Monday nights in Lillian's restaurant are devoted to her cooking class. In this session, she has eight students whom the reader meets in individual chapters. There's young mother, Claire, who views the classes as an escape. Carl and Helen have been married for almost fifty years. Antonia is an Italian kitchen designer. Tom is slowly overcoming a great loss. Chloe is just out of high school and learning to be an adult. Isabelle is struggling with Alzheimer's. Finally, there's Ian, who has a crush on Antonia. We get mouthwatering descriptions of food and the art of cooking as the students learn how to prepare food that touches the soul. A compact first novel that's a cozy as it is delicious. The School of Essential Ingredients is similar to Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen and The Blue Bistro by Elin Hilderbrand. If you like books where chapters are devoted to each character, try The Memoir Club by Laura Kalpakian and The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs.