“I’ve spent my working life in the hospitality industry and have visited many food festivals both at home and abroad. One event that always stood out is the Annual Gourmet Food Festival in Kinsale, Southern Ireland. The TV chef Keith Floyd was a great inspiration to me and I knew that having been invited to the four-day gathering he made his home in this pretty little town and spent many years there. A period that he describes in his autobiography as the happiest of his life. I wanted to find out why Floyd took Kinsale to his heart and I was so taken with the charm of this pretty fishing port that the idea for my novel, So You Think You’re A Celebrity…Chef? was born.
Located only sixteen miles south of Cork, on the south-east coast of Ireland, Kinsale is a picturesque and historic town. Hailed as the Gourmet Capital of Ireland it has a plethora of pubs and cafes to suit every taste and budget including ten fine dining restaurants. A recent count found 59 establishments that cater to a population of approximately three thousand residents whose numbers swell in summer. The festival, held every October, originated to extend the tourist season and sells out months in advance. This riotous event provides a weekend of gastronomic bliss for foodies and revellers from around the globe.
In So You Think You’re A Celebrity…Chef? the main characters are taken to Kinsale where a chef is planning to open a cookery school. The chef is a con-man and having duped his guests into sponsorship, plans to skip the country with their money. The trip coincides with the annual food festival and over the course of a crazy weekend, the plot thickens and the shenanigans gather pace. I write romantic comedy and this setting had all the right ingredients. I so enjoyed my trip that I knew I had to return and the following year, with my novel in print, went back to be welcomed again by the lovely folk in Kinsale.The festival itinerary, which I loosely followed when plotting, varies each year but may commence with a ‘Chowder Cook-Off’ on the Friday followed by the opening night champagne reception and gala dinner. On Saturday morning the ‘Mad Hatter’s Taste of Kinsale’ begins and 500 participants don their mad hats and follow Alice, the Mad Hatter, the March Hare and the Field Mouse on a raucous tour of four different venues where tables groan with delicacies prepared by local chefs and glasses are constantly charged. It’s an hilarious day and by early evening, for those still standing, there’s dancing to a live band. Finally, Sunday’s Fruits de Mer luncheon takes place in Actons, the very hotel where Floyd stayed on his first and subsequent visits (a perfect hostelry for my characters to frequent). This is a seafood extravaganza featuring lobster, crab, prawns, oysters and other delights from the local waters, with more dancing to live music. What made Floyd decide to settle in Kinsale? Locals say that he fell in love with a property called Creek Lodge, which stood on the bank of an estuary. I visited the house and could see why he was so taken and I had no trouble placing my lead character, the feckless Mickey Lloyd, in a similar building. Kinsale is a very special place and has a magic that for me, as a writer, wove a spell that kept my fingers glued to the keyboard and I am ever grateful for the inspiration that I found there.”
Caroline James has owned and run businesses encompassing all aspects of the hospitality industry. She lives in Cheshire and spends her time writing, climbing mountains and running a consultancy business. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Feature Editor for an online magazine.
Her debut novel, Coffee, Tea, The Gypsy & Me is set in North West England, in a country house hotel at the time of a famous gypsy horse fair. The book went straight to number three on Amazon and was ‘E-book of the Week’ in The Sun newspaper. Her second novel, So, You Think You’re a Celebrity… Chef? is set in London and Ireland with much of the action taking place at an annual Gourmet Food Festival near Cork. Novella Jungle Rock was published in winter 2016, and her next novel Boomerville is coming soon.
‘So, You Think You’re a Celebrity… Chef?’ by Caroline James [UK: Ramjam] Buy at Amazon
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