With the release of my debut novel only days away I thought it might be fun to share a sneak peak with readers of this journal; to thank you for being so supportive in these early stages before publication. It's strange to think that in just a few days time people all over the world will be able to read Yes, Chef! But that's the beauty of eBooks. I had such a blast writing this story. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
1. FRENCH CLASSICS
I probably shouldn’t tell you this but … Oh shit, hang on, the phone’s ringing.
‘Good morning, Damien’s … I’m sorry, Sir, we’re fully booked this Saturday evening … Oh, it’s your anniversary? I still don’t have any tables available … Yes, Sir, even for just two, but I’d be happy to make a reservation for you on the next available Saturday … It’s September 24th … Yes, Sir, I know it’s only April … Hello, hello?’
He hung up. Rude prick.
‘Why is it men always leave it to the last minute to organise their anniversary? I mean, it’s not exactly a surprise, it happens every year,’ I said to the office in general. But everyone was on the phone, except Kitty, the reservations supervisor.
‘Same reason they call the day before Valentine’s Day and try to bribe us for a table,’ she replied.
Kitty sat at the desk next to me, headset on, eyes closed, office chair in recline, holding a bacon sandwich.
‘Hung-over again?’ I asked.
‘Yeah, went to see Tool play last night,’ she said, eyes still closed against the fluorescent light. ‘My ears are still ringing. By the way, Jacq’s called in sick again so you’ll have to answer emails for the bistro too.’
Jacq is sick on a bi-weekly basis. At least. But we forgive and love her because she’s great for a laugh. She invented Sexual Harassment Thursdays, after all. But anyway, I was telling you about my boss, Damien Malone, celebrity chef, television personality, owner of seven of London’s ‘hottest’ restaurants, and all-round arsehole.
Oh Christ, Molly’s calling.
I was yet to discover what the benefit of caller ID on our office phones was. The only purpose it served was to strike fear or anxiety into our hearts whenever Damien’s or his wife, Molly’s name flashed ominously across the screen. I looked around to see if anyone else was free to take the call. Ten women were working the early shift that morning. Aside from me, Samira was the only one not already on a reservation call.
‘Samira, can you take line one?’
‘Who is it?’
Deep breath, Becca, just take a deep breath. I pressed the answer button as if I were afraid it might bite me.
‘Hello, Molly, how are you? It’s Becca, Becca Stone.’ There was only one Becca in our office. She knew that. ‘Just a second, Molly, I need to pick up the handset. I can hardly hear you; my headset’s crackling. Right, is everything okay?’
‘No, Becca, everything is not okay. I’m on the M4 coming back from Iver Heath and the most dreadful thing has happened.’
‘Oh God, are you all right? Have you had an accident?’
‘Becca, I need you to call the police.’
‘Of course. Why?’
‘Well, I was driving behind a dirty Fiat for at least a mile, when down rolls the passenger window and out flies a bag of McDonald’s. McDonald’s! They chucked it right into the road. It almost hit the Mercedes. I have the registration number, Becca; I need you to report this to the police straight away.’
I closed my eyes and focused on the bacon-scented air filling my lungs. Ten. Nine. Eight. Seven. Six. Five. Four. Three. Two. One.
When I opened my eyes I became fixated by the time on my computer screen. It was only nine fifty-four a.m.; I hadn’t even made it to the Nespresso machine and I was already experiencing my daily existential crisis. I was a twenty-nine-year-old woman with a language degree and I was working in what was essentially a call centre, for a chef who thought he was a demigod and his no-grip-on-reality wife.
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Want more Yes, Chef!? Read an additional extract here.