Chef-owner Stocker is short, loud and profane, a passionate sensualist and a bully--yet despite his manifest flaws, brilliantly clean and delectable flavors emerge from his greasy restaurant kitchen. His unassailable self-confidence falters when he falls in love with Angela, a half-Vietnamese woman as strong-willed as himself. The stories of others intertwine in the narrative: motherly waitress Crystal; Megan, an insecure young actor trying to find her footing in New York; pastry chef, Jon, whose finicky, meticulous work habits drive Stocker wild, and Keith, Jon's patient, kindly lover. The novel tells a story about food, love, and a small, hot restaurant kitchen at the heart of one of the world's great cities.
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9972644-9-4
Ebook ISBN: 978-0-9994457-9-2
Acclaim for Stocker's Kitchen
“This isn’t an easy book. But I don’t want an easy book, I want what Juliet Wittman has written, an agonized and lyrical story filled with people who are often damaged, often inspired, always fascinating. I love how the author takes a troubled soul—Stocker is only one example—and develops a character we want to know, someone we root for and suffer with and learn from. Stocker is ‘short and fat and vulgar,’ a guy with ‘no peace or order to his life.’ But in his kitchen, and in his romance with Angela, he’s brilliantly alive. So is Angela. So are Keith and Jon. So is everyone in this exuberant and gorgeously-written book.”
–John Thorndike, author of A Hundred Fires in Cuba and The Last of His Mind
“Juliet Wittman’s timely novel casts a clear eye on life in the professional kitchen. Her prose revels in the tactile pleasures of working with food and the romance of lives devoted to craft. But it never shies away from the toxicity of that culture, nor the mental health issues that its characters, like so many cooks, must deal with. In Stocker she has created a character with a distinctive voice. After reading the novel you want nothing so much as to try his food.”
–John Kessler, long-time dining critic for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, award-winning writer, and chairman of the James Beard Foundation’s journalism awards committee
“As a chef, I believe the meal is at the center of human experience, and it is at the table where we are nourished, come together with friends and family and connect to tradition. This is the spirit that animates Stocker’s Kitchen. But it was the colorful characters and their stories that intrigued me most, and I flew through the novel in a day and a half.”
–Teri Rippeto, chef-owner Potager, Denver
Author Juliet Wittman
Juliet Wittman grew up in London, and has lived in the United States through much of her adult life. An investigative reporter, theater critic, and writing instructor at the University of Colorado, she taught writing classes on the topic of food for several years. Much of her thinking on the centrality of food to our lives, and the way it shapes thought and culture was inspired by her students’ personal stories.
Wittman has won journalism awards and published essays and short stories in literary magazines. Her memoir, Breast Cancer Journal: A Century of Petals, won the Colorado Book Award and was named a finalist for the National Book Award.
Visit Juliet’s Substack column:
“The Crack in the Teacup“
It’s musings about politics, food, memories, ideas, poems, theater, aging, and more.