ARC Review: Chef’s Kiss by Jarrett Melendez, Danica Brine (Illustration)

Special thanks to Oni Press for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: Chef’s Kiss
Publisher: Oni Press
Published: 12 April 2022
Genre: Graphic Novel

Panda Rating:

(5 pandas)

Watch things start to really heat up in the kitchen in this sweet, queer, new adult graphic novel! 

Now that college is over, English graduate Ben Cook is on the job hunt looking for something…anything…related to his passion for reading and writing. But interview after interview, hiring committee after hiring committee, Ben soon learns getting the dream job won’t be as easy as he thought. Proofreading? Journalism? Copywriting? Not enough experience. It turns out he doesn’t even have enough experience to be a garbage collector! But when Ben stumbles upon a “Now Hiring—No Experience Necessary” sign outside a restaurant, he jumps at the chance to land his first job. Plus, he can keep looking for a writing job in the meantime. He’s actually not so bad in the kitchen, but he will have to pass a series of cooking tests to prove he’s got the culinary skills to stay on full-time. But it’s only temporary…right? 

When Ben begins developing a crush on Liam, one of the other super dreamy chefs at the restaurant, and when he starts ditching his old college friends and his old writing job plans, his career path starts to become much less clear. 

TL;DR: This was an absolute treat to read and I would highly recommend it if you’re looking for a wonderfully illustrated graphic novel about new beginnings and finding your way in the world, with wonderful characters and great friendships that are sure to make you smile!

Allow me a second to be corny here but… Chef’s Kiss was *chefs kiss!* What an utterly delightful graphic novel and one that I’m sure I’ll return to time and again when I’m looking for an easy, comforting, and feel-good read! I absolutely ADORED it!

The minute I saw this cover I just knew I had to read it. The artwork was fantastic and is one of my favourite styles of graphic novels/comics. It reminded me strongly of the Archie Comics that I used to read as a teenager, albeit with a lot more dialogue; still, I enjoyed the conversations and how they contributed to Ben’s story, even if at times some of the frames felt a little crowded with text. The art managed to accurately capture the characters’ many facial expressions and convey what they were thinking and feeling at a given time, for example, all the blushing Ben did whenever Liam was nearby! 😂

The story itself was just as wonderful as the art and I think a lot of people will be able to relate to Ben’s situation, whether you’re a fresh graduate or not. I, for one, have been in his shoes so I found it very easy to empathise with his post-college and parental situations. Ben’s a fellow book nerd who was set on a writing career until he kept getting rejected for that catch-22 reason of being passed on for not having enough experience while being denied the opportunity to get the experience he needed. He lucks out when he comes across that restaurant gig and as the story progresses you can see just how happy it makes him and how passionate he becomes about cooking. This was such a feel-good story about finding your way in the world and learning about what makes you happy, even if it’s not what you initially planned for. That’s life, right?

It was such a pleasure to read about Ben, his roomies/college friends, and the chefs! I loved the friendships Ben had with his roomies; Liz was the serious childhood bestie, Rachel was the dreamy, hopeless romantic and Tom was the tech geek and stoner, and despite being so different from each other, they meshed so well together and were a great support to Ben and his dreams. I also really liked the way the restaurant chefs rallied around Ben and became his ‘restaurant crew’. Is it a little wild that a taste-testing pig with immaculate taste buds makes the final decision on who does and doesn’t work at the restaurant? Sure. But I absolutely adored Watson and how much he meant to the head chef, even if he (the chef) was a bit of an arse at the start. Honestly, all of the characters in this story were fantastic and had well-defined traits that set them apart and I want more stories with/about them! Also, there’s a dash of romance in this that was so sweet and was (again) *chefs kiss!* 😉

Clearly, there wasn’t anything I didn’t love about this graphic novel. Well, except for Ben’s parents—the audacity of his mother! So rude. 🙄 Aside from them though, this was a very wholesome story that I’d totally recommend checking out!

Do you have Chef’s Kiss on your TBR?

17 thoughts on “ARC Review: Chef’s Kiss by Jarrett Melendez, Danica Brine (Illustration)

  1. This looks SO CUTE. Even the cover art is adorable so I can imagine the inside being just as great!
    Ben’s friendship with his roomies sounds amazing too!

    Liked by 1 person

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