By Emanuele Stefanori & Michela Guida, translated into English by Ruth Stephens
Chapter 7 – The New Chef
Without attracting the attention of Oreste or Stefano, who are deep in conversation, Chiara chooses the right moment to slip away from the kitchen and leave them to it.
Returning to the dining room, she glances around her to see which tables need to be relaid and how many clients are still remaining.
“Signorina, excuse me, could you bring us the menu?”
Only now does Chiara notice the new guests, still waiting to order. Somewhat surprised, she takes two menus to the table and returns to the kitchen to announce the arrival of two more clients.
“Papa’, did you invite those two people to sit down in there? Haven’t we already finished serving?” But having asked the question , Chiara sees that her father is alone.
“Go and tell them the kitchen is closed, Chiara. Your brother never said a word to me, but now he’s made his decision and he’s already gone. Right now, believe me, I really don’t know what to do…”
“It’s OK , Papa’, I’ll deal with it,” replies the girl. Returning to the dining room, however, she is surprised to see that one of the two men, the one with the yellow shirt, is reading the menu and taking notes at the same time in a little notebook. Nor only that, but on the cover of the notebook is clearly written ‘Buon Appetito!’
Quickly, almost without stopping to think, Chiara runs back to the kitchen.
“Papa’, go and take their order, “ she says, putting on her brother’s chef’s jacket, relighting the burner and putting water on to boil for the pasta.
“But what are you doing? Why haven’t you sent them away?”asks Oreste, puzzled.
“Do you really want Buon Appetito’s Three Meatballs?” replies his daughter. “Well, trust me, I know what to do. Go in there and take care of the guests. One of them, the one with the horrible yellow shirt, is the critic we’ve been expecting.”
Oreste looks at her in amazement; he almost takes leave of his senses. He’s beside himself with excitement.
Signora Carla, returning to the kitchen after having tidied the fridge and the pantry, tries to calm her husband and sets to work straight away with her daughter. More confused than ever, poor Oreste is unable even to ask for an explanation. He watches while Chiara carefully chooses saucepans and utensils and then decides that, in spite of the situation, he has nothing to lose.
Taking a deep breath, he returns to the dining room and approaches the new clients’ table. As before, he puts on an air of calm geniality, making small talk and then giving advice on the house speciality and taking their order.
As he enters the kitchen Oreste sees that Chiara has two little plates, elegant and sophisticated starters, ready on the worktop as a welcome. Incredulous, he looks at his daughter and is lost for words.
“Well? Their order? What have they chosen? Did you recommend the lamb?”
Chiara, like a true professional, bombards her father with questions. Oreste almost mechanically gives her the order and takes the starters into the dining room.
“You wouldn’t believe the look on their faces when they saw and tasted the starters you prepared!” Oreste enthuses, coming back to the kitchen. “They seemed really impressed!” He watches Chiara as she moves confidently between the hobs, marvelling at her competence.
“I don’t understand anything any more,” he says “Where did you learn to cook? And when?”
“This doesn’t seem quite the right moment, Papa’, but I’ll explain everything later. Right now we have a dinner to serve and the Three Meatballs to win….. Here you are, they’re ready… Take out the first courses!”
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