In the Kitchen
Gabriel Lightfoot, an enterprising man from a northern English mill town, is making good in London. As executive chef at the once-splendid Imperial Hotel, he aims to run a tight kitchen. Though he’s under constant challenge from the competing demands of an exuberantly multinational staff, a gimlet-eyed hotel management, and business partners with whom he is secretly planning a move to a restaurant of his own, all Gabe’s hard work looks set to pay off.
Until, that is, a worker is found dead in the kitchen’s basement. It is a small death, a lonely death—but it is enough to disturb the tenuous balance of Gabe’s life.
Enter Lena, an eerily attractive young woman with mysterious ties to the dead man. Under her spell, Gabe makes a decision, the consequences of which strip him naked and change the course of the life he knows—and the future he thought he wanted.
With prose that "crackles with verve and vivacity" (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) and "a truly Dickensian cast of characters" (The Buffalo News), Ali’s "portrait of a middle-aged Holden Caulfield wandering the streets" (The Plain Dealer) is a sheer pleasure to read.
Meet Booker Prize Winning Author Monica Ali
Reading Group Guide
Amid the fading glory of the Imperial Hotel, embattled Executive Chef Gabriel Lightfoot tries to maintain his culinary integrity in the hotel’s restaurant, while managing an unruly but talented group of immigrant cooks. He must please the management of the hotel, recently purchased by an international conglomerate.
When the dead body of a Ukrainian porter is discovered in the restaurant cellar, the tenuous balance in Gabe’s life begins to slip. Adding to his stress, Gabe’s plan to open his own restaurant with two wealthy investors is hitting a critical stage, his father is diagnosed with cancer, and his girlfriend starts talking about a new level in their relationship. Meanwhile, Gabe convinces himself that Gleeson, the restaurant’s shifty floor manager, is using hotel property to conduct some sort of nefarious business.
With all this on his mind, Gabe encounters a young immigrant named Lena, a girl mysteriously tied to the death of the porter, and he makes a decision, the consequences of whi see more