Book Review:  “The Cook” by Wayne Macaulay

by Jan

The Cook - Macauley, W

When you start reading this novel you quickly notice that there’s not a lot of punctuation, which is distracting until you get used to it. It’s the voice of the protagonist, Zac, a young man from a ‘shit-kicking suburb’, who is enrolled at Cook School, so that, as a previous offender, he can get work towards a career, and not re-offend.

This young man has not had much formal education, and seems naïve as he is willing to subjugate himself in order to become a celebrity chef. In the process of doing this, attending Cook School, he notices that Head Chef does not show up much. He is witness to dropouts, a suicide, non-payment of wages and accounts, the behaviour of a rich alcoholic employer and her children.

However, in the process of trying to impress his cookery tutor and rich employer, he wastes a lot of food, and is cruel to sheep.

The author, Macaulay, seems to be making a comment about trickle-down economics, where the rich pay their employees and suppliers, and, that theoretically, keeps the economy ticking over. However, it’s actually trickle-up because sometimes the rich don’t always honour their debts, and don’t seem to be ashamed of it.

Laissez faire economics and the resulting market failure is enough to make anyone angry except the very rich who seem to be oblivious of the results of their irresponsibility. This is probably why Macaulay wrote this book, and why Zac did what he did at the end of the novel.

It is also a scathing critique of the cult of the celebrity chef. There’s a hint of reality TV at Cook School; there’s the upstairs-downstairs of a Downton Abbey drama; and there’s the gritty TV drama of suicide, alcoholism, poverty and death.