CM . . .
. Volume XVII Number 13. . . .November 26, 2010
Neil Flambé, child chef prodigy and 'nose' extraordinaire, is back again and involved in another cooking duel. This time it is the Azteca Cocina being held in Mexico City and sponsored by a huge multinational food company. Neil, supremely confident of his abilities, loves competitions, knows he can win this one, and so closes his restaurant in Vancouver for major renovations to be paid for by the $250,000 prize and heads to Mexico. For the Neil we met in the previous book (Neil Flambé and the Marco Polo Murders), tunnel-visioned and totally self-centred, this might have been straightforward, but at 14, he has suddenly discovered girls, in particular he has fallen for Isabella, the 16-year-old daughter of a world-class chef (ironically killed during a cooking duel with Angel Jícama, Neil's chief cooking mentor.) She, herself, is a world-class perfume maker and is also in Mexico City looking for new suppliers for her business. When Neil is warned first not to go to Mexico and then to win his competitions only up to the final round, which he is to lose spectacularly if he doesn't want Isabella to die at the hands of her kidnappers, he is torn. In his view, the only possible solution is to first rescue Isabella and then win the competition.
Naturally, he accomplishes this in his own inimitable fashion. Using his incredible sense of smell, he manages to deduce Isabella's whereabouts from the scents he identifies in the locks of her hair sent to him daily by the kidnappers. This same sense of smell enables him to steal a march on his cooking competitors by identifying the secret ingredient on which the day's menu is to be based. This ingredient is concealed in a closed chest sitting behind the official of the food company as he makes his opening speech, but naturally a closed container is no obstacle to Neil's nose. The extra five minutes' planning time this gives him is an enormous advantage in a competition that lasts only one hour.
Mary Thomas works in an elementary school library in Winnipeg, MB, and loves reading illustrated cookbooks.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.