Updated on May 19, 2015
16. ‘Chop Chop’ by Simon Wroe
I don’t think, when I picked up this book, that I was quite ready for what was inside. Ah, a novel about a man working in a kitchen, I thought. There are probably going to be some grim descriptions about preparing food, but I’m sure I can handle it. Little did I know that this novel is a shocking glimpse into the realities of a working restaurant kitchen, as well as an exploration of the seedy underbelly of gangster society and a searing family tragedy.
I absolutely LOVED this book.
Seriously, it’s bloody fantastic.
The narrator arrives for his first day at work in the The Swan with no previous experience of working in a kitchen. He quickly earns the nickname Monocle (because of his university education) and meets a host of unusual characters: Bob (the dictatorial head chef), Racist Dave (the chef who holds the entire kitchen together), Dibden (the incompetent nervous wreck), and a quiet, dark-eyed girl. The kitchen is chaotic and Bob is an overbearing bully, but it all manages to carry on in its own shambolic way until everything is thrown into utter chaos with the arrival of a fearless loudmouth, Ramilov.
This all sounds exciting enough, but there is an extra layer of delicious brutality in Chop Chop. Now and again a positively enormous man turns up at the restaurant. He is known as The Fat Man and he begins to make requests of the chefs that they cannot refuse, no matter how despicable they are. Wroe racks up the tension from page one – until you can practically hear the violins screeching in your ears – and explodes everything in a moment of climactic awesomeness.
OK, I seem to have lost my ability to write a coherent review. This book is great and scary and definitely not for the squeamish. You must read it straight away.
If you liked my review, why not buy the book and let me know what you think?