Going from a short hall into the kitchen of the Compound, which sits over a cellar from the era when this antiquated building belonged to an apple orchard and not so recently has been converted into a fine dining restaurant, with a chuckle, I’m greeted by the king of the arena Chef Ralph.
Through a squeaky voice he says. “Hey, Sam Do the Watusi.”
The chef resembles a bearded chipmunk wearing a hat that looks like a kernel of corn popped into a puffy cloud.
While the chef is whisking translucent egg whites into peaks of snow, the major-demo walks in wearing a tan three piece suit. He asks the chef. “What”s on today’s menu?”
“A little bit of chicken, a little bit of beef, and a little bit of pork,” the chef answers. He is short and round and wears black and white pants. Then he repeats, “A little bit of chicken, A little bit of beef, and a little pork,” as he folds the fluffed egg white into some melted shimmering chocolate. The smug dining room coordinator walks out mumbling under his breath.
“Maybe, I should have mentioned fish,” said the chef with a chuckle.
As I am chopping parsley into green confetti, the international cuisine master preps tarragon, shallots, dry white wine, and vinegar for a Bearnaise sauce. He heats up the potion in an aluminum pot, which will be added to a creamy egg yolk and butter base.
When the concoction is done brewing, the chef shuffles over to the food processor to where I am popping open oysters with a shucking knife.
Standing next to me he takes a sniff of the mixture and crinkles his pudgy nose. A concerned look crosses his rosy-cheeked face.
“Hey, Sam, smell this. Does it smell right?”
I take a whiff of the steaming contents of the pot. Whoa! The pungent vinegar and tarragon hit my nostrils with a burning sensation, causing my eyes to water like a broken cistern. They could use this for smelling salts. It is amazing that something that smells terrible is made into a sauce which raptures ones palate to life, to compliment a savory roasted tenderloin beef.
Recovering from the rancid nasal assault and clearing away the tears from my eyes, I see a chipmunk wearing a double breasted cook’s jacket and a chef’s hat chuckling.
“Hey, Sam, it smell right?” His eyes crease into crows feet as he breaks into laughter.
Finishing the Creamy Bearnaise sauce he whistles a Kinks’ tune bobbing his head to the beat as he schemes up an antic for his next victim. This is my culinary arts mentor Chef Ralph a thirty-something adolescent prankster,