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Master Cook

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Master Cook is a position found in J.R.R. Tolkien's Smith of Wootton Major. It is a position of singular importance to the story, and the Master Cooks play a pivotal role in the events that come about.



In the village of Wootton Major, which is famous for its festivals, the Master Cooks appear to have held high status as they provided the primary convections for the feasts.[1] Peculiar among these was the Feast of Good Children, given every twenty-four years. The Master Cook was expected to put forth his best effort.[2]

It was expected for a Master Cook to take an apprentice in due time from the young men of Wootton Major. As the Master Cook grew older, the apprentice would take on necessary roles and responsibilities until his employer died or retired, in which case he would typically take over.[3]


The first Master Cook mentioned in Smith is Rider. He is mentioned in the beginning as an unusual Master Cook. Rider one day took a vacation, and returned changed for the rest of his life.[4] It is implied by later context that he went to Faery, the mysterious fay land whose borders rested somewhere within walking distance of Wootton Major. He brought back with him a young apprentice, Alf. The villagers called him simply "'Prentice."

When Rider took another "permanent" vacation, the villagers went against tradition and elected a practical man named Nokes to be the next Master Cook, feeling that Alf was too young.[5]

List of known Master Cooks


  1. Smith of Wootton Major/Farmer Giles of Ham, Thirtieth Printing Ballantine 1991 p. 9. "...the Master Cook was a very important person."
  2. ibid., p. 10
  3. ibid., p. 11
  4. ibid. p. 11
  5. ibid. p. 13