A knockoff of a popular TV show turns deadly.
While she’s working on preparations for opening her Cape May B&B, Poppy McAllister continues to bake delicious gluten-free treats for the coffee shop owned by Gia, one of two men she cannot decide between. But she drops everything to serve as pastry chef to the other one, Chef Tim, her former fiance, at the local community college’s Restaurant Week event. Inspired by the popular show Chopped, local chefs compete for bragging rights and $10,000 by cooking a three-course meal from a basket of unusual items plus whatever they need from the pantry and fridge. Each team consists of the head chef and two helpers who work together for a week. When a water main breaks at the B&B where the judges are booked, Poppy offers her not-yet-opened place as a substitute. Several of the chefs are already at loggerheads. Adrian Baxter, who finished second in the class to Tim at the Culinary Institute, accuses Tim of cheating to beat him out. Tim’s assistant, Gigi, who constantly belittles Poppy because she didn’t attend culinary school, must eat her words when Poppy saves them from disaster by noticing that someone has mislabeled many of the pantry items. The judges are enduring their own dramas at the B&B. The most annoying and downright nasty is Bess Jodice, who has little good to say about her cohort. The second day begins with appliances that won’t work correctly, and another day ends when Bess, poisoned, drops dead in Poppy’s dish of cannoli. With some help from her Aunt Ginny and her zany gang of oldster friends, Poppy (Midnight Snacks Are Murder, 2018, etc.) looks into the pasts and presents of the judges and contestants to see if she can find a motive for murder.
Fans of Chopped will have fun juggling the complicated set of suspects and following a romantic triangle that has yet to be resolved.