Topped Chef“Four little judges, judging for TV. One swinging from the mast, and then there were three. Three little judges, tasting wine and roux. One couldn’t swim, and then there were two. . .” TOPPED CHEF

I should be honest with you right? Here’s the truth: My writer doesn’t know the first thing about reality TV. She doesn’t watch SURVIVOR or DANCING WITH THE STARS or even TOP CHEF. (At least my mother and I enjoy cooking shows like Emeril and Paula Deen and Rachel Ray–second guessing the cooking stars is a blood sport in my family.) Anyway, where in the world she got the idea that I should be a judge for the Key West Topped Chef contest, I will never know.

I am crazy about my job as food critic for Key Zest magazine. Eating at Key West restaurants and talking and writing about their food–for me, this is a dream come true. And it took a lot to land this gig–given that one of the co-owners hates my guts. So when my boss, Wally (yes, him of the nerdy glasses, yellow palm tree shirt, and adorable dimples), mentioned that he’d signed me up as a last-minute judge, what could I do but swallow hard and march forward? And, as I told myself, what could be so hard about tasting food and saying what you like and why?

But until my writer got the bright idea of talking with someone who actually works in the biz, I had no idea that the TV staff is always trying to push the poor contestants to the brink. They spot a little conflict between chefs or judges, for example, and turn up the heat. Get them talking about each other or confessing little weaknesses–and then they find out the cameras have been running the whole time. And sometimes the staff has even picked out the winner before the show starts. Of course this kind of favoritism is revealed in how they treat the contestants. As you can imagine, the bad feelings snowball. . .

The one thing none of us anticipated was that the TV show would turn murderous. Go ahead and ask the question you’re thinking: Why can’t you just stay out of it Hayley Snow? Here’s why: Because I could be the next victim–and the cops don’t seem to be taking the situation that seriously. Fingers crossed that I figure all this out before something really tragic happens. . .

Thanks to Penguin, I have one (1) copy of TOPPED CHEF to give away. Leave a comment to be included in the giveaway. The book will be shipped directly from the publisher. Contest ends May 12; US entries only per publisher’s request.

Check out the trailer:

Cozy Mystery Tour is also offering a tour wide giveaway for Kindle books, a Kindle Touch and gift cards. There are four prize packages for authors Victoria Hamilton, Lucy Burdette, Billie Thomas, and Marie Moore. toppedchef
The prizes are –
Prize 1 (US/Canada only) : a Kindle Touch, a $15 giftcard
Prize 2 (International): a Kindle copy of Topped Chef and Bowled Over, a $15 Book Depository giftcard
Prize 3 (International): a Kindle copy of Murder on the First Day of Christmas & Game Drive, a $15 giftcard
Prize 4 (US/Canada): your choice of a cozy mystery paperbacks (up to $25 in value)
Click here to enter for this contest. Giveaway ends on May 15, 2013 at midnight and the winners will be contacted via email.

Meet the author
Lucy Burdette is the author of the Key West food critic mysteries, including An Appetite For Murder and Death In Four Courses ( As Roberta Isleib, she also written the advice column and golf lovers mystery series. Her books and stories have been short-listed for Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

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