Review: Chef Vs Chef (Sizzle in the Kitchen #2) by M.J. O’Shea

Rating: 2.5🌈

Chef Vs Chef is the second of the four book Sizzle in the Kitchen series by M.J. O’Shea and it’s the one I’m stopping on.

Honestly I’m dumbfounded by this book. All the characters and elements I admired and found charming in the first book, which set the foundation for the series,have been deconstructed to fit a new narrative path for this and the following novels.

I see the author’s rationale for this. It’s the only way to make the other plots and characters work now. But it changes the person I loved the most, at his most fundamental level.

That’s Peter Baldwin Powell.

When we left him. And throughout Chef in the Wild, he was done. All Peter wanted was to cook, go home, get involved once again with his family’s lives, have his restaurant.

“”I don’t want to be somewhere high pressure again. I don’t want to have to care about Michelin stars or shaking hands with celebrities, but I miss cooking for people.””

— Chef in the Wild: Sizzle in the Kitchen Book One by M.J. O’Shea

There’s quotes after quotes to the same depth of feelings.

Here? Peter’s turns his beloved now successful Hearth&Oak restaurant in Montpelier, Vermont, over to be run by others. Why? He’s become a TV Food Network Celebrity Chef filming a TV show back in NYC, and more.

He’s the opposite of the man we saw at the end of Chef in the Wild. Content, home. With family and a new love at his side, every bit a man fulfilled and passionate again.

While you can connect with the men, Peter, Murphy, and Bobby, his former sui chef now almost a partner, a threefold force in the Hearth&Oak kitchen and restaurant, that strength is quickly lost in the story.

Murphy and Peter leave to NYC and TV, while a shaken Bobby remains behind to deal with a badly handed decision to bring in another chef to fill the void.

Issues here immediately:

1. Bobby is a close knit friend and part of the trifecta that runs the restaurant. But he’s not involved in the decision process or Informed that another is coming into the management?

This again seems to be storytelling by drama lottery. It happens throughout this book and the next which I just stopped at partway. It’s as though a drama was needed at this point in the story, so regardless of whatever went on before, a new narrative was created to fit the picture.

All of a sudden, Peter’s a different type of careless personality, the type to hurt his friends. He will change again with regard to a “old enemy “.

Continuity has little impact here.

Unless it’s the author’s fondness for characters that are unable to communicate and run constantly from any conflict.

That was Murphy in book 1. It’s Cal here.

That’s a dynamic O’Shea’s couples follow in the two books I’ve read in this series . One’s a steady , established personality, the other someone who uses their past history as an excuse not to communicate and to run from the relationship at each moment possible.

Then of course come back and be immediately forgiven.

With little discussion.

I like Bobby. But there’s very little building here when it comes to a relationship to make the reader care about them and their future. Especially Cal.

And the manner in which he returned and who he works for. Nothing made sense except the author needed it that way for the next even more unreadable and unrealistic novel.

These are supposed to be contemporary romance not fantasy. Narratively speaking, things should at least make sense, have some exposition, and a little character depth.

And without deconstructing a previous story to get it.

“Baldwin didn’t know how to say that when he pictured his restaurant, it wasn’t in New York. Not anymore. He didn’t see flashing lights and packed houses. He saw something a lot more laid back and gentle. In the country, maybe. Or, at home.

He’d been daydreaming about it more and more–a small town restaurant, touring farms and working with local producers. He’d imagined waking up every day with Murph, creating new dishes with Murph and Bobby… watching his nieces grow up from a few blocks away instead of hundreds of miles.”

— Chef in the Wild: Sizzle in the Kitchen Book One by M.J. O’Shea

That’s the character and book I remembered and the one that’s vanished from the series here.

I think I’m going too.

If you’re a fan of this author, then pick it up and decide for yourself. As I said, I’m stopping here.

Sizzling in the Kitchen:

✓ Chef in the Wild #1

✓ Chef Vs Chef #2

◦ Chef On Top #3

◦ Chef In Love #4 › showChef vs Chef (Sizzling in the Kitchen, #2) by M.J. O’Shea – Goodreads


They say oil and water don’t mix.. with these two it’s more like oil and a blow torch.

Bobby Diaz has worked his whole life to get where he is – running a restaurant with his two closest friends, no boss, no stress. When his best friend Baldwin gets the opportunity of a lifetime, he asks Bobby to take over the restaurant while he’s gone. Bobby can’t wait to see if he has what it takes to do it on his own.That is until Baldwin tells Bobby his cousin Cal is coming to help run Hearth&Oak.


Bobby and Cal don’t exactly hit it off—to put it lightly. Bobby resents getting Cal dumped in his lap. Cal doesn’t appreciate Bobby’s frosty attitude. They’re stuck together day and night, and their chemistry is undeniable… but will it be sweet summer love or a case of too many chefs in the kitchen?


Unless it’s noted, all books reviewed have been purchased by the reviewer.

By Scattered Thoughts

At over 50, I am ruled by my terriers, my gardens, and my projects. A knack for grubbing about in the woods, making mud pies, and tending to the injured worms, bugs, and occasional bird and turtle growing up eventually led me to working for the Parks. I was a park Naturalist for over 20 years, and observing Nature and her cycles still occupy my hours. From the arrival of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in the Spring to the first call of the Snow Geese heading south in the Fall, I am entranced by the seasons. For more about me see my bio on my blog.

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