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The New Executive Chef?

- - - - - mark cross mariya fleischer soul brothers & sisters food

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#1
Mariya Fleischer

Mariya Fleischer

    She walks like she don't care; Smooth as silk, cool as air

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It was a sunny afternoon in Kiribi. Mariya looked out of the window of her office, admiring the greenery neatly planted outside along the streets. Her company, Soul Brothers & Sisters Ltd was recently established with the funds from the Kiribi government. Things had been done in a big bang approach, with the establishment of three company operations in Kiribi, Arkania and Alderaan. It was a kind of growth that most other companies would envy, but it came at a price.

 

The new CEO was feeling rather stretched from her grueling schedule. She had to juggle between assignments from the Collective, the Commenor Systems Alliance and her own business. She was thankful for the help she had received along the way, with her personal butler Gordon running the vineyard business in Alderaan and her personal assistant standing in for her in business discussions when she was away. Still, there was a position that she wished to fill in for a long time. It was a very important role, someone who could represent the soul of her company's food creations.

 

The role of the executive chef. 

 

Mariya needed to hire someone who was not only good with his culinary skills, but more importantly, to be able to run the kitchens well. The cantinas were currently running with chefs capable of replicating dishes that she had spent time creating with the help of other culinary experts, but it was not something she would see herself doing forever. She needed the executive chef to be capable of developing new dishes and creations. Headhunters had been on the look out and sending in potential candidates for interviews, but somehow she was not satisfied.

 

She sipped on her cup of stimcaf, browsing through the latest resumes sent by the headhunter firms. Perhaps one of them might be suitable.

 

OOC: Mark Cross, here's the thread I have promised to write with you. Do join in.



#2
Mark Cross

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"Hmm..." Mark pondered his bowl of Soul Noodles. "Not bad...but missing something..."

 

Mark's life had taken a turn for the better since getting hold of a ship. A very modest ship, cobbled together from scrap that would threaten to fall apart on him at least once into any voyage. The ability to travel without hitchhiking his way around the Galaxy meant he could place himself in the hot spots. Most of all, it had enabled him to spend most of his time pursuing what he loved, food. Very little of the hired gun, wrong side of the law kind of life that he dabbled in to put credits in his account.

 

Having got all he could from Commenor, he decided to do something for himself, plotting a course for Kiribi to check out one of Soul Brothers and Sister's cantinas. He'd seen the meteoric rise of the company, having opened three locations straight off the bat. Perhaps some work would come his way in the future, he'd certainly be trying to make a contact or two, but for now he was here to enjoy the food.

 

He took a long sip of Soul Lager, a particular highlight, so much so that his usual order of whiskey (he'd graduated to the second best on the menu, a sign of slightly better times, before looking to the nearest member of staff he could find. "Are the noodles machine made, by any chance?" he picked away at the plate.

 

"The chefs monitor the process carefully, and it took a lot of time to practice the recipe..." came the reply. "...but yes. How did you know?"

 

Mark took another mouthful of the dish. "It's tough to tell, honestly...I mean fresh pasta or noodles is always miles better than the dried stuff..." he thought about it for a second. "It's just a little too perfect, if that makes sense. Cooking needs that little touch of human error sometimes, the odd happy accident, something that on paper shouldn't be there, but it adds an extra dimension that elevates the whole dish..."

 

He glanced up to see the waiter listening intently. Normally when he went off on tangents, Cross found people would instantly switch off and look at him blankly. 

 

"I'm sorry, I tend to go on sometimes. I'm a chef, food's one of those things I just love a little too much"

 

Mariya Fleischer



#3
Mariya Fleischer

Mariya Fleischer

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The waiter nodded his head in acknowledgment to Mark Cross's words. The name tag on his chest read "Eddie Price" and he was a college student working in his summer vacation. It was not often that a customer would actually talk about the food into such details. Most of the time, it was praises about the taste or complaints about the saltiness. Either the customer before him was a real chef, or he was just trying to pull the wool over his eyes. But he knew he had to listen. The customer's feedback was always important. At least, that was what his manager had drilled him to do because the rich crazy CEO had insisted that the they were not merely a food company.

 

There was also a bonus for referring new hires. Perhaps this customer could really be a new employee. 

 

"You... a chef? Why not apply for one of our job openings? Here, take a look," he whipped out a datapad and tapped on the display to navigate to the company's career portal. The list of openings were cheerfully displayed in a bright yellow font, the company's trademark colour. He eagerly scrolled down the list, showing a whole bunch of opportunities ranging from waiter, manager to chef positions. He clicked on the chef tab and a bunch of fancy sounding names appeared in front of Mark's eyes. Chef de cuisine, Commis, Saucier, Garde manger, Sous-chef... the list went on and on.

 

"Lots of openings... see? You should apply, pal... I can even refer you. An internal reference is always easier." Eddie's eyes lit up at the potential bonus he could be earning and smiled eagerly. A little too eager, but he was hoping for some new credits in his account so that he could buy that new hover board he had been eyeing on. Then he would become one of the cool dudes back in college.



#4
Mark Cross

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Mariya Fleischer

Mark’s eyes skimmed over the datapad as the various roles whizzed past. For once, he wasn’t necessarily in the market for a job, but if the right opportunity came along, especially for a company that was very much on the rise? Well, who was he to complain.

“How about this one?” Mark tapped the display on a position that read ‘Executive Chef’ and began to read the job description. The food industry had a habit of creating a number of fancy-sounding titles for meagre positions, but he was experienced enough to know what to look for. It would be a chance to put his own stamp on things, and that interested him, a lot.

“I think this one might be for me...” He span it around for Eddie to read. “Think you can put the word in?”

#5
Mariya Fleischer

Mariya Fleischer

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Eddie was a little surprised when Mark Cross pointed at the executive chef role. That was something that was probably out of his league, no? Then again, there were no company rules saying that he was restricted to referring only cantina staff, and the payout might be much more if Mark was actually hired. Determined to make things work, he nodded his head furiously.

 

"Executive chef? Well... sure! I'm going to talk to my manager on how we can go about applying for you."

 

He hastily left the customer and went into the backroom. Minutes ticked by before he reappeared, looking rather crestfallen as someone else with a blazer approached Mark. The name tag on his blazer read "Blaze Chez, Manager".

 

"Hello Sir. Unfortunately we are unable to accept your request here in our cantina. The executive chef role requires a direct application at our head office at Kiribi. Our human resource department is also located there and they should be able to answer your queries."

 

Blaze courteously offered Mark a holocard showing the address of Soul Brothers & Sisters Ltd located at the city's business district. A quick substation ride or a hover cab would do the job to reach it. 

 

"Now, is there anything else we can assist you with?"



#6
Mark Cross

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Mark took the time alone to finish off his plate of Soul Noodles, and continue to work his way through his glass of beer. This would be interesting. For once, he was in a position where if he left with no job, he would have at least had a good meal, a chance to check out something he'd wanted to for the first time in a while, and maybe make a contact or two along the way. If he was going to extend his stay a little longer, it may as well be swinging for the fences.

 

His eyes wandered aimlessly around the place for a short while. It was a unique experience, not having anywhere he needed to be, wandering into a food establishment without having some endgame he was pursuing. It was a slightly unnerving one. Maybe getting a shot at the position wouldn't be the worst thing in the wo...

 

...Oh dear. The look on Eddie's face told Mark everything he needed to know. He was probably in line for a few extra credits out of this, at the very least a pat on the back.

 

"Thank you very much!" Mark listened intently, accepting the card. Well, at least it wasn't a no. He drained the last of his glass before answering the second question. "Just for the record, your server Eddie? He's a credit to the organisation, I think he deserves a raise!"

 

Mark took his jacket from the back of the chair (a light one, it was a nice day outside), throwing a sly wink at the young lad. He headed for the exit in search of a hover cab. In theory, he should have focussed on looking for a place to stay for the night, but the more he thought about it, the more the prospect of this job excited him. He was doing the usual, following his heart, the sensible stuff could come later.



#7
Mariya Fleischer

Mariya Fleischer

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While Mark Cross had his meal and left the cantina, someone else had been working.

 

The blonde had finished browsing through the resumes applying for the role of executive chef and highlighted a few potential ones for further interviews. The headhunter firms would do the rest of the work and liaise with the HR department. The day continued with a long meeting discussion on budgeting, coupled with a second cup of stimcaf. By the time the meeting ended, Mariya was ready for a break. Sometimes she wondered if she was cut out for this role of running a company. There were lots of meetings to attend, paperwork to approve and never ending networking sessions. Someday, she would have cut down the contracts on her mercenary work and focus her attention to building the company. Might help with her health also, considering she was always prone to injuries in the field.

 

A knock on her door. She turned, her secretary entering and bringing in the latest batch of food samples developed from the kitchens. This time, it was food rations. She had decided to develop them since most of the food rations available in the market were terrible in taste. She gave a sigh, remembering that this was something she had yet to complete.

 

She stuck her spoon into the decent looking grub and started her sampling, making some notes on her terminal regarding the overall taste of the main courses. Appearance, acidity, texture and flavours were some of the judging criteria she had picked up along the way to look out for. It took her a good thirty minutes, but she was definitely glad that she actually enjoyed the latest samples. Her fingers happily clicked the send button on her terminal to inform her staff to submit the new dish for government approval.

 

She looked at the clock. One hour before end of the day.


Edited by Mariya Fleischer, 08 January 2018 - 06:02 AM.


#8
Mark Cross

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Mark Cross came skidding into the Human Resources department. He'd definitely got this the wrong way round, timing wise, as by the time he'd arrived at Head Office, he could see some of the staff getting packed up and prepared to leave for the day. The last thing they wanted was a new project to start on, such as a new applicant. He caught a few sideways glances as he powered through the building. To be honest, he knew their pain, it was often when he worked in bars that had been the worst. Someone came in for a drink a little too close to closing time, and never seemed too keen to drink up afterwards.

 

Definitely should have found a place to sleep tonight, came back tomorrow...oh well...

 

"Hey, I've been sent here by the manager at your bistro here to apply for the Executive Chef position" he said to the first person whom he made eye contact with that didn't seem really unhappy to see him. He slid across a datapad to the other side of the desk. "I prepared a copy of my resume for you"



#9
Mariya Fleischer

Mariya Fleischer

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The human resource lady manning the desk went by the name of Julie. A pleasant looking lady with two children to take care of at home. She was about to go fetch her children from the day care centre when someone by the name of Mark Cross came stumbling in through the office doors with a resume to submit. She had no idea how come the security allowed him to get in, but she forced herself to pick up the resume and greet the man standing in front of the desk.

 

"Mr... Mark Cross... I take it," her eyes darted to the datapad and scrolled through the resume quickly. The write up was decent, but so were most resumes which had applied for this position. She finished scanning the datapad and hastily indicated an approval from the human resource screening checklist to help him and herself along. The sooner she finished, the faster she could leave the office. 

 

"Mr Cross. I will send you for an interview then. Please, follow me."

 

She stood up from her desk and requested for the stranger to follow her. There were stairs available, but she made her way to the lift which was quicker. The lift took the both of them up into the top floor and she handed the datapad to the secretary sitting at the reception counter.

 

"Julie? I thought you are going home by now?"

"Hello Alex. I'm going off soon. He's here for the executive chef interview."

 

"Yea, but you know the time, she is busy with..."

 

The two ladies lowered their tones and whispered softly to each other, trying to get some sort of a compromise. Eventually, Alexarie stood up and pressed the buzzer next to the important looking door behind her.

 

***

 

Mariya heard the buzz. "Come in!" she shouted over the music that was blasting from the surround speakers. The blonde had changed into her exercise attire and was halfway through her shadowboxing routine against the mirror. The door opened and Alexarie walked over, whispering the context of what happened into her ear. The blonde picked up the towel hanging on her chair and wiped her sweat off her forehead. Emerald eyes studied at the newcomer intently for a moment.

 

"Mark? I'll give you 45 minutes to whip something decent for a hungry soul. Alexarie? Please show Mark the kitchen of the cafeteria below."



#10
Mark Cross

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"I wonder..." Mark thought to himself as he was led to the cafeteria kitchen, which had long since been shut up and packed down for the evening. He'd have to make a point of coming back to clean up afterwards - Coming in for a day of work to find your work area a total mess was one of his worst nightmares, that unfortunately happened far too often. Unfortunately, the 45 minutes he had didn't allow for tidying, if he was going to work with his original idea.

 

Alexarie made her exit, but by this point hadn't noticed, he was a wave of activity, pulling out bowls, pans, raw ingredients. This was going to be a challenge.

 

Mark was going to make his version of Soul Noodles. Almost a little arrogant to try and better the recipe of the company you were currently seeking employment from perhaps, but he needed to make an impact if he was going to have half an opportunity. Chances are most of the potential applicants went through some of the best culinary schools, worked in some of the finest establishments, rather than hopping into whatever place would let him use their kitchens and working from there.

 

Perhaps worse than arrogant, he was being ambitious. A good noodle soup in his opinion needed two things, freshly made noodles by hand, and a flavorful broth. Normally, he would have preferred a lot more time to infuse the liquid with spices, and he would have liked the ability to do it again if his noodles didn't turn out quite right first hand. With 45 minutes, he didn't have those luxuries. It was perfectly within his capabilities, and this was perhaps a lower pressure situation than it could have been compared to some of his previous financial situations, but still there was little margin for error here.

 

He had a few tricks up his sleeve, a combination of fresh and dried spices to try and boost what he could, at least some level of multi-tasking skill that often eluded human males, plus the experience of preparing something similar many times. It was light, fresh, tasty, and (relatively) easy to prepare, as long as you didn't mind using pre-packaged pasta, which wasn't the same, but good enough in a pinch. He toiled away, using every second of his available time, culminating in an end product, one bowl of food. He took a taste, it was well seasoned, and the powerful concoction punched him in the jaw with Asian influence. Perfect.

 

Alexarie appeared as if on cue, and Mark followed obediently behind, clutching his creation in both hands. 

 

Mariya Fleischer


Edited by Mark Cross, 09 January 2018 - 05:20 PM.


#11
Mariya Fleischer

Mariya Fleischer

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Alexarie was punctual in her timing, something that was part of her job requirements. She saw that Mark Cross had finished his work and was about to bring the bowl of hot noodles with him. She shook her head and indicated for him to leave the food on a nearby table, while she laid out a pair of chopsticks and a spoon. A minute later, the blonde CEO stepped through the doors of the kitchen, still dressed in her exercise outfit with her towel hanging across her neck. She walked over to the bowl of noodles for a moment and looked at the new chef.

 

"Soul noodles? Alright, Mark..."

 

She picked up the pair of chopsticks from the table and bent her head over the bowl, smelling the scent carefully.

 

"Looks like you added spices. Hmmm... let's see... paprika, pepper..."

 

She put her spoon into the bowl of soup and took a sip. "...black hole pepper, negamo...I think there's catabar..."

 

Her face was expressionless while she spoke, her chopsticks sticking into the bowl of soup and pulling out the noodles for a bite. She chewed slowly and drank a second spoonful of soup with it, trying to judge the whole dish's flavour. She also took a bite of the nerf nuggets came along with the meal and concluded several observations. The noodles were the ones available in the kitchen. So were the nerf nuggets, though extra seasonings were added. The main changes to the dish were the soup itself, which was cooked from scratch using a combination of spices and other soup ingredients. 

 

"Buckwheat noodles is a style of food that is highly possible to be invented by people from Atrisia. The original taste of the dish is to combine a well made staple with a light salty soy soup base. The lightness of the soup allows the well made buckwheat noodles to stand out. In short, the star of the dish has always been the noodles."

 

She paused, not sure if Mark would have noticed where she was heading towards.

 

"You seemed to have comprehended something... differently. You put your energy on the soup, and no doubt it was great with full of flavour. If this was any other noodles, this would have been a win because the soup is usually the star. But buckwheat noodles soaked in a highly flavourful spiced filled soup base? What do you think?"

 

Mariya pushed the bowl of contents towards its maker.


Edited by Mariya Fleischer, 13 January 2018 - 02:13 PM.


#12
Mark Cross

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Mark carefully picked himself up a sample, making sure to get a bit of everything together. He noted the flavour combinations, not quite right. Also, his attempt at making the noodles himself had failed in the timeframe, so he had to use what he could.

 

"I'd hoped the nutty quality of the noodles would have added something. Probably should have used light soy rather than dark..."

 

He thought aloud. Crashed and burned, probably. He needed a Hail Mary.

 

"But let me play Devil's Advocate for a minute...this is a commercial venture first and foremost, right? You've probably spent a whole stack of credits on machines to make noodles so they're just right to be at the forefront of a dish...but how many customers want something so delicate from a bistro? You have three locations, three different local cuisines, plus adventurers, travellers, merchants. How many target markets are you actually hitting with that product in the first place?"

 

 



#13
Mariya Fleischer

Mariya Fleischer

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"Yes, it is a business. The buckwheat noodles is not the top seller but people are buying it... " She paused for a moment, her eyes narrowing. "Actually, why are we even talking about the business model when the original topic was to taste your cooking?"

 

She had a good mind to stop the whole discussion, but there was something about the soup that made her think otherwise. Granted, Mark Cross had messed with the original recipe and failed, but she never expected him to be familiar with buckwheat noodles. As he said, it was not exactly the most common dish. Putting the noodles aside, the soup base was a winner. A little too spicy for her taste buds but she could see some people who loved spices would actually like it.

 

"Let's put this straight. I asked for a decent meal to be cooked. You did cook a decent soup, but it did not fit into the overall dish. In short, you failed. However... I'll give you another chance."

 

A pause to let the fact sink in. Also, for dramatic effect just for the fun of it. Mariya liked to amuse herself sometimes and today's lucky pick was Mark. Her dead serious face was hiding the laughter within her.

 

"I'll give you thirty minutes to cook another dish. All ingredients in this kitchen are available for your usage. This dish needs to represent who you are. Not what you think my company should be cooking. I want to know who you are as a chef. I hope you are ready, Mark. Because..."

 

Emerald eyes glanced at the clock. It read 6 14 pm.

 

"Your thirty minutes start now."

 

With that, she got up from her seat and left the kitchen, grinning mischievously when she was out of Mark's view. 


Edited by Mariya Fleischer, 16 January 2018 - 02:27 AM.