I straightened my tie and stepped into gleaming chaos.
I straightened my tie and stepped into gleaming chaos. The six chefs who made up our kitchen brigade were all in attendance, from Rav the trainee to Daisy the dessert chef (soon to be gleeful retiree). At the centre and providing most of the shrill, stressed-out soundtrack was Clarice. Contrary to the image conjured by her name, she was not a plump little French matron with a manner as sour and acerbic as her lemon sauce. In fact, she was a very tall, extremely slender woman with the manner of a quiet, restrained businesswoman and a tongue sharper than her peeler.
Ignoring the scurrying of her underlings, I stepped past the first fortification of counters and kept going. It had taken me a lot of effort and more guts than I thought I had to get to the point where I could stroll over the Rubicon, which no one who couldn’t use a Bain Marie should be able to cross. I’d done it by pretending to be immune to Clarice’s most accomplished barbeque glare. I wasn’t sure even now whether she knew I used to come out of her kitchen trembling. Used to…
“Jamie,” she said now, her voice measured.
“Running like clockwork.”
“And that order -.”
“Came in and has already been put away,” she nodded in that way only older, professional women do. The way that says ‘I know that you know that I’m perfectly capable of doing my job without your supervision, little boy, now go and be a manager elsewhere’.
“Good, good,” I nodded and gratefully began to back out.
“I would appreciate it if you’d sit down with me later to finalise the choices for next week’s conference booking,” she said, turning away.
She was baking pastries for our continental breakfast offering. From what I could see, they were going to be the salted caramel and peanut kind. Not my favourite… but I wouldn’t be above pinching one if the chance presented itself.
“Of course,” I said and scarpered, pretending not to notice Daisy helpfully dragging her hand across her throat. I didn’t need the warning.