A middle schooler discovers that he was born to be a celebrity chef.
Trained in the kitchen from birth by his sorely missed grandpa Poppy, 12-year-old “Dex the Food Dude” Rossi already runs a successful business selling sandwiches and cookies to commuters out of a wheelbarrow in his front yard. But a spell at the stir-fry station at hot classmate Sarah’s bat mitzvah propels the white boy to wider fame and glory as the star of Dine with Dex on the Eatz Network. This meteoric rise ominously earns him the animosity of smarmy rival TV chef Preston LeTray. Distracted by a mad crush on Sarah and also the horrifying news that his grandma Golda is on the verge of losing Poppy’s Kitchen, the family diner, Dex is unaware of his danger even after LeTray’s volunteered “help” on a show leads to on-air volcanoes of vomit. Fortunately, Dex has plenty of more perspicacious allies. Some of these come across as, at best, overboiled, notably Sarah, child of a Chinese Jew; Liza, a biracial (black/white) classmate with white gay dads who run a salon; and “white kid” Jordy, who sports cornrows and speaks in an appalling version of “ghetto” (“Leave da sucka alone. Bad ’nuff he all love-thumped wit a who-dat”). Not so, though, are the references to cookies, cakes, sweet and savory sauces, sumptuous platters, gourmet pizzas, and other mouthwatering fare that Fishbach energetically stirs into her fast and funny tale.
A bit underdone in spots but a mostly delectable debut. (Fiction. 11-14)