This is easily one of the best books I have ever read and possibly one of the best books written in modern times, according to some online reviews. Although I finished reading it a few days ago, I am still thinking about Zac, the main character. Have you ever watched a TV programme when you become so engrossed in the acting that you have to pause and remind yourself that it’s not real life? That’s how this book felt to me. I don’t believe I’ve read a book written by an Australian author before, but I’m certainly pleased that I stumbled across this book by Wayne Macauley. I’ll share a little bit more about him once I’ve told you about his excellent book.
The Cook centres on Zac, a seventeen year old young offender from a rundown estate in Melbourne. The judge gives him the choice of either going to a young offenders’ institute or enrolling on a rehabilitation course at a Cook School for young delinquents. He chooses the latter and goes to a remote part of the countryside where he embraces cooking with a passion – more than passion, with a vengeance – in fact more than a vengeance. His interest and love of cooking takes over his life, as if a demonic spirit enters him and he surrenders totally to its power. This intelligent young man surpasses obsession in his quest to become a leading celebrity chef and to have his own award-winning restaurant. To honour his dream, he devours information and learns everything there is to learn about food. Zac also readily acquires the specialist skill of slaughtering chickens, lambs and pigs as part of his training in Cook School and grows every type of vegetable and herb imaginable in its gardens. This is all part of appreciating the importance of freshly sourced food. Although Cook School is abruptly closed down, he is fortunate to be given a job as a personal cook for a fabulously wealthy couple in Melbourne, where he continues to experiment and finesse his recipes and dishes, often serving mouth-watering gastronomic dishes that excel excellence. He keeps on practising and refining his skills – never quite satisfied until the time approaches for him to cook the defining meal of his young lifetime. Yes, indeed, it is in this house that Zac ends up doing something that will have the reader quivering at the shock ending, to an otherwise promising and glittering career that may have lain ahead of him!
Wayne Macauley is a brilliant writer and tells Zac’s story with a persistent zest that ensures the reader is hooked throughout. He tells the story with speed and force – deliberately ignoring the need for any commas throughout the entire book. After the first few pages, I became so engrossed in the story that I hardly noticed they weren’t any. He deserves hearty congratulations on writing a book that will satisfy even the most culinary or gourmet advanced person. The amount of research he has undertaken takes the subject matter to a high degree of brilliance. I highly recommend you read this book.
© Declan Henry