Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Samantha Vérant Interview - The Secret French Recipes of Sophie Valroux

Photo Content from Samantha Vérant 

Samantha Vérant is a travel addict, a self-professed oenophile, and a determined, if occasionally unconventional, at home French chef. She lives in southwestern France, where she's married to a sexy French rocket scientist she met in 1989 (but ignored for twenty years), a stepmom to two incredible kids, and the adoptive mother to a ridiculously adorable French cat. When she’s not trekking from Provence to the Pyrénées or embracing her inner Julia Child, Sam is making her best effort to relearn those dreaded conjugations.


From a high-stress kitchen in New York to a château southwestern France, the recipe for THE SECRET FRENCH RECIPES OF SOPHIE VALROUX combines many ingredients to create a multi-layered and well-seasoned story:
– Misogyny in the kitchen
– Finding inner strength and self-belief
– Family secrets
– The magic of food and how it brings people together
– Love, loss, and forgiveness
– Rising from the ashes of destruction
– Believing in dreams and fighting for them
– A second chance romance/second chance at life
– The power of a grandmother’s love

Before I wrote the book, I embarked on, what I’ll call, the research train. I attended cooking demonstrations– one a Michelin 2-star in southwestern France, the other a class led by two Le Cordon Bleu chefs in Paris. I read books written by chefs–Eric Ripert, Anthony Bourdain, Gabrielle Hamilton, Ruth Reichl, Julie Child–and every “foodie” fiction book at market. I watched every episode of Chef's Table on NetFlix– as well as movies like the 100 Foot Journey (the book, of which, I also read), and French series/movies such as Chefs and Oui Chef. I cooked "French" and experimented in my little French kitchen.

Admittedly, the research was fun, tasty, and informative.

What inspired you to pen your new novel?
Sometime in 2016, I read an article highlighting the fact that only one percent of female chefs were Michelin starred, which didn’t sit well by me and immediately prompted the research for THE SECRET FRENCH RECIPES OF SOPHIE VALROUX. As I wrote the first draft, along with all of the research, my love of cooking, my family, and my life in southwestern France also provided divine (and very tasty) inspiration.

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
I’ve been an avid reader since the age of three. With that said, I can thank both of my parents for my love of books. They taught me how books have the power to transport you to place and time and how they fuel the imagination.

  • 1. You can escape to southwestern France without leaving your house. An armchair travel read–no masks are required.
  • 2. You enjoy stories about women who crash and burn…but then crawl out of the ashes fierce and victorious.
  • 3. There is a slow burn romance with a sexy Frenchman. (Rémi might become your new book boyfriend).
  • 4. You like cheese, wine, and French food. Note: Don’t read this book hungry.
  • 5. You believe in fighting for dreams.
  • 6. You find family secrets fascinating, especially when the truth comes out.
  • 7. You like stories about family and friendship.
  • 8. You secretly want to move to France.
  • 9. You’ve always wanted to run a kitchen or a château in wine country.
  • 10. Recipes are included.
Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Making connecting with readers and other authors!

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
In addition to the magic of food and how delicious food bring friends and family together, I hope readers think about the many different layers of the story– how we have fight for our dreams, how women have to overcome obstacles in a male dominated industry, how we can rise up from failure to success, and how sometimes we find our strength when the right people surround us, supporting us with love, even when we think we don’t need it.

What part of Sophie did you enjoy writing the most?
In writing Sophie, I was able to live out a few fantasies– like being a professional chef and running a château. (As for the latter, after much research, I’d settle on a much, much smaller manor! One can dream!) I also liked exploring how a person can be resilient and rise from the ashes after they hit rock bottom. Finally, I love sharing information about my area of France with other people. After all, there’s more to France than just Paris.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I think Sophie and Lou from Amy E. Reichert’s THE COINCIDENCE OF COCONUT CAKE would get along famously as they have much in common. They both suffer damages to their cooking careers. They both cook French cuisine. They both work hard and fight for their beliefs and goals. And they both have cheating, scumbag ex-boyfriends.

What was the best memory you ever had as a writer?
Getting a book out there is such a long process, so I’d have to say receiving the book from my publisher and finally seeing the finished product on bookstore shelves! It makes all the effort–the blood, sweat, and tears–worth the wait.

THE SECRET FRENCH RECIPES OF SOPHIE VALROUX is about a disgraced chef who rediscovers her passion for food and her roots in a novel rich in culture and full of delectable recipes.

French-born American chef Sophie Valroux had one dream: to be part of the 1% of female chefs running a Michelin-starred restaurant. From spending summers with her grandmother, who taught her the power of cooking and food, to attending the Culinary Institute of America, Sophie finds herself on the cusp of getting everything she's dreamed of.

Until her career goes up in flames.

Sabotaged by a fellow chef, Sophie is fired, leaving her reputation ruined and confidence shaken. To add fuel to the fire, Sophie learns that her grandmother has suffered a stroke and takes the red-eye to France. There, Sophie discovers the simple home she remembers from her childhood is now a luxurious château, complete with two restaurants and a vineyard. As Sophie tries to reestablish herself in the kitchen, she comes to understand the lengths people will go to for success and love, and how dreams can change.


“Verant’s sparkling debut novel…[and] enticing culinary tale will appeal to romance fans and foodies alike.” —Publishers Weekly

“Verant transports us to the enchanting setting of Southern France and the magic of an exquisite French kitchen. This delectable novel is pure escapism through the delicious dishes made by chef Sophie’s expert hands, the romance involving a childhood friend, and the splendor of France. Verant’s amazing recipes are included as the perfect companion to this tasty debut.” —Roselle Lim, author of Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune

“A passion for all things gourmet leaps off the page in Samantha Verant’s newest novel. Told from the perspective of a determined female chef, set amid a beautiful French backdrop, The Secret French Recipes of Sophie Valroux is a delicious tale of self-discovery. Thoroughly enjoyable!” —Nicole Meier, author of The Second Chance Supper Club

“Indulge in the delicious story of a professional chef, spiced with a French château and sweetened with a love story. A charming read.” —Janice MacLeod, author of New York Times bestsellers Paris Letters and A Paris Year

“Samantha Vérant brings her love of France and food to this vibrant, gratifying book. The recipes and characters leap off the page and Vérant deftly appeals to all five senses, as well as the heart. A perfect novel for anyone who enjoys good food and a great tale.” —Michelle Gable, New York Times bestselling author of A Paris Apartment and The Summer I Met Jack

“Told with pep and so-vivid-you-can-taste-it food descriptions, The Secret French Recipes of Sophie Valroux is a sumptuous, transporting read from start to finish. What a pleasure to follow Sophie’s journey, one of love, family, and confidence lost—and found—through food.” —Jessica Tom, author of Food Whore: A Novel of Dining & Deceit

“The Secret French Recipes of Sophie Valroux is a scrumptious novel about family, love, and food, layered like the very best dishes, each bite revealing another luscious note. If you love fiction and food, Samantha Verant serves it up right.” —Amy E. Reichert, author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake

“I savored every page of The Secret French Recipes of Sophie Valroux. Join a ‘ruined’ chef as she rebuilds her life at an ancestral chateau, rekindles an old romance, and, of course, labors in the grand kitchens where aspirations are fostered and dreams brought to fruition. With an ear for language, evocative sensory details, and delectable recipes, Samantha Verant invites us to take our seat at the table and relish a delicious sojourn in the south of France. And just remember: never trust a skinny chef.” —Juliet Blackwell, New York Times bestselling author of The Vineyards of Champagne

“Featuring an ambitious young chef, an elegant château, and the enduring charm of the French countryside, The Secret French Recipes of Sophie Valroux is the perfect escape! Pour yourself a glass of wine, put on a Charles Trenet album, pick up this book, and you’re there…” —Ann Mah, USA Today bestselling author of The Lost Vintage

You can purchase The Secret French Recipes of Sophie Valroux at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you SAMANTHA VÉRANT for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of The Secret French Recipes of Sophie Valroux by Samantha Verant.


  1. I flew to San Diego to meet my Marine pen pal. He escorted me to a poetry convention.

  2. My first airplane ride was to San Diego where my husband was stationed before he was sent to VietNam

  3. My cousin flew his mother and myself to Corpus Christi, Texas.

  4. I can’t remember. It’s been way too long ago.