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Mystery Meat

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Hell’s Kitchen Auditions, 1:30 PM


Gordon sighed. It was only half past one in the afternoon, and already they had seen ten complete rookies, two who couldn’t even cook an egg (how did these people even graduate culinary school, for christ’s sake?), and one woman who attempted to throw her knife at him when he informed her that they could not accept someone who broke a saucepan because the stove wasn’t heating up fast enough. And this was callbacks. Surely the other producers chose these fifty finalists with their eyes closed, because otherwise there was a complete shortage of chefs, and the profession was doomed.

He was contemplating taking a much-deserved lunch break, when the door to the room opened, and a tall, composed man walked in.

He was wearing a coffee-colored suit, unconventional attire for most chefs, who usually wore casual clothing (most were not renowned for their fashion sense), but the man wore it like suits were made for him and him alone. The man gave him and the other two producers a small smile before crossing over to the kitchen station and picking up a knife. Gordon noticed that he was carrying a small ice chest, which he set on the stainless steel countertop.

Gordon cleared his throat. “Name?”

The man looked up from his inspection of the kitchen tools before setting them down, and folding his hands on the table. “Hannibal Lecter.”

He spoke with an accent Gordon faintly recognized as Danish. It was simultaneously unsettling and fitting, and he could see the producers exchange ‘jackpot’ looks out of the corner of his eye. Thank God for his veto powers. “Occupation?”

“Psychiatrist,” Hannibal answered, opening the ice chest to reveal containers of - sausage?

Gordon turned angrily to the men sitting next to him. “He’s not professional? Has this guy even been to culinary school?" 

They shrugged. “Just give him a chance?” 

Oh piss off was what he thought, but nevertheless he turned back to see Hannibal watching him with an odd look in his eyes. This guy seemed a little crazy all right. He knew them when he saw them - maybe not the psychotic, angry, shouting sort of crazy that had seemed to infiltrate Amy’s Baking Company, but maybe the sort of crazy where you would wake up in your bed with nails in your mouth for refusing a dinner invite. He could see the show’s ratings going up at a phenomenal rate - but it just wasn’t worth it unless he had an actual shot at the prize. “Alright. I need you to cook me an omelet. You have twenty minutes.”

The man tilted his head slightly. “May I use my own ingredients? They are fresh and have been refrigerated properly, I assure you.”

“You- oh, all right.” He sighed tiredly. Not like this day could get any more gastronomically  upsetting.

Hannibal smiled, and began to cook.

Despite himself, Gordon found himself mesmerized by the way he prepared. It was delicate,  perfectionist to the point of utter absorption, and yet he was completely fluid, switching from task to task without noticeable effort. This was an utter insult to his ability, his hands seemed to say as he whisked the eggs, and yet it did not show on his face, instead he seemed content to bear this menial task with good graces. Soon the smell of cooking egg and sausage filled the room, and, despite his best judgement, Gordon found his mouth beginning to water.

Hannibal placed the omelet on the plate precisely, arranging a sprig of parsley on top to finish the presentation, and placed it on the table. “I hope you enjoy my labors,” he murmured, dipping his head respectfully and backing away.

Gordon picked up the fork, studying the dish. Visually, it was stunning, simple and neat. He’d always had a taste for the minimalistic when it came to bright colors, and the plate in front of him was like something out of a cookbook. He carefully cut off a piece and chewed thoughtfully.

It was wonderful, the buttery taste of the eggs harmonizing beautifully with the sausage and chives. But there was something wrong. He took another bite, trying to place the flavor. It was the sausage - something was different about the sausage. It wasn’t the spices, no, those were subtle and well-used. It was the meat. The closest taste he could think of was veal, but it wasn’t veal. He knew that. Swallowing, he made eye contact with the man in front of him. “What kind of meat is this?”

“Pork, chef.” Hannibal replied. 

“No, it isn’t.” Gordon shook his head. “I know pork, and this isn’t pork. It isn’t veal, and it’s certainly not chicken or turkey or lamb. Visually, the dish is near-perfect, and the taste is exceptional - but what is the meat.” 

He saw a bead of sweat begin to form on the other man’s brow. “Well, I used some unconventional spices.” 

“No, it isn’t the spices. What sort of meat is in this sausage?”

There was complete silence in the room. Hannibal wet his lips, and spoke again. “I must admit, I blended some different proteins for...the ultimate taste.” 

Gordon stared at him incredulously. “Are you insulting me, Mr. Lecter? Do you really think you can convince me that your sausage is a blend of meats? If you’re going to fucking lie to me, I can’t have you on the show.”

“It was never my intention,” Hannibal sighed, closing the ice chest. “But, I suppose if you insist on rudeness, I must leave you with only one sample of my work.” He began to walk out of the room, stopping at the door to look Gordon in the eyes. “If you decide you want more, look me up at my practice sometime.” He smiled slightly. “I’d love to have you for dinner.”

The door closed.

“What the fuck,” Gordon muttered, letting his head fall into his hands. “Did I just fucking eat.”



Score: Hannibal: 1, Gordon Ramsay: 0