by Doug Sovern
Let me see your knives. What? You didn’t bring your knives? You were told to bring your knives. Be sure to bring them tomorrow. You will not be provided with knives.
This is where we keep the whites. They do not have your name on them. If you graduate to your own station you will be given whites with your name on them. You must wear clean fresh whites every day. It is up to you to turn in your soiled whites each night to Cicely. Cicely has not left the laundry room since the late nineties. If you do not bring her your soiled whites you will not be provided with clean ones the next day.
This is your locker. Keep it locked. You are in between Kevin and Rachel. Kevin may steal things from your locker if you leave it open. Rachel only steals food, but she keeps it in her locker. She may hide some of it in yours if you leave it open. What? You didn’t bring a lock? You were told to bring a small combination lock. Be sure to bring one tomorrow. You will not be provided with a lock.
Here is your recipe binder. You are expected to learn all of the recipes. They have been developed carefully over time. Each one is a precise work of beauty, involving many delicate ingredients. Do not deviate in any way from the recipes. No substitutions are allowed. The sauces have all been concocted by Emilio, the saucier. He and his dog Popo spent seven years rooting for truffles in Perugia before joining us. There are truffles in all of the sauces. Do not trip over Popo at the sauce station. Emilio does not speak English. You may only address him in Italian. What? You don’t speak Italian? You will be expected to learn. On your own time. You will not be provided with Italian lessons.
This is the organic garden. We grow all our own fruits and vegetables. No produce from outside the garden is allowed in the restaurant. The gardener is James Delacroix. He is a vegetarian and only eats what he grows himself. He fertilizes the garden with his own waste. No other fertilizers are allowed. You may see James sleeping in the garden. He often stays the night to massage the salad greens, especially the arugula and the kale. You will be expected to massage them on his nights off. What? You don’t know how to do that? You will be expected to learn. You will not be provided with kale massage therapy training.
This is the pastry-sculpting studio. Each dessert must be carefully constructed according to the strict specifications of Katarina, our pastry chef. She uses precise ratios derived from her experience as a Slovenian bridge architect. Be sure to cantilever the thin layers of phyllo dough, just so. No individual element of any dessert may be larger than a thimble. What? You were told to bring a thimble. It must be made of micro-filigreed gold mesh. Be sure to bring one tomorrow. You will not be provided with a thimble.
Here is where we make our honey. Actually, our bees make the honey, by regurgitating nectar. Schiffelbein is in charge of the bees. You will not be expected to make honey. Under no circumstances should you regurgitate anything while in the restaurant. You will, however, be expected to assist Schiffelbein in caring for the bees and collecting their vomit. Our bees only eat nectar from plants in James Delacroix’s garden. If they fly off the property to pollinate they are not allowed to return and their honey is discarded. Everything we serve is local. While you are in our employ, you should not eat any food that comes from more than thirty miles away. What? You’re allergic to bees? Schiffelbein says our honey can cure that. No, there has been no peer review. What? No, you will not be provided with a beekeeping suit.
You will also help prepare the savory foams and emulsions for our special tasting menu of sustainable pine bark salads. No, of course we provide the pine bark. It is harvested by our house forester, Fritz. You will be expected to assist him. What? You brought your own chain saw? Whatever would possess you to do such a thing? No one told you to do that. We have very strict standards here. You will be provided with an appropriate chain saw. What kind of place do you think this is?
|Douglas Sovern is an award-winning political and investigative reporter for KCBS Radio, San Francisco. He worked previously at the New York Times and the Associated Press. He wrote the groundbreaking Twitter novel TweetHeart. His short stories have appeared in Narrative, Sand Hill Review, Gemini, Crack The Spine, and many others, and have been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and the Best of the West anthology. Narrative named his story “Indira” one of its Top Five Stories of 2013-14. Doug is also a songwriter and bassist. He graduated from Brown University and lives in Oakland with his wife and twins.|