Morning Buzz

Author Q&A with Rochelle Bilow

Cindy Burnett
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Effie Olsen’s Summer Special

If a second-chance summer romance sounds as refreshing as an ice-cold popsicle, you’ll love Effie Olsen’s Summer Special.

Author and professionally trained chef Rochelle Bilow’s latest novel, Effie Olsen’s Summer Special, published last week. In this second-chance romance, a disgraced chef returns to the tiny island where she grew to work in a prestigious restaurant, only to reconnect with the childhood best friend whose heart she broke years ago.
Library Journal raves in its starred review: “A much less intense version of The Bear, but with all the same familial bonds and restaurant drama. Bilow, a classically trained chef and food writer, serves up a dish of romance, humor, and meaty plot, with a perfect portion of sexiness on the side.”

Rochelle Bilow is a food and romance writer who previously worked as the social media manager at Bon Appétit and Cooking Light magazines. A graduate of The French Culinary Institute, she has also worked as a line cook, a baker, and a wine spokesperson. Her first book, The Call of the Farm, a swoony farming memoir, was published in 2014. Raised in Syracuse, New York, Rochelle now lives in northern Vermont.

Rochelle answers some questions that I posed to her about Effie Olsen’s Summer Special :

Rochelle Bilow is is no stranger to the 'restaurant drama' she writes in her book; she's a professionally trained chef who has worked as a line cook, a baker, and a wine spokesperson.

What do you hope your readers take away from your book?
I hope my readers finish Effie Olsen’s Summer Special with a reminder that life doesn’t usually work out the way we planned. It’s okay to change your dreams, to shift your opinion, and to adopt new values and priorities. It’s also very okay to let people surprise you. 

Do you have any say in what your book cover looks like?
I definitely do! I created a Pinterest board for inspiration and shared it with my editors, as well as the artist and designer. Mallory Heyer did an incredible job bringing Ernie and Effie to life (they’re exactly as I pictured them) and Rita Frangie captured all the dreamy goodness of a Maine summer. 

Share something your readers wouldn’t know about you.
Readers may know me as a food writer, but my day job is actually a little different than that! I now work as a commerce editor for Serious Eats, testing and reviewing kitchen equipment. The goal of my work there is to help cooks of all skill levels make smart, long-lasting purchases for their own kitchens!

What surprised you the most when writing this book?
No spoilers, but…. Effie’s career-related Happy Ever After caught me off guard. I envisioned her story ending very differently than it does. But after everything she experienced and learned, I don’t blame her one bit for choosing the path she did. 

What are you reading now and what have you read recently that you loved?
I’ll be honest: I haven’t read that much fiction lately. I’ve gotten out of the groove, and just haven’t felt pulled to anything. But I run to the mailbox every Thursday, when the new issue of The New Yorker gets delivered. I devour that from cover to cover.

For more book recommendations and bookish thoughts, see Cindy’s monthly Buzz Reads column, her Thoughts from a Page Podcast or follow @ThoughtsFromaPage on Instagram. Find upcoming Conversations from a Page events here.

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