“Mr. Curtis is it? My, my! 16 and already a phenomenal cook! I have to say I really enjoyed your carrot soup. Much better than the lamb stew that your Sous-Chef prepared. Tell him it was a bit bland, ooh apart from the cumin and ginger, a very nice touch.
Andy coughed as if on cue. Mr. Bellerman got the message, and smiled wryly at Charlie.
“You added that didn’t you?” he chuckled. Charlie blushed.
“Well no matter, I’m certainly not on the road to giving you a bad review at the moment, that’s for sure. Now all there is left to try is your scrumptious looking pudding. Compliments to the chef.”
Charlie let out a small smile, then watching intently as the critic took his first bite.
He carried on watching, now with horror as the man’s mouth had just dropped.
“OhMyFod!” he managed to muffle, ditching all pretences of a man with manners and standards. He finally swallowed.
“It’s like… It’s like I’ve died and gone to heaven.” He turned to look Charlie straight in the eye. The pair sighed huge waves of relief.
“You my boy, have managed to do what hasn’t been done here since the day it was opened. To cook something so brilliant, it brings the customer back to their days as a kid. Providing their mum could cook of course. And you, have just earned your restaurant a Michelin star! Mark my words, whatever it takes to make it happen!” He looked sternly at Andy. “Providing he stays here of course.” Andy nodded rapidly.
“Thank you sir, I’m so grateful to hear you of all people say that!”
“Oh no my dear boy, the pleasure’s all mine. In fact, I might even bring my family here.” At that moment Andy fainted, and with reason too.
Julie burst out of the kitchen. She couldn’t contain her happiness anymore and started screaming and laughing and hugging Charlie and jumping all at the same time. She suddenly stopped as the owner of L’Enfenterie was being stared at by the whole restaurant. After a quick composure she helped Charlie drag poor Andy back into the kitchen.
As he closed the door firmly with a loud cause, Charlie called “Hey maman!” As a response his mother quickly shushed him and waved him over from the other side of the hallway.
He came into the living room to find his dad snoring on one chair while she sat curled up on the sofa watching some drippy romance film. Despite her loud, oblivious crunching noises she made with her popcorn, nothing was enough to wake Mr. Curtis.
“So.” Mum started, without taking her eyes off the screen. “How did your shift go?” She took another lump of toffee popcorn out of the packet and started munching loudly. Charlie had to stop himself before he spoke. Sometimes he so desperately wanted to tell his parents what he was really doing, but he knew it was pointless. They were a mundane family who preferred to live a comfortable, ‘normal’ life- and he wouldn’t be able to make them see otherwise. So he had made up a cover story from day one that he spent 6 hours every night washing dishes instead of winning Michelin stars.
“Oh, yeah. It went okay. I got a bonus today.”
“What? I thought ten Euros an hour was already a decent salary for cleaning plates. They’re being awfully generous to you.”
That was the only thing she was suspicious about. He couldn’t lie about his salary because they just knew. His father was the type of father who had no knowledge of the word privacy. To him the word was non-existent. S Charlie’s father knew everything he did, eventually. What he did online, what he earned, what he spent. But, despite this, Charlie’s father was always a kind, humble man (despite his stalking) and didn’t mind too much about what his son did so long as he knew.
“ Oh you know how you have super senses with your nose and mouth because you’re a greedy pig?”
“Only kidding. Well I made a chilli tonight.”
“Ugh! Glad I wasn’t there to try that!” Charlie’s mum was a horrendous cook. In fact, you wouldn’t know the half of it. Mrs. Curtis smiled, her eyes still glued to the screen.
“There’s still some in the oven if you want to try it.” She challenged.
“Umm. Maybe tomorrow.” He yawned like a hippo. Fuuny that, how working for a five sta-, Michelin star restaurant took it out of you.
“Goodnight mon cherie.”