Posted On March 11, 2013 by Print This Post

Putting the Heat in the Kitchen: The Scoop on Foodie Romance with Kimberly Kincaid

Kimberly Kincaid is my critique partner and I have to admit that prior to beginning our journey together, I was clueless about foodie romance. yeah, my characters eat – but food and the love of food was never an integral part of the plot. But, Kimberly’s work opened my eyes to just how lyrical and sexy the description and integration of food can be. So, even though I constantly joke with her about health code violations on the kitchen of the intimate kind . . . I’m a convert!

Putting the Heat in the Kitchen and on the Page: The Scoop on Foodie Romance

Some authors have an undying love for crime dramas, and it translates to Headshot Redplot-based, hair-raising romantic suspense novels. Yet others love a blast from the past, immersing themselves in history to pen finely-detailed novels from bygone eras.

Me? I’m passionate about eating. I write foodie romance.

The word “foodie” has come under a lot of fire lately, marking it as pretentious or snobby. But for me, food is love, plain and simple. Having been raised in an Italian-German house (and then married into another one later in life), I live by that mantra. I learned early on how meals aren’t just a dine-and-dash event. They’re evocative, they’re meant to nourish, and come on—they can be totally mouthwatering. Making the translation to romance is pretty easy, if you think about it.

So how can you take your kitchen (or food) scenes and give them the heat of the bedroom? Usually, I start with my character(s). What does s/he like? What suits her personality? Is she a fun-loving tomboy type? Is she a meticulous, by-the-book doctor? This will affect what she chooses to eat (and where!) in a lot of ways, all of which go far in characterizing her without telling. Food doesn’t have to be (forgive the pun) cookie-cutter with regard to a character’s personality. You can show a character’s quirks by breaking outside of what’s expected. But if you want to set the stage with characterization, food is a great place to start.

Once that’s established, I think about all five senses. It helps very much to research your food/dishes first-hand and actually eat as you go. Note how your food looks (we eat with our eyes first—true story!). How might your heroine see it? What are the colors and textures? Comparisons you can make? Then weave in sounds, smells, feel. By the time you get to how it actually tastes, you’ve already got an amazing sensory base. Taste just knocks it home, and it’s a great way to get that deep point of view into a scene. Be the heroine tasting that cheesecake after a breakup. Be the hero taking that first sip of cold water after working all day on a ranch in the blazing sun. Let your readers in!

Since we’ve got the vibe going, taking things from sensory to sexy isn’t a huge leap, and it’s one you’re already primed for. You do not have to rely on the same-old standbys to make food sexy. Yes, chocolate covered-strawberries can be sexy, and more yes, they’re delicious and provocative in their own right. But think outside the box to what will turn each specific character on. In my novella, Love On The Line, the hero makes boxed spaghetti and sauce from a jar for the heroine for their dinner date. Despite the fact that she is a chef with lots of training, she finds this incredibly sexy because the hero knows food is the way to her heart, and in his own way, he’s trying to get there. Would we normally think of spaghetti as sexy? Maybe not. But that scene ends in the bedroom, and it all started with that dinner.

All in all, food and cooking can add a level of richness to our writing that might surprise us. You don’t have to be a whiz in the kitchen to do it, or write about chefs, either. All characters eat, as do all authors. Take what you love and transplant it into your scenes. It just might amp up your heat…in the kitchen and on the page!

***

Do you read or write foodie romance?  How do you incorporate food into your books?

Alex Kidwell returns to talk about what it’s like to write a book solo instead of part of a co-writing team.

***

Kimberly is giving away an e-copy of her novella, Love on the Line, to a lucky commenter!

Blurb:

Portrait of young attractive happy amorous couple in bedroomViolet Morgan puts the personal in personal chef, catering to clients who want the full cooking experience rather than a culinary drop-and-dash. But when her brother’s police detective partner is injured in the line of duty and needs help during recovery, she makes an exception. Violet lost her father to the job seven years ago, and worries for her brother’s safety every day. The last thing she wants is to get up-close with her brother’s career-cop partner…again.
For Noah Blackwell, being a detective isn’t just a lifestyle, it’s a legacy. So when he’s forced to take mandatory leave and deal with the trauma amnesia keeping him from identifying his shooter, it’s a literal case of adding insult to injury— and now he’s got to deal with an unwanted culinary caregiver on top of it. Never mind that he and Violet shared a steamy, secret kiss last New Year’s Eve. She rejects everything related to the job, and Noah’s not about to be distracted from recovering his memory and getting back to what he does best. No matter how pretty Violet is.
Despite their differences, Violet and Noah share a surprising bond in the kitchen that grows into something neither of them expect. But as Noah heals and their feelings for each other extend from the kitchen to the bedroom, Violet knows she must make an impossible choice. She may wear her heart on her sleeve when it comes to food, but can she risk it all to put love on the line?

Bio:

Kimberly Kincaid writes contemporary romance that splits the difference between sexy and sweet. When she’s not sitting cross-legged in an ancient desk chair known as “The Pleather Bomber”, she can be found practicing obscene amounts of yoga, whipping up anything from enchiladas to éclairs in her kitchen, or curled up with her nose in a book. Kimberly is a 2011 RWA Golden Heart® finalist who lives (and writes!) by the mantra that food is love. She is thrilled to have collaborated on a Christmas anthology with Donna Kauffman and Kate Angell, titled The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap, to kick off her Pine Mountain foodie series with Kensington this October. Her first full-length novel, Turn Up the Heat, will follow in February 2014. Kimberly resides in northern Virginia with her wildly patient husband and their three daughters. Visit her any time at www.kimberlykincaid.com or come check her out on Facebook and Twitter.

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28 Responses to “Putting the Heat in the Kitchen: The Scoop on Foodie Romance with Kimberly Kincaid”

  1. Kimberly – Thanks for being with us today! What has been your favorite research opportunity?

    Posted by Robin Covington | March 11, 2013, 5:52 am
  2. I’ve had lots (and some not-so-good…I try everything I write about, and in my second Pine Mountain book, my chef heroine talks about a traditional Italian dish with tripe. Let’s just say it’s not my favorite!) All of the dishes in Love On The Line, my latest novella, are of the mouth-watering variety :) So I’ll go with the chicken and dumplings (recipe is in the back of the book!) My family loves it on a cold day, and I thought it was the perfect comfort food for the hero, Noah, and the heroine, Violet, to share.

    Posted by Kimberly Kincaid | March 11, 2013, 6:03 am
  3. Reading you (be it blog posts or your stories) always makes me hungry, Kimberly Kincaid! I can’t decide whether that makes me love you or hate you. :)

    Posted by Jennifer McQuiston | March 11, 2013, 6:12 am
  4. The way a character (or a real person, for that matter) thinks about food reveals a lot about their personality, and Kimberly, you are the master at using this as a tool to develop the story!!

    Posted by Tracy Brogan | March 11, 2013, 6:31 am
  5. Hi Kimberly,

    Food is a constant. Everyone has to eat. Bringing characters together to break bread is ritual and routine. I’m not a good cook, but researching meals is fun. Although I think the pictures on Food Network’s website are airbrushed.

    Mary Jo

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | March 11, 2013, 7:00 am
    • Hi Mary Jo! I definitely don’t think you have to be a good cook to use food in your writing (or to be in a foodie romance novel– my hero in Love On The Line doesn’t cook at all until my heroine gets to him!) Even as an avid cook, there are some things I botch, too ;) And it’s rare that my food comes out looking as pretty as Giada’s or Rachael Ray’s, so you may be onto something there…

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Posted by Kimberly Kincaid | March 11, 2013, 7:15 am
  6. Morning Kimberly!

    I definitely fit in the “not a good cook” category. I do pretty well with rice krispie bars tho……=)

    I like that you can bring all the senses in to play when you’ve got a scene in the kitchen or in a restaurant. Even if it’s just a family get-together rather than a romance scene, it still becomes a lot more visceral with food!

    Thanks for a fun post!

    carrie

    Posted by Carrie Spencer | March 11, 2013, 9:34 am
    • Hi Carrie! It’s one of my favorite ways to put your reader right there with whoever’s in the scene– I feed ‘em! And yes, you can use it in any type of scene. And no, you don’t have to be a good cook off the page ;)

      Thanks for popping over!

      Posted by Kimberly Kincaid | March 11, 2013, 12:18 pm
  7. Hi Kimberly,
    Great article! I write foodie romance, too, though I wish I had more time to cook. I love using food to create intimacy. I often find that people start opening up and spilling secrets while they’re digging into pasta or clashing forks over that chocolate mousse.

    Posted by Kate Meader | March 11, 2013, 11:07 am
  8. Nice to meet you Kimberly! Your novel has two of my favorite things…..a chef and a cop! My husband and my best friend have a small personal catering business, and I’m the ” cleaner upper”. I love to watch them and my husband is the ” presentation is everything” kind of guy. We hardly go out to eat anymore, much more fun to let them cook!
    We have another thing in common, we lived in No. Va. for 30 plus years! Retired and moved to N.C. six years ago. Miss my friends, but NOT traffic or snow! Looking forward to reading Love on the Line, and what you have coming up next! Thanks to Robin for the intro!!!!

    Posted by Pat F. | March 11, 2013, 11:26 am
    • Great to meet you, Pat! I thought Violet, my heroine chef, would be very well-balanced (and okay, a bit undone) by rough, gruff Noah and his cop-like ways. They embody the opposites attract trope, but they’re kindred spirits deep down too. Hope you enjoy them!

      And yeah. We still have the traffic here in NoVA :)

      Posted by Kimberly Kincaid | March 11, 2013, 12:22 pm
  9. It’s funny, I never thought about “foodie romance” as a sub-genre until I (purely by accident) read several food-related romances in a row about a year ago. They were all really good books – some authors can write about food in a very sensuous way, so it’s perfectly suited for a romance. I’m more likely to write a suspense-driven romance, but I do like to READ foodie romances! Thanks for a thought-provoking blog!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | March 11, 2013, 1:44 pm
    • My pleasure, Becke! I do have a little bit of mystery in Love On The Line, although there’s more food than suspense. I’m currently writing a companion novella (with Violet’s brother, Detective Jason Morgan as the hero) that is still a foodie novella, but with a bit more suspense. It’s been an interesting balance so far! Thanks for stopping over to say hi.

      Posted by Kimberly Kincaid | March 11, 2013, 3:14 pm
  10. Hi Kimberly!

    Great to have you back. After reading your post, I immediately thought of a John Grisham book set in Italy. There was lots of food, and I wanted pasta!

    I think food is a necessary element in a story. It’s sensual and evocative and makes for great analogies.

    A character’s food likes/dislikes is a story in itself. Maybe the heroine hates peanut butter because she grew up poor and her family subsisted on P&J sandwiches.

    Everyone has a relationship with food, and that gives a writer another opportunity to flush out the character.

    A CIA-trained chef who turns out 200 covers a night at a fancy restaurant may wind down with a glass of milk and a Hostess Sno Ball because it was her go to comfort food as a kid.

    Thanks for being with us today!

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | March 11, 2013, 3:58 pm
    • My pleasure! And I loved that John Grisham book ;)

      I think food relationships are as crucial as food descriptions. You’re so right– having your heroine hate peanut butter is a spot-on characterization, and it doesn’t “tell” a thing. Love it!

      Thanks for sharing RU with me :)

      Posted by Kimberly Kincaid | March 11, 2013, 7:22 pm
  11. Hi Kimberly! I wouldn’t say I’m a foodie, though I love to eat. I have used food in my stories to show character (I think it’s hot when a hero feeds a heroine. Wishing much?).

    One book I think about in this context is Nora Roberts’ Holding The Dream. At the start of the book the heorine is an antacid popping ball of stress. By the end she and the hero are cooking healthy meals together. And yes, getting up to fun times in the kitchen. Roberts uses the heroine’s relationship to food as part of her growth arc and it really is fabulous.

    No need to put me in the drawing, I already own Love on the Line and can’t wait to read it!

    Posted by Keely | March 11, 2013, 4:17 pm
    • Hey Keely! I think loving food makes a foodie (the cooking is a bonus), so I say yes to you being a foodie :) Isn’t it cool how context can change with character arc? My characters tend to do this too, especially the heroine in my WIP. Wow, does she learn a lot about life through cooking. It’s part of the journey, I think.

      Enjoy Violet and Noah! Just don’t read hungry…

      Posted by Kimberly Kincaid | March 11, 2013, 7:26 pm
  12. Hi Kimberly!
    Gosh, I’m so glad foodie romances are becoming so popular. I think there’s nothing hotter than two people cooking for each other. And it has to do with wanting to nourish and nurture each other.
    I use food a lot in my books, food is such a great way to show culture. My characters have kebab eating contests and samosa-making face-offs. And everyone is perpetually drinking hot spiced chai.
    Good luck with your books, I can’t wait to ‘dig into’ them!

    :)
    Sonali

    Posted by Sonali Dev | March 11, 2013, 4:37 pm
    • You had me at chai! It’s my hands-down favorite. And I *love* the cultural aspect of food in literature. Many of my characters are Italian, and the rustic food and wine of the different regions make it into my books quite often. It’s such a lovely way to bring culture and tradition into writing, especially since it sometimes falls by the wayside off the page.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Posted by Kimberly Kincaid | March 11, 2013, 7:24 pm
  13. I love to write and read scenes involving food.

    Food is such a big part of our lives. Maybe because I have a husband and two sons somebody is always hungry. We grow closer to each other sitting around the dinner table. I think our characters can fall in love over a great meal.

    Loved your post today.

    Thanks!

    Posted by Jackie Layton | March 11, 2013, 6:41 pm
  14. Hey Kimberly!
    I love, love, love to write foodie romances!
    My favorite kind of scene is with a heroine who needs has been starved emotionally and a hot hero feeds her soul when he is literally feeding her. You know what I mean?
    I don’t think I can help but write these kind of stories (what with Cupcake Wars and Chopped filling up my DVR)
    Thanks for doing such a great job introducing some new people to our genre!
    –A

    Posted by Amy Denim (@AmyDenim) | March 11, 2013, 8:51 pm
    • My pleasure, and it’s so nice to see a fellow foodie writer! I do gain a lot from food on TV (the Food Network and I are reallllly good friends) but I am also old school. Every month, when my Bon Appetit and Food and Wine magazines arrive, I squeal a little bit :)My idea board is usually full of really pretty pictures from those magazines.

      Thanks for coming by to say hi! Hope you enjoy Love On The Line!

      Posted by Kimberly Kincaid | March 12, 2013, 5:43 am
  15. Great post! I have a few kitchen scenes in my novel. One of my secondary characters is a foodie and I gave him POV when he kisses the MC just to get the kind of senses you talked about. Plus, the way the characters interact in the kitchen shows the depths of their relationships. One guy cooks for my MC, the other cooks with her.

    Posted by Patricia Moussatche | March 12, 2013, 10:29 am
  16. Pat F. – you are the winner of the e-novella! Contact me at robincovingtonromance@yahoo.com.

    Congrats!

    Posted by Robin Covington | March 15, 2013, 7:27 pm

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