The Cooking Club Detectives is a heart-warming story, which is jam-packed with tasty recipes along the way. It brilliantly covers a range of themes, including: food poverty, community spirit and the importance of family and friends. When Erin must move with her mum to a new area, life becomes challenging due to financial worries and even some online bullying. However, Erin’s unwavering passion for food, inspired by her mother, allows her to make new friends at a local community centre’s cooking club. This new-found friendship comes in handy, when the club is mysteriously threatened with closure. Can the friends solve the mystery and save the centre from closure? A highly gripping read and great conversation starter with children.
I’d like to thank Ewa Jozefkowicz for joining us in the VIP Reading blog to talk about her latest book series, The Cooking Club Detectives.
Firstly, a huge well done for The Cooking Club Detectives, which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. Without giving too much away, can you tell us a little bit about the story?
Thank you so much. Yes, of course. The story centres on four friends who come together through their mutual love of food and join a cooking club held at their local community centre, Skipton. When the building is suddenly threatened with closure, Erin, Tanya, Frixos, and Sam, form The Cooking Club Detectives. Their goal is to find out who is behind it all, and their search for the culprit unravels some unexpected findings.
Where did the inspiration for the book come from?
The story is inspired by the work of Magic Breakfast, a wonderful charity which I first came across when I was a governor at a school in North London. It provides healthy breakfasts for children at risk of hunger across the UK. In our school, the teachers spoke of the huge difference that the breakfasts made to the children. They were able to concentrate much better in class, they were more eager to share their ideas in lessons, and they had far more energy.
But another wonderful element of these breakfasts was the fact that they provided an opportunity for socialising across year groups. Our school’s breakfasts were sometimes themed, with a focus on music, creative writing or a whole range of other activities. I could see that it was where many new friendships were formed.
Obviously, food is heavily mentioned in the book and the recipes are such a unique addition. Would you describe yourself as a good cook?
Haha, a great question! I would say I’m a better baker than I am a cook. But I’ve mastered a few dishes. Spaghetti Bolognese and paella are my go-to meals if I’m cooking for guests. I also think some of the simplest dishes can be the tastiest. You can’t beat a really great pancake. That’s why I’ve included my favourite pancake recipe in the story.
Despite their precarious financial situation, we see Erin and her mother trying to make the most of what they have. What was the reason behind the choice of the food poverty theme?
Its such an important issue which has sadly become even more topical in recent times. The pandemic has had a huge impact on food insecurity, and Magic Breakfast predicts that 2.3 million children are now affected. So through The Cooking Club Detectives, as well as writing a mystery (my favourite type of story), I wanted to show how important community is to us all. I also want to make sure my readers know that they should always ask for help if they need it.
We see a big divide in wealth between Erin and her peers? Was this intentional and why did you wish to have this dynamic?
Yes, I wanted to show people from different walks of life brought together through a mutual passion. I was also aiming to highlight how amazing friendships are when they’re with people who are different to us – those differences might be to do with wealth, culture or anything else. We have so much to learn from each other, and can support one another to do great things.
I was surprised at reading your book how it evoked such strong family memories and one in particular being a young child and being at my grandma’s house (Grandma Peggy) and enjoying her homemade fruit cake, which I used to call ‘burn cake’ due to the spice. Though we never found the recipe, it though it is something I still reminisce about to this day. What recipe is most special to you and what feelings does it evoke?
It’s incredible how food can evoke such vivid memories. My favourite recipe also comes from my grandma. She made traditional Polish pierogi with so many different fillings. Her kitchen always had this amazing smell, and I remember helping her roll out the dough and using an upturned tumbler to cut the shape for each dumpling.
The relationship is so strong between Erin and her mother, Lara. The diary entries are particularly emotive and we see just how much Erin means to her mother, even prior to her birth. Were these characters based on anyone in particular?
They were largely based on my mum and grandma and what I imagined their life to be like when my mum was a teenager. My grandma was a single mum and life wasn’t always easy, but they had a very close bond which I’ve always admired.
We would love to know whether you are currently working on any other books. What are you allowed to tell us?
Yes, I’m working on a new story which is a bit different. It’s influenced by a famous Polish legend. It’s still early days but I’m really enjoying the writing process.
Can you describe the The Cooking Club Detectives in three words?
Food, friendship, mystery
Thank you so much for taking the time to read and answer our questions.
Thank you so much for having me!
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