PERSONAL: Married; children: one daughter. Education: Columbia University, M.F.A.; graduate of Le Cordon Bleu.
CAREER: Author and chef.
Girl Cook, Villard (New York, NY), 2003.
Mountain Betty, Villard (New York, NY), 2005.
Contributor to periodicals, including Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Blue, and Bikini.
SIDELIGHTS: Like her creator, the protagonist of Hannah McCouch's debut novel Girl Cook is a New Yorker and a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu. Layla Mitchell tosses salads in the trendy Tacoma Restaurant, and when her arrogant boss, Noel, fills the job she longs for, that of sauté chef, with an incompetent former convict and drug abuser, Layla toughs it out, cracking jokes with the Mexican kitchen workers. Layla soon meets Dick Davenport, a wealthy, hand-some man with an ego, when her gay friend, Billy, takes her to a party. She perceives Dick to be rather boring, however, and becomes involved with Frank, a musician. She weighs what a long-term relationship with each would be like, as she tries to figure out her next career move.
Library Journal reviewer Julie James wrote in her review of Girl Cook that "the kitchen scenes are raucous fun, peppered with kitchen lingo and spicy language in Spanish and English." Layla's mother, an aging soap-opera actress is also a significant presence in the story. A Publishers Weekly contributor felt that, although "the ending is a bit abrupt,… this light and witty fare will leave chick-lit fans sated."
Mountain Betty featuring Betty Winters who, after losing her first job following college graduation, chooses the life of a Jackson Hole ski bum. Life is not that easy, however, and she soon has to take on two jobs in order to survive. After she falls for Jack, her ski instructor, the romance too is tested by his ex-wife, Betty's interfering parents, and Jack's habit of spending time with attractive ski bunnies and his drug-using friends. When Betty's mother becomes ill, she returns home and attempts to sort out her life.
McCouch takes on a number of life's difficulties, including health problems, financial problems, and infidelity, but as Aleksandra Kostovski noted in Booklist, in Mountain Betty she "does it with a sense of humor, accurately capturing the emotions of someone struggling to find her place in life."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, December 15, 2004, Aleksandra Kostovski, review of Mountain Betty, p. 708.
Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2003, review of Girl Cook, p. 634.
Library Journal, May 15, 2003, Julie James, review of Girl Cook, p. 125.
Orlando Sentinel, July 7, 2004, Nancy Pate, review of Girl Cook.
Publishers Weekly, June 30, 2003, review of Girl Cook, p. 53.