1707. A chef for the homeless

“I think caviar is vastly overrated,” said Lord Brackenbury. This was at a meeting called by the local Anglican vicar. The number of down-and-outs on the streets had sky-rocketed. The local vestry decided they would provide a grand Christmas dinner for the homeless. And the wonderful thing was that Lord Brackenbury was lending his cook for the day. “Lending a Cook” might be too banal a description; Lord Brackenbury was “Providing the services of his Chef”.

“I think caviar is vastly overrated; although it doesn’t get simpler—or more elegant—than crème fraîche and caviar tartlets when served alongside a glass of sparkling wine. However, in the case of feeding the homeless at Christmas I think a carrot tart with ricotta, almond filling and pickled grapes sounds a lot healthier. And my chef Delphine makes it to perfection.”

“We were thinking along the lines,” said the vicar, “of something simpler. A slice of ham or turkey, with mashed potatoes and peas. Besides, I don’t think we could afford such extravagance.”

“And you need a chef for mashed potatoes?” said a stunned Lord Brackenbury. “Delphine wouldn’t have a clue how to go about doing that.”

The vicar was starting to get riled. “Delphine can’t be much of a cook if he doesn’t know how to boil a potato. I suggest…”

“I suggest,” interjected Lord Brackenbury, “that you find yourself another chef. I have standards. No wonder no one comes to church these days.”

“You can stick it up your…” declared the vicar. The vicar’s statement was interrupted by Lord Brackenbury rising from his chair; he gathered his proposed menu notes and stormed from the scene. Fortunately he forgot to take the main thing he had brought for the meeting to enjoy: elegant crème fraîche and caviar tartlets with a couple of bottles of sparkling wine.

“Ham, mashed spuds and peas it is,” said the vicar. “Cheers.” The meeting cut late into the evening.

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