Friday, November 5, 2010

From Synopsis

When Belle Lee, a vivacious, tart-tongued daughter of Mobile, Alabama, decides that the only way she'll ever make a name for herself as a journalist is to leave the family paper and head to New York,she soon realizes just how daunting life in the big city can be. An outsider desperate to carve a place for herself in the cutthroat world of New York journalism, Belle marches all over town in her kitten heels and her single Chloé suit to hand-deliver résumés and smiles, and to beg for a job from the indifferent or downright hostile office drones.

She refuses to give up. With heroic persistence,a wicked sense of humor and a taste for the gourmet, Belle sees what it takes to become a New Yorker. She flirts with a gorgeous young man on the subway, only to learn later that he's stolen her purse; braves the judgmental stares of her neighbors; goes on a series of hilariously disastrous dates and then, finally, she catches her big break: a job as a production assistant at a conservative twenty-four-hour news network.

Belle throws herself into her work, sure that her talents will be noticed. All the while, she suffers the sexually suggestive commentary of one of the station's better-known male anchors, doggedly fetches scripts and pulls footage in the wee hours of the morning while working the midnight shift. Belle even maintains her Southern charm, baking cakes for her coworkers and befriending the office security guard.

Things start to look up when Paige Beaumont, the channel's star female news anchor, takes Belle under her wing. Paige shows Belle the ropes, dispenses career advice, includes her in the office gossip and also sets her up on dates at restaurantswhere, before, Belle had only dreamed of one day being inside. But when Belle uncovers the truth behind an illegal network deal that may jeopardize the election of female presidential candidate Jessica Clayton, she realizes that intelligent and ambitious women need to stick together -- and she has no choice but to take matters into her own hands.

With thirty recipes for everything from Bribe-Your-Coworkers Pound Cake to Single-Girl Sustenance and how to make the perfect Manhattan -- all told in the delightful and plucky voice of a determined and saucy young woman -- Belle in the Big Apple is about finding love in the most unlikely places, following your dreams and staying true to yourself.

Monday, November 1, 2010

From Publishers Weekly

Parkhurst, former blogger and media gossip staple turned Web-and-TV culinary personality, brings considerable Southern charm and sass (plus some mouth-watering recipes) to her chick lit debut, but there's no mistaking the revenge fantasy at the heart of this tale of struggle and success. The former Fox News Channel correspondent plunks her Mobile, Ala., debutante narrator, Belle Lee, at a smarmy news network, where she begins her rise to the media heap from the very bottom. Determined not to be trampled, Belle turns supersleuth and discovers the sticky political web woven by her American News Channel bosses and uses the goods as leverage to get her own pieces on air. "Even if I had to work for horn dogs and thieves... I would produce a piece that would get me a job as a 'real' journalist," Belle vows in a "never go hungry again" moment.

Predictably, Belle breaks out from under the bad guys and shifts her professional focus to something more heartfelt. There aren't any surprises, but the tartly told story is a genuine guilty pleasure.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


I guess I should call my piece in Taste of the South magazine, ”S’mores Through The Ages.” How else could I explain the melty, warm chocolate sandwich’s appearance and re-appearance in my life?

Hop over to Whole Foods or Barnes & Noble to check out my piece and the insanely delicious-looking recipes. I’m thinking of trying the Peanut Butter S’more Cookie Sandwiches (dipped in chocolate!) this weekend…

Monday, June 15, 2009

Alumni Profile - John Cabot University

Brooke Parkhurst
JCU Study Abroad, Fall 2000 and Spring 2001
Author and Culinary Journalist
New York, New York
What brought you to John Cabot University?
At Davidson College, I was majoring in Romance Languages, but I knew that the best way to really learn Italian would be to live in Italy. Among study abroad programs, John Cabot stood out because of its amazing location in the heart of Rome and the fact that Italian students also attended the school. I was on a mission to learn the language, and I loved that I would be able to integrate myself into the city.

What was your career path after graduation?
I moved to New York City at age 22 to follow my interest in television journalism, but quickly realized this wasn’t for me. Since then, I’ve focused on cooking and writing. In 2008, Scribner published my debut book, Belle in the Big Apple, a novel with recipes. I’ve also hosted ABC and the James Beard Foundation’s television and online cooking series, Eat & Greet. In addition to my blog,, I write a couples cooking column for as well as for the Pensacola News Journal.

What about your time at John Cabot shaped you most?
Learning the Italian language and getting to know Italian food culture are things that I still carry with me. Because of my time in Italy, I know how real Italian food tastes and looks. Writing food-centric novels and cookbooks, I draw from my experiences in Italy for almost everything in my professional life.

What are you working on now?
This summer, I'll be busy promoting the paperback edition of Belle in the Big Apple, speaking and doing readings in New York and the Southeast. Belle was recently optioned by a Los Angeles-based producer; we're currently working on adapting it for the small screen, making the book into a television series.

What’s your next project?
Scribner just acquired my and my husband’s first cookbook, Just Married and Cooking. This cookbook for the newly married and kitchen-challenged will hit the shelves in 2011. I’m blessed that my husband, Jamie, is a very talented chef. In addition to appearing on Food Network’s latest primetime hit, Chopped, he’s featured in food and wine festivals around the world. This summer will take us everywhere from Cuba to South Carolina to Ohio. While he’s the professional with the technical expertise, I’m the one who translates that knowledge into recipes that the average home cook can understand.

How did you and your husband meet?
Jamie was my 4th grade camp boyfriend, but we lost touch. One day, fifteen years later, I walked into the Birmingham, Alabama restaurant where he was the chef de cuisine. Inseparable ever since, we were married at Palmetto Bluff in November 2008. Our baby girl, Parker Lee, was born this April.

What do you miss most about Rome?
I love the way that family and friends gather in parks, piazzas, doorways, the street--you name it! I really miss that great sense of community. Now that I’m a mother, I also appreciate how much Italians love their children and are tolerant of babies and kids and the craziness that comes with them. The Romans seem to focus more on family; they spend more time together, enjoy meals together, take care of one another’s children, and know what’s going on in each other’s lives.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?
Within the next two years, we hope to move from New York City to Charleston, South Carolina. It’s a very walkable city full of friendly, warm people. And the local, Lowcountry cuisine is out-of-this-world! In South Carolina you also get to enjoy the four seasons, but with milder winters than we have now in New York City. Charleston reminds me of Rome in so many ways. Rome really was the beginning of so many things for me. I can easily say that it’s influenced every aspect of my life-- even where I will live next and how I want to live my life.

[via John Cabot University]

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Woman's Day Reading List

This autobiographical book tells the story of the beautiful Southern belle from Alabama, Brooke Parkhurst who made her way to the bright lights and big city to pursue her journalism and cooking career. The road wasn’t quite an easy start for this talented and aspiring woman in her 20s. Read along as Brooke experiences the ups and downs of New York City life and brings her Southern charm and recipes along with her too. The story was particularly heartwarming and entertaining, the writing is outstandingly clever, and the recipes are finger lickin’ good. The story will sure hit home for some readers like me, who have made their way north of the Mason Dixon line in search of their dreams.Olivia Putnal.

[via Woman's Day]

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

on [LIFE] Pensacola News Journal

Brooke Parkhurst is really cooking with 'Belle in the Big Apple'

Writer Brooke Parkhurst
Think Paula Deen, Scarlett O'Hara, and - dare we say it -maybe just a hint of Rachael Ray. Brooke Parkhurst, Southern belle, highly energetic cook extraordinaire, and now, first-time novelist, just hit the road to promote her first novel, "Belle in the Big Apple," and it's somehow fitting that the Florida Panhandle transplant is taking along Mom.

Like "Rach," Parkhurst is very close to her mother, Suzanne Parkhurst, and is thrilled they'll be spending the next six weeks on the road together for a book tour

"Mom is an amazing cook," says Parkhurst, the day before the tour got underway. "She was a journalist who had four kids - that includes my father - and she quit to take care of us all."

At age 22, Parkhurst decided to follow her mother into the family biz, but thought she'd have a better shot at becoming a newspaper woman if she left the family farm in Pensacola and came here. "I'm from the Redneck Riviera," she says. "There are lot of shark attacks and abortion doctor killings. When I moved to New York, it was almost as if I were living in a different country. Everything was so different."

She made the rounds with her resume and finally landed a short-lived job with Fox News.

"It was very eye-opening for me, just coming into the epicenter of media and working for a conservative station," she says. "I was pretty naive, and seeing how the system actually works, I thought, my gosh, people don't really know how news is made."

Not wanting to stay at the station and having always loved to cook, she started cooking and blogging. And that blog (her website is became a book that's somewhat autobiographical. The protagonist, Belle Lee, from Mobile, Alabama, moves to the city and acquires a job at an ultra conservative TV station. The fast-paced, tightly written book has plenty of intriguing elements - an illegal network deal, a female news anchor who becomes Belle's mentor, even a female presidential candidate (nope, nothing like Sarah Palin.)

What makes this book even tastier are the recipes interspersed with all the plot twists - shrimp and crab gumbo, oyster stew, plus Bribe your Coworkers Pound Cake, Lemon Chess Squares for the Working (Sulking) Girl, and Pickled Pensacola Shrimp. Parkhurst hopes to demo some of these on her book tour, and she dispenses recipes on her blog, too.