Power through service, says Head Chef. It’s one of the first lessons taught at Cook School, where troubled youths learn to be master chefs by bowing to decadence and whim, by offering up a part of themselves on every plate.
It’s a motto Zac takes to heart. A teenage boy with a difficult past, he throws himself into the world and work of haute cuisine. He has dreams of a future, of escaping the dead-end, no-hope lot of his fellow cooks. He wants to be the greatest chef the world has seen. He thinks he’s taken his first steps when he becomes House Cook for a wealthy family. Never mind that the family may seem less than appreciative. Or refined. Or deserving. Power through service.
But as the facade crumbles and his promised future looks unlikely to eventuate, Zac the Cook is forced to reassess everything. Sweet turns sour and ends in bitter revenge.
Blackly funny and deliciously satirical, The Cook feeds our hunger to know what goes on in the kitchen, while skewering our culture of food worship.
‘Irresistible—The Cook reminds us just how exciting it is to read a wonderful and original novel.’
‘A riot of a book! Gripping and subversive…’
‘Blackly funny and deliciously satirical, this book skewers our culture of food worship while feeding our curiosity about kitchens.’
‘On the surface this novel plays on our obsession with reality TV, fame and in particular cooking shows such as MasterChef. But as you read on it becomes apparent that questions of class, aspiration and success are at the heart of this complex, nuanced book…This is a black parable on contemporary society.’
‘This is a novel that punctuates the fine life, eviscerates food wankery and highlights the emptiness and decay of the distracted and wealthy…Macauley has so effectively captured the voice of Zac, who believes this is the life he wants, when the dream starts to unravel we are immersed in Zac’s delusion along with him.’
‘The Cook is a confident and potent piece of work. With its claustrophobic first-person narration and its appealing combination of black humour and broad comedy…One of the novel’s most impressive achievements is its creation of a droll, readable, vernacular prose, which is not only rhythmically insistent but able to hint at the tension and the instability beneath its apparently detached and affectless surface.’
‘In the past few years, Wayne Macauley has published some of the most memorable fiction going in this country. His books and stories are satirical fables in which the properties are recognisably contemporary and Australian, indeed Melburnian, but his use of them is carefully distanced from realism and he has a prose style of remarkable poise and control that can allow his narratives to take off into the bizarre without ever losing their cool. Beneath that cool is a steady anger at the depredations of late capitalism, at the attempts of laissez-faire to turn us all into Homo economicus or addicted consumers…This is Macauley’s longest novel so far and marks a brilliant development in his dark vision of the way we live.’
‘This brilliant and richly layered book by Melbourne author Wayne Macauley is almost impossible to put down…For Macauley is writing about nothing less than the social, cultural and moral excesses of late capitalism: about the logical absurdities of conspicuous consumption, the decadence of “fine dining” and the contemporary obsession with cooking.’
‘Reading The Cook is an intense experience, like stepping into a steamy, industrial kitchen, with pots boiling over on every surface…consistently hilarious.’
‘a marvellous experiment in voice’