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The Michelin Man

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The banging on Steve's apartment door woke him from a dead sleep at six in the morning, and he was fairly unsurprised to find Tony Stark on the other side when he opened it. Slightly more surprising was Bucky Barnes behind Tony, but Tony and Bucky were pretty much the only two assholes who would wake him at six am.

What was really strange was Thor looming over Tony's shoulder, Sam Wilson leaning on the door frame, and Natasha Romanoff leaning on Sam Wilson.

"Am I wearing underwear?" Steve asked Tony. He'd assumed it would be Tony, alone, and hadn't bothered putting on clothes.

"Yes," Sam said, and "But only your underwear," Natasha added, right before Tony shoved a book in his face.

"How does it feel to own the first Michelin-star food truck in the world?" he asked.

Steve blinked.

"The new ratings came out," Thor said.

"You got a star," Sam added.

Tony pushed past him into his apartment, which meant everyone else followed, and that was -- it was a lot of people for a tiny loft apartment, it was so many people to fit into an apartment that was 90% kitchen. (Steve's requirements for his apartment had been very specific.) Tony went straight to the fridge.

Steve decided to ignore the impending breakfast party and ducked into the closet, hurriedly pulling on some pants and a reasonably clean shirt.

"I had a star already," he pointed out, as he emerged.

"You had a star for 107," Thor said. "Now you have two stars. Consecutively."

Steve's cellphone, plugged in next to the bed, began ringing.

"That'll be the New York Times Food critic, probably," Tony said. "Jesus, I know I ask this every time, but do you honestly only have cast iron frying pans?"

"I like cast iron," Steve replied, and then his brain actually woke up. "Wait."

"Penny dropping," Natasha said.

"War On Hunger got a Michelin Star?" Steve asked. "But I serve sandwiches."

"Apparently really good sandwiches," Sam said. "I mean, you know, I'll just be over here being bitter my potatoes didn't get a star, but man, your sandwiches are pretty great."

"Soup and sandwiches," Steve repeated, bewildered. The phone kept ringing, so he climbed the little staircase up to the loft bed and unplugged it, ignoring the call. As soon as he did, it started ringing again. He flicked the switch to silent and then buried it in a couple of blankets so the buzzing wouldn't bother anyone.

"You know what I have?" Tony said.

"Ten eggs in one frying pan?" Steve asked, looking over the edge of the loft at him.

"I have a Michelin star. TOBRU has one. I mean we've had one basically since we opened, and we'd probably have two if we set fewer tablecloths on fire. But the point is, I have a Michelin star, and also the food truck that parks in my parking lot has a Michelin Star, and I am finding this very, very hilarious."

"Is this mushroom pate?" Natasha asked, head and shoulders inside Steve's fridge.

Steve sighed. "There's brioche in the breadbox."

"Brilliant," she said, carrying the mushroom pate and a jar of rendered bacon-and-beef-fat to the stove, where she settled in to start frying bread. Tony tested an egg, then flipped it.

"Worthy of pursuit, the War On Hunger food truck is a sparkling sky-blue mobile cookery often to be found at festivals, parks, and outside its cousin restaurant, fellow Michelin Star holder TOBRU," Bucky announced, settling in at the kitchen bar and reading from the guide.

"Come down here," Tony ordered. "I can't kiss you in the loft and watch the eggs at the same time."

"Often sporting a handful of brightly-colored picnic tables nearby, the truck's service hatch is manned by its head chef, French-trained Steve Rogers, formerly of 107," Bucky continued, lips curving upwards. Steve climbed down to the kitchen, cheeks burning. Tony leaned over and kissed him. Thor edged around them to start taking down plates for the fried bread.

"I told you the picnic tables were a good idea," Natasha said.

"Chef Rogers has discarded complex French and French-American fusion in favor of clean, simple flavors based on local ingredients, presented in a peasant-fare style but perfectly balanced," Bucky read.

"So this is a joke, right?" Steve said. "Like it's a publicity stunt or something."

"I don't think it is," Sam said. "I think...you know what I think?"

"TOBRU?" Tony asked.

"Yeah, exactly. I think TOBRU's Michelin inspector stopped at War On Hunger after dinner and got half a sandwich and was like, damn," Sam said.

"Soft yet substantial wholegrain bread provides the perfect bed for freshly pan-fried pastrami topped with a sprinkling of melted locally-sourced havarti cheese and house-made mustard," Bucky read. "Small cups of chicken, pork, or vegetable-broth soups laced with ginger and onion hardly need additions like meat or noodles to provide a satisfying foundation for a leisurely al fresco meal. For those seeking more hearty fare, fried chicken, sauteed tofu, or baked wings are served on split yeast biscuits with a choice of rich sweet and savory sauces. Finish with two jam-filled shortbread cookies served in individual decorated packages."

"Literally parchment paper and washi tape," Steve said. "That's what they mean when they say ‘decorated packages'."

"They're not wrong, exactly," Thor said.

Tony flipped a fried egg onto a piece of toasted bread spread with mushroom pate, and Natasha topped it with a sprinkle of salt. She presented the plate to him as Tony began plating the rest of the eggs.

"They sound like they're being pretty earnest," Sam said. "I think they mean it, Steve."

"You're going to go viral again," Tony said, sliding an arm around Steve as he cut into his egg, scooping bread, egg, and a little pate into his mouth all at once. "Promise you'll remember us little people."

"Today was gonna be my day off," Steve sighed.

"Phil's on his way to help you bake a bunch of star shaped cookies," Natasha said, checking her phone. "You can frost them with the Michelin logo."

"Do you have enough pastrami?" Sam asked.

"I'm gonna need chicken wings," Steve said. "And tofu, I bet every foodie in a thirty-mile radius is going to ask for the sauteed tofu."

He reached out for the scratch pad he kept by the pantry and started making a list; if he was going to prep for a massive crowd today, he'd need extra supplies. And he'd call Kamala and see if she could pull an extra long shift, given he'd probably need the help.

Tony, who had momentarily vanished, returned with Steve's phone.

Well.

On his phone.

"I just don't think we can give you an exclusive after the way you dragged him when he left 107," he was saying. Steve, horrified, mouthed Manhattan Style? at him, and Tony nodded. "Look, you know who was good to Steve Rogers? AND to me when I left Big Star? Sunset Magazine. Sunset did better than you guys and they're not even east coast regional. Yeah well fuck you too, buddy," he said, and hung up.

"Oh god," Steve managed.

"No, it's fine, I'm calling the Times, we're going to give the Times a comment and then Sunset an exclusive," Tony said.

"They were really nice when I left 107," Steve admitted.

"Uh huh, I just gotta..." Tony was tapping on the phone madly.

"Tony, no, not my Twitter again -- "

***

War On Hunger * @onestarsteve * April 12
Pleased and proud to have been awarded the first #michelinstar ever given to a food truck.

War On Hunger * @onestarsteve * April 12
No fried chicken today but plenty of wings and pastrami! Every purchase gets a free #michelinstar cookie while they last. In a decorated package.

War On Hunger * @onestarsteve * April 12
Tony Stark of #TOBRU is sending out these tweets because he's incredibly proud of me.

War On Hunger * @onestarsteve * April 12
I'll be outside the @metmuseum for lunch and #TOBRU for dinner. Buy anything at War On Hunger or Potato Rescue and get a free Blue Lemonade from the pop-up #TOBRU stand!

***

"What the fuck is a pop up blue lemonade stand?" Bucky asked.

"Bruce's newest nightmare," Tony said cheerfully. "I just came up with it. It's lemonade that turns blue when you add ice. It's gonna be great. Probably make you poop orange."

Steve rested his face in his hands, pushing aside his mostly-eaten egg on toast. Tony patted the back of his head.

"Hike your prices ten percent and give the overage to the food pantry," he said.

"I was trying to live a simple life," Steve groaned.

"Doesn't get much simpler than this apartment," Natasha observed.

"Simple doesn't mean easy, you know," Tony told him, dropping a kiss into his hair. "Okay, everyone finish up your eggs and get out, we have a ton of prep to do. Come on, you gotta get those biscuits going," he said to Steve.

"I do like making biscuits," Steve admitted.

"I'll go source some tofu. The things I do for you," Tony added, shooing everyone else out the door. "Make chemistry happen, earn that star!"

Steve, left alone in the kitchen, picked up the Michelin Guide, studied the blurb about War On Hunger, and smiled a little to himself. After all, he did like stars, and the truck already had one painted on the side.

There was a knock on the open door, and Phil put his head in. He had a sack of what Steve could only assume was cookie supplies.

"Congratulations," he said, giving Steve a wide smile. "Point me at your baking sheets."