Lester Poissons (et oui, that's French) wakes up at 10:30AM, sweating a river and clutching his bedpost. He just exited a nightmare in which he was pouring some kind of chunky white goo onto a hot grill, then dousing it in mounds of butter and syrup. There was an angry waitress named Mabel in a Denny's uniform shouting at him to "hurry it up with those Moons Over My Hammy."
Once Lester realizes it was just a bad dream (and that, happily, he couldn't be further away from a Grand Slam if his name was Adam Dunn), he exhales heavily, relieved to recall that he's actually the head chef of Le Chien Affamé, a restaurant just as fancy and French as its name.
He reaches over and kisses a piece of paper on his nightstand, a recipe for venison sauce handed down to him by his grand-grand-grand-grand-père who used to be the personal cook for King Louis XVIII. It's the closest thing he has to a rabbit's foot.
Les fixes himself a plate of duck confit benedict with arugula and Hollandaise sauce. No Banana Nut Cheerios or Waffle House pancakes for this guy. He takes food seriously, and he refuses ever to eat a meal that isn't divinely delicious—he didn't go through all those years of culinary school for nothing.
After breakfast, Les showers and gets dressed, then stops by the grocery store. Generally, everything he needs is located in the kitchen at Le Chien Affamé, but he wants to try something a little different for one of the specials this evening and needs a few unusual ingredients to do it. (Have you ever heard of megrim or puffballs? Yeah, neither has the stock boy at the grocery store.) He finds what he's looking for, pays the cashier, and keeps the receipt so the restaurant owner can reimburse him.
Les pretty much has free rein to get what he needs, so long as he doesn't go too crazy. He has the advantage of having been good friends with Jean, the owner, ever since culinary school. Jean learned early on (right around the time he screwed up his third try at a grilled cheese sandwich) that he would never cut it as a chef.
Instead, Jean went the stockbroker route and made more money in five years out of college than Les will ever see, even if he cooks a million vats of lapin a la cocotte. Once he got tired of Wall Street, Jean opened up a restaurant (his first love) and hired his old friend Les as the chef.
Aside from the benefits that come simply from being in good with the boss man, Les was also able to cut a deal in which he gets three percent of the place's profits. Despite his shrewd negotiations, though, it's not really about the money for him.
Les makes his way into the restaurant around 1:00PM and meets with Jean to discuss the day's menu. They agree that it should stay mainly the same as always except for two specials, one of which will be the new dish Les had in mind. They also briefly discuss possibilities for later in the week.
The idea is to give regulars access to their favorite meals, while at the same time mixing it up enough to create a market sense of curiosity so no one gets bored by the same old same old menu. You know how excited you get when they change one of the flavors at Yogurtland? That's what they're going for.
Being an upscale restaurant, Le Chien's menu isn't expansive—they're going for quality, not quantity. Their stand-by entrée options look something like this (translated into English for your reading ease and pleasure):
- Roasted Pavé of Lamb in Rosemary Juice
- Preserved Cheek of Pork with Lentil
- Roasted Duckling Leg, Pear, and Fig with Wine Caramel
- Aubergine with Fresh Goat Cheese and Honey
- Cod Fish, Pan Fried Fennel with Anise
As you can see, McDonald's this is not.
At 2:00PM, Les starts preparing for opening. He practices cooking the specials—especially the one he hasn't cooked in over three years. Because it involves a technique that he hasn't tried in a while, he wants to make sure the finished product is edible (and, beyond that, tasty).
Les takes great pride in his work and wants every customer who walks through the door to try his food and instantly exclaim, "Ooh la la!"
At 3:00PM, Le Lapin Affamé opens its doors and the customers start trickling in. Business will pick up in a bit, but in the meantime, Les can ease his way into the day. Before things get crazy, he has some time to socialize, even laughing and joking a bit with his sous-chefs and the servers.
By the time 7:00PM rolls around, everyone's in the weeds. Les, as well as every other employee of the restaurant, runs himself ragged hurrying to prepare every meal that's ordered in a timely fashion while still preserving the high standard of quality he's set for himself (and the one his manager set for him).
It finally starts to slow down around 9:00PM, and Les can breathe again. He even has time to fix himself a quick meal while he hands over most of the responsibility to his sous-chefs for a half hour. At 10:00PM, the restaurant closes its doors. "Thank goodness we're back to weekday hours," Les thinks to himself. He heads home to get some sleep. He dreams of croissants. With no intrusions from Mabel.