What system cheats and recipe theft lead to

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What system cheats and recipe theft lead to
What system cheats and recipe theft lead to

The secret recipe for a better life involves courage, passion and a pinch of magic

About the author

J. D. Barrett is an Australian writer and producer whose passion is cooking. " The Secret Recipe for a Second Chance" is her debut novel, which became a global bestseller.

Splits her time between Sydney, Byron Bay and Los Angeles, where she is working on several hit TV projects and her next book.

About the book


Lucy and her husband are chefs and co-owners of one of Sydney's most popular restaurants. However, his systematic infidelities and recipe theft get too much for her and Lucy leaves him.

While wandering the streets aimlessly, she stumbles upon a dilapidated building that was once a thriving restaurant. Lucy peeks through the dirty window and impulsively decides to breathe new life into the place.

She discovers a red notebook with recipes that belonged to the charismatic chef Frankie, who died thirty years ago under mysterious circumstances. His speci alties – French Onion Soup, Rooster in Wine and Gruyere Souffle – are second to none and soon customers are lining up. Strangely, Lucy feels like she can sense Frankie's presence and it's like she can see him…

The ardent chef with an insatiable passion for food and women will prove to be Lucy's secret weapon on her road to success. But is she brave enough to believe it?

Book Reviews

The screenwriter J. D. Barrett whips up a delicious story whose secret recipe gives a second chance at happiness. – Daily Telegraph

An intelligently written, captivating novel about irresistibly delicious food, tried-and-true recipes for love, and the courage to give yourself another chance at happiness. – bol.com

A charming debut novel that will make you feel light and carefree and make you want to fall in love. – Sydney Morning Herald

Interview with the author


What inspired you to write The Secret Recipe for a Second Chance?

In fact, this was the worst year of my life. I was still trying to recover from my divorce when I was devastated by the loss of two very close friends. Their deaths changed me: I realized that I should not waste a single moment of my life. I found an outlet from the anguish and chaos in writing the novel, which I finished in a record six months and dedicated to my friends.

Did your work in television influence your writing style?

Undoubtedly. Writing the novel combines the soulfulness of journaling with the discipline and structure of screenwriting.

How would you describe "Secret Recipe for a Second Chance" in one sentence?

An atypical love story with a culinary twist and a pinch of magical realism.

The book also includes sixteen recipes, including bacon-wrapped prunes, French onion soup, and lobster gazpacho. What is your attitude towards food?

My grandmother who raised me was an amazing cook and I keep her recipes to this day. Food is a constant part of my thoughts, and it is food that brings flavor back to Lucy's life. I believe food is key to emotional experiences, I often cook something special to comfort me when I miss a close friend.

Here is the recipe for Gruyère souffle, and you will find all the others in the book.

Soufflé with Gruyere

Required products:

80 g butter, cut into cubes

75 g plain flour

1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

380 ml warm milk

175 g finely grated gruyere cheese

1 tsp mustard (optional, for a spicier taste)

4 eggs (5 if smaller), with egg whites and yolks separated

s alt and pepper to taste

1 and 1/2 cups heavy cream

Preparation method

Heat the oven to 180 degrees. Grease 6 casserole dishes (200 milliliters each). Melt the butter in the pan over medium heat, add the flour and nutmeg and stir constantly until the mixture is foamy.

Gradually add the milk, continuing to stir so that no horrible lumps form. Do not stop, and once you have a smooth mixture, continue mixing until it thickens (5 minutes). Sprinkle with 80 grams of the cheese, add the mustard, if you decide to use it, mix everything and remove from the heat. Allow to cool slightly (2-3 minutes).

Stir the egg yolks until they are mixed with the rest of the ingredients. Season to taste. The mixture must already be homogeneous and of superior density. Beat the egg whites with a pinch of s alt until they start to form medium stiff peaks (don't rush it because this is the base of the souffle!), then fold in a third of the egg whites. Mix the mixture with the remaining egg whites and distribute it evenly in the bowls, smoothing the surface. Place the bowls in a tray. Pour boiling water halfway up them and bake until the souffle puffs and turns golden (25-30 minutes). Remove from the oven and cool the bowls for 10 minutes or a little longer.

Run a small knife around the inside of the bowls and invert them onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Cover the soufflé and leave it in the refrigerator. It can stay there for up to 2 days.

Before serving, put the souffle in refractory bowls, pour cream evenly, sprinkle with Gruyere and bake until risen and golden (20-25 minutes). Serve hot and enjoy with interesting companions.


Cutting, sobbing, sniffling, squealing… what a recipe… I hate Leet… it's not entirely his fault though… or it is… if he'd kept it in his pants… though to be honest between us always something was missing… and the chewing thing too… but who has everything? Who gets everything right? I'm far from perfect myself - I'm moody and hypersensitive, I'm a food snob… except for hotdogs with chili sauce… I blush easily, have a hard time expressing myself, and my brain tends to freeze when put in my place … I'm still not perfect at making risotto; how could a self-respecting chef not have perfected himself in making risotto? I have terrible PMS… I like to touch my cold feet to warm feet even if it wakes him up… I have a hard time saying “no”… I run away from situations I don't like rather than face them… Oh god, I'm basically the same as my mom, except I have blonde hair. Shit… nasty job… horror.

They give me onions. I muster some gratitude and continue cutting. Then I remember I'm alone.

I hear words:

– No reason.

Words spoken in a deep and booming voice that did not belong to Leet…or anyone else I know.

You know that feeling when you realize you've broken down to the point where you're out of your body and looking at yourself from the sidelines? Probably not, you're probably single and married to your first boyfriend, living in a house bought by your grandparents that's close to your parents' house. You've probably been planning the Christmas party since May and have a list of the police, fire, EMS and five of your best girlfriends pinned to a cork board next to the phone in your kitchen. I wish I were like you, but I'm not, and so I dare to look far enough to make sure that the palm that handed me the bow goes with a hand-hairy and manly. And she herself is in a sleeve that looks like… well, there's a decent-looking man in a caftan sitting on my counter. It smells good, so it's not one of my homeless friends; it smells like the restaurant - roast dinner and power. I swallow and realize that I'm swallowing my saliva for the last time, because now I'm going to be killed by a hairy, nice-smelling, I'd say handsome psychopath. My mind suddenly remembered something I had read: if you look the murderer straight in the eye, it is more difficult for him to do his infernal deed. So I raise my head to the face of the kaftan-clad would-be assassin and see the most beautifully shaped lips, nose, eyes; the eyes are two bottomless lakes the color of green moss that exude playfulness and intelligence and fixate on me with curiosity.

– So you see me?

That voice again. Do all would-be assassins sound like this?

– Yes…

– And you hear me… Good.

His lips stretch into a smile that mesmerizes and makes you believe the universe was created just for this moment. What the hell is going on here?

I sneeze.

– Cheers!

I know that voice, coming from behind me. I turn to see Leet. Thank goodness! They might kill him along with me. Or possibly for me.

I turn again and see that the man with the onion is gone. Wait for her! Is he gone? I must have really screwed up…

– What, why? you here?

That's all I manage to say, which isn't bad considering I'm sure I'll be taken away in a straitjacket in minutes.

– What to welcome?

Leet comes in to kiss me. I still have the knife in my hand. He steps back. He's struck a pose that he imagines is my favorite: flaunting his biceps, his tall stature, and in moments of extreme swagger, his large package.

– Why are you so nervous?

– What? Ah, I'm fine. Why are you here?

Looking around again. Nothing, there's no one… echo?

– When the mountain does not go to Muhammad…

– Can we stop talking clichés for at least five minutes?

Leet shrugs and picks up the recipe book.

– How cute.

I pull him from his hands. I've always hated Leet's confidence that she owns everything, especially me.

I press the notebook to my chest and look at the counter where the sexy man was sitting. Well, at least my visual hallucinations were kind enough to show me him incredibly handsome and manly, like he'd been taken from an Old Spice ad - but not the image with the gold chain.

– Are you okay, Lily?

I've always hated that Leet insists on calling me Lily in a baby voice and signs me with that name on cards; it also annoys me that he signs me for fear of coming up with a more memorable card than the one he might write for some kid's seventh birthday. Everything about Leet annoys me. That's what happens with men who break your heart.

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