A New Adult Romance Story
Trying to win a competition for best chef is cut-throat business.
Kiara Sands has just won the opportunity of a lifetime. After working her way through high-school and her first two years at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, she is awarded the chance to compete with two other culinary students for a coveted apprenticeship at one of Austin’s most popular restaurants.
When she arrives at Fission, she has no idea just how much her life is going to change. She is immediately introduced to Jenny Foster and Robbs Martin, her competitors in the cut-throat competition. The only thing Kiara finds more distracting than Robbs’ hateful attitude is the handsome executive chef, Paul Weston. It doesn’t help matters that Paul is quite taken by Kiara, and showers her with more attention than he gives her competitors.
Mixing the highly charged hormones of a young woman with a handsome and sexy master chef is a sure fire recipe for disaster. Will Kiara be able to focus on her work and achieve her dream? Or will the drama unfolding around her turn that dream into a nightmare?
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I have always been an avid romance reader since I was young. I like the thought of combining the heat of the kitchen with the fires of romance. I knew this would inspire a delicious sexy story for my readers to devour.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I like the strong alpha male combined with a woman who knows herself and what she wants.
This book is Part One of the “Fifty Recipes For Disaster Series”
Trying to win a competition for best chef is cut-throat business. Kiara Sands has just won the opportunity of a lifetime. When she arrives at Fission, she has no idea just how much her life is going to change. She’s immediately introduced to Jenny Foster and Robbs Martin, her competitors in the cut throat competition. The only thing Kiara finds more distracting than Robbs’ hateful attitude is the handsome executive chef, Paul Weston. It doesn’t help matters that Paul is quite taken by Kiara, and showers her with more attention than he gives her competitors.
Life in the Fission kitchen has become difficult for Chef Kiara Sands. While she tries to focus on her work, the rest of the employees pass their time gossiping about her boyfriend, Executive Chef Paul Weston. Paul isn’t making things easy either. His time is consumed with rearranging things for the pending changes in his life. He is pushing most of his workload off on Kiara. Instead of an apprentice, Kiara is acting more like manager in the kitchen. As Kiara and Paul’s relationship is tested, a new threat arrives in the form of celebrity chef James O’Toole.
Fifty Recipes For Disaster
A New Adult Romance Series
© Revelry Publishing 2015
By Carla Coxwell
“All right, chefs, you have ninety seconds to get your food plated and presented. If your dish isn’t ready, you will automatically be eliminated.”
My cooking instructor, Chef Michelle Lee, walks through the room, examining our stations. My fellow cooking students and I are competing for the chance to enter another competition. The winner of today’s cooking challenge will get the chance to compete for a full-time apprenticeship at Fission, one of Austin’s hottest restaurants.
I’m not confident in many aspects of my life, but I know I dominate in the kitchen. I begin plating my dish just as Chef Lee approaches my station.
“Your food presents beautifully as usual, Kiara,” she tells me with a smile. “If it tastes as good as it looks, you’ve got this in the bag,” she adds with a soft whisper.
The instructors at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts aren’t supposed to show favoritism to their students, but Chef Lee keeps a soft spot for me. Along with being one of my teachers, she’s also my faculty adviser, and she knows the unusual circumstances that brought me to the school.
“Time’s up,” she calls out to the class. “Place your finished plates on the head table.”
I walk my plate to the front of the room and place it on top of the placard that holds my student ID number. My classmates follow suit; several of them glare at me after looking at my dish. I am delighted, knowing they’re all both jealous and impressed I was able to execute a well-developed Cioppino within the given time frame. My rich seafood stew is accompanied by fresh sourdough loaves. I examine my classmates’ dishes and feel my chances of winning are good.
“Clear away your stations,” Chef Lee directs. “Chef Lawton will be here shortly to judge your plates, and I don’t want any evidence of who made what on display when he arrives.”
Chef Lawton is the sous chef at Fission and the judge of this stage of the apprenticeship competition. I clear my station quickly and then I take a seat at the front of the room. I want to be able to see Chef Lawton’s expressions as he tastes each dish.
As I sit nervously in my chair, my classmates finish clearing their stations. I can tell everyone else is just as anxious as I am; we’ve received plenty of critiques from our instructors but this will be the first time a professional chef from a restaurant will be tasting our food. The door of the classroom opens and a tall man wearing a black chef’s jacket enters the room.
“Chef Lawton, it’s so lovely to see you,” Chef Lee welcomes him. “I can’t tell you how excited we are to participate in this competition.”
“We’re excited as well,” Chef Lawton replies. “We’re always looking for new, innovative chefs at Fission. I’m looking forward to tasting the dishes and welcoming one of your students into the final leg of the competition. I see that all of the plates are ready. If it’s all right with you, I’ll get started.”
“Of course,” Chef Lee agrees.
I try not to hold my breath as I watch Chef Lawton sample each of the plates. I feel encouraged when he reaches mine. Instead of sampling one bite and moving on, he holds the broth in his mouth for a moment, and then tastes each type of seafood in turn. The expression on his face tells me that my stew is perfect, and I say a silent prayer I haven’t been out-cooked by any of my classmates.
“First off, I’d like to say this is an impressive display,” the seasoned chef begins. “Everything on this table is up to par with the level of skill and talent I expect to see from second-year students. That being said, there is a clear winner. One chef not only executed a delicious dish, but also added a few subtle, original touches that showed innovation and creativity.”
Adrenaline rushes through me as he moves to stand behind my dish. “Who created this Cioppino?” he asks.
I blush involuntarily as I raise my hand.
“And what is your name, Chef?”
“Kiara Sands,” I reply, trying to mask the excitement in my voice.
“Well, Chef Sands, it’s an honor to welcome you to the next stage of the competition. I look forward to tasting more of your food as the weeks progress. I am needed back at Fission, but Chef Lee will provide you with the details of your new position.” He turns to the rest of the class. “To the rest of you, don’t be discouraged. You all provided me with excellent dishes, and you have bright futures ahead of you.”
“Thank you, Chef,” the class responds in unison.
Chef Lawton makes a quick exit, and Chef Lee takes his place behind the head table. “Excellent work today, class. You’re dismissed until tomorrow,” she announces. My classmates gather their things and leave the room; I stay behind to talk to Chef Lee.
“Kiara, I’m so proud of you.” She beams once we are alone. “As you know, there will be two other chefs competing with you at Fission. You’re the only one who’s been selected from Le Cordon Bleu, and I know you’ll represent us well.” She moves to her desk and pulls a large package from her bottom drawer. “Here is your apprenticeship packet. You’ll receive your Fission jacket when you report for work tomorrow morning. If you have any questions, or just need someone to talk to, you know where to reach me.”
“This seems like a wonderful dream, and part of me is afraid that I’ll wake up any minute now,” I confess.
Chef Lee gives me a maternal smile. “This is a dream, Kiara. It’s YOUR dream. And you’re well on your way to achieving it.”
The information packet Chef Lee presented me with instructs me to be at Fission at 10:00 am. I check my dashboard clock as I pull into the parking lot; 9:40 am. I feel smug, knowing I’m probably the first of the three competitors to arrive. I check my makeup in the rear-view mirror before exiting my car.
Fission is housed in a modern brick building in East Austin, one of the city’s burgeoning hipster areas. The area gives off a relaxed, laid-back vibe, but I know the kitchen of Fission will be anything but.
I push open the heavy, solid oak door and am greeted by a pixy-sized hostess with spiked, lavender hair.
“Table for one?” she asks me brightly.
“No,” I reply nervously. “My name is Kiara Sands. I’m supposed to start work today.”
“Oh! You’re one of the newbies!” She says warmly. “I’m Megan. It’s a pleasure to meet you. The other two are already here. I’ll show you to their table.”
Damn it! I’d been so sure I’d make the best impression by arriving first, and here I am, the last of the apprentices to report for our first day.
Megan seems to sense my disappointment. “Don’t worry. Paul doesn’t give a shit how early people show up. As long as you’re here when you’re scheduled, you’ll be fine. And you haven’t missed anything. The other two have just been sitting alone since they got here,” she offers reassuringly.
“Thank you for that,” I say half-heartedly. As I follow Megan through the restaurant, I’m struck by the eclectic, well-placed décor. All of the tables are made of the same polished oak as the front door. The water goblets on the tabletops are tinted in hues of blue, green, and rose; a selection of art from all around the world adorns the walls. The ambiance is on the right side of the fine line between cozy and overwhelming. The restaurant offers a large main dining room, with smaller, more private rooms on each side.
“This is a beautiful place,” I say as Megan leads me toward the back of the main room.
“It is,” she agrees. “Paul handled all of the decorating himself. He says that Austin is a melting pot, and he wants all of our customers to feel at home when they dine here.”
I’m about to comment on how successfully that goal had been achieved when we arrive at a table occupied by a beautiful blonde woman and a swarthy man with sandy blond hair. A pot of coffee and three cups sit on the table.
“Kiara Sands, this is Jenny Foster and Robbs Martin,” Megan introduces us. She checks her watch before speaking again. “It’s a quarter to ten, so I imagine that Paul will be out shortly. I suggest you get fully caffeinated and enjoy this time off your feet. It will be the last one for today,” she warns with a friendly, knowing tone.
I take a seat in the chair next to Jenny as Megan moves back to the hostess station. “It’s a pleasure to meet you both,” I offer.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you too,” Robbs replies. “Congratulations on making it this far in the competition. And I’d like to apologize right now for how thoroughly I’m going to kick both of your asses. This job is mine.” He speaks with a blend of arrogance and sarcasm, and I can tell immediately that Robbs and I are not going to get along.
Personal relationships are something I struggle with. In my experience, there’s no point in getting close to someone who will inevitably let you down. I prefer to keep my head down and focus on getting my job done. As Chef Lee said yesterday, I have a dream and I’m well on my way to achieving it. I’ll be damned if I let Robbs or anyone else get in my way.
“Just ignore Robbs,” Jenny advises me. “He thinks that he’s God’s gift to food… women too, probably.” She giggles. “So Kiara, what’s your story? Which campus were you plucked from?”
“I’m in my second year at Le Cordon Bleu,” I answer with pride. In my opinion, Le Cordon Bleu is the best culinary school in the area—it’s also the hardest to get in to. Jenny seems impressed by my background, but Robbs laughs and dismisses it immediately.
“The Bleu is all right, I guess,” he snorts, “if you’re happy being complacent and doing everything old-school.”
“I wasn’t aware that being classically trained is a bad thing,” I reply shortly. “Tell me, what culinary Mecca do you hail from?”
“Escoffier,” he answers with a cocky smile. “You know, where all of the innovative, cutting-edge people attend. Three of my instructors were nominated for the James Beard award. So like I said, no hard feelings, but I’m going to kick both of your asses. Escoffier specializes in farm-to-table cuisine, so I’m exactly the kind of chef Fission is looking for.”
I dismiss his statement with a glare. While the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts is reputed for turning out fantastic chefs, in some culinary circles it’s dismissed as a hipster college that prioritizes food trends over basic technique and skill.
I don’t feel like debating the merits of my education with Robbs, so I turn to Jenny. “And where do you go?” I ask pleasantly.
“The Art Institute,” she replies. “I’m still not positive that cooking is my life’s passion. I wanted to go to a college that offers other programs, in case I decided to change my major.”
“If you’re not sure that you want to be a chef, then what the fuck are you doing here?” Robbs asks hotly. “You should give your spot to someone who knows that this is what they want.”
Jenny’s green eyes fill with both anger and embarrassment, and I can tell she’s fumbling for a response.
“I don’t agree with that at all,” I say warmly. “What better way to find out if you enjoy working in a real kitchen, than by actually doing it?”
“That’s exactly what my instructor said when I won this spot,” Jenny says with a nod.
“I see how it’s going to be,” Robbs interjects with more sarcasm. “The two of you are going to band together in ‘sisterhood’ and gang up on me.”
“That’s not how it’s going to be at all,” a firm voice says from behind me. I turn to see one of the most attractive men I’ve ever laid my eyes on. He’s tall, with broad shoulders, blue eyes, and sandy blond hair. He’s also wearing a black chef’s jacket, identical to the one Chef Lawton wore when he judged my dish. He holds eye contact with me for several moments before he speaks again.
“This competition will come down to one thing and one thing only… the quality of your food. Only one of you will be named my new apprentice, so ganging up on each other won’t serve any purpose. I’m Paul Weston, and I’d like to welcome you to my restaurant.” He extends his hand to me.
I respond with a firm handshake and a smile. “I’m Kiara Sands. Thank you for this opportunity.”
“You’re here because you deserve to be. No thanks are necessary,” he assures me.
“Chef Weston, it’s an honor to meet you,” Jenny gushes as she shakes hands with the executive chef. “I’m Jenny Foster.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Jenny,” he says before turning to Robbs. “And I’m assuming that you’re Robert Martin?” he asks while extending his final handshake.
“Just Robbs, Chef Weston,” he responds with an air of professionalism. “I admire your talent and your vision. I’m confident I’ll be a strategic asset to you.”
“That will be for me to decide, Robbs,” Chef Weston replies curtly. “Thank you all for being on time. I’m going to start by going over the rules here at Fission, and then we’ll tour the building.” He signals Megan before taking the final seat at our table.
“First and foremost, while you are here, you will show nothing but absolute respect for the rest of my staff. I take much care in handpicking each and every person who works in this restaurant. If you find yourself doubting the ideas, techniques, or decisions my staff makes, assume YOU are wrong, not them. You will do what you’re told, and you will do it quickly, with a positive attitude. Is that understood?”
The three of us nod in unison.
“Fantastic. Now, that being said, I am open to hearing your ideas and opinions. You will discuss those ideas and opinions with me, and only me. If I like what I hear, I’ll address it with the rest of the staff. I believe you all met Patrick Lawton, my sous chef?”
We all nod again.
“In addition to Patrick, there are seven line chefs working in my kitchen. You will work with each of them in turn, and they will provide me with input on who deserves the apprenticeship.”
I shift uncomfortably in my chair as Chef Weston speaks. While there are three of us at the table, it seems as if he’s speaking only to me. His eyes remain fixed on mine, and his face reacts to my expressions. It’s because you’re the only one who comes from The Bleu. He knows you come from the best training; that’s why he’s speaking directly to you. I repeat this over and over in my mind, but there’s still a small part of me that suspects Chef Weston is interested in more than my cooking skills. As I try to convince myself that those suspicions are unfounded, Chef Weston continues to speak.
“Fission is open seven days a week, you will work six. You will all work twelve to fourteen hours on Saturdays and Sundays. If that presents a problem for any of you, you should leave now.”
“That’s not a problem at all,” Robbs replies pompously. “In fact, I could pull more hours if you need it, Chef Weston.”
“That won’t be necessary,” Chef Weston replies dismissively. “But your statement brings us to another point of discussion. When we are in the kitchen, you are all to address me and the other staff as ‘chef’. Outside of the kitchen, you’re welcome to call me Paul. The other chefs and I will provide you with the same courtesy.”
“Let me explain my vision behind Fission,” Paul continues. “I’ve always been intrigued by the role food plays in different cultures. After graduating from culinary school, I spent three years traveling the world and learning about exotic ingredients and techniques. When I came home, I opened Fission as a way to showcase what I’d learned and show how those ingredients and techniques can be blended to create food that is both exotic and familiar. There are no rules in my kitchen regarding the types of cuisine you can blend and the types you cannot. I encourage you to use your imaginations and your talent to make the best dishes possible.”
“This sounds like my dream job,” Robbs interjects. “And I’d like you to know I’m highly skilled in executing farm-to-table menus. I know that’s important in today’s culinary atmosphere.”
God, will he ever stop bragging about himself?
“Robbs, if you’re as skilled and knowledgeable as you should be, then you already know the farm-to-table concept is nothing new,” Paul answers impatiently. “In many areas of the world, all restaurants are ‘farm to table’ and families rely on their harvest to feed their customers. While I admire the American chefs who are utilizing that concept in the U.S., I refuse to limit myself and my staff in such a strict way. At Fission, we use as many locally sourced ingredients as possible. All of our beef, lamb, pork, and chicken come from farms in the surrounding area, as well as our seasonal produce. But exotic ingredients are imported from the countries that know how best to grow them. I’m sure a chef of your caliber understands that.”
Listening to Paul take down Robbs relaxes me, and I’m comforted to know that the executive chef and I share the same attitude toward food.
“Of course, Paul,” Robbs replies in a defeated tone. “This is your restaurant, and I respect your vision.”
“Fantastic,” Paul continues. “Now that we’ve covered the cuisine, let me describe what your next twelve weeks will be like. As already stated, you will each work six days a week. During each shift, you will either assist one of the line chefs or you will be assigned other tasks that will help me understand your talents, skills, and visions. Once a week, we will hold a cooking challenge with specific requirements. The winner of each challenge will have their dish featured as a weekend special. High volume, fast-paced kitchens aren’t for everyone, so if at any time you feel overwhelmed, you may bow out of the competition. As you’re each receiving college credit for your work here, anyone who chooses to bow out will be allowed to continue helping in the kitchen through the end of the semester. Any questions?”
The three of us shake our heads.
“Perfect. We open for lunch in thirty minutes. I’ll give you a quick tour of the kitchen, and then your first shift will officially begin. Today you will be shadowing the wait staff.”
Robbs appears disappointed by the announcement, while Jenny’s face reflects the confusion I feel at the assignment.
“I know what you’re thinking.” Paul smiles. “This competition is for a spot in the kitchen, so why are you bothering with the servers? I feel too many chefs become complacent in the kitchen. The chef is rarely the person who takes heat from the customers when their order isn’t to their liking. I’ve also witnessed many chefs who believe, unjustly, that their training and skills make them superior to the servers. That is not the case here. Each employee serves a specific purpose. We are a team, and each member of the team is vital to the restaurant’s success. During your time here, you will learn to appreciate the roles of each and every one of my employees. Is that understood?” Paul asks the question to all of us but directs his gaze specifically at Robbs.
“Of course,” Robbs answers tensely. I can tell the day isn’t playing out the way he expected.
Paul rises from the table and the three of us do the same. We follow him through the swinging doors at the back of the room and enter the biggest kitchen I’ve ever seen. Viking ranges line both horizontal walls, while a line of butcher-block tables cuts the room in half. Five chefs work on the lunch specials, in anticipation of the crowd that’s sure to descend at any moment.
“Each member of the kitchen staff works their own station, ovens, and stovetops,” Paul explains as we walk to the back of the room. Three-fourths of the back wall is made of stainless steel, and I correctly assume it’s the walk-in refrigerator. Paul opens the metal door and gestures inside. “The walk-in is to remain clean and organized at all times. The introductory packet provided by your instructor details the health department codes for food storage. You will be tested on those first thing tomorrow.”
Paul shuts the metal door and moves to the wooden one that opens to the other quarter of the space. “This is the pantry,” he informs us. “Like the walk-in, it is to remain organized at ALL times. I can’t emphasize the importance of this enough. For service to run smoothly, everyone who works here needs to be able to open these doors and go straight to what they need.”
“Understood, Chef,” I respond.
“Yes, with your Cordon Bleu background, I expect you do,” he replies with a warm look. Once again, he holds his gaze on me a little longer than necessary.
Robbs visibly tenses beside me. He clears his throat. “Chef, I was told we’d receive our jackets when we arrived this morning?” he asks in an obvious attempt to steer the subject away from my education.
“You will receive your jackets when I decide you’ve earned them, Chef,” Paul answers firmly. He turns to face the rest of the kitchen. “Chefs, gather for just a moment please,” he calls out.
There is a clamoring of noise as each of the chefs pull pans off of their stoves and place utensils to the side. They line up in front of us as if they are military officers reporting for inspection.
“Chefs, these are the new up and comers who will be competing for the apprenticeship spot.” As Paul introduces us by name, I now feel as if I’m the one being inspected. “Chefs Robbs, Jenny, and Kiara, this is most of the team you’ll be working with. They will now introduce themselves and describe their duties.”
The portly, bald man standing to the far right takes one step forward. “Welcome to Fission. I’m Chef Michael, and I’m the Roast Chef. I also serve as Butcher. I hope to enjoy working with all of you.”
Chef Michael steps back and is followed by Chef Cole the saucier, Chef Henry the seafood specialist, Chef Harrison the grill-master, and Chef Jacqueline the fry chef. They each greet us warmly, but with reservation, as if they’re sizing us up to determine if we’re worthy to be in their kitchen.
“Chef Patrick and his assistant, Chef Carlton, as well as Chef Claire, our pâtissier, will arrive for the evening shift,” Paul explains. “You will meet them before you leave tonight. If there are no questions, I’ll escort you to the server station, where you will receive your shadow assignments.”
I sit alone at a small table in the back of Fission. This is my third day at the restaurant, and the first I’ll be allowed to cook. It’s Thursday morning, and the first challenge for the weekend special will start in half an hour.
I’ve discovered I like to come in early and enjoy a pot of coffee before work begins. It gives me time to settle in and feel comfortable in the restaurant I still find a bit intimidating. Over the past two days, I managed to follow all of Paul’s instructions and complete the chores assigned to me with a happy disposition. Tuesday, I shadowed Kinley, the head-waitress. I made polite conversation with the customers, carried her trays, and filled her drink orders. When we arrived yesterday, Jenny, Robbs, and I were informed we would be the cleaning crew for the day. Jenny and I bussed tables, washed dishes, and cleaned the bathrooms, all the while maintaining a pleasant, cheerful attitude. Robbs begrudgingly completed the same tasks, letting everyone in the restaurant know by his attitude that he felt he was above doing the scut work.
I hope my positive attitude, especially compared to Robbs’ petulant one, is the reason Paul seems drawn to me. Over the last two days, I caught him gazing in my direction several times. He even helped me clean the ladies’ room yesterday. He said as the boss, he believes he should never ask an employee to do something he’s not willing to do himself. While that’s a wonderful philosophy, I still feel like there’s more to the attention he’s giving me than professional admiration.
As I sip my coffee, I wonder about today’s cooking challenge. I am confident in my skills, but I haven’t seen Jenny or Robbs cook yet. For all I know, they are better than I am. I check the time on my phone just as Jenny walks through the front door. She sees me sitting at the back table, grabs a coffee mug from behind the bar, and joins me.
“Good morning,” she greets me brightly. “Are you ready for the challenge?”
“I hope so,” I answer with a nervous grin. “Paul said these challenges will be specific. I wonder what we’ll be doing today.”
“I don’t know. I must say, the way this competition is set up reminds me of all of those cooking shows on television. I keep expecting a cameraman to pop up any second.”
“That’s exactly what I think!” I agree with a laugh. “I admit, culinary reality TV is one of my few guilty pleasures. I watch all of them.”
“Me too!” Jenny replies. “I’d love to be on one someday… or judge one.”
“Maybe one day we’ll do one together.” I don’t make friends easily, but I like Jenny. She seems kind, honest, and genuine.
“My parents would just die if I end up on television,” Jenny says. “They’re incredibly conservative. I was never allowed to watch anything but the public access channels. And even then, they had to approve each show before I watched it.”
“That sounds rough,” I respond uncomfortably. I know what’s coming next, and I dread it.
“What are your parents like?” Jenny asks.
This is a common question, and one I never answer honestly. “They were great,” I answer quickly. “But they passed away when I was sixteen. I’ve been on my own ever since.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that,” Jenny quickly replies. She can sense I am uncomfortable and pulls out her cell phone. “I’m going to take advantage of these last few minutes and study.”
I know this is her way of giving me some space, and I appreciate it. One thing I said to Jenny was true. I’ve been on my own since I was sixteen years old. Everything else was a lie. My parents weren’t the best people, and they aren’t dead… at least, not that I know of. My earliest memories with them are happy ones, but everything changed when I was around nine years old. That’s when my father, a once-successful salesman, lost his job at the company he’d been with for twenty years. Instead of picking himself up and finding a new job, my father drowned his depression in drugs and alcohol. And instead of putting her foot down or leaving him, my mother joined him in his addictions.
After their savings ran out, my parents started selling drugs to pay for their habits. Between my ninth and sixteenth birthday, we moved fourteen times. Each new place was smaller and dirtier than the last, and I was usually left to fend for myself. When I was sixteen, I arrived home from school one day to find my parents had moved without me. The note they left behind is still tucked away in a box in a far corner of one of my closets. Dearest Kiara, You’ll be better off without us. One day you’ll understand.
I have no siblings and both sets of my grandparents died before I was born—that note was the end of my family. I shamefully explained my situation to the landlord, and he let me stay in the apartment until I graduated from high school. I worked two jobs to pay the rent and utilities, and I’ve become quite adept at taking care of myself. I’m not ashamed of my past, but it’s not something I like to talk about, and I’m relieved Jenny isn’t pushing the subject.
“I hope we’re not required to make a dessert,” Jenny says from across the table. “I haven’t mastered pastries yet.”
“I doubt it,” I assure her. “The winning dish is going to be one of the weekend specials, so I’m assuming we’ll be doing entrees.”
“I hope so.” She sighs. “I admit, I’m nervous.”
“I am too,” I agree as I refill each of our coffee mugs.
“If I don’t win, I hope you do,” Jenny says. “Robbs is a total ass. I wish we could vote him off the island.”
“That would make life easier,” I reply. As we joke, Robbs walks in the front door. He sees us immediately and joins us at the table.
“Good morning, ladies,” he says with an arrogant grin. “Are you ready for the first of those ass kickings I promised you?”
“Sure, Robbs.” Jenny smirks. “Give it your best shot. At the end of the day, we’ll know who’s got what it takes to be here.”
“Your trash talking could use some work, Jen.” Robbs smirks.
“I’d prefer if you didn’t call me Jen, Robert,” Jenny retorts.
As they glare at each other, Paul emerges from the kitchen with a pile of black jackets over one arm.
“Good morning,” he greets us. “I hope you’re all well rested and ready to get to work. There are three open stations in the kitchen. Today’s assignment is fairly straightforward. You will each get a full hour to prepare an entrée. You must incorporate Latin cuisine with any other cuisines of your choosing. You’re also required to incorporate at least one wood-fired element in your dish. At the end of the hour, you must present five professionally plated portions. Any questions?”
Carla has always been a fan of romance novels. To augment what she made waiting on tables to help her way through college, Carla also did some freelance work in the romance genre. Now she enjoys living vicariously through her characters in her New Adult Romance books.
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