He brought everything in minutes, then I was away! Mixing cream, milk and sugar. Cooking bacon… mmm bacon. Grating mushrooms. I had to make a few executive tastings with the dark chocolate but I was in the Zone! I churned it all up in the mixer & everything was looking great. Dipping my spoon into the mix for one last taste; There was a recognizable flavour of mushrooms but then it transitioned, evolved into a psychedelic mixture of sweet & savory. It was magic. Which differed greatly from the taste of car tire that I had expected.

Then I waited. Waited, watched & helped out where I could. Kenneth was cooking but I had no doubt he was paying attention to our work. A few hours later I finished off my creation. The kitchen went quiet as a hostess walked in and announced Vinny Van had entered the building. I could see the same look of nervous excitement on everyone’s face. Each course went out with several dishes. One from Kenneth and the others from us candidates. There was a horizontal slit in one of the walls in between the kitchen & dining room. We gathered there to spectate as the food went out.

Vinny was a refined gentlemen in a suit and a stylish pair of glasses. The appetisers were first to go out. Kat and I held hands as Vinny tackled the course. I remember squeezing Kat’s hand as he picked up the tea, sipped and downed the rest. He then poured himself another. Kat was ecstatic. The next few courses came and went, including the main. All some flavor or theme of mushroom. I began to worry. There was so much food. By the time he came to dessert he’d explode!

Then the time came. Two covered plates were brought out to Vinny. Mine and Kenneth’s! I was sure to fail. The waiter lifted the dish revealing a sparkling frosted toadstool stuffed with chocolate moose, Kenneth’s dessert. Next was mine. Shiitake mushroom ice cream with chocolate-covered bacon bits. I was filled with dread. It was too basic… too simple… to compete with the master chef’s dish.

My heart thumped as I watched. He took a spoon then cut a slice of Kenneth’s dessert. Then a bite from mine. A bite from his. One more from mine – it was even! “Good job.” I heard whispered in my ear. It was from Kenneth! Afterwards the masterchef brought us into the dining room and introduced us to the critic. He gave us his critique there and then. He loved Kat’s tea as it was refreshing but thought the sandwiches bland. As for my ice cream. Kenneth said “Thank all the god’s for bacon bits. After having nothing but mushroom all night I fear I was starting to go mad. The ice cream was delightful!” I beamed at the mixed praise. I mean he didn’t not like it.

Finally Vinny spoke to Kenneth in front of all of us. “Now Kenneth. when I told you my favourite food I didn’t expect it in every dish! Good heavens man not every­thing needs to contain mushrooms.” He said finishing with a hearty laugh. Which I took for a good sign.

In the end Kenneth thanked us for our time and rewarded us for our efforts with an exquisite meal. Kat and I remained friends, Vinny gave the restaurant rave reviews for its commitment to uniqueness. Oh and I got the job! Along with Kat and another candidate. First day on training and Kenneth gave us chef’s hats shaped like mushrooms… I nearly quit there & then.

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