Nervous was not the word. More like shaking in my boots. It was cold at five a.m. in the alley as I waited for someone to let me into the restaurant. Surrounded by the stained brick walls and the dumpsters and the rats I wondered if I was really ready for this. This was the big time. This was it.
The three cleanup guys came down the alley together and spoke in that rapid fire Spanish I couldn’t keep up with. I must have looked ridiculous in my white coat and my pale face and my glasses. My hands balls in my pockets and my eyes wide and hopeful. The bread guy came round the corner and I tensed up. He was unshaven and his eyes were bloodshot, he fumbled with the keys and hardly even looked at me. He smelled like vodka and sweat.
The kitchen of Les Halles was all at once spotless and messy, if that makes any sense. Pots and pans scrubbed a thousand times all hung in their specific places. Every sink deep and prophetically empty. Every burner matte black and ready to work. I’d been given a tour a few days before. I’d been told what I was supposed to do and I still had the list of prep work in my pocket. I’d read it several hundred times. My boyfriend had laughed, but he understood. This was my dream job.
Two hours seemed to fly by as I signed for deliveries of various vegetables, meats and so on. I broke down chickens and lamb shanks and every imaginable cut of meat. I started stocks and soups and watched the bread guy work his magic in his half asleep, half drunk rictus.
When the other line chefs came in they mostly ignored me. I felt like a kid, they all looked like they’d been out partying all night. I was so fresh faced. The fact was I’d been up late, unable to sleep. I’d thought about working, I’d thought about messing something vital up. I thought about him, the boss, the mystery. Anthony Bourdain. I wonder what my boyfriend thought when I climbed on top of him in the mists of my panic and kissed him until he was hard and rode him until we were spent. That’s what the mere thought of Tony Bourdain did to me.
I never would have guessed that would be the day. It was just past nine when someone ran in with fear in his eyes.
“Tony is three blocks away!”
I was told he almost never came by, especially this time of year. He was out traveling the world, with his cool attitude and his adventures spirit and those eyes…
Everyone went nuts, cleaning up, shifting things around, fixing their toques and washing their hands. Their slack faces and messy hair were replaced with determined looks of concentration and neat hair nets and hats.
He swaggered in and my knees gave a little. How could I be wet just by being in his presence? His gray hair combed back, his black t-shirt just a little tight and his jeans a little worn, making him look both European and pure New York all at once. He greeted the sous chef warmly, he tasted this or that, he looked at the specials menu, he glanced at all the stations.
When he got to me I looked down at the shrimp I was de-veining.
“New girl? What’s your station?”
“I, um, I… just… tournant, chef. I’m mostly just prepping.” oh god, I smelled like shrimp and I was a babbling idiot.
He smiled a big hungry wolf smile and looked at the sous chef who smiled back. They were laughing at me. I wanted to crawl into an oven. God, but I was nearly soaking through my uniform. He watched me de-vein. I was using ever ounce of my will not to shake, to do each shrimp perfectly.
He walked away checked another station, leaving me to melt. A few minutes later I hear him call the sous chef from the back “Maurice! Who the fuck butchered these chickens?”
My heart actually stopped beating. This was it. I was dead.
Maurice looked at me with a steely gaze and then he nodded his head towards the back walk in refrigerated pantry.
There he was with an apron on, sorting the chicken breasts I had just broke down. “this is good, this is fucking sloppy, this… I don’t even know what this is.”
He looked up at me, measuring me. “You ever learn how to cut French Chicken Breasts?”
He held out a huge knife, it gleamed perfect. He took out a fresh whole chicken and laid it out on a plastic board. He went at it like a surgeon, never a missed incision, never a hesitant slice. “Like that, a boneless breast with the first section of the wing.”
“I know.. I… yes chef.”
He let out a little laugh again at my flustered answer.
“I know it’s a bitch, first day and the boss shows up. It’s fine, you just don’t know how I like these cut.” he wiped his hands on a rag.
“You used to work at that fucking prick Letardi’s place in SoHo, right?” he somehow made fucking prick sound like a respectful compliment.
“Yes, chef.” I didn’t need to say it like that. I probably shouldn’t have kept saying it, but I meant it. Yes, chef. Yes.
“Yeah well if I catch you putting avocado foam on anything here I’ll kick your ass.” he laughed again walking over to me. The cold was getting to me, but my face was getting hotter. He was nearer and nearer and he was looking at me with curiosity.
I remember jokingly telling my boyfriend that if Anthony Bourdain cornered me I would do what ever he wanted. He agreed whole heartedly, because he was just as much of a fan as I was. I imagined what he would say when I told him about this, about the proximity, about the smell of him all spices and cologne.
Then he was too close. My breath caught. Was this really happening? He was backing me into the door of the walk in, leaning in and then he was kissing me.
All thought was gone. His lips were magical, they made my brain melt. I’ve never been kissed by lips like those. When his tongue darted in I tasted something, steak and crisp duck skin and lingering smoke. He was warm and rich and earthy and complex.
Then his hands were expertly opening my uniform. I didn’t know how he did it, but I felt the chill of the walk in on my skin. Then his hand snaking around me, pulling off my bra. His hands were everywhere, but not imposing, just so skilled. Then my nipples rock hard in the cold, suddenly covered my his boiling hot mouth.
He didn’t ask or tell me, but I was on my knees. He took off his apron and I tugged at his belt. Pulling at his zipper, then it was there heavy and meaty and mine. I wanted to worship him.
I licked and sucked and relished every inch of him. I went to work like a good girl, knowing we didn’t have much time, knowing that I had to get him off. Knowing I wanted to taste it so badly. I didn’t play around, I sucked, I stroked, I pulled and played with his balls. I almost gagged on the length of him, but I took him all in and was rewarded with a deep manly groan.
I sped up, he started tensing up, just then someone tried to open the door and we both spilled forward.
“What the fuck!” he yelled and pushed the door back closed almost decapitating a line cook.
“Keep going!” he commanded, looking down at me.
“Yes, chef.” I gushed as I jumped back onto him, hungry for the taste of him and hungry to be his little back room slut.
I went to work again, every inch of my mouth sucking, tasting his sea salt and his spice and his hard power. He bucked against me and I was suddenly in control of this powerhouse. He gasped and squirmed and I realized I could stop now, I would have him. I wouldn’t though, I wanted him all.
It came in thick splashes. I can’t tell you how it tasted, it’s a secret. All the spices and glorious salty complexity. The man dined with gods and I had a little taste of his very essence.
Back at my station I knew people were looking at my tousled hair and my red lips. They knew. I could only imagine he tested a lot of new girls this way and probably more than a few new boys. I chopped and prepped and licked my lips. I was a good line chef, maybe one day I’d even be the sous chef. No matter what I had that moment and I tasted the chef’s specialty.