THE TASTE OF MURDER by Trisha Sugarek
©The contestants were called back to the set and lined up in front of the judges. Steve reiterated for the viewing audience the ingredients of the shopping bag. He then called on the first chef to present their dish which, by now, was sitting in front of each of the judges.
“Judges, I have prepared for you, duck in an orange and veal sauce with a brussel sprouts and apple slaw.” Chef Lisa Brownley told them.
The judges sampled the dish and gave their critiques.
“Chef Lisa,” Jeff Kirikos spoke, “the dish’s presentation is beautiful…”
“Thank you, Chef,” Lisa replied.
“…however, the orange in the veal sauce is a little overwhelming.”
“Wow, really? You think?” Lisa’s tone was sarcastic at the judge’s critique.
Alexis Gemignani jumped in, “I disagree with Chef Jeff and I love the raw sprouts and apple slaw. It adds a nice fresh taste.”
“Thank you, Chef.” Lisa smiled at the judge.
“Judge Matt Murphy, what do you think?” Steve asked.
“I’m not a fan of raw brussel sprouts but overall the dish was good.”
The cameras went black while Chef Lisa’s dish was removed and the next entrée was placed in front of the judges.
“I need fresh water here, please,” Jeff Kirikos said. A crew member rushed in with a pitcher of cold water. A makeup person hurried over to remove shine from Alexis’ nose.
“Clear the set, people. We’re rolling,” the director yelled.
“Chef Suzette, what have you prepared for our judges?” the host asked.
“I have prepared Peking duck won tons for you with a sweet potato mash,” the contestant explained.
The three judges sampled the won tons and smiled.
“Very creative, chef,” Alexis Gemignani smiled.
“Delicious.” Matt chimed in. “Very nice, but I find the portion a little large, Chef.”
The camera panned to the third judge, Jeff Kirikos.
“I like the won ton idea very much. Unfortunately I got an inedible and rather large piece of duck skin in one of mine.”
Suzette blushed. “I’m sorry, Chef.”
The process was repeated; the won tons were removed and three attractive dishes with duck nestled in sauce and perfectly cooked brussel sprouts were placed before the judges.
Cutlery was replaced with new and makeup artists scurried away.
“Chef Alex, tell the judges about your entrée.”
The camera zoomed in on a perfectly plated dish. “Judges, I prepared a sweet and sour duck, making a sauce using the cotton candy, red wine and veal demi-glace. With pan roasted brussel sprouts with pancetta. Please enjoy!”
The three judges sampled the plate, chewing and eyeing the contestants.
“Very nice,” Matt Murphy was the first to speak. “The sweet and sour is delicate and doesn’t over-whelm the duck. It’s the best entrée for my palate.”
“Thank you Chef,” Alex beamed.
While the other judges critiqued the dish, Kirikos was practically gobbling his entrée. He was clearly a big fan of the sweet and sour sauce.
“Adding the pancetta to the roasted sprouts,” Judge Alexis Gemignani began, “was a brilliant move. Repurposing cooked duck is not easy but you were able to do it successfully.
Also many contestants either drown the protein in sauce or don’t put enough on the plate. Here you also succeeded. I would put this on my restaurant’s menu.”
“Thank you so much, Chef.” Alex was beside himself at the praise from one of the finest chefs in the country.
Suddenly Jeff Kirikos, sitting next to Alexis, began to cough and claw at his shirt collar. Alexis turned to him; the director yelled ‘Cut!’ The Chef’s personal assistant, standing behind the cameras, began to walk quickly to him. Before anyone could react Jeff fell forward, his face landing in the almost empty plate of sweet and sour duck.
Chef Alexis stood, her chair tumbling over. “Jeff!” she bent over the prostate form of the unconscious man. Chef Matt rose and crossed to Jeff, sitting him up.
The director yelled, “Call 9-1-1! Get those guys off the set!” He waved in the general direction of the contestants.
An assistant producer herded the contestants off the set and back towards the green room doors.
“Fuck! Is he gonna be all right?” Alex asked.
“Jesus, what just happened?” Lisa said as she was ushered through the doors.
“We’re screwed,” Suzette muttered.
Steve Parsons grabbed a napkin and began to wipe sauce and duck from Jeff’s face and spoke to him in low tones. “Jeff, can you hear me? Come on, buddy, wake up.”
A bloody brown foam trickled from the lips of the world renowned chef.