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There has rarely been a better time for a book like this. I don’t normally use my blog to talk about books that you really should read. My focus is to pay respect to cooks and chefs, restaurateurs and servers, culinary students and instructors, and all who have made the choice to spend time in the kitchen. This book is one of those exceptions because it talks to each of those audiences and even those who may not decide to spend the better portion of their lives cooking for others, but who are moved by stories of those who have found their passion, overcome obstacles, and who have learned that hard work, determination, dedication, and love of life can help to bring out the best in people who may be lost at times.

I have worked in kitchens since I was 15 years old. Fifty years later I give thanks every day for the opportunities that this environment and the people who work in it have provided me. The Recipe is a story so well told, a story that could easily be about me (instead of Owen, the main character) and countless others who took the correct turn in life through the encouragement and example of another person and who found their passion as a result.

I love to read stories of personal triumph, stories that show how people can rise above and sometimes claw their way out of a dark corner and find the light that will shine bright for themselves and those around them. I am always seeking those stories that can provide hope, stir up positive emotions, and make you feel as though the experience of the characters is somehow connected to the reader. The Recipe is such a story.

I had the privilege of being one of the advance readers of this book. A dear friend, accomplished chef, dedicated supporter of what is right, and role model for many is one of the authors. This is his story and the story of those with whom he has worked with and for, this is a story about life, not just life in the kitchen. When we caught up after reading his draft I started our conversation by saying this: “I want to tell you that this book is not good.” I paused for him to catch his breath and wonder about his ability to tell a story. I continued: “This book is great! It is a story worthy of the best storytellers, a book that everyone should read, a book for all of us, a book that can help people who need to choose that right turn in the road.” I loved this book.

When asked to say something to my readers about The Recipe, I agreed as long as I could interview the two authors whom I sincerely respect and admire. In this process I not only discovered how the partnership of JD Mann and Charles Carroll came to be, but also dug a little bit into what makes each person tick – they are so different and so much the same.

John David Mann is an accomplished inspirational author with numerous books that found a home on the NY Times Bestseller list. He writes, as he states in his own words: “In everything I write, from book to blog post, my goal is to be genuinely, deeply inspirational. The secret to achieving that, I think, is to be authentic and deeply human.” His sincere commitment to write in this compelling fashion and through the process of storytelling – helping people to discover themselves and others was reflected in his apparent love of cooking and how those who cook for a living can feel inspired and inspire others. He stated: “Cooking is like painting, martial arts, dance, and poetry: you can’t fake it. Who you are gets revealed. It might seem like a place you can hide – just follow instructions and do what the chef tells you – but it turns out, that isn’t so.”

He chose to work with Chef Carroll on this novel because he felt a kinship of spirit, a shared integrity and commitment to giving back that was compelling. It was his feeling that the story of Owen was the story of many young people who need a little guidance, a mentor, a purpose, and a passion. JD Mann felt strongly that Chef Carroll was the story and together they could weave it into the type of inspirational piece that might actually help others. “I always knew, intuitively and vaguely, that cooking was a metaphor for living in many ways, but had never really sat down (before) to parse through exactly how. “ He saw through the collaborative writing of this book that the “rules of the kitchen” that all cooks and chefs understand could reveal themselves to be a “recipe for living”.

Chef Charles Carroll, is to me, the consummate example of who and what a chef can and should be. He has been a friend and colleague for more than 25 years and during that time I have truly admired his skill, dedication, work ethic, ability to run a professional and highly disciplined kitchen while instilling a sense of pride and team among all who work with him in this process. At the same time he gives freely of himself to worthy causes – most recently helping our troops in Afghanistan through his Operational Hot (http://chefcharlescarroll.com/operation-hot/) and remains a wonderful family man. I have tried to model my professional and personal life after Charles and consider him a role model. It is fitting that his third book is a story to inspire others inside and outside of the restaurant business.


When interviewed, Chef Charles stated: “I get emotional when I read this book and I know what is going to happen! It was important to me to take the reader on an emotional roller coaster ride. I wanted to touch everyone’s heart while sharing beautiful life lessons through food and I think we did it. John and I made a great team.”

When young Owen is faced with personal tragedy and stands on the precipice of making poor life decisions he steps into the shoes of a chef who would become his life mentor and culinary teacher. It was this casual and unintentional step in a new direction that may have saved Owen’s quality of life and certainly set the course for his future career in food. How many of us have come to this same type of crossroad in our lives? When reading this, many of you will say: “But for the grace of God I could have taken the wrong path”? How many of you know that it was a parent, sibling, relative, friend, teacher or chef who put their hand out, made eye contact and said “Follow me this way and you won’t regret it”? This is what The Recipe is all about.

The Recipe will be available in October of 2017. I encourage you to pre-order your copy today and set aside the time to walk in Owen’s shoes – you won’t regret it. This is a book for chefs, cooks, culinary enthusiasts, students, and those who are seeking a taste of inspiration. Click on this link to pre-order your copy today:

THE RECIPE: www.TheIngredientsofGreatness.com



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For more information about Chef Charles Carroll, check out his website at:


For a deeper understanding of John David Mann, the writer, click on this link to his author page: