“Cooking with Love” Recap & Review

I absolutely love Hallmark movies. Everything I say is out of this undying, appreciative, in awe type of love. Yes, I make fun of them, but my husband and I make fun of each other all of the time, and we are annoyingly in love.

Kelly (Ali Liebert) is a producer of the children’s cooking competition show, The Little Gourmet. She loves her job and is good at it. And, she’s exactly what I’m going to pretend that reality show producers are like, instead of the manipulative nightmare garbage monsters we assume they all are after reading Reality Steve and watcing UnREAL.

Short version: Kelly is nice. Kelly is cool. I need to stop watching The Bachelor.

yeah, the bachelor is wack

A brand new season of The Little Gourmet is seconds away from starting, but they suddenly find Chef Betty (Gabrielle Rose), the host of The Little Gourmet, huddled over in a 90 degree angle. She slipped a disk, and will be fine–but in 4-6 weeks.

They’ve got to find a replacement. And preferably in 4-6 minutes.

but i’ll always be watching you

Amanda (Janet Kidder) is the creator and show runner of The Little Gourmet. Much like Chef Betty’s disk, she lets it slip to Kelly that this is her last season. During the next 6 weeks, they will be looking for her replacement.

The Little Gourmet today, Bachelor Winter Games tomorrow.

Jeremy (Preston Vanderslice), a ringer producer brought in by the network, SUCKS. He just sucks. They say don’t judge a book by its cover, but whoever first quoted this would’ve probably said: Yeah, go ahead and judge the reality television producer by his or her cover. Boo, Jeremy, go away! Booooooooo.

A little harsh, don’t you think?


Kelly and Jeremy both pitch who should be the interim host of The Little Gourmet. I 1,000% don’t care who Jeremy suggests because his voice might as well be the parent and teacher voices from Charlie Brown. Kelly suggests Chef Stephen Harris (Brett Dalton), a 2 Michelin Star chef with cookbooks and a restaurant with a waiting line around the block.

But there is a catch to Chef Stephen Harris. He

  • purposely dumped a plate of spaghetti down the front of a food critic in a fit of rage
  • has been renamed Hotheaded Harris
  • is now viral video famous because of his outburst.

But they love the idea. Over 500,000 views on YouTube, you say? Publicity, you say? Lots of viewers, you say? HIRE HIM! Maybe if I would’ve streaked across Kitten Bowl, Hallmark would’ve hired me to write a #CountdowntoChristmas 2018 title.

There’s always next year.

I have a very good idea, btw.

waiting on the auto-tune remix of this

As expected, Stephen isn’t super thrilled about the idea of being the host of a children’s cooking show. He’s a serious chef! He’s cooked for the rich and famous! He can speak culinary French! Plus, he has to go on tour for his new cookbook.

His agent informs him that the tour is cancelled because everyone thinks he is the baaaad boy of cooking. Hey, I assume Bobby Flay is kinda insufferable, but I’ll watch the heck out of Beat Bobby Flay any day. I’ll even root for him to win.

why didn’t you just go home

Everyone is really excited to have Stephen on set as the host. Until he

He is off-puttingly stiff on camera, and needs to admit that he won’t wear the hat because he doesn’t want it to smoosh his hair.

and then the toque called me lame and tried to mess up my hair!

How have I not mentioned Kimberly Sustad yet? She is my favorite Hallmark actor, for goodness sake. She makes every scene better, and needs to be in every movie. Also, I can’t decide if her name is spelled Kimberly or Kimberley because I’ve seen it both ways. But, back to the movie–

Jess (Kimberly or Kimberley–probably not Kimmy–Sustad) is a makeup artist on The Little Gourmet and Kelly’s friend. She really wants to help Kelly, who hasn’t been on a date in 4 months, find a boyfriend. She also needs to be in more of this movie.

Aw, they actually look like good friends!

Amanda informs Kelly that this season she will be sharing the production with Jeremy. He will produce 50% of the segments and she’ll do the other half.



Kelly thought that she was being groomed to take Amanda’s soon to be vacant throne, but it sounds like they are eyeing Jeremy a little more.

And, why?!


Kelly meets with Stephen to go over the script, but they end up

  • striking a 60-40 menu construction deal for the show
    • (Kelly’s was far too “pedestrian” 🙄)
  • going to a Farmer’s Market
  • talking a lot about radicchio.

P.S. these are the ways I tried to spell radicchio: rhiddico and ridicho. I’ll give that a grade of F-

you try to spell it

Chef Stephen goes over Kelly’s head and makes radicchio–not carrots–the secret ingredient for the next challenge. And, who approved it? Oh, that trashcan Jeremy.

And, Stephen is still refusing to wear the toque.

Stephen needs to loosen up, because he is as stiff as his starched chef’s whites. Twitter is even talking about it (and you know how harsh Twitterers can be: #HotheadedHarris). Kelly needs to make Stephen look good, so she can look good. If not, there is no chance that she will get the promotion over Jeremy.

But, unfortunately she is stuck with this smile.


Fast forward to Stephen nicely barging (??) into Kelly’s office. He

  • takes her notebook
  • writes in her notebook
  • reads her notebook
  • sets fire to her notebook.

But, seriously, no one ever touch one of my notebooks.

While getting his radicchio covered fingers all over Kelly’s notebook, he finds ideas she has jotted down for the future of The Little Gourmet. He encourages her to share her ideas with Amanda, but she isn’t ready to put herself out there yet. To try to convince her further, he even says that if a sous chef came up to him with a better idea, he’d listen.

…………………………not buying it, guy. That sous chef would have an eggplant smashed in their face so fast.

i only say that cuz no one will ever have a better idea than moi

Kelly complains to Jess about Stephen telling her that she needs to share her ideas with Amanda. Kelly asks “what would you do if you were moi?” And, Jess, instead of saying “not call myself moi,” says that she kinda sorta definitely agrees with Stephen, and that Kelly should go for it!

And, so, Kelly tells Amanda her ideas, and she is like:

yeah okay cool good!

And, it was that easy.

kinda just treating this like 2nd semester senior year, so do whatever you want, i already got into harvard


  • they film segments based on Kelly’s ideas
  • Kelly and Stephen realize they are a good team
  • Jeremy tries to do his job
    • but freaks
    • and it’s great
    • because he’s terrible
great now my hand is gonna smell like radicchio

After filming the disaster segment Jeremy was in charge of, Stephen goes to the studio and finds Kelly getting a pizza delivered. And. He. Is. Not. Having. It. I had no idea that there was something so wrong with delivery pizza. I mean, it’s what Digornio tries to convince us it is.


Stephen brings Kelly to set so they can cook a pizza from scratch together. Although Kelly works on a cooking show, she does not cook, does not want to cook, but she ends up cooking with Stephen.

They taste the sauce from the same spoon, which is the equivalent of a Hallmark kiss. I would normally be disgusted by this, but they’re going to kiss for real in about a movie-hour’s time, so I’ll accept it.

mmmm your spit tastes like tomatoes

While stirring their spit pizza sauce, Stephen opens up to Kelly. He

  • grew up an Army brat, so he moved a lot
  • got to know his new homes by trying out the local cuisine
  • believes that food brings us all together
  • admits that he spilled food on the critic because he made one of his waitresses cry.

Jeremy interrupts the moment to tell Kelly that Amanda wants to see her. And while doing so, he takes Kelly’s notebook from an intern in a ruse that he’ll deliver it to her.

Uh, yeah right.

this better not be in cursive, i can’t read cursive

These things happen:

  • Stephen is getting so good at his job, that he is now called ❤ Chef Charming ❤
  • Kelly can’t find her notebook, but is oddly whatever about it
  • Stephen asks Kelly on a Valentine’s Day dinner at his restaurant
  • Jess decides its a DATEDATEDATEDATE and dresses Kelly up
  • Their dinner is pretty romantic!

Kelly opens up to Stephen about her mother who passed away 4 years ago. She was a social worker, and while Kelly knew she worked hard, she didn’t understand her mother’s impact until after her funeral. She received card after card telling story after story about how her mother had changed lives. Kelly wants to follow in the footsteps of her mother and make a difference in the lives of the kids from The Little Gourmet.

these guys are obvi falling for each other

A day or so later (because what is time in the Hallmark universe?), Kelly gets home from work and decides to throw her Lean Cuisine back in the freezer and pulls out Stephen’s cookbook.

So, in a solo love song montage, she

  • cooks spaghetti and meatballs
  • bakes chocolate chip cookies
  • is very pleased with herself.

I must also point out that she has postcard-esque pictures of New York City attractions on her refrigerator like they are of her best friends. Just look at the extreme close up of The Statue of Liberty.

Kelly is so proud of her meal that she sends an Instagram worthy picture of her plate to Stephen. He is impressed, but thinks that her chocolate chip cookies are about to burn.

*dancing with myself*

And, it looks like Kelly’s chocolate chip cookies didn’t burn because she walks into work carrying a box of them only to find

Chef Betty.

She has healed in record time and is taking her job back. Yay?

It turns out that Amanda offered Stephen to stay on for the last episode, but he stepped aside. That’s a pretty Chef Charming move, if you ask me.

this moment brought to you by the official sponsor of cluelessness

Let’s do a little speed summary, shall we?

  • Kelly vists Stephen at his restaurant to invite him to the finale
    • Oh, and did I mention they are having a live finale? Because they are.
  • Stephen’s image is good again!
  • He’s about to jet off to LA, because he got his own cooking show!
  • Kelly walks into a meeting of JEREMY PITCHING HER IDEAS
  • She somehow doesn’t rip off Betty’s head and throw it at him, but confronts him after the meeting.
  • Kelly gets a Hallmark Signature card from a previous contestant from The Little Gourmet thanking her for all her help
    • Aw!
1000% sure that Kelly is the kind of person who sends a thank you card for getting a thank you card

It is Live Finale Day! And I’m about to use a lot of exclamation points! Chef Betty breaks her back on air! Stephen is conveniently there! He takes over as host again! Becca wins The Little Gourmet! I know I never mentioned her but this thing got so long that I had to leave a million things out! Jeremy gets caught! Kelly gets the promotion!

Stephen tells Kelly that he decided to turn down the job, because he couldn’t imagine saying goodbye to her. They kiss! The End!


I rate Cooking with Love Your favorite meal prepared for you by your significant other which is a 5/5 on my scale of Romantic Foods!

The Scale

  1. Lima Bean Sandwich
  2. Radicchio
  3. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Protein Bar
  4. Bouquet of Fazoli’s Breadsticks
  5. Your favorite meal prepared for you by your significant other

There was no way this movie could fail. It’s a Hallmark movie about a cooking competition show. It has Ali Liebert and Kimberly/Kimberley Sustad in it. And I really enjoyed Brett Dalton! Also, props to Preston Vanderslice for making me totally dislike Jeremy! He did such a good job playing a slimy snake in the grass.

If this movie would’ve ended up being horrible, I would have sued because there was no way someone could’ve ruined an adorable concept like this with good actors without trying to.

My only critique is that the movie didn’t end with Stephen leaning in for a kiss, Kelly stopping him, pulling the toque from behind her back, putting it on his head, then kissing him. But, I am in an awesome mood because it’s Valentine’s Day, so I didn’t take any points away 😉

All in all, my favorite #CountdowntoValentines movie of 2018!

Thank you for reading! Let me know what you thought of Cooking with Love!

4 thoughts on ““Cooking with Love” Recap & Review

  1. Kimberly Sustad (that’s its spelling on IMDB so that’s what I’m using) was 100% delightful and engaging in everyone of her scenes. How do we get her a movie series? Wouldn’t you love to watch her solve crimes? Or even better be a matchmaker who helps people find love in fun and zany ways, while having an arcing story line that spans the movies where she falls in love with her best friend (Paul Campbell).


    1. Yes! The matchmaker one!! And I think that Paul Campbell is her perfect Hallmark match. If I were watching TV and saw a promo for that I would fall on the floor and just stay there until the movie premiered. It needs to happen.


  2. Hilarious recap and review! You do bring up some points about this movie that I agree with, such as Kelly and Stephen tasting the sauce with the same stirring spoon (that personally bothered me). I also reviewed Cooking with Love, you should check it out if you get the chance!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great Movie. Ali Liebert is one of my favorite actresses on the Hallmark channel. She is genuine and a natural.

    Liked by 1 person

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