A Chef's Past

by sixkiller5

Is The Foundation For His Future

It was getting late and almost all guests had left the restaurant. The waiters were still busy tidying up the restaurant, and the cooks were nearly finished cleaning up the kitchen. Meanwhile, the chef was looking over the house menu to see if he could make some suggestions or improvements for his friend Savoir Fare, owner and chef of Haute-Savoir, for which he substituted today.

The chef, whose name was Gourmet Palate, was a pale yellow unicorn stallion with an orange and bluish-grey mane and tail. He sat there, content after finishing a good shift at the restaurant, and because he had given Savoir an opportunity to have a romantic night with his wife, High Horse.

As he sat there he started reflecting on his life, as he often did, and trying to reconcile his past whilst trying to find inspiration for his next dish.

* * *

His life had not been an easy one, mainly due to his parents and childhood. He was only a little foal when his father left his mother, a mare who was not fully prepared or able to raise a foal on her own.

Due to that, he was forced to fend for himself from a very early age, always moving around, never staying long in any one place. This taught him to isolate himself from other ponies in order to avoid getting hurt again. There was one exception, however, and that was when he was doing what he loved doing above all else, cooking. No matter if it is something simple for himself or the most lavish banquets fit for royalty, he loved working with food and for a long time, his only friends were fellow chefs.

The day he got his cutie mark started off as any number of previous bad days had, when he got back from school his mother was nowhere to be seen and had neglected to have anything ready for him to eat. After waiting for a long time his hunger finally won out, so he decided to make his own food, he looked through the cabinets and fridge to see what ingredients he had to work with.

When he started to make the meal he realized something was different this time. He had always been pretty good at cooking and now he was genuinely enjoying it. That's when it happened, like an ascending scale of notes on his flank, one flash at a time, a neat row of small pieces of food appeared, climaxing with a skewer joining them together into a rather exotic kebab. Sadly, as usual, there was no one there to share his joy.

Gourmet realized that his school, which he already loathed, could not offer him the knowledge and skills he needed and wanted in life. Shortly after his 14th birthday he quit his school and went out into Equestria to find his place in the world. Thankfully due to his talent he could eat decently with what little bits he earned doing odd jobs now and then.

In the meantime wherever he went he made sure to sample the local cuisine and ingredients and tasted as many different things as his budget allowed and filing the taste away in his mind. Because he was never very social and talkative people always thought he was a bit dumb, in most things he was pretty average or above average but when it came to food and drinks his mind was razor sharp, his mental database of tastes was vast.

Gourmet lived like this for about five years, moving from town to town like a self-imposed nomad, until on one day he walked into a small, quiet, rural village called Ponyville. Upon arriving there he did what he usually did when he got to a new town, check out the local market stalls and get a feel for the local flavor.

The journey to Ponyville had been long though and the bits he earned in the last town were almost gone, so he set about looking around for restaurants or other establishments to see if anyone would have some work for him as a busboy or something similar. Sadly no matter where he asked, no one had work for him, for a time, it looked like he would have to move on in order to find work elsewhere.

Gourmet was about to leave town when he spotted one last restaurant, it looked like a high-class place so he doubted they would just hire anypony off the street. He stood there for over thirty minutes wrestling with himself whether or not he should take the gamble when an earth pony walked out the door, “Can I help you with something?” he asked with a noticeable Prench accent, “I saw you standing here for half an hour and I was wondering if there was something wrong.”

Gourmet not really used to ponies approaching him in such manner started to stammer, “W-w-well I was wondering if you perhaps could use a busboy or something similar.”

The earth pony mulled this over for a moment and then said, “You are in luck my boy, it just so happens that my last busboy earned his cutie mark last week and was desperate to utiliser it to the fullest extent, sadly that meant that he didn’t wish to work for me any longer. I’ve been understaffed since then.” A faint glimmer of hope grew in Gourmet’s eyes when the earth pony finished speaking.

“I would love to work for you for a while if you would have me, sir,” Gourmet said to the earth pony.

“Well I do believe that can be arranged, but first introductions are in order don’t you think? My name is Savoir Fare and I am the owner of this restaurant, Haute-Savoir. And what may I call you?” Savoir asked Gourmet.

“My name is Gourmet Palate sir.” Gourmet answered.

Gourmet greatly liked his time in Ponyville, he stayed there far longer than anywhere else, after a couple of months working for Savoir in his restaurant, he got into a conversation with Savoir. “I hope I am not overstepping any boundaries but I have to ask, how come an adult pony like yourself is content with just a busboy job?” Savoir asked.

“Well…” Gourmet said. “I’ve always been told by everypony I would amount to nothing no matter how hard I tried, so I guess I gave up trying to reach anything anymore.”

Savoir looked at Gourmet with sorrowful eyes and said. “Nopony should hear that and certainly not ponies at such a young age.”

Gourmet sighed and shook his head.  “I suppose, though there are some things that happened due to it that I wouldn’t want to miss.”

Savoir raised one of his eyebrows, “Oh, would you mind talking about it?” He asked.

“Well,” Gourmet said. “To be honest ever since I’ve gotten my cutie mark I’ve realized I've had a real passion for food, and wherever I traveled to I made sure to taste the local cuisine and sample any new ingredients I came across. That has been a bright spot in my life for sure.”

Savoir nodded and looked deep in thought. “Say, Gourmet, from what I hear you have the passion of a chef, how would you feel about actually being a chef?” He asked.

Gourmet’s eyes widened and he looked at Savoir with disbelief. “I would love to be a chef, but I don’t have the formal training, equipment or knowledge to be one.”

Immediately Savoir tried to reassure Gourmet. “Calm down, let’s just start simple and if that works out then we can always look for ways to expand that, okay?”

Slowly Gourmet nodded and he exhaled with relief. “Where do you suggest we start Savoir?” He asked.

Slowly Savoir walked towards the kitchen beckoning Gourmet to follow him. When they entered the kitchen Savoir started to rummage through cabinets and fridges occasionally putting an ingredient on a prep table, until he had an assortment of around 15 different ingredients laying on the table. He then walked over to grab a rolled up cloth case and unrolled it on the workbench revealing a fine set of chef’s knives. When he was finished he turned to Gourmet and said, “Here you go, Gourmet, let’s see what you can do when given a chance.”

Gourmet nodded and positioned himself before the table evaluating the ingredients and tools before him, as he saw them his mind went into overdrive, visualizing and evaluating all the possible combinations laid out before him. After a couple of minutes, he had a plan and went to work.

One hour later he emerged from the kitchen and went to Savoir who was waiting at a table. Behind Gourmet trailed three plates of food suspended in a blue aura. Savoir looked surprised. “I only asked for a single dish Gourmet,” He exclaimed.

To which Gourmet replied, “I understood that, but when I saw everything I had to work with, these dishes just spoke to me.” As he levitated the first plate onto the table he removed the silver plate cover revealing a beautifully arranged salad with a mouth-watering display of fruits, nuts, and a delicious looking vinaigrette.

“Bon appetit,” Gourmet said as he finished presenting the dish. Savoir looked at the plate visibly impressed by how it looked and carefully took a bite, his eyes shot open when the flavors met his taste buds, he had never experienced such a well-balanced flavor palate in a salad before. After a while, he was finished with the salad and said to Gourmet, “If your next dishes are as good as this one I have no doubt that with a little guidance you will make it far.”

Quickly Gourmet removed the empty plate and replaced it with the second covered plate. Underneath the cover sat a bowl of mushroom risotto and two crépes stuffed with asparagus and dressed with a hollandaise sauce. Again Savoir looked impressed and sampled the food with a smile.

When he was finished he asked Gourmet, “How has such a talent as yours been wasted for all those years?” Gourmet shrugged and told Savoir that he didn’t feel like he was talented.

Finally, Gourmet levitated the last plate on the table revealing it in the process, It was a delicious looking hot chocolate fudge cake with some vanilla ice cream on the side. “I’m sorry that I didn’t have time to make the ice cream from scratch, but it had to go with the fudge cake, so I hope you don’t mind I took some from the freezer.”

Savoir dug into the cake with his spoon and the delicious chocolate just flowed out of the filled center. Scooping up a little ice cream to balance the rich chocolate, Savoir sighed in bliss.

After Savoir was finished he and Gourmet sat down on the terrace outside with two ciders. Savoir took a sip and looked at Gourmet, “You have a lot of raw talent, but you lack the formal training of a chef, I’m willing to sponsor your tuition, and I can offer you a place to hone your skills, if you want that is.” Eagerly Gourmet nodded, and he knew this marked the beginning of a new chapter in his life, one he would embrace with everything he had.

* * *

“Excuse me.” A voice said, snapping Gourmet out of his musings about the past. He looked up towards the voice and saw the always welcoming face of High Horse looking at him, next to her holding her hoof was Savoir. “Thank you so much for covering for Savoir tonight, It’s been ages since we had a romantic night out together.”

Gourmet smiled and said, “If anypony deserves to have a night to themselves it's you two, plus it’s been nice to return to the place where I got a second chance in life.”

Gourmet beckoned to the two empty chairs, “Please, have a glass of wine with me.” As they sat down he flagged over a waiter, “Can I have three glasses and a bottle of Bordeaux, please?” When their glasses were filled Gourmet proposed a toast. “To friends and the opportunities, we're given to build a brighter future.”

As he saw his friends take a sip of their wine he realized that the past is the past, you can’t change it, but you can mold it into the sturdiest of foundations with help from the right friends.