Anna spent her time as a chef surrounded by shouting males, sweat rolling down into her big brown eyes. When she got picked for the cookery show, of course she was excited. Who wouldn’t be? This was her chance to be the best.
But the presenters, the production crew, the other contestants, were all male. Anna realised she had only been put in because of her sex. This became clear when one produced whispered in another’s ear ‘we’ll keep her till episode five. Make sure she cries.’
Anna devised a plan.
The point of the show was to give your dishes a theme every week. Something nice and digestible, like Best of British, or a Taste of Home. Something kooky, like serving stew in a bowl shaped like an English country garden to the most popular chefs in the country. Something to make them smile at home.
Anna picked her theme for episode five.
The Fag Packet made a few of them laugh. Individual breadsticks wrapped in edible paper, in a real cigarette packet with real smoke blown in, and a dusting of candy ash.
‘She’s very brave,’ said one of the celebrity chefs in a cutaway to camera.
The Horror Tandoori was the moment their faces dropped. Chunks of chicken hid in a dark, dark sauce, served in a battered tinfoil container. Heaped next to it was a green tomato catsup that simulated late night vomit, and in a red pepper-simulated lipstick stained Corona bottle sat a muddy flat cocktail of real ale and vodka.
Off-shot the producers debated whether this was the greatest episode ever, or if they would have to cut the whole thing
The dessert course that finished them off. Anna called it Victim’s Limb. With a flourish she brought through a severed hand made of pink blancmange, with white chocolate dead fingernails, and lashings of strawberry sauce at the wrist. It was the the thin strands of liquorice delicately placed to suggest hairy knuckles that made the first judge sick. He set off the others, and some of the camera crew as well.
When everything was cleaned up, and the next contestant brought through a delicate mushroom soup in an edible acorn cup for his Treats of the Forest display, all the chefs tasted were the cigarettes, the tandoori, the hand. For many, that was the last show they took part in. Some quit the cooking business altogether.
Anna didn’t care. Word got around about what had happened. The next time somebody shouted at her, all she needed to do was start rolling a breadstick in edible, or whipping blancmange, and it soon stopped.