They called him the murderer.
He was a murderer of reputations. Reputations that have been built over many years of spit, grit and hard work. These reputations were reduced to nothing by a five hundred word paragraph in tomorrow’s newspaper.
Wearing his characteristic overcoat (he thought it gave him a ‘spy’ kind of gravitas) and his fedora, he would swoop down upon some unfortunate fellow and drop his calling card. Then, he would wait a day, and see if the target matches up to his expectations. If he didn’t, then the target is as good as dead.
There was a certain pattern in his murders, though.
He always targeted chefs of some-or-other diner that was slowly gaining popularity. The calling card was the one thing that all chefs feared.
Today, he was sitting at a table, his typewriter at his side when he got the news . . . a diner in town was slowly gaining popularity, and his style of understanding what the customer wanted was amazing.
He wanted to see if this was true, so he decided to puncture another inflated reputation by paying them a visit.
He stood up, ready, and walked over to where he’d kept his favorite overcoat, put it on and hailed a cab all the way into town. He strolled into the diner without a word to the bellhop, who was now yelling, “MAY I TAKE YOUR COAT, SIR?!”
He marched straight up to the kitchen, where he paused for a moment.
All the other diners were wondering who this oddly dressed fellow is, and whether he’s here to eat or not. The was-quiet diner was now abuzz with chatter, like that moment when a new teacher enters your class, and starts teaching instead of telling us who he/she is.
The murderer pushed the kitchen door, and walked through. The warmth of the kitchen, usually sought in this cold weather greeted him. He walked up to the head chef, and placed his calling card on the stove, and said in a high voice, almost Voldemort-like, “Tomorrow. 8:00. I expect your best dishes.”
He turned on his heel and left.
The chef’s face was deathly pale. All the color from his face had vanished.
And now, he has less than twenty-four hours to study up all the important basics of cooking, because the murderer of reputations had come to his diner.
He got into a cab, and went back home, thinking about what he should ask of this new chef, something challenging, perhaps. He knew that his presence struck a pang of fear in every chef he had visited, but this one was positively shivering, and was a bundle of nerves.
The next night, the murderer was off, speeding to the diner in a cab.
He reached at 8, and sat in a booth, awaiting the waiter.
A nervous waiter arrived, and said, “Good evening sir. Would you like some champagne?
The murderer answered in a crisp voice, “No. Champagne is for celebrating. I’d like to have one glass of inspiration.”
“You heard me. One glass of inspiration.”
A few minutes later, the waiter returned with one glass of mango milkshake alongside a note.
“Mango milkshake? I asked for one glass of inspiration.”
The waiter replied promptly, “The chef wanted you to see the note, sir.”
It was handwritten, almost scribbled, saying ‘inspiration is a dish best served cold’
The murderer smiled, and looked up at the waiter. “I’d like some foie gras, please.”
“Very well, sir.”
Twenty minutes later, he was back with a plate of the requested pate de foie gras, made with goose liver, finely minced, along with varied seasoning.
He bit into it, and it was excellent. The earthnut or the truffle was cooked to perfection and it was marinated in Cognac, a type of brandy made in France.
In the next few minutes, the dish had been eaten up, and the murderer had paid the money. He walked out in a dilemma. For the first time, he hadn’t been able to spot a fault.
The food critic hailed a cab and went back home.