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Chef Larry
by Michael A. Skrien

“Hold the filet aux livres!” Cliff shouted as Larry set a plated fish in the server’s window.
“Did you even look at it?” Larry knew it wasn’t booksteak. He looked down at the greasy kitchen floor with humility, recalling a moment when his own mother shouted the same thing at him, but it concerned toast. He had forcefully popped the toaster well before the bread was done. His father disowned him in shame and his own mother took him to be sold for adoption. He hadn’t brought much once it was learned he had culinary shortcomings.

As an adolescent, he floundered from restaurant to restaurant, constantly burning something, including actual buildings, or serving undercooked chicken, killing a few here and there in the process. Larry couldn’t even get a job as dishwasher once his history at Chez Victor’s High Class Drive-Thru had come to light. He’d placed a chateaubriand slider in the rinse cycle to clean off some dirt after it had fallen on the floor. The customer noticed. As did the manager. Once again, he was auctioned off to the streets.

He thought traveling abroad and making a new go of things might change his luck, so off he went to the French Riviera with hopes and dreams of fine dining and world-renowned stardom in the kitchen.
“Famous Larry’s Famous Fried Squidlets” would take him to the stardom he always dreamed of. Accidentally dropping a calamari order into the open, working blender had spewn little bits of squid all over the kitchen, several landing in the deep fryer. Larry tried one thinking perhaps a little breading before frying it would make the future world renowned Caesar Salad accoutrement a bit more palatable. He did so and the rest was history. Sunglasses, a contract for a cooking show, popping through the limo’s sunroof to wave at his fans as they tossed beads and female undergarments at him; this was it. He had “made it.” He jarred them and sold to stores. He had t-shirts and hats made that read: “Put A Squidlet Down Your Gullet!”

Of course, that all ended when it was revealed Larry’s brother, Jorge, had recently been caught counterfeiting the squidlets with sheep hinders, which come in at much lower overhead cost. Jorge went to prison and Larry lost his Limo rides and Sunglasses. His girl left him and dogs broke wind when he passed by.

No one could have predicted Larry’s Mum’s Toast Buffet would succeed, but it did. Fortunately by now, Larry had the wherewithal to ensure precision bread placement into the toaster slots and using the strict guidelines for peak brownness, was able to “pop” the toast at just the right moment for the butter, jelly, and squidpasting (Larry’s own personal touch) processes to begin. The response was overwhelming. The staff were unable to keep enough toast going and it wasn’t long before Larry had his sunglasses on again. The toast fountain overflowed.

When asked by reporters long after he retired, Larry stated what kept him going was sheer perseverance and will power. “I knew I WAS toast.”