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John Maxwell is a chef. He has been cooking in kitchens around the world since he was twelve years old. He is a writer. He has written and published stories, poetry, cookbooks, and magazine articles. And now he has written a novel.
He was born in the town of Buzzards Bay, on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. His sense of adventure and love of travel was shaped early as he grew up on the Cape, and in Oakland. California, Brooklyn, New York, and Virginia Beach, Virginia. As an adult, he has worked across the United States in nearly every kind of kitchen, from his stint as hot dog cook at Candlestickk Park in the early 70’s, to his own highly regarded restaurant in Richmond, Virginia. He has hosted his own televised cooking show, cooked for dignitaries and world leaders, and spent much of his time working to combat hunger and improve nutrition for the most at risk of our neighbors.
He began college in 1966, straight out of high school. He discovered whiskey and women in the same semester and found himself serving in the Marine Corps. He didn’t return to college until he was in his 50’s when he enrolled in Virginia Commonwealth University. His first class was an English writing and research course which required a semester long project, culminating in a 20 page paper. While most of his classmates (the oldest being 19 at the time) chose topics designed to either shock, or save the world. The chef decided to have some fun.
During a visit to Iceland he learned of a connection between the Basque, codfish, the Vikings, and Newfoundland. He chose to explore the relationship between these forces and Christopher Columbus in a paper he called, The Bacalao Conspiracy. Much to his surprise, he found significant support for his proposal that the Basques intentionally misdirected Columbus to a more dangerous southern route to keep him from discovering the rich fishing grounds off Newfoundland.
That paper led to nearly ten years of research, in libraries and collections around the world, to discover and document Christopher Columbus’ origins and early life. This project, The Bacalao Conspiracy, grew from that research.