A Stiff Risotto
Handsome Australian vintner Rowland Alexander hires Heaven Lee, ex-stripper and current owner of Kansas City's Café Heaven, to perform "How Not To Sell Wine" at The Real Dish Aspen Festival. The festival, sponsored and run by The Real Dish magazine, features the best chefs, food and wine provisioners, restaurateurs and gourmands in America. The highlight of the festival is the Best Chef of the Year contest. Attendees decide the winner after eating a sumptuous dinner, each course prepared by a different contestant.
Heaven left her lover back in Kansas City, but gorgeous and willing men prove only too eager to take his place. Rowland and Heaven's old friend Bo Morales lead the pack. As one of the contestants for Best Chef of the Year, Bo brought his chuck wagon and team to the festival to prove that barbecuing isn't just for hot dogs and hamburgers anymore.
Heaven barely unpacks her suitcase before a food fight erupts between the father and son best chef candidates, cookbook writer Sergio LaSala and his conniving son, Tony, owner/chef of Aspen's upscale Cavern Club. After the food fighters have been cleaned up and cleared out, Heaven settles down with Bo to chew over more than ribs. Featured on the menu: the animosity between magazine editor and festival chairperson Linda Lunch and Sergio LaSala, and Tony's bad behavior toward his father.
But when someone puts Linda Lunch on ice permanently, Bo -- not Sergio -- becomes the number one suspect in her murder. Heaven assigns herself the job of clearing the dishy barbecue chef, setting the stage for a cable car ride that will have readers hanging on the edge of their seats.
Meanwhile, back home in Kansas City, ex-journalist and temporary Café Heaven manager, Murray Steinblatz, is having his own adventures. First, the restaurant's air-conditioner fails. Then the Auto Club arrives to reevaluate the restaurant's rating. Can Murray cope?
In addition to being a good read, A Stiff Risotto will make you hungry so stock up on snacks. To heck with snacks. Read the recipes first, shop, read the book -- then cook!
(The first two books in the Heaven Lee Culinary series are Death by Rhubarb and Revenge of the Barbeque Queens.)
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