Murder on the Red CarpetYou’d think working with movie stars every day would be a glamorous gig. And sometimes it is, like when I get invited to a wrap party or as a plus one to a movie premiere. But most of the time my job is hard work. I’m the owner and head chef of Red Carpet Catering, and I work behind the scenes cooking on movie sets. My team is responsible for providing every meal during filming, which boils down to many more long days on my feet and dirty dishes to wash than glamorous nights out on the town.

Don’t get me wrong, my job definitely has its perks. Every day brings new challenges and a sense of adventure. It’s hard to get bored in my particular line of work, because no two days are ever the same. I never know where we’re going to end up, but I do know that I have to take my kitchen with me wherever the party goes.

Take today for example. My crew of four chefs packed up our three mobile kitchen trucks before dawn and drove to a busy downtown street corner where the day’s filming will take place. Three hundred cast, crew members, executives and extras will be expecting lunch and dinner, fresh, hot and on time, so we have a long day ahead of us. We have to prep, cook, and plate the food, serve lunch, clear everything down, clean everything up, and then repeat the entire process for the dinner rush. So we’ll be out here working for fifteen hours at least, more if the filming goes into overtime. Hopefully the movie crew will get the scene shot that they need today. Otherwise we’ll be back here again tomorrow, déjà vu all over again, except we will offer different menu choices.

I do enjoy watching the sunrise in the mornings when we begin our early days. My crew is up and working, chopping vegetables and portioning out proteins when most people still have hours left to sleep, or when some more ambitious club-goers are making their way home from a late night out. But you get used to working the long days, cooking in all types of weather and in different locations. That’s where the adventure comes in.

After lunch, I take a walk down to the corner and watch the crew roll through a scene on the sidewalk. Three cameras are pointed at my best friend and roommate, Arlena Madison and her handsome co-star, Sam Cavanaugh, as they walk slowly down the street, reciting their lines. They’ve proven to have great chemistry, both on screen and off. Sam has been spending a lot of time at our house the past couple of weeks. I hope for Arlena’s sake the relationship lasts after the cameras stop rolling. She’s fallen hard for Sam already.

Watching Arlena and Sam, I wonder if I would have time for a relationship. I’m never quite sure how Joey Baglioni, a childhood friend of mine who is now a police detective, feels about me. There was always something special about Joey…he sure has turned out well since those awkward grade school days. The fact that we’ve just reconnected while he’s investigating a murder that might involve Arlena’s famous family puts us in an awkward position. Like Sam and Arlena, I wonder if Joey and I will have anything to talk about if and when the murder of Holly Anderson is solved.

I should probably just focus on work. Heaven knows it’s hard enough to find the time to date someone when you have a regular job, much less when you have a job that barely leaves you enough time to get a few hours of sleep between shifts. But then again, a day off with Joey would really be nice…

Time to head back to the trucks. Dinner has to be ready soon.


You can read more about Penelope in Murder on the Red Carpet, the first book in the “Red Carpet Catering” mystery series, published by Lit Girl Publishing. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

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Comment on this post by 6 p.m. EST on April 26, and you will be entered for a chance to win a digital copy of MURDER ON THE RED CARPET. One winner will be chosen at random.

Meet the author
Shawn Reilly Simmons was born in Indiana, grew up in Florida, and began her professional career in New York and ShawnNew Jersey after graduating from the University of Maryland with a BA in English. Over the years, Shawn has been a sales executive, book store manager, fiction editor, convention organizer, and a caterer. In 2006 she worked with the catering crew on a major motion picture that filmed in the DC area, which perfectly combined two of her great loves, movies and food. Shawn currently resides in Maryland with her husband, son and two English Bulldogs. Murder on the Red Carpet is her first novel.

If you’re a mystery fan you might know me from my work with the Malice Domestic mystery convention. I’ve been either a Board Member or a Committee Chair for the past 11 years working in Public Relations and Registrations.

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