With the President’s State of the Union address this week, it’s a perfect time to welcome author Julie Hyzy to Thoughts in Progress to talk about her current release, ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MENUS, the latest installment in her White House Chef Mystery series.
Julie is joining us today to share ten tidbits about the White House Chef Mystery series. I’ll share my thoughts on this fun book and thanks to Julie and the lovely Danielle at Penguin Group, I have a print copy of ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MENUS to giveaway. Please see the end of the post for more giveaway details.
Now let’s give Julie a warm welcome as she share her Ten Tidbits. Welcome, Julie.
1. If you’re a regular reader of the White House Chef Mystery series, you already know that the First Family is required to cover all expenses for personal meals, but that fact still amazes me and I feel the need to include it here. State dinners and official events are covered by the White House budget, but the family must cover its own expenses when it comes to food. And, because there are extra steps and higher costs involved in procuring ingredients, those bills can be pretty high.
2. The White House doesn’t respond well to direct questions about the residence. Before I even began writing the first book, State of the Onion, I called the White House to ask some questions about staff hours, kitchen layout, colors on the floor and walls, etc. I was looking for details not usually found in books. This would have been in 2006, I think. They were uneasy, but asked me to fax them a list of questions. I did. Never heard back. I followed up. Still never heard back.
3. Later, in 2010 or so, I was able to give a couple of books to a friend who knew a friend who was related to a White House kitchen staff member. I’d hoped the staff member would either read the books, or pass them to someone else in the kitchen¾or … dreaming now… the First Lady¾who would enjoy them and say something positive in the media. Nope. The lesson here: The White House is a hard nut to crack. (Unless you’re racing past the Secret Service that is… <grin>)
4. Although Hollywood loves the idea of a White House Chef solving mysteries, the Powers That Be don’t love it enough.
5. Ollie has a mind of her own. I have often set her up to walk into a trap, or to do something sketchy, and she refuses. Not kidding. She puts her foot down and says “No.” It isn’t until I revise, change the circumstances, increase her motivation, or reset the stage that she complies.
6. Speaking of Ollie’s strong-mindedness, whenever I’m uncomfortable or awkward (usually social situations where I know no one) I pretend I’m Ollie. Asking myself “What Would Ollie Do?” helps me banish my nervousness.
7. My friends tell me they see me in Ollie’s role when they’re reading the books. I see America Ferrera.
8. I’ve had a couple of different “ghost chefs” assist me by coming up with the fabulous recipes for the books. My favorites include the stuffed cherry tomatoes, the bacon-wrapped green beans, the brownie bites, the cucumber slices with pine nuts (I substitute goat cheese for feta), and the hummus.
9. There are a couple of “oops” moments in the stories. A misnamed monument, a mis-identified landmark, a cell phone that mysteriously reappeared—and more. I appreciate readers letting me know when they spot these mistakes, and I generally thank the first to let me know by sending him or her a signed copy of a book from my other series. Unfortunately, I’m unable to do so for every sharp-eyed reader, but please know that I’m delighted that you care enough to point these things out.
10. I would LOVE a personal tour of the White House. They don’t have to feed me (though I wouldn’t turn down a dinner invitation), just let me roam a little. Secret Service can accompany me if that makes them feel better. All I want is to explore every inch of the building, from the bottom-est basement to the snipers on the roof. And take pictures¾lots of pictures¾to refer to as I write the next book. Can you imagine how much fun that would be?
Julie, thanks for joining us today and sharing these tidbits. Now that you mention it, America Ferrera would make a good Ollie.
Now for those who aren’t familiar with Julie, let me share a bit of background on her.
Julie Hyzy is a New York Times Bestselling author with two award-winning series: White House Chef Mysteries and Manor House Mysteries. Her first experience with food included flipping burgers and chopping onions at a neighborhood hot dog stand. She traded that experience for a job as a singing waitress at Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour—but gave that up when she started college (and because she couldn't carry a tune).
Over the years, she's acted in community theater productions, appeared in television commercials, and crashed a previously all-male fraternity to become one of the first female brothers in Loyola University's Chapter of Delta Sigma Pi. Julie had dreams of becoming a writer, but family, friends, and frat brothers convinced her otherwise. Having held positions as junior officer at a downtown bank, office manager at an architectural firm, and financial advisor at a prestigious wealth management company, she realizes that the business degree was probably a good choice—but fiction is truly her passion. Now, with some well-earned life experience behind her, she's delighted to finally be able to make writing a priority in her life.
For more on Julie and her writing, visit her website and connect with her on her blog, Facebook and Twitter.
Here’s a brief synopsis of ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MENUS:
It’s an old adage that too many cooks spoil the broth. But when a tour of the White House kitchen by a group of foreign chefs ends in murder, it’s Olivia Paras who finds herself in the soup…
Due to a government sequester, entertaining at the White House has been severely curtailed. So executive chef Olivia Paras is delighted to hear that plans are still on to welcome a presidential candidate from the country of Saardisca—the first woman to run for office—and four of that nation’s top chefs.
But while leading the chefs on a kitchen tour, pastry chef Marcel passes out suddenly—and later claims he was drugged. When one of the visiting chefs collapses and dies, it’s clear someone has infiltrated the White House with ill intent. Could it be an anti-Saardiscan zealot? Is the candidate a target? Are the foreign chefs keeping more than their recipes a secret? Once again, Olivia must make sleuthing the special of the day…
My Thoughts ……….
Author Julie Hyzy continues to evolve the characters in this tantalizing series bringing a fresh fascination while keeping the traits and flavor of the individuals we’ve come to love. The characters are likable and realistic.
The story flows quickly with action and suspense as the author combines all the facets into a well-blended tale. Her rich descriptions places the reader in the middle of the setting. The mix of conspiracy and intrigue topped with suspense holds the reader’s attention from beginning to end.
To enhance the story, Hyzy shares mouth-watering recipes for a complete Presidential menu.
ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MENUS is full of intrigue, thrills, witty dialogue and amusing characters.
All The President’s Menus by Julie Hyzy, A White House Chef Mystery Book #8, Berkley Prime Crime, @2015, ISBN: 978-0425262399, Paperback, 304 Pages
FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.
This giveaway is for one print copy of ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MENUS. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end at 12 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 31.
To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and following the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load, so please be patient. The winner from this giveaway will have 72 hours to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected. The email will have ‘Thoughts in Progress Julie Hyzy’s Tour’ in the subject line, just so you know what to watch for (in case it goes into your spam folder).
Thanks for stopping by today during Julie’s visit. Have you ever been on a White House Tour? What room would you most like to see in the White House?
*This post contains affiliate links.
a Rafflecopter giveaway