Miller, Christopher David. Chef Toussaint. (2021). Dare to Be King Project.
Summary: Chef Toussaint Palmer is a 9-year-old boy who resides in Georgia and is passionate about cooking. His love for food is engrained in his family where the kitchen is referred to as a magical place. It all began with Nana and her sisters who were the successful owners of a soul food restaurant in Jackson, Mississippi. Nana’s love for homemade cornbread, peach cobbler and banana pudding are a few favorites that have been influential in shaping Toussaint’s’ family traditions. The smell of vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg floating through the air is an aroma that entices the community where Toussaint is known as a cooking sensation. Toussaint shares his delightful caramel apples with sixteen local restaurants to showcase his talent. He also enters the local “Buckhead Cook-Off” a big competition in Atlanta where the top winner is featured on a magazine cover and wins a cash prize. Will Toussaint make his mark in this challenging competition? Are the recipes influenced by Nana enough to impress the judges? Will he be the youngest chef to ever win?
Strengths: This book mirrors the importance of community and family. Toussaint emulates what he is exposed to as young boy which shapes his outlook without limitations. He develops a sense of self and confidently takes on challenges while growing up in a healthy environment. His passion for cooking supports his drive that screams, “I can do anything!”.
Weaknesses: It would have been nice to hear or see how Toussaint interacts with others his age somewhere in the story.
Thoughts: This book embraces ethnic pride through its content and illustrations. It is a book that will influence those who desire to become part of the culinary profession. However, the impact of cooking is just the key storyline. The overall message is one that has the potential to encourage young readers to dream big and to face the challenge of something new with confidence.