The Chef


“How many will it be?”  the hostess said smiling dressed in a black button down shirt and slacks with high heels.

“Just one.”  As she said it Amber looked at the hostess for her reaction.

Some hostesses were generally annoyed for either two reasons when she would announce it would be just one, who is this person that she has no friends or family to eat with her or that she would take an entire table for one person.  Most hostesses though were neutral and today she was lucky, the young hostess just said, “Certainly come this way.”

Following her, Amber could see the place was pretty busy it wasn’t an upscale restaurant but it was modern and the booths were well maintained. It was one of those restaurants that couldn’t decide what it really was.  It had burgers, pasta, burritos, pizza and even shepherds pie on the menu.  Ironically though having gone here a few times she found out that the chef was Asian, from Vietnam to be exact.

It was an interesting story when she heard it.  It was a slow day so he came out to greet the customers, an extremely friendly man with lots of energy, going around laughing and shaking people’s hands while they gave him compliments on his food.  He was a good cook other wise she wouldn’t come here as often as she did.  Knowing he would soon come to her table she took a drink of water so she wouldn’t have to speak with her mouth full or have food stuck in her teeth.  Finally, when he came over to her table she smiled and held out her hand, but started to speak too soon and began to want to cough though she tried to hold it back with a smile, however the urge was too hard to resist and she ended up spitting water all over him.

He immediately started laughing and said, “I hope everyone is safe in Nevada because the Hoover dam just broke.”  Amber’s cough turned effortlessly into a laugh.  With one covering her mouth trying to block whatever may expel from her mouth she held out her other hand and was able to take the clean napkin, the chef had grabbed from the unused place setting opposite her in the booth and said, “Here let me help.” even though he was mostly covered.

Completely embarrassed Amber grabbed her unused napkin and giving it to him  saying, “I am so sorry.”  Simultaneously they begin cleaning the shower of water over each other the table and her food.  When they seemed to have cleaned the entire booth the chef started to grab her plate.

“Let me get you a new plate”, he said generously.

“No it was my fault, really I think I got it over mostly us or you I should say anyway.  I like the food so much, I think I just swallowed it too quickly”, Amber said trying to recover from embarrassment.

“I am glad, I thought my chicken pot pie had a feather I forgot to pluck.  Saddest thing really when the customers start laughing because they are tickled from the inside.”  He said with a smile.

“No, no not at all.”  Amber was continuing trying to make the situation better.

“Well that pleases me.”  Seeing that she was sorry and didn’t mean anything by it plus knowing that he had a habit of asking people about his food when they were in mid bite, he began to continue the conversation just as he wanted to in the beginning, “Do you like the food?”

“Yes, I come here quite often.”  Amber was pleased to be able to say without being embarrassed because she could tell he wasn’t harboring any hard feelings.

“I haven’t seen you yet, when do you normally come here?” The chef was curious how often she had eaten the food.

“I am usually come during the dinner hour.” replied Amber graciously.

In a mocking way the chef said, “Ah, so you come at my busiest time of the day just so you can avoid me.”

Amber could see he was making another joke so she played along, “Completely my intention, I heard the chef was a real tyrant.”

“You throw one batch of spaghetti sauce in the garbage and all respect is lost. If I told them once, I told them a thousand times the parsley goes in at the end of the cooking process.”  They both laughed when he said this.

Amber couldn’t resist she was enjoying their conversation, “Isn’t there some a law against that.”

Seeing through the corner of his eye that another person from the kitchen was motioning for him to come, “I think there is, well I hope to see you here again sometime, let me at least warm your food.”

“Ok, thank you and he left for the kitchen.”  Amber seeing him walk away with her barely touched food was pleased that she had picked this restaurant even more as one of her favorites.

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