Philadelphia 1793. Hercules, President George Washington's chef, is a fixture on the Philadelphia scene. He is famous for both his culinary prowess and for ruling his kitchen like a commanding general. He has his run of the city and earns twice the salary of an average American workingman. He wears beautiful clothes and attends the theater. But while valued by the Washingtons for his prowess in the kitchen and rewarded far over and above even white servants, Hercules is enslaved in a city where most black Americans are free. Even while he masterfully manages his kitchen and the lives of those in and around it, Hercules harbors secrets-- including the fact that he is learning to read and that he is involved in a dangerous affair with Thelma, a mixed-race woman, who, passing as white, works as a companion to the daughter of one of Philadelphia's most prestigious families. Eventually Hercules' carefully crafted intrigues fall apart and he finds himself trapped by his circumstance and the will of George Washington. Based on actual historical events and people, The General's Cook , will thrill fans of The Hamilton Affair , as they follow Hercules' precarious and terrifying bid for freedom.
"In the nascent years of the American Republic, Chef Hercules is a better-dressed, eighteenth-century Gordon Ramsay: he has the run of Philadelphia, makes twice the average wage, and rules his kitchen with a perfectionist's iron fist. He also happens to be enslaved to none other than the revered first president, George Washington. When Hercules is moved to Mount Vernon, everything changes, and he ponders a desperate bid to transform his life. Hercules was a historical person, and Ganeshram's novelization adds much intrigue and color to the minimal archival record. Acclaimed food columnist, chef, and cookbook author Ganeshram stops just short of villainizing Washington but evinces no such scruples towards other Founding Fathers or First Lady Martha Washington, characterized as a clucking, witless hen. A romantic subplot between a white indentured servant and an enslaved kitchen boy will tug at heartstrings. Ganeshram shines when describing ingredients, dishes Hercules prepares, and the precision of his kitchen. Bringing those living on the fringes of history to the forefront, this can be recommended to historical-fiction fans looking for a multicultural perspective.--Bethany Latham Copyright 2018 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.