The Masterful Chef

The Masterful Chef

by Melanie Rees

My audience sits before me, the cameras start rolling, lights shine warmly upon my cheeks, and now it is time to do what I do so well.’

“Today we’re going to make Thai-inspired seafood linguine. And…” I look up at the make-believe camera and smile, “…I’m going to add a twist by making my own green linguine. Not an easy task, but I have a few tips and tricks to help you succeed. So let’s get started.”

* * *

“I’m going to add a twist by making my own green linguine,” she says.

Talking to herself again—in her case I’d say that’s the second sign of madness, following mixing paprika and coriander as she did during the previous ‘presentation’. Next thing you know she’ll be holding a hairbrush in front of the mirror and pretending she’s a rock-star. Or worse, she’ll line up her dolls so she actually does have an audience.

* * *

“Now let’s make our pasta.” I beam at the camera and tip flour and spinach paste straight onto my bench. With one hand, I crack eggs and separate the yolks.

* * *

As she tips out the flour, it smothers her knife, the blender and half the kitchen bench in a white chalky haze. She cracks an egg and attempts to split the white from the yolk. The yolk bleeds into the white. There seems to be a piece of eggshell too. I suppose she’d say that adds texture and crunch to the dish.

* * *

As I bring the dough together, it sticks and stretches between my fingers like fibrous tendons. “At my restaurant, I once made this seafood linguine for some politicians…”

* * *

Well that explains a lot. They’re probably still suffering from Salmonella poisoning.

* * *

“… and this is something that you could do to really impress your friends and family.” I smile at the pretend camera.

I keep adding flour and pounding my knuckles into the ball until it’s reminiscent of playdough I used to make in my childhood years.

“Now we just wrap that in cling film and pop it in the fridge.”

I nod to the cameras so they know to follow my movement. “With the magic of TV, here’s one I prepared earlier.” I smile at the cliché and bring out a perfect ball of dough from the refrigerator.

“Look at that vibrant green colour.” I gaze at the camera as I remove the cling film.

* * *

What a mess. The gluggy ball sticks to her fingers, her apron and becomes tangled in her hair. The green looks more like seaweed or algae. Appetising for some of my peculiar friends maybe, but I’m sure the humans she intends to feed wouldn’t agree.

* * *

“Using a pasta machine is tricky, but it is just a matter of making sure your dough is at room temperature and keep feeding it through until it is nice and smooth.”

I crank the handle and roll the dough through the machine several times. It emerges on the other side smooth and thin and folds upon itself like a horizontal wave.

“Now we simply cut this into thin strips to make our linguine,” I tell the cameras as I slice fine strips. Draping the curtain of pasta strips over my arm, I walk to the stove where water boils excitedly. “How great does this look?”

* * *

She thinks that looks great—is she serious? Chunks of flour are still visible and the pasta is claggy and thick.

* * *

“This pasta will only take a few minutes until it’s al dente. So in the meantime let’s get started on our sauce.”

I slice palm sugar, chilli, garlic and shallots like a pro and add each ingredient in turn along with a squeeze of lime.

* * *

She forgets the ingredients in the pan and the smell of burnt sugar fills the air.

* * *

“Now is time for the main ingredient.” I smile, wiping my hands on my apron.

* * *

She beams ridiculously at her make-believe camera again. She really should stick to her day job.

* * *

“In this pot I have five litres of boiling water with lots of sea salt. Don’t be scared of handling live crabs. It just takes a bit of confidence and know-how. You can even stroke their head to make them fall asleep.”

* * *

Crab! Hang about. What does she mean—crab?
The ground suddenly disappears. Sleep begins to take hold. I am floating across the disaster zone that was once the kitchen bench. Suddenly I am back at home with the salty smell of the sea. Below me, the sea seems to boil…

◊ ◊ ◊

Melanie Rees
Melanie Rees is an Australian author. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in venues such as Apex, Cosmos, The School Magazine and Daily Science Fiction. More information can be found at www.flexirees.wordpress.com or on Twitter @FlexiRees.

3 thoughts on “The Masterful Chef

  1. Mike is right…a wild ride. It invites us to play with the kaleidoscope of perspectives. I tried on the thought that they are all internal arguments with the self, challenging our presumption that we have a single true self. Isn’t that boiling sea about to submerge us crabs, or are we lobsters? Wow! AGB

  2. what came across to me was that the doer gets it done to herself, or does it to herself. She is at once the one who cooks the crab and also the crab herself. It is frightening in the way the act of being on camera, making things appear perfect, when actually everything is imperfect, is played out.

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