Cast of Characters: Martini; Alfredo; Ambrosia; Napoleon (husband of Ambrosia and rival of Alfredo); Anjou; Basil; Mrs. Coco; Cherry.
Once upon a time on a tiny island lived a beautiful, passionate, gregarious woman named Martini whose greatest loves in life were great food; fraud-busting; and seeking a man she could have a happy romantic relationship with. She was the much loved social glue of the island of Belvedere, she was known and loved by all of its tight-knit residents.
At the estate on top of Belvedere island lived the world’s greatest chef – Alfredo. He was in a state of withdrawal from the world nursing the wound of having lost the love of his life. She was the best woman he’d ever met and her name was Ambrosia. She was also the person best able to appreciate and enjoy Alfredo’s gastronomical creations. Alfredo and Ambrosia were engaged 25 years ago in France. Without having someone as appreciative and sensitive as Ambrosia was to his gastronomical creations, Alfredo decided not to cook again.
Martini was a “SuperTaster” and she loved making the great dishes, especially the ones she’d experienced as a gourmet journalist while living in France. Martini read food magazines, week after week, and spent her annual vacations each year in France eating at the carefully chosen top rated restaurants. She enjoyed the carefully researched top dishes that each establishment was famous for. Each year, on her vacation, Martini would purchase these master French chef’s cook books, then return home and try to duplicate the dishes she’d had at their restaurants. After many frustrating failed attempts to duplicate the dishes she’d had in France, she concluded that there was something wrong. She suspected that the chef’s cook books were not revealing all the ingredients, or all the methods needed to duplicate the dishes oneself.
One day after Martini made her daily rounds visiting friends on Belvedere island, in her Citroen 2CV, a new resident on Belvedere island — Anjou Alfredo’s new housekeeper — approached Martini at the Farmer’s Market to introduce herself. They became fast friends.
Twenty five years ago, Alfredo was widely acclaimed as the greatest living chef. He was passionate about his work and received acclaim from many critics and epicures, but his greatest joy in life was cooking for his fiance Ambrosia. Her passion in life was to eat the greatest food as she was a highly sophisticated SuperTaster. Ambrosia was independently wealthy, having inherited a fortune from her father who’d been one of the greatest chef’s in France himself. Thus, Ambrosia’s grew up in an environment where her sense of taste was highly refined, where her standards were the highest. Nine times out of 10 she’d spit food out rather than consume it, even at the best restaurants around the world. Ambrosia had a photographic memory for food and could look at a recipe and imagine how the food would taste. She could eat a dish and tell what ingredients were in it. When Ambrosia liked something she would spend an enormous amount of time analyzing it’s constituent components and praising the chef who created it in personal letters that she sent them – as well as in her column in L’epicure. As a policy, Ambrosia never wanted to meet chefs in person because she wanted to experience their food without their character or personality having any effect on her. However, she once made an exception: upon tasting the first bite of Alfredo’s Foie Gras, she determined she must meet the man who’d prepared it. So, Ambrosia asked to meet him and when Alfredo arrived at her table, Ambrosia bestowed on him such a barrage of compliments, of such detail and with such accuracy, that he became instantly enchanted with her.
Invariably and over time, Ambrosia was drawn to the establishment where Alfredo created his gastronomical works of art, the most famous and popular Parisian restaurant “Chez Plaisir” and in time Ambrosia and Alfredo started dating. Most of their dates were spent with Alfredo cooking and Ambrosia eloquently explaining why his dishes were perfect. Typically, during the meal, the two would engage in passionate love-making in the kitchen, pots, pans and knives strewn hazardously about. After a few near disasters, they built a love nest in his kitchen to use for their passionate during-meal trysts, still wanting to experience the pinnacle of their love-making near the gastronomical masterpieces.
After years of bliss together, one day Ambrosia was told of a new chef who was hired at Chez Plaisir’s rival restaurant. Ambrosia was not interested in sampling the newcomer’s creations, as she was convinced that she had found the greatest chef in the world. Nonetheless, her friend persisted and managed to drag Ambrosia to “Chez Bacchus.” To Ambrosia’s surprise the newcomer – Napoleon – was a gastronomical genius. While she adored his food, she was devastated to discover that Alfredo had a competitor. She hid from Alfredo her passion for Napoleon’s creations as she found herself, virtually against her own will, eating at Chez Bacchus once a week.
Eventually, because Ambrosia was the talk of the gastronomical world, and given that she had been seen at Chez Bacchus on several occasions, Alfredo found out about her dinning there. He was hurt and disappointed. Heartbrokenly, Alfredo confronted Ambrosia needing to know why she’d been hiding from him the fact that she’d been enjoying Napoleon’s creations. She reluctantly told him that she hid it because she did not want to hurt him. She was morally convicted that she had to take into account the fact that she was a demanding SuperTaster; and that her passion, her career, her central integrating purpose was to enjoy the world’s greatest food. Alfredo accepted that she should pursue Napoleon’s creations by way of satisfying her career passion. However, he was hurt and he soon informed her that he had accepted a temporary assignment to cater the 100 year celebration of the French-American culinary academy in San Francisco and would leave immediately.
While Alfredo was away, one day Ambrosia was eating at Chez Bacchus and, unbeknownst to her, she was seated right next to Napoleon. They struck up a conversation about the food and Ambrosia was delighted to have someone so keenly interested in her evaluations. Like Alfredo, Napoleon knew he was talking to the greatest living food critic, but pretended not to know her. He asked if he could join her at her table and she agreed. At the end of the meal, he informed Ambrosia that he was Chef Napoleon (the creator of the meal) and asked her to attend a ball he was to cater at the French President’s palace. Expecting that the occasion would bring out his greatest work, Ambrosia accepted his invitation.
On the night of the ball Ambrosia found herself ecstatic while eating Napoleon’s various dishes and she praised each and every item he offered her. At the end of the evening they were drunk with delight, and nearly drunk on wine, and Napoleon kissed Ambrosia. A passionate night of lovemaking ensued in the French President’s kitchen.
The next day, when she sobered up, Ambrosia was horrified that she’d made love to Napoleon as she’d intended to be faithful to Alfredo. In a few days, she came to accept the difficult circumstance she found herself in: loving and whorhipping two equally matched gastronomical geniuses.
When Alfredo returned from San Francisco he brought an engagement ring and presented it to Ambrosia, she started crying and confessed what she’d done with Napoleon. Alfredo was forgiving and understood her dilemma, but he did not believe Napoleon was his equal. So Alfredo called to make a reservation at Chez Bacchus and after he’d sampled Napoleon’s creations Alfredo returned to Ambrosia to tell her that Napoleon was a genius and was indeed his equal. They both found themselves depressed about this turn of events. In a few days, Alfredo proposed a competition between the them and Ambrosia agreed to choose whichever chef created the best dishes during the competition. To bring attention to this competition between himself and Napoleon, Alfredo – being the most renowned chef in France – created a new, annual, culinary competition. The winner received a prize called “Alfredo d’Or.”
Napoleon won the competition. Alfredo and Ambrosia ended their relationship and Ambrosia devoted herself to Napoleon. Alfredo was devastated and decided to leave France and return to the San Francisco Bay Area in a quest for obscurity. He bought an estate atop Belvedere Island wanting to go to the one place on Earth that no one would ever look for the world’s greatest chef – America.
After spending hours talking to Anjou at the Farmer’s Market, Martini decided that Alfredo’s life on Belvedere island was a tragic waste. She determined to get him to enjoy life again. She concluded that by cooking for her, and by teaching her to cook, Alfredo would come back to the land of the living. Together Martini and Anjou devised a plan.
One sunny morning Martini drove her Citroen 2CV to Alfredo’s estate and Anjou let her in the locked gate. Martini carried with her, her best souffle recipe from her French cookbooks. Anjou showed Martini to the kitchen where Martini put all of the ingredients for the souffle on the kitchen counter. Then they both waited for Alfredo to show up.
About a half hour later, Alfredo came into the kitchen to get a glass of milk, which Anjou has intentionally not given him with his breakfast. At first Alfredo did not see either Martini, or the spread of food on the counter. But as soon as he noticed Martini, she approached him as if she’d known him all her life and started talking to him as if they were good friends. She spoke and behaved as if she’d had an appointment for him to teach her how to make a souffle. Alfredo was aghast at first, but when she mentioned that she brought the latest souffle recipe from Chez Plaisir, the restaurant he’d worked at it France, Alfredo became intrigued. He took the recipe from her and mulled it over. He finally decided to see if it was any good.
When the souffle was done they both tasted it and she said: “It’s wonderful,” yet Alfredo threw his souffle across the room in disgust breaking the ramekin. Martini was incredulous. Alfredo explained that the souffle is missing key ingredients. Moreover, he said important methods for making a great souffle have been omitted from the recipe she brought. Disgustedly, he also told her to ignore any star chef’s cookbooks as they routinely and intentionally leave out relevant information to keep their restaurant’s monopolies intact. Martini hugged him then paced around the kitchen delighted to have her suspicion confirmed by the greatest expert in the field. She explained that she suspected that this was happening because she was never able to duplicate her gastronomical experiences at home via the French chef’s recipes.
Over the next weeks Martini came daily to Alfredo’s home to be mentored by him. She was having the time of her life and Alfredo had not been so happy since he was cooking for, and making love to Ambrosia. Alfredo often gave Martini pop-quizzes to ensure that she’d remember critical elements of great cooking: one of which was to use duck fat in most dishes that call for butter.
At night Martini would spread the secrets she’d learned from Alfredo by teaching them to the women on the island; and the woman were delighted.
One day after a particularly delicious meal, Martini asked Alfredo why he left France and quit cooking. It was clear now that Alfredo has grown to feel a daughterly love for Martini so he briefly tells her what happened with Ambrosia and Napoleon (which she already knew from Anjou). Martini asked if he still loves Ambrosia and Alfredo confessed that he still loves her desperately and that he will never cook for anyone but Martini and Ambrosia. Upon hearing this Martini became clearly determined to make something happen.
The next day Martini talked to the richest woman on the island – Mrs. Coco. Martini left Mrs. Coco’s house excited and drives happily around the island singing a French song about food.
A few weeks later, at the town center there were posters and decorations announcing that the most prestigious international culinary competition had chosen Belvedere to host the annual competition. Martini took one of the posters to Alfredo. At first he was disgusted at the idea of all of these French chefs discovering where he’d been hiding for 25 years. But Martini explained that it’s a golden opportunity for him to get back into the joy of cooking. She also told him that Ambrosia will be coming to the event. Alfredo was thrilled at that news.
Martini spend many hours researching Ambrosia’s husband Napoleon. She discovered that in his gastronomic history there had been several scandals that he’d been involved with. The theme of the scandals invariably centered on accusations of cheating on his part, though the accusations were never proven. Martini had an intuitive way of sizing up people quickly and upon seeing a video interview of Napoleon she intuited that he was a cheater. Martini then became determined to get Ambrosia and Alfredo back together.
The day of the competition arrived and there was a welcoming ceremony where Martini and Mrs. Coco spoke and toasted to great food, long life and happiness. At this opening event, Martini introduced herself to Ambrosia when Ambrosia was standing alone, without Napoleon. Martini invited Ambrosia to her home to enjoy a brunch that the local women prepared the next day. Martini told Ambrosia that she knew about Ambrosia and Alfredo once loving each other. Martini also told Ambrosia that the food they were to eat at this brunch came from recipes that Alfredo taught her and then she taught the women on the island. Ambrosia accepted Martini’s invitation to brunch. Martini tells Ambrosia to come to the brunch one hour earlier than the function was to begin.
Ambrosia arrived at Martini’s home to find Martini picking flowers and herbs from her garden and together they decorated Martini’s lovely cottage making it ready for the guests. Martini pulled out a dish from the oven that she’d made, which Alfredo taught her, knowing that it was one of Alfredo’s greatest dishes. She asks if Ambrosia would care for some. They eat it and Ambrosia recognized it as one of Alfredo’s best and then she analyzed it in detail for Martini and in doing so caused Martini to realize why Alfredo so appreciated Ambrosia’s incredible gastronomical ability.
The main purpose of Martini setting up this brunch was to find out how Ambrosia’s life with Napoleon was, and how it had been for the last 25 years, discovering that it had not been good. Ambrosia no longer loved Napoleon, in part because she suspected he’s a serial philanderer, and the quality of his cooking had gone down steadily for the past 25 years. Napoleon coasts now-a-days on his former glory. Ambrosia doesn’t know why Napoleon let himself go this way. Nonetheless, she stayed with Napoleon because of loyalty to the great happiness they once shared.
After their intimate brunch, Martini became convinced that Napoleon’s not now what he pretended to be. Martini became determined to dig out the details of the scandals Napoleon had been involved with over the years.
Then about a half dozen local woman arrived at Martini’s cottage for the brunch. Unexpectedly, Alfredo was brought to the brunch by the local women and he was shocked to see Ambrosia there. She was thrilled to see him and took his hand and led him into the garden where they talked intimately for hours. Martini and the women noticed the sparks flying between them.
That night Martini stayed up late investigating Napoleon’s gastronomical scandals.
A man named Basil was the editor of the most celebrated gastronomical magazine in the U.S. and he was at the competition to report on it. Basil was 6 foot 7 inches tall and very thin. He was constantly eating French pastries, which he baked himself. The first time he saw the beautiful Martini he approached her and talks to her. He asked about her connection to Alfredo. She told him about her affectionate relationship with him, about his teaching her to cook, and about one of his recipes as her all-time favorite. Basil gave her a tip on how to make this dish even better. So, she was curious and thus questioned him about his cooking. He told her he’d never worked for any French restaurants, nor gone to a culinary academy. To her great delight, he told her that he was against the de facto French culinary guild. Martini’s interest in Basil grew intensely, so much so that she invited him to her cottage to have some of the dish that she was then on her way to shop for. He accepted. It was clear they were quite attracted to each other.
After eating with Basil, Martini went to Alfredo’s house and showed him a copy of an old cookbook. Alfredo was stunned.
The next day was the day of the competition. The rules required that each chef create a dish which was one of his own original recipes. Alfredo had committed to making one of his own creations for the competition, but had secretly decided against it after Martini showed him the ancient cookbook. Knowing that he would be disqualified for making the exact same dish that Napoleon announced he would make, Alfredo chose to do it anyway. When the judges discovered that Alfredo entered the same dish as Napoleon they questioned Alfredo about it. Alfredo explained to the judges, and the audience, that the recipe came from an ancient, secret, Royal French cookbook and he holds up a copy of this cookbook. This recipe was not an original recipe created by Napoleon — as Napoleon had claimed.
As this was happening on stage, Ambrosia made her way through the crowd and onto the stage. She tasted both dishes and confirmed that Alfredo and Napoleon had made the exact same dish, all the ingredients were the same which could not have happened if the recipe was invinted by Napoleon as he claimed.
Napoleon, was watching on from the side of the stage. He stood next to his bimbo du jour – a floozy named Cherry. Napoleon told Cherry that they had to go. They made a run for his car. However, Martini expected him to bolt and beat Napoleon to his car and confronted him. The crowd followed Martini, as did the judges. They all huddled around Martini and Napoleon listening to the showdown. Martini asserted that in the trunk of Napoleon’s car would be found a briefcase which contained another copy of the ancient Royal cookbook she had shown to Alfredo, and that he had shown the judges and the audience (she knew this because the day before Martini had looked inside Napoleon’s trunk and saw the briefcase and in it the cookbook). The crowd and the judges demanded that Napoleon open the trunk of his car. When he did they all saw a briefcase which Martini took, opened and, sure enough, there was the ancient, Royal cookbook — just as she had claimed. She handed the cookbook to the judges who opened it and pulled out the very same recipe that Napoleon had made. The audience booed and hissed at Napoleon’s deception to which he said: “I’m President of the French Gastronomical Guild, how can you even suspect me of cheating?” Martini answered: “Do you deny there are recipes in this cookbook which only the chefs of Royalty were allowed to know? And do you deny your French Gastronomical Guild is devoted to hiding this secret gastronomical knowledge from the world?”
Napoleon replied: “The chefs from our schools run the top restaurants and cook for the most powerful men in the world!”
Martini: “That’s your justification for this massive and long-standing fraud on the public?”
Napoleon: “I mean, well you see, that is…”
Martini: “And did you also use the secrets in this cookbook (holding it up) to win the competition against Alfredo 25 years ago?”
Napoleon: “Well… That is… You see… I ahh…”
Martini: “I’ll take that as a “Yes.”
Alfredo and Ambrosia turn immediately to each other to see if they both understand that their relationship was ended by Napoleon’s fraud. Upon seeing each other’s reaction they realized that their separation is at an end. They rushed to each other to embrace and confirm they each still love and want each other. While Alfredo and Ambrosia embraced, Napoleon slinks off now having been exposed as a chronic and habitual fraud.
Now everyone involved in this event was convinced that Napoleon and his “French Gastronomical Guild” had been using this very same means of cheating, i.e., leaving out relevant ingredients and/or methods in order to block gastronomic independence on the part of foodies worldwide. They realized that this guild was coasting on ancient and secret gastronomical knowledge, rather than inventing new gastronomical delights; and then selling the foodie community fraudulent cookbooks which purported to make foodies able to duplicate these delicious dishes.
The next day, Martini, Basil (eating pastries), Alfredo, and Ambrosia were all working together in Alfredo’s kitchen atop Belvedere island creating new dishes, and noting their comments for their forthcoming cookbook teaching foodies world-wide all they need to know to create great gastronomical experiences themselves.
Later that night, Basil and Martini talked intimately in her cottage. While eating a coffee flavored eclair, Basil told her about his how his mom was a baker and how she would take him to her bakery in the early morning and give him all the fresh baked pastries he wanted throughout his youth. After Basil had eaten half of the eclair, he then turned half of it to Martini. She sees an engagement ring in the cream filling. Martini plucked it out and wiped it clean, and she’s excited at first. But then she started pacing the room, imagining what their marriage would really look like. She started to cry confessing that she is jealous – for the first time in her life – of Basil’s ability to eat pastries constantly and yet never gain weight. Although she loves Basil she does not think she’ll be able to have a happy life if she has to constantly watch him eating pastries which she cannot have. She cried and Basil thought. He suddenly approached her excitedly and said “Darling, you can have a small taste of the pastries – enough for us to be able to bond on the flavor and so that you have some satisfaction in knowing how good my creations are.” Martini stopped crying, chippered up, and then agreed that this suggestion solves her problem. She smiled at him and put on his engagement ring as they embraced, kissed and shared the rest of the eclair.