Oddly Specific Subgenre: Cooking Competition Romances Part 2

Last year I wrote a post about five cooking competition romances. This is clearly a subgenre that’s here to stay because I’m back with five more cooking competition romances. This time the inspiration comes from even more popular cooking competitions like Nailed It and Top Chef.

Donut Fall in Love by Jackie Lau

Ryan Kwok’s mother loved baking competition. As a tribute to her he decide to compete on a celebrity episode of Baking Fail, a Nailed It like competition where amateur bakers attempt to make things far outside their comfort zone. Does Ryan know how to bake? Absolutely not. Fortunately he literally ran into baker Lindsay McLeod who is willing to give Ryan private lessons on baking donuts, cupcakes, and cakes.

The attraction between Ryan and Lindsay builds as they prepare for Ryan’s baking debut. They find they have a lot in common with their grief over having lost a parent. The baking, the chemistry, and the family relationships all make for a wonderful read.

An Acquired Taste by Kelly Cain

A competition between family restaurants with a grand prize of opening a new restaurant, is the perfect opportunity for Rowan Townsend. Despite having attended a top culinary school, Rowan’s mother calls all the shots at her soul food restaurant in Texas. Rowan is ready for a chance to put her own spin on the food. The only thing standing in her way is Knox Everheart, her culinary school rival and fellow competitor.

In addition to the romance and competition, this novel is full of recipes that are relevant to what the Townsend family is cooking in their restaurant and the competition.

Battle Royal by Lucy Parker

Despite losing her spot on Great British Bake-Off style competition, Operation Cake, after a cake disaster, Sylvie Fairchild’s career has taken off and she has a bakery of her own. Now Sylvie has an opportunity to return to Operation Cake as a judge. She’ll be working alongside long time judge Dominic De Vere who voted her off the show.

In addition to the competition between Sylvie and Dominic to win the royal wedding cake contract, it’s fun to read a romance from the perspective the judges, instead of the competitors.

Love & Other Disasters by Anita Kelly

When Dahlia started cooking to cope with her divorce, she never expected to end up on Chef’s Special, an amateur cooking competition. And she didn’t expect to meet London. London makes this season of Chef’s Special one for the records when they come out as non-binary on TV. Neither Dahlia, nor London, expected the attraction they would have to each other in the midst of competing.

The tension of Dahlia and London both being competitors and that their budding relationship could be ended before it even begins if one is sent home really adds to the story.

For Butter or Worse by Erin La Rosa

Chef Nina Lyon is ready to take her career to the next level as the new co-host of The Next Cooking Champ! The only thing her way, is her obnoxious co-host, Leo O’Donnell. When rumors fly that Nina and Leo are secretly dating, it turns out that fans of the show are even bigger fans of Nina and Leo together. They have to find a way to work together, and convince the world that they can stand each other, to save their careers.

What could better with cooking, than enemies to lover and fake dating?

Out July 26, 2022.

What other cooking romances are you reading? Leave your suggestions for similar books in the comments or on social media.