The Y-files [GL]
Even though I was kind of forced into this, tonight would be the first night that I would be the head of a kitchen. “Chef,” I whispered to myself. It had a nice ring to it, and it would be good to get some first-hand experience at being in charge.
I still felt guilty about Tory having to perform to pay off my debt to Thea, but Tory had assured me over and over that she would have taken this chance, even if it wasn't paid.
My hopes for a good experience were crushed rather quickly when they introduced my staff to me. They had hired Pierre, the owner of Fruits de Mer as my sous-chef. He was the guy that sexually harassed me right before I kneed him in the balls and quit on him. The guy who made it difficult for me to find a new job afterward.
Just seeing him made me boil with anger, and I could see on his face that the feelings were mutual. I decided to be professional about it. He was a good cook and this time, I would be in charge.
But the disdain in his eyes when they told him that I would be his boss tonight promised nothing good.
We were only serving hors d'oeuvres today, but they had to be in such quantities and varieties that they could also serve as a meal. So tonight would be quite a labor-intensive night due to the huge variety of dishes we needed to make.
I gave orders to the staff and everyone got to work. So far so good. I started myself on some vol au vents with a fancy fish filling, and in my free moments, I was working on those delicious Chili fish croquettes Claire taught me how to make.
Everything seemed to be running smoothly, but before sending out a platter, I tasted one of the vol au vents and was met with a disgusting sour taste. Someone added vinegar to my sauce. I knew this taste. This was Pierre's secret ingredient in almost all of his dishes. White wine vinegar with dragoon.
I looked at him and noticed the smirk on his face.
This wasn't going to work, was it? I didn't really see another choice but to call him out on it.
“Why did you mess with my work? You ruined the dish. Now we have to do it all over.” I did my best to stay reasonable. But in reality, I just wanted to cut him to pieces.
“You should be grateful. I improved your dish.” He answered with a defying smug smile.
“This filth is for the garbage can, and you know it. We are lucky that it did not go out to the guests like this!”
My reputation could have been ruined for life if that had happened. But I guess that was exactly what he was going for.
“I haven't ever had to work under such bad leadership, and this is the result of it. What were they thinking, putting a woman in charge of an haute-cuisine dinner like this.” He took one of the disgusting vol au vents and dropped it back on the platter like it was a piece of dirt.
“You screwed that up on purpose! I want you out of here! You'll only cost me more work!” I decided to fire him. As the chef, I should be able to do that, even if I wasn't the one who hired him, I wanted that man out of the kitchen before I killed him.
“Like hell, that you are a real chef. Nobody in his right mind would make you a chef. Seeing how you look, I can imagine how you convinced them to hire you, just like you tried to deceive me.”
The door opened and Claire entered the kitchen in a beautiful dress. What was she doing here? Was she one of the guests?
Everyone looked a bit stunned that one of the guests had entered the kitchen. She gave me a wink and without saying a word she walked toward Pierre's cooking station and took one of the filled seashells he had prepared, tasted it, and said “Stale.” She then turned toward Pierre and said “You sure talk big for someone who would serve something like that. I'd hire Mari ten times before considering you.”
“Who the hell do you think you are?”
“According to you, somebody who isn't in her right mind for hiring her,” Claire said, clearly with some venom behind her words. I could tell she wasn't pleased. I knew how hard she was on people that spilled food, and he just ruined an entire platter of food, just to get back at me.
“What travesty is this? Who is this girl? ”
“Claire is my boss, and I assure you this 16-year-old is a way better cook than you or I will ever be. I feel honored working for her. Just try these croquettes. She is the one that developed them.” I defended Claire and went round with a platter of croquettes. Everyone on staff that tasted them was making approving sounds and complimenting them. It was clear that the level was way higher than anything they could produce, but then Pierre punched the platter out of my hands, letting all the croquettes fall to the ground. Oh no, I looked back and noticed Claire's demeanor change.
“Y-you brought this on yourself,” I said and moved out of the way.
Claire moved up furiously and grabbed him by the collar “It's time for you to pack and go. There should be no place in a kitchen for someone like you. Food should always be treated with respect.”
“Like hell, that I would do something like that. You did not hire me. What travesty is this? Tell me you two are lying. Who the hell would put a 16-year-old girl in charge of the kitchens of an haute-cuisine restaurant chain?”
“That would be me.” Anna entered the kitchen. She walked up to Claire hugged her and said “I got worried, aunt Maxima told me you were here. What is going on?”
“Ah, that proves my point. Another one who got her job by spreading her legs. Women are all the same.”
Anna looked up to the man and said “So you doubt the judgment of Anna Lyst, and are calling my girlfriend a slut. I can't let that pass.”
Wow, I looked amazed at Anna's ice-cold demeanor she projected toward that man. Her energy made him look like an ant that was about to be crushed by an elephant. I did not know Anna could be so cool. I wondered how all of this would turn out.
“L-Lyst?” Pierre suddenly said with fear on his face.
Suddenly Maxima Lyst, our employer for the day, burst inside and said. “I'm sorry but this is becoming too interesting not to interfere. We can't let anyone soil the family name in our own house, now can we? Let us settle this dispute with a game and entertain the public at the same time. Let's do a competition in the ballroom. If Claire wins, you pack your bags and your restaurant is hers, if you win, I will give you her job and shares in the haute-cuisine venture.”
I gulped. A lot was on the line over something that started with a childish dispute of mine. I just wanted him to go, but now this had gotten way out of proportion.
Claire looked baffled at Maxima. “I thought you needed prime locations? Now, this is your chance to get one really cheaply. Or do you think you will lose?” Maxima egged her on.
“Chef!” Maxima was calling me. It took me a second to realize that. I was already forgetting that I was the boss around here. “You will prepare the competition for them. Make sure it is enjoyable for the crowd to watch.”
Then Maxima continued in a more announcing voice toward everyone. “Let's make it a competition in knife skills. A cook's knife skills show their true ability after all.”
Pierre started laughing and said “Seems like I will be going home with that fancy job title of yours little girl. I am a trained master with the knife.”
Claire picked up my knife and flipped it a couple of times in her hand. I noticed a sparkling flair in her eyes. Was she enjoying this?
I ordered a few people to prepare a few tables to hold the competition on. With the materials Maxima had given me, I had the perfect plan to make this an amazing show, and knowing Claire's knife skills, I was sure nobody would be able to beat Claire.
The crowd was looking with interested eyes at the development. After all, this was something out of the ordinary. I could hear murmurs about a commercial stunt for the restaurant chain the Lyst group would be starting. Just by the atmosphere alone, I was starting to have a bad feeling about this. It all felt like this had all been some kind of scheme right from the start and that I had just done exactly what was wanted from me. I needed to warn Claire.