Last Minute Meal Rescue

Format: Three Rounds, Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner (or could be salad, entrée, dessert)                                             
Four trained chefs compete

First round:
Four identical breakfast trays are delivered and set down before each of the chefs. Wait, something is clearly wrong here!
Something is burnt or a key ingredient is missing or something is far too sweet or much too salty, or maybe it looks just
plain, pie-in-the-face, unappetizing.
It is now each chef’s task to quickly identify and fix that problem, recovering a disastrous meal.
A clock begins to tick, ominously.

A word about the judges:
There are three judges; one who believes that even the slightest hint of garlic is an affront to the gods, one who has
dedicated his life to championing the idea that you can never have enough garlic in any dish, and one who would
suspiciously inspect manna, looking for any reason to send it back.

[Oh, and I forgot to mention something: the judges are not present throughout the frantic preparation; so, they have no
idea what the problem was with the original dish. They only come in after reparations.]

When time’s up, and the judges are in place, each of the chefs offers their last minute rescue breakfast plate to the
judges, with an explanation of what they have before them. The judges listen to the explanation from a very high place
indeed, with much thunderous rolling of the kettle drums if anything a chef says, or does, does not meet their lofty
approval in any way.

After each chef’s plate is eyed-coldly, poked a bit, and very cautiously tasted, the chefs leave the room, tails between their
legs, while the judges debate whether one chef was creative enough with the burnt toast or the rubbery eggs were truly
recovered or merely vaguely improved upon by smothering them in a heavy white sauce (in the finest of finest traditions).
After some time, the chefs are ushered back in to face the judges’ decision with appropriate trepidation, and one of them
is eliminated. Some kind of explanation is offered; too hot, too cold, too much of this, not enough of that…

[A STRICT RULE: At no time during their explanation is any chef allowed to even hint at his motivation for becoming a
chef. Any mention whatsoever of a promise made to a dying mother to become the best chef ever, or a neighbor’s dog’s
recent battle with cancer, or having once seen a guy with a limp walk into a diner and dance out joyously later after having
supped, and that chef will be eliminated immediately. Heart-string tuggin’ tales have NOTHING to do with cookin’ a good
meal. That idio… CHEF who employs such crude techniques to gain notice and compassion will immediately gain the
notice, but he’ll be looking for signs of compassion in his rearview mirror as he’ s being unceremoniously dragged off the
set.  ON… the other hand… that chef who admits that he’d rather sweat away nine grueling hours each night in a
commercial kitchen, working closely with a gang of mindless morons and surly malcontents, rather than spend another
single minute driving a forklift in a warehouse or welding leaf-springs on trailers for U-Haul, will be given bonus points.]

Rounds two follows the same format:
The dish is delivered, something is clearly out of whack, the chef’s task is to quickly fix that problem.

The judges come in, eyeball the chefs with a kind of vaguely hidden aristocratic disdain. Each of the chefs explains what
they have done as they offer their last minute rescued plate to the judges. With much smirking and rolling of the eyes, the
judges each look at the thing before them with open disgust, prod it a bit, taste it tentatively and declare its many faults.
The chefs then are invited to leave the room. When they return one of them is found unworthy to continue.

[Something about format:  Whenever a chef has the temerity to look one of the judges in the eye or stands up straight and
tall, instead of cowering appropriately before them, the ominous thunder of kettle drums comes up underneath, as the
judges glare. As the chefs leave the room, wringing their hands between rounds, The Teddy-Bears Picnic plays
underneath. When they come back in all atremble, an ascending paradiddle builds underneath, in the manner most often
associated with firing squads.]

Dinner round (the two survivors face each other like prize faighters, with mock intimidation):
Dinner entree is delivered and set down before each of the chefs. Wait, something is clearly wrong here—etcetera. Here’
the kicker—it ain’t obvious… the plates look perfectly acceptable in every possible way.  A mystery-something is quite
wrong however. It’s up to the poor chef to quickly determine what the problem is and to—even-more quickly—fix it.
Time’s a tickin’… and it seems to be ticking much louder than before.

Times up, the judges come strolling regally in, and each of the two remaining chefs offer their last minute rescued plate to
them. The judges debate at length—in front of these two—in order to decide which of them has come very-very close
indeed to being the Last Minute Rescue Champion, but has failed, and which has actually won that highly coveted title.

That winner then is allowed/though not encouraged to talk about how he’ll never forget the night his Aunt Mildred burnt
the pot roast… Without getting too maudlin about it the newly crowned Champ can state how her bravery, in the face of
such a humiliating disaster, and how her determination to carry-on and make things right, had inspired him to become the
proud chef that he is today.

Meanwhile the cameras focus on the judges who, at last, reveal their humanity, laugh in a near-convincing manner, and
commiserate, their noble eyes awash in humble tears. They recognize the story personally… because so many Last
Minute Rescue Chefs Champions have had that same experience. The driving force behind every success is so often the
painful memory of a near-disastrous event recovered at the last possible moment by the universal will to rise to culinary

Darryl Mockridge
February 19, 2016
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