Oddly Specific Subgenre: Cooking Competition Romances

From The Great British Baking Show to Chopped to the classic Iron Chef, there’s nothing I love watching more than a cooking competition. From childhood watching Food Network with my mom has been one of my favorite ways to relax. Now I also get to enjoy cooking competition romances, which pair great chemistry with fantastic food.

Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron

Reena loves cooking as much as she hates her job. A perfect solution appears in the form of an amateur cooking competition where the winner will get to attend culinary school, but it’s a competition for couples, and Reena is very single. However it turns out she has great onscreen chemistry with her new and very attractive neighbor, Nadim. Maybe Reena can get everything she wants if she and Nadim can convince the world that they really are engaged through the end of the competition.

The descriptions of the food Reena and Nadim make are just as wonderful as the obvious chemistry building between them.

Mangos and Mistletoe by Adriana Herrera

Kiskeya Burgos and Sully Morales have made their way to Scotland to compete in the Holiday Baking Challenge. One they’re paired together, they have to battle not only their competitors, but their attraction to each other.

This novella features a Holiday Baking Challenge, not unlike the holiday specials the Great British Bake Off airs every year. In this book things might get hot in the kitchen, but they get steamy outside of it.

Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by Alexis Hall

Rosaline Palmer has two things going for her: her 8 year old daughter Amelie and her incredible baking skills. However, the rest of her life (her paycheck, her parents, her dating life, etc.) could use some help. With her acceptance in Britain’s most beloved reality TV show, Bake Expectations, Rosaline thinks she can at least improve her financial situation. What she doesn’t expect is the relationships she quickly develops with Alain Pope, Harry Dobson, and the rest of the contestants.

Bake Expectations is an alternate universe version of The Great British Baking Show, and it is delightful. It feature all the archetypes we expect: the intense judge who everyone wants to impress, the iconic judge everyone adores, and the host who keeps the competition light and friendly. Even as Rosaline’s personal life gets increasingly complicated, Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake is the behind the scenes look into a baking competition I didn’t know I needed.

Recipe for Persuasion by Sonali Dev

Ashna Raje’s father’s restaurant is struggling. What was once an incredible restaurant, now feels dated. Ashna has terrible anxiety around changing any element of her late father’s restaurant, from the decor to the recipes. When an opportunity to appear on the show Cooking with the Stars presents itself, Ashna knows this is her best chance to spread the word about her restaurant. Unfortunately the star Ashna is paired with is former soccer star, and the man who broke her heart, Rico Silva. Ashna has to find a way to win the competition while continuing to protect her heart.

There are some really tough moments in this book, especially about the history between Ashna’s mother and father. It’s not a lighthearted romance, but it’s a really wonderful modern interpretation of Persuasion.

The Cake King by Rosie Chase

This baking competition isn’t televised, but that doesn’t matter when the prize brings the ultimate job offer: baking the wedding cake for the sister of the undisputed cake king, Michael Godwin. Unlike the other contestants, Sam works at a no-name cafe in Appalachia. She’s not sure how she ended up in this competition, but winning would change her life. The only problem is her extreme attraction to the cake king himself.

This series of novellas follows each contestant in the competition. It’s so fun to get to see each round through different perspectives throughout the series, and to see each person find love along the way.

Have you read any other cooking competition romances? Leave your suggestions for similar books in the comments or on social media.