Twelve-year-old Zoey Kate is an ambitious culinary prodigy who’s out to prove that she’s San Francisco’s best chef.
After Zoey miraculously secures a $50,000 bank loan, she hunts down the perfect space for her restaurant. But finding a good property is harder than she’d thought. Then the white girl with “cheesecake-colored hair” has a vision. Zoey converts a three-car trolley into her restaurant, Zoeylicious. From Zoeylicious’ mobile kitchen, Zoey concocts zany dishes only a kid could dream up: S’meesecake, Maple Cinnamon Crab Fajitas, her signature Chocolate-Covered Pork Chops, and so on. Word spreads, and Zoey quickly becomes the darling of the S.F. dining scene. However, she also learns how competitive the restaurant industry can be and unwittingly makes enemies who will stop at nothing to see her fail. Injected with lots of humor while moving at a good clip along a twisty plotline, the story can hardly be called boring. Unfortunately, the many parenthetical asides and over-a-preteen’s-head references (how many actually know who James Beard is?) are annoyingly cutesy and forced. Plus, the diverse cast of secondary characters, instead of being a welcome addition, only helps to reinforce stereotypes: the Asian bad guy with a queue who speaks broken English and the apathetic Indian realtor who runs Happy Curry Real Estate, to name just two.
Only for the most die-hard of Food Network fans. (recipes) (Fiction. 9-12)