Gordon Ramsay vs. Paula Deen by Louisa Edwards



I guess it’s not a secret at this point that I love food.  Cooking, eating, trying new things, whipping up old classics—I love it all. One of the interview questions I’m most consistently asked:  What’s your favorite dish?

And I never know what to say. Because while I have many favorites—from childhood and beyond—I have also always had a sense of the many flavors and foods yet to be tried. I’m intimately familiar with the glories of good biscuits, salt-cured Virginia ham and red-eye gravy, but I’ve never tasted bucatini all’amatriciana, or the pungent flesh of the durian fruit, or Oysters Rockefeller!  So how do I know what my favorite dish is?

A lot of professional chefs share that restless curiosity about new foods.  It’s certainly something the hero of my most recent novel, On the Steamy Side, is familiar with.  Devon Sparks is a jaded celebrity chef trying desperately to maintain his identity as a cook in the face of fame and scandal.  His first instinct is to experiment with new techniques and odd flavor combinations—but something is missing.



Meanwhile, my heroine, Lilah Jane Tunkle, is going through her own identity shift after moving to New York City from a small town in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia. She wants to break out of her old life and experience what the world has to offer—but she never quite leaves behind the lessons she learned in her Aunt Bertie’s kitchen.

These characters butt heads over many things, but one of the central conflicts that arises again and again is the issue of fancy, experimental food versus old-fashioned comfort cooking. (Imagine Gordon Ramsay throwing down with Paula Deen—man, who would win that fight?) True magic only happens when Devon and Lilah start sharing ideas and collaborating in the kitchen, producing delicious new dishes with Devon’s trademark flare and a good helping of southern soul from Lilah.

So what’s your favorite dish?  Would you rather try something new or stick to what you know satisfies?  Comment for a chance to win an autographed copy of On the Steamy Side, a farmer’s market tote and a Tastebook (I’ve filled it with recipes from my kitchen and the kitchen of chef friends).



53 Responses to Gordon Ramsay vs. Paula Deen by Louisa Edwards

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  9. Sherry Haut

    I love to try new kinds of food.

  10. Romance Junkies

    And the winner is Commenter # 10 Tessa! Send your snail mail to blog@romancejunkies.com

    Thanks so much for blogging with us

  11. Rosie G.

    I love to cook and eat and salivate when I see someone cooking someone yummy on t.v. Sometimes I like to scroll thru some of my cookbooks and that gets me going too. LOL.

    I enjoyed your first book very much and hope there are lots more. Would love to Win On the Steam Side – you are most generous offering it up in contests on various sites.

    By the way, I watched Jamie Oliver last nite trying to get some schools eating healthy. Not an easy task.

  12. Mariska

    I hope i’m not too late to have a chance to win your book 🙂
    coz i’ve been trying so hard to win it on several blogs !

    My favorite will be cream soup 🙂 it always makes me warm and just love it !

  13. honour

    thats cool

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    that was cool

  15. Helen L.

    My favorite meal to eat is my daughter’s Thanksgiving meal. It is just me so I don’t cook big meals any longer – but do make a mean chicken parmesan – the secret is to slice the cutlets very thin.

  16. Pat L.

    I would love to win a copy of this book.

    I love to try new recipes, pasta, chicken, desserts.

  17. Giada M

    Yes, I can make my own tagliatelle (thanks to my mother). And ravioli too. But I have made ravioli only 2 times and tagliatelle 3 or 4 times.

  18. Louisa Edwards

    Maureen – I’m jealous–somehow my in-laws got rights to all Thanksgivings, so I haven’t gotten to make my own turkey dinner in years. Sad! Because I love it, too.

    Virginia C – I grew up in the Blue Ridge too! Well, in the valley, in Lynchburg. Are you anywhere near there?

    Rebecca – I’m so there. LOL

    Giada M – Mmm…do you make your own tagliatelle? That’s something I’ve never done!

    Alexis – My favorite meals are the ones where my husband and I both get in the kitchen and cook. He likes it, but doesn’t often have time for it, so when we do, it feels very special.

    Maya M – Wow, the Persian rice dish sounds amazing. Willing to share the recipe? LOL–I’m going to come out of this blog with a whole new repertoire of dishes to try!

    Becky – I do that too! It drives my husband nuts that I’m always trying out brand new things when people come over. He thinks that’s the time to stick to what you know is going to work. Obviously, you and I disagree!

    Terri – Aw, thanks! I hope you get a chance to try my books soon. And kudos for being willing to eat ugly food! Sometimes the best things look weird until we get used to them.

    Beth C – I went to high school with the Spam heiress; she actually had dangly Spam earrings! LOL

  19. Beth C.

    I don’t have one specific dish that I love myself, but there are a couple I make that my kids always asked me when I would make again. One was a bread dip recipe and the other was a dinner recipe called Skillet Hawaiian(uses Spam). Never had leftovers the nights I made it.

  20. Terri

    Hi Louisa!

    Great post and I’ve been wanting to read this series since I’ve first heard about it!

    I love food and also trying new things even though they might not look appetizing. One of my favorite dishes is my mom’s scalloped potatoes!

  21. Becky

    Hi Louisa. Great post … I love to try new things in the kitchen–especially during parties. No playing it safe for me, no ma’am. I’m a shaker and a taster rather than a measurer, and I think my dishes turn out all the better for ingenuity! Can’t wait to read this book.

  22. Maya M.

    I’m a hardcore ‘try something new!’ person, which makes my husband nuts because, as is to be expected, some of the time the new dish won’t appeal to the taste buds. Whereupon hubby will feel obliged to share his ‘stick with the tried and true’ choice with me. He grumbles, but does it!
    ….and one of my favorite dishes is Persian sour cherry rice with miniature meatballs, delicious.

  23. PerfectlyPurple

    My DH and I LOVE to cook and eat! Thank goodness we have kids to keep us active. Favorite dish: can’t decide! That’s too hard: immediately coming to mind is either Ina Garten’s Shrimp Scampi or Rachel Ray’s hash! We love trying new stuff…our faves are Ina, Alton Brown, and Giada. With a dash of Paula for the kids…she looks A LOT like their REAL Aunt Paula.

    “Best dishes,”


  24. Giada M

    Hi Louisa!
    So what’s your favorite dish?
    There are too many! My mother is a great cook and everything she cooks is always delicious. But right now maybe…….tagliatelle alla fiamma! I love it!
    Would you rather try something new or stick to what you know satisfies?
    I always like to try new recipes *and* to improve the recipes I already have.
    I can’t wait to read On the Steamy Side!
    Best wishes!
    Giada M

  25. Giada M

    Hi Louisa!
    So what’s your favorite dish?
    There are too many!>_

  26. Giada M

    Hi Louisa!

    So what’s your favorite dish?
    There are too many!>_

  27. Rebecca

    Thanks for stopping by my blog, Louisa. I’m gonna post the Peanut Chicken tomorrow and the Coddle on Wednesday. My faves! Can’t wait to read this book.

  28. Virginia C

    Hi, Louisa! I am woman from a small town in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, and I highly approve of your heroine, Lilah Jane Tunkle! My four food groups are coffee, chocolate, cheese and cookies. I also love potatoes and pasta. Two of favorite meals are my grandmother’s spaghetti with meat sauce, and my mom’s cubed steak and gravy (with green peppers and onions) over mashed potatoes. My all-time favorite meal is Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings! I actually prepare that meal several times a year. One year for my birthday in July, a friend prepared a Thanksgiving birhday dinner for me. That was a classic–a total surprise and still one of the best meals that I have ever eaten! I love my traditional favorites spruced up with new foods and new recipes. No matter how well prepared, food is not good unless it is good to you!

    Paula Deen can take on all comers. She is an incredible lady! Besides, Southern women wield a mean skillet and rolling pin ; )

  29. Maureen

    I do enjoy trying different recipes and it’s fun when I find one that everyone likes but my favorite meal is roast turkey with all the trimmings.

  30. Louisa Edwards

    limecello – Even if durian is totally gross, I still want to try it. Just to know! Is that weird? I’d also like to try your mom’s spring rolls. YUM!

    Amber S – It’s good to know what you like! And anyone who eats raw oysters has an adventurous soul, so good for you.

    Peach – I wish there were a term for that. Instead of having a sweet tooth…what? A salty tooth?

    Susan – Good pizza can be sublime. In fact, I’m making a white eggplant pizza for dinner tonight! Can’t wait–it’s a Gourmet recipe, one of my faves.

    KarenK – Mmm, salmon. Ever made gravlax? That’s my new salmon obsession, curing a whole fillet in sugar, salt, herbs, lemon zest, whatever. It’s like candy!

    Lindy – That is unspeakably adorable. Mom win!

    Glee – So true–balance is everything. There’s no one more charming and entertaining than Paula Deen, seriously. Although the Neelys are close. : )

    Chelleyreads – Me too! My favorites are always changing, it’s why I can never pick one. Since I just made my mom’s rhubarb pie last night, that’s the current choice. And I will say, it’s a recurring one. So good!!

  31. chelleyreads

    i stick with old easy to make favorites when i’m cooking at home but when i go out to eat with friends and family, i usually try new things. My favorite thing to eat right now is lasagna and meatloaf–but food faves always change for me!

  32. glee

    I would love to live next door to the Neely’s and Paula Deen: and I’m a Westerner! I learned to love them both during an extended hospital stay. Yea for the Food Network. My family go-to-meal was a curry dish that migrated to our family from a special night out with friends. Oh, yes and leg of lamb roast served with basil pesto and noodles. So, a mix of new and old makes for a varied and interesting life.

  33. Lindy

    I’m completely spoiled… My husband actually does almost all of the cooking in our house. *happy sigh*

    Rhys’s favorite FN shows are Chopped and Iron Chef America. He was really excited when we finally hooked up the cable in his room so he could watch Food Network in his race car bed. Too cute!


  34. karenk

    i’m a big fan of seafood…especially salmon dishes 🙂

    i’m always trying new recipes 🙂

  35. Susan

    It sounds a little boring, but probably my favorite food is really good pizza. And, as a mom who tries (unsuccessfully) to cook for 4 people with very different tastes, anything edible that I haven’t had to cook is pretty darned good, too!

  36. Peach

    I love trying new things. I think I lean more towards the savoury and spicy side as far as my favorites, though. cooking is a big hobby here too 🙂

  37. Amber S

    I’m a picky eater so I stick with what I know. My husband on the other hand will try anything…except raw oysters…which I actually do like, LOL

  38. limecello

    My favorite dish? Um… I guess my mom’s spring rolls – not the Vietnamese ones, but more like egg rolls but of course with the thinner spring roll wrappers (not clear). They’re crispy. 😛 Otherwise I’m really fond of chicken piccata. Or… ok desserts. Those are my biggest weakness.
    As for who would win between Ramsay and Deen? I’d have to say Ramsay. Come on now! Foodwise, it’s not contest. Personality wise though, Paula would for sure win over the crowd more.
    And Louisa… you do *not* want to eat durian. Blech. 😛

  39. Louisa Edwards

    Alana – I totally agree; so hard to balance, sometimes!

    Tessa K – Thank you so much!! I’m really glad you enjoyed OtSS. And I do the same thing, go in phases with my favorites. Especially when I learn a new technique–my husband is sweet enough not to complain when we have crepes with different fillings every night for two weeks!

    Stephanie – Hey, as long as you make time to read, I won’t complain. ; ) Culinary romances can be fantasy fulfillment in all sorts of ways…

    Quilt Lady – Boo to picky eaters! The scourge of a good cook. Sorry you have to censor your culinary creativity. : ( At least you can always escape into a good culinary romance!

    Lindy – Ooooh, cassoulet! Especially with the magic words “my husband’s”…I adore it when my husband cooks! Of course, it’s no big surprise I think a man in the kitchen is sexy as heck! And I love the image of your 5-year-old watching Bobby Flay or something. LOL

  40. Lindy

    I don’t think I can possibly pick one single favorite dish! I’ve been loving two dishes lately: Cast Iron Paprika Chicken (easy, cheap & delicious), and my husband’s special cassoulet. I also have a great chicken taco soup recipe that I can do in the crock pot (crock pots are THE BEST for lazy cooks like me).

    Your book looks fantastic for us foodies. We’re usually tuned into the Food Network more than anything else. Even our 5-year-old likes to watch it. 🙂


  41. Quilt Lady

    I usually stick with something old because I cook for a pickie husband! I love home made chicken and dumplins like my grandmother made. My husband doesn’t eat these either. Sometime I try different thing and he eats them but lets me know he doesn’t like it.

  42. Stephanie

    I love to cook but I never seem to have time. I apparently need to make more because I do love reading romance that contains it.

  43. Tessa K.

    P.S. I loved On The Steamy Side!!

  44. Tessa K.

    I have to say it would depend on my mood, but I am a throw-whatever-you-have-in type of cook, so even my comfort foods are rarely exactly the same. And I love trying new things, so sometimes what I have on hand can be pretty out there. But I live with my sister who is a super picky eater, so I have learned to make some favorites the same over and over – lasagna, gumbo, quinoa salad and biscuits to name a few.

    And I have to go with the others who said Paula would win – never underestimate a Southern woman!

  45. Alana

    I love my old favorites, and so many of my favorites come from my grandmothers kitchens that they take me back to the comfort of home but I am always willing to try something new because if you do not try something new, then how can you learn if you like something.

  46. Louisa Edwards

    Hi guys! Thanks to Romance Junkies for having me here.

    Jim B – I’m so there with you–breakfast is usually my favorite meal of the day!

    Bernie – Isn’t it funny how even talking about food makes you hungry? Mmm, I think it’s lunchtime…

    Little Lamb Lost – I do the same thing at my Thai restaurant! They do a Pad Se-ew that is beyond words.

    Crystal B – Thanks! A good blend of new experiences and comfort food is probably the way to go. : )

    Kathleen – There is something really magical about simple, fresh ingredients cooked perfectly.

    Deb – Wow, homemade noodles is pretty impressive to me! I’m a little afraid of making pasta, I don’t know why. Your family is lucky to have you in the kitchen!

    Rebecca – Oh my gosh, I’m totally going to stalk you until you fork over both those recipes! I love peanuts and chicken together, and I’ve never even heard of Coddle–must. Try. It. Now! And I think you are dead on about Paula and Gordon, on both counts. Good luck in the drawing!

  47. Rebecca

    I used to run my own restaurant, so I love food and cooking. I tend to be a “try something new” kind of person, because I think there’s so much out there that I’ve never tried before. Why waste my time with stuff I know I like.

    But I do have a couple of old go-to recipes that I love. I found a Ras al Hanout peanut chicken stew from North Africa that is phenomenal. I’ve never made it for anyone who didn’t like it, and I always have to say, “I didn’t come up with it… it’s just that good.” The other go-to for me is Coddle. The first time I made it, there were a bunch of college-age guys there to taste it, and I got six marriage proposals! I say, it’s hard to go wrong with so many pork flavors. 🙂

    On a side note, I think Paula Deen would totally with that fight… Gordon Ramsay may talk a big talk, but I don’t think he’d ever hit a woman. Plus, Paul’s scrappy.

    I adore foodie novels, so I will definitely be checking yours out! (Of course, I hope I win it… but even if I don’t, I’ll still check it out.)

    Great post!

  48. Deb

    Hi, Louisa. I used to enjoy cooking and trying out recipes, but now as a mom, I don’t have as much time as before.

    I make homemade noodles and put them with beef or chicken and they are always a hit at our house. I also make a simple hamburger-rice casserole that is filling and a fave in our house. For the most part, I am a basic cook because we are a meat-and-potatoes-corn-greenbeans family. 🙂

    I do remember some advice my mom gave me once about new recipes: your basic church or community cookbook is a good thing because the recipes are tried and true and the ingredients are standards that are available.

  49. Kathleen

    I am not a very at trying new things.. espesically when it come to food.. I don’t like a lot of spicy foods, although I do like flavour in my food.. I think food taste good if it is cooked right. Doesn’t need a lot to add to it. So I would have to go with the Paula Deen type of cooking. Besides I thnk you can get people to do things your way without bulling them… Never liked Gordon Ramasy..

  50. Crystal B.

    Hi Louisa. I am always willing to try a new recipe if it sounds good to me. I also love comfort foods. Your books sound great. 🙂

  51. Little Lamb Lost

    I love food and enjoy trying dishes I don’t know. That said, it is very hard for me to go to one particular Thai restaurant nearby where I live and not order their Green Curry Chicken and steamed rice. They do that dish so well that I am reluctant to miss out on the opportunity to have it as opposed to attempting other dishes that they serve. Mind you, I don’t eat out often so when I do I am hoping to truly adore what it is that I order.

  52. Bernie

    Comfort food for me is quite simple sitting at my mom’s house and having her make me oatmeal,toast and hot coco I have had this mostly every day growing up. Even though I am 53 years young and raised 2 children this makes me smile.
    My favorite meal is fried chicken,potato salad and chocolate cake. O boy I am hungry it’s 7:15am here in Alabama. Everyone have a good Day!
    Bernie BTS1957

  53. Jim B

    I am more than willing to try new, I love to create in the kitchen, but probably my favorite meal is the simple potatoes, eggs and toast (w/homemade Jam) for breakfast.

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