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Food Whore: A Novel of Dining and Deceit

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Product Description

food whore: (n.) a person who will do anything for food
William Morrow is thrilled to publish FOOD WHORE: A Novel of Dining and Deceit (onsale
10/27/2015, William Morrow Paperbacks, ISBN: 9780062387004), a smart and savvy
debut novel from Jessica Tom.

FOOD WHORE has all the ingredients of a tasty read: an amazing design (Jessica is a former
creative director who spearheaded her own cover) and an even better story full of food,
fashion, and some (very big) fibs—all set in the Big Apple.

This is a sophisticated, food-focused page-turner—inspired by the author’s own colorful
experience in the restaurant industry, including her undergrad role as the lead reviewer for
the Yale Daily News Magazine. In Jessica’s book, New York Times restaurant critic Michael
Saltz loses his sense of taste, and burgeoning food writer Tia Monroe is offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: to serve as his palate, ghostwriting his reviews in exchange for lavish
meals and a boundless cache of designer clothing. What could possibly go wrong?!

Within weeks, Tia’s world transforms into one of glamour and luxury: four -star dinners, sexy
celebrity chefs, and an unlimited expense account at Bergdorf Goodman. Tia loves every
minute of it … until she sees her words in print and Michael Saltz taking all the credit. As the
veneer of extravagance wears thin and her secret identity begins to crumble, Tia is faced
with what it means to truly succeed.

If you’ve ever found yourself craving dishes like buttermilk parmesan flan and berry walnut
strudel with thyme-rice gelato or yearning for designer looks straight out of Vogue —then
this is the book for you.

With restaurants modeled after real-life New York City hot-spots, steamy scenes in and out
of the kitchen, and a generous serving of serious retail therapy, FOOD WHORE appeals to
anyone who’s ever had a dream and the appetite to get there. It’s the embodiment of that
quintessential New York City question: how far are you willing to go to get the life you
crave?

Jessica Tom is a writer and food blogger living in Brooklyn. She
has worked on initiatives with restaurants, hospitality startups,
food trucks, and citywide culinary programs. Jessica attended
Yale University and graduated with a concentration in fiction
writing, studying three years under Amy Bloom. She brings a
wide variety of food experience to her writing. You can connect
with her at jessicatom.com and @jessica_tom.


A Q&A WITH THE AUTHOR: Jessica Tom
1. FOOD WHORE is your first novel. What were the some of the inspirations behind the book?
There were a variety of factors. First, I was a young woman who moved to NYC and loved eating out (I still eat out … but not as often and I’m not that young). I fantasized about being a restaurant critic and then the story came out of that. How could I get there as a 23-year-old woman? How would it be amazing? How would it suck?
At the same time, a friend told me about two of her college friends. One didn’t have a sense of taste and ate super-spicy textured foods (think fried chicken loaded with Tabasco). This intrigued me. Another one of her friends was a Harvard grad and worked in coat check at Eleven Madison Park. That intrigued me, too.
And last, I love chef and food-world memoirs, but sometimes I want more juiciness. So I set out to write a book that had the insider look of a chef memoir, but with an extra dose of drama.
2. New York City is so vividly depicted in FOOD WHORE that it really becomes a character in the book. How were you able to tap that energy?
NYC was my muse, and beyond the physicality of scenes, I made it a point to set the book in NYC psychologically. Here, everyone’s ambition is palpable and I wanted to play with that spectrum. On the one hand, there’s the gung-ho, lean in attitude of “if I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere” — where NYC is the ultimate stage. But then there’s also the flipside, the Macbeth-ian “vaulting ambition” attitude where intense drive turns into hubris turns into your undoing.
Beyond that, I also wanted to tackle the city’s obsessions (and therefore, my obsessions): food, fashion, media. (I would add finance and real estate to that mix, but I’ll leave those to other authors.)
3. What are you excited about these days in fashion? Food?
First, Tia and I have very different senses of fashion. She goes for luxury and status labels, and I’m drawn to more art-teacher-y vibes. Her clothes cost a lot more, too. I’m currently crushing on Delpozo, Rosie Assoulin, and Suno’s pre-fall collection, which features saori-style woven textiles.
In terms of food—there’s so much to be excited about! Veggie-forward menus, Vietnamese flavors, the rise of high-end food courts. Recently I met one of my longtime Instagram followers IRL and he asked me if I’ve ever made turkey tetrazzini. And I haven’t! That might be my next kitchen project— tackling old-school classics.
4. Your main character, Tia, works as a restaurant critic and also at a restaurant herself. What interests you about that dynamic?
Like Tia, I’ve worked both sides, both as a critic and with restaurants. Those dual experiences gave me insight into this moment, which is a really interesting time in restaurant reviews. Yelp can make or break a place. Famous critics are unmasking themselves because anonymity is practically impossible. A restaurant can turn into an Instagram darling with the right avocado toast / fullyloaded Bloody Mary / taro latte. Online media may or may not be unseating more traditional reviews.
There’s emotion and tension and power struggles, and I find that dynamic endlessly fascinating. FOOD WHORE is the book I wanted to read … so I tapped my experiences and wrote it.
5. Want to provide readers with a little factual information about the unfortunate disability your character Michael Saltz, the New York Times food critic, is suffering from?
Michael Saltz has a condition called ageusia, which can be caused by neurological damage, endocrine problems, and other reasons like anxiety, smoking, and radiation therapy. There are a couple examples of people in the food world with ageusia. Grant Achatz of Alinea was diagnosed with tongue cancer and lost his sense of taste for years while being treated. Marlena Spieler is a food writer who has published over 70 cookbooks. She lost her sense of taste after a car accident. But obviously you don’t have to be a chef or food writer to be affected—as I said in my book, “Take away the rituals of eating and you remove the bones of the day, your connections to others.”
6. Lastly – what was it like eating lunch with Tim Zagat? You must have gotten to see firsthand what it’s like to dine with a big-time food critic!
I interned for Zagat Survey in college and ate with Tim Zagat for his annual intern lunch. At the time, the office was in Columbus Circle and the AOL Time Warner building hadn’t been built yet. So he took us to what other staffers called “Tim’s cafeteria”: the four-star restaurant, Jean-Georges.
The service was incredible and I doubt I’ll see anything like it again. This may have been the best situation because Tim Zagat isn’t actually writing the reviews—he has the clout without the imperative to stay anonymous. Restaurants don’t have to worry about “playing it cool” and can overtly coddle him.
The second we sat down, waiters swirled around and delivered Tim’s favorites: an Arnold Palmer and toast, burned practically black. That’s his thing. During lunch, Jean-Georges Vongerichten came out of the kitchen to say hello. I’m not sure if he was usually in the kitchen during lunchtime, and I wouldn’t be surprised if someone tipped him off that Tim would be in the house. Our table was bombarded by every single dessert, multiple times.
One of the scenes in FOOD WHORE was inspired by that very lunch—a parade of desserts that never seems to stop. Some cafeteria, right?

Additional Information

Weight 0.7875 lbs
Dimensions 5.3 x .8 x 8 in
Binding

Paperback

Author

Jessica Tom

Manufacturer

William Morrow Paperbacks

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