Monday, January 16, 2012

Top Chef

Norbert had to look twice, then add one extra look to make sure he’d really seen what he thought. Yeppur, no mistaking that belly and that rolling stride. One of the greatest shifter chefs of the modern age had just walked into a lowly diner.

Norbert hurried over and went in. The place was just beginning to fill up with the breakfast crowd. His target had a booth all to himself and had already been served his coffee. Norbert slid in opposite, practically shaking with excitement. “You’re Louie Delavecchio.”

The rat regarded him warily. “Yeah?”

“I saw you on TV. You were on King of the Kitchen.”

“Oh, is that all.” Louie shrugged it off. “That was a while ago. Hey, aren’t you that Norbert guy what works over at the new supper club?”

“Yeah, that’s me,” Norbert said, surprised. “You know about that? Me working there?”

“I make it my business to keep up with the competition. Rat, y’know. You’re a—” He snapped his fingers. “Bear?”

“Polar bear. I specialize in seafood.”

“Yeah, me too. That’s why I been keeping an eye on you. I been hearing good things. I tried your red snapper. Delish.”

Norbert knew he must be blushing but didn’t give a rip. “I’m not in your league. I tried out for King of the Kitchen and didn’t make the cut.”

“Yeah, well, keep trying. You got what it takes. I know bears got a rep as vacuum cleaners—it ain’t nailed down, they eat it. That just gives your palate a wider range of experience. Take it from an expert.”

“I know. I used to love the dishes you’d come up with in the quickie challenge.”

“Hell, that was a snap. Any rat worth his tail can make a meal out’a garbage. It’s what we do. Making a meal some other species’ll eat, that’s the tricky part. I gotta keep reminding myself who I’m cooking for.”

“You should have won that show. You got gypped.”

“Nah, I got out-cooked. I kept forgetting the judges were human. Pickier’n koala bears.” Louie leaned across the formica table. “I’m gonna let you in on a secret, kid. You wanna sharpen your skills, cook for humans. Shifters, they don’t give a scat what you put in front of ‘em. They’ll eat a carcass what’s been sitting out in the woods for three days. That don’t mean you get to sit on your tailbone. You still gotta bring your A-game to the plate. Sure, they’ll eat whatever you serve ‘em, but will they come back? You want ‘em to keep coming back. That’s where that pinch of sage or basil in just the right dish makes a world of difference.”

“Have you ever cooked for humans before?”

“Yeah, all’a time, back in Jersey. That’s why everybody here thinks I’m such hot scat. I got used to a higher standard. Apes don’t like what you feed ‘em, they let you know it in no uncertain terms. Ain’t a rat alive wouldn’t rise to that challenge. I don’t like dodging poo.”

Norbert filed these tips away for future reference. “Why didn’t Dante hire you?”

“He tried, but I like being my own boss. It ain’t supposed to be common knowledge, but I’m half owner of Rattigan’s. Don’t tell nobody.”

“I won’t. I’m sorry I butted in on your breakfast like this. I saw you on the street and I just couldn’t help it.”

“S’okay. I like talking shop with a fellow chef. Like I said, they ain’t exactly, wossa word, conny-sewers around here.”

“So,” Norbert said carefully, “what are you doing in this dive?”

“Watch your mouth, kid. This ain’t no dive. Lady runs this joint fed three pro football players on a vegetarian diet. Even the best can still learn from somebody. I learn her secrets, I can name my own price, especially here in this town.”

“Guess again.” Miss Elly herself brought Louie’s blueberry flapjacks to the table. She winked at Norbert. “Still after my recipes, eh, Louie?”

“Who, me? Nah. I just come in for breakfast.”

“Sure you do. Once a rat … ”

“You herbies sure are a suspicious bunch. What kind’a flour you use?”

“Keep guessing.” Miss Elly smiled at Norbert. “What can I get for you, honey?”

“Whatever he wants,” Louie said with a grin. “It’s on me.”


Savanna Kougar said...

Louie and Norbert, now that's Chef Dream Team in the making. ~big smiles~ Heck, Talbot's Peak might even get a rep for good food.

Pat C. said...

Louie, Norbert and Miss Elly. The implication here is that she may be the real "top chef" in Talbot's Peak. That's Louie's opinion, at least. Where do chefs go to eat when they don't feel like cooking, anyway?

Savanna Kougar said...

Yeah, I got that about Miss Elly. She doesn't seem like the type to toot her own 'horns', though.

I dunno where most Chef's go, I've just read where some of them enjoy other restaurants or just home cooking done by someone else.

Serena Shay said...

LOL...I think Norbert's crushing on the good Louie! Hmm, I wonder if Miss Elly and Penelope know each other in a semi-professional way? Those tops gotta stick together. ~wink~

I think Chef's hit the drive-thru when they don't want to cook. Everyone has a dirty little secret, or two. muahahaha

Savanna Kougar said...

Naw, Norbert is just in awe of Louie's chef talents. However, he does have a nephew who swings that way.

Pat C. said...

Sounds like Talbot's Peak might have to have a chef cookoff, probably for Fourth of July or something. I was going to say "barbecue," but Miss Elly might find that offensive. Vegetarian chili, maybe?

Savanna Kougar said...

Fourth of July cookoff, that sounds fun and shifter-wild.