Have you ever stumbled upon a fandom, totally at random, and felt yourself instantly consumed by it? That's what happened to me when I discovered Bon Appetit magazine's YouTube channel. From Claire Saffitz's Gourmet Makes to Brad Leone's It's Alive with Brad, the shows are stacked with enough cooking knowledge and inside jokes between the staff that the internet has fallen in love with the rag-tag chefs and cooks. But Bon Appetit wasn't the first. For years, people have found self-care in cooking shows like The Great British Bake-Off, Parts Unknown, Chopped, Chef's Table, and, of course, Nailed It!
If you love your food with a side of human interest — and you want to keep those feels going long after you've watched every episode of every available version of Bake-Off — check out the 11 books about food and cooking below. All of them feature either cooking competitions or some other high-stakes kitchen drama in their plots, along with more in-depth explorations of family, friendship, and romance than you'll find on reality TV. And if you haven't found a food show you love enough to devour just yet, let these books inspire you to search for something delicious on a screen near you:
'If It Makes You Happy' by Claire Kann
Winnie dreams of someday inheriting her granny's diner — but that will never happen if they can't make money, and fast. Winnie's solution? To win a televised cooking competition. But her granny doesn't want her to enter — so she has to find a way around her in order to come out on top.
'The City Baker's Guide to Country Living' by Louise Miller
When pastry chef Olivia Rawlings runs from a professional disaster to the idyllic town of Guthrie, Vermont, she is offered a job at the Sugar Maple Inn. There, she must help the cantankerous owner, Margaret, reclaim the inn's blue ribbon status at the annual county fair apple pie contest.
'The Art Of French Kissing' by Brianna R. Shrum
Seventeen-year-old Carter Lane has been recruited to compete in a series of cooking challenges for a chance at a full-ride scholarship to culinary school. But when Reid Yamada, her unbearably cocky opponent, goes out of his way to sabotage her, she finds herself in a full-fledged culinary war.
'The Coincidence of Coconut Cake' by Amy E. Reichert
It was just bad luck that food critic Al arrived at Lou's restaurant on the most disastrous night of her life. His scathing review sends them both to the bar (Lou to drown her sorrows, and Al to celebrate) where they unexpectedly meet — without knowing who the other is. It’s only a matter of time before the two fall in love — and before their true identities are revealed.
'With the Fire on High' by Elizabeth Acevedo
Emoni Santiago has a daugther at home and an abuela to support, so she knows her dreams of joining her high school's culinary arts class trip to Spain are just that: dreams. But her magical talent for cooking won't be ignored, and when she finally lets it break free, everything changes for her.
'Delicious!' by Ruth Reichl
Billie Breslin works at Delicious, the most iconic food magazine in New York. When the publication is shut down, she is offered a new job that involves manning the "Delicious Guarantee" hotline for complaints and recipe inquiries. But could this lonely job be the portal to a life-changing discovery?
'The Way You Make Me Feel' by Maurene Goo
After one of her pranks goes horribly wrong, Clara Shin is forced to work on her father's food truck with her least favorite classmate, Rose. But as the weeks pass, Clara finds that she actually cares about her father business, and that Rose isn't so bad. Now Clara will have to decide who she wants to be when summer is over.
'Natalie Tan's Book of Luck & Fortune' by Roselle Lim
When Natalie Tan returns home after her mother's death, she is shocked to discover that she has inherited her grandmother's restaurant. With the support of a new friend and her old neighbors, Natalie begins to cook her granmother's recipes in the hopes of revitilizing the neighborhood — and her own life — once more.
'Idlewild' by Jude Sierra
To bring the gastro pub he started with his late husband back to life, Asher Schenck hires a completely new staff. Among them is Tyler Heyward, a 23-year-old recent college graduate in need of funds to pay for med school. But as their relationship becomes more than strictly business, Tyler finds himself caught between the past and future.
'Bloom' by Kevin Panetta & Savanna Ganucheau
Now that high school is over, Ari is dying to move to the big city ― if he can just persuade his dad to let him quit his job at their struggling family bakery. But while interviewing candidates for his replacement, Ari meets Hector. As they become closer over batches of bread, love is ready to bloom... that is, if Ari doesn’t ruin everything.
'The Love Goddess’ Cooking School' by Melissa Senate
Holly Maguire’s grandmother Camilla was the Love Goddess of Blue Crab Island, Maine — a fortune-teller whose Italian cooking was rumored to save marriages. When Holly inherits Camilla’s Cucinotta, she’s determined to become an Italian cooking teacher worthy of her grandmother’s legacy. But Holly’s four students are seeking much more than recipes.