Sky Full of Bacon

Charlie and the Cuisine Factory

Notice posted at Crucial Detail website:

On October 19th chef Grant Achatz, in collaboration with Martin Kastner of Crucial Detail and the Alinea staff, will host an experimental dinner testing concepts, dishes, service methods, and techniques deemed too avante garde for Alinea.
• Seating will be limited to 30 guests.
• Tickets available by lottery only through this website.
• Tickets are non-transferrable and cannot be sold or traded.
• Due to the nature of the event, we regret that we cannot accommodate vegetarian or any other dietary requests.
• There is no charge for the event.

Chapter One

Charlie Bloggert was a boy who had a food blog. Having a food blog did not pay very much, and so he had to live in an old, old house with his Grandpa Jacques and his Grandma Julia and his Grandpa Ferran and his Grandma Alice and his iMac G5 with Snow Leopard. They lived on large pots of chilled beet soup and old episodes of $40 a Day With Rachael Ray, and dreamed of someday getting to eat at famous restaurants like Charlie Prodnose’s and Fickelgruber Laundry and Per Slugworth. But the finest restaurant of all, the one Charlie most dreamed of eating at someday, was Chef Grant Wonkatz’ Alinea.

“Tell me about Alinea, Grandpa Jacques,” Charlie would say, for he was always in desperate need of material for his food blog.

“Why, it’s the most marvelous place on earth!” Grandpa Jacques exclaimed. “And Chef Wonkatz is the most marvelous wizard with food that you’ve ever seen! Why, he has a kind of griddle that, instead of making food hot, fries it up cold! He has drinks that are hot at one end and cold at the other end as you drink them—”

“But how does he do that, Grandpa Jacques?” Charlie asked, furiously pressing “Save” on WordPress.

“Nobody knows! That’s what so wangdoodleficating amazing about it! And most amazing of all, he has a ravioli—oh, you’ve never seen such a ravioli in all your life—you bite into it and it explodes in your mouth with all the most amazing flavors that just go on and on until you feel like you’ll never be able to eat anything again! It’s called Wonkatz’ Everlasting Gobslopper and nobody knows how he does it—oh, wouldn’t old Thomas Ficklegruber or Jöel Slugworth give their right eye to know how he does it!”

“But someone must know how he does it,” Charlie said. “Can’t someone bribe his sous chefs or something? Hasn’t he written a big expensive coffee table book?”

“That’s just it,” Grandpa Jacques said, his voice growing low. “Nobody knows who his sous chefs or cooks are. Nobody’s ever been inside his kitchen. All they see are the waiters bringing dishes out. And the busboys taking dishes back in. But what happens in that kitchen, nobody knows…”

flip the pages…

Chapter Nine

The next day Charlie turned on the internet to find that a girl named Violet Beauregarde in New York had won the second Golden Ticket. Her father, a round little man with his hair combed over his head, was talking to the camera.

“Soon as I saw that ticket, I called this here Alinear up,” Mr. Beauregarde said. “I said you listen here, my girl Violet is a verrah famous food blogger, as you no doubt know, and runs a very important survey of very fine dining. And I said, my Violet expects the chef to cook for her. And the clown at the other end says, sir, the chef cooks for everybody, we don’t send the food out raw. No, no, you nitwit, I said, you listen to me, my girl Violet has been in the finest restaurants in all the world, Paris, Vegas, you name it, and maybe this news hasn’t reached the cornfield town you live in but when a customer says they want the chef to cook for them, it means they expect the chef to prepare a special menu just for them, of the chef’s best, not that junk he serves the hoi pa-low-ee. And they expect the chef to come out and talk to them, see? My Violet has some very specific ideas on cuisine and I think it would do your Chef Wonkatz a lot of good to get the benefits of her insights…”

flip the pages…

Chapter Seventeen

As the golden gate shut behind him with a loud clang, Chef Wonkatz began to speak. “You five lucky children—and your charming parents—are the first people to—”

FLASH! went the bulb on Mike Teevee’s pocket camera.

“I wish you wouldn’t do that right in my eyes as I’m speaking,” Chef Wonkatz said.

“Hold on a second Chef,” Mike said, furiously typing on tiny keys the size of mouse teeth. “There! I’ve just uploaded that picture to YFrog.”

“As I was saying—”

“Hang on there Chef,” Mike said. “My Flip camera isn’t picking up the audio very well. Do you think you could turn off some of those machines?”

“I know just the thing to show you,” Chef Wonkatz said. “You know how people send Tweets during their meal?”

“Do I know—listen, Chef, you’re talking to the first kid ever to live-Tweet from the bathrooms at Ducasse!”

“Well,” continued Chef Wonkatz, “I have found a way to Tweet… food.” And he opened the doors to reveal a gleaming white complex of cubicles and computers, at which dozens of casually-dressed Oompa-Loompas sat, furiously typing and then pressing “Send.” At the front of the room stood a plexiglass booth, and inside it was a plate of food neatly threaded onto a metal skewer, and a computer with a large camera-like device attached to it.

“Watch this,” he said, and suddenly the booth was filled with a brilliant white light. When it faded, the food was gone.

“Where’d it go?” asked Charlie.

Suddenly one of the Oompa-Loompas began jumping up and down in his seat. “There!” cried Chef Wonkatz as the five kids and their parents moved forward to see. “There, on his screen! That’s the food!”

“It’s tiny,” Mrs. Beauregarde said.

“It only has 140 characters to capture everything about the dish,” Chef Wonkatz said.

As they squinted at the tiny skewer with its minuscule food threaded through it, no one noticed that Mike Teevee had slipped out of the group and was now running toward the plexiglass booth at the front of the room…

flip the pages…

Chapter Twenty-Eight

“And this one is an oyster topped with yuzu—” Chef Wonkatz said.

“I don’t eat shellfish,” Veruca Salt said. “Contains too many pollutants.”

“What an adorable rhinoceros your child is,” Chef Wonkatz said. “And over here, is a slice of braised Berkshire pork belly with uni flakes and a salt caramel—”

“I don’t eat salt,” Veruca said. “Ironic, I know. Or pork either. And to tell you the truth, Wonky, I’m not wild about uni. Haven’t you got some food a person could eat in this place, like tofu or seitan?”

“I must admit, at the moment I’m not so sure,” said Chef Wonkatz.

“Well, there’s your pantry,” Veruca said. “I’ll just hop over and take a look-see—”

And in a flash Veruca had bounded the barrier and popped into the kitchen. “Stop, you’re not clean enough to be in the kitchen,” Chef Wonkatz shouted.

“Who are you saying isn’t clean?” Mrs. Salt, offended, shouted back.

Veruca hunted through the large steel refrigerator for something to her liking.  “Kangaroo meat… filet of snozzcumberous… Wonky, don’t you know you’re killing yourself with all this stuff?” As she went on, tossing packages over her head, Veruca didn’t notice that a group of Oompa-Loompas was sneaking up behind her with a large plastic bag.

“Say, what are those Oompa-Loompas doing?” Mr. Salt said.

“They’re making sure the meat in the kitchen isn’t contaminated,” Chef Wonkatz said.

“Veruca!” screamed Mrs. Salt, but a moment later the bag was over Veruca’s head and six of the Oompa-Loompas were inserting one end into a large silver machine.  A kind of rumbling noise came from the machine, and then suddenly the plastic seemed to stretch tight over Veruca, following her shape perfectly.

“What have they done?” screamed Mrs. Salt.

“They’ve vacuum-sealed her to keep her fresh,” Chef Wonkatz said resignedly.

And then, carrying the plastic-sealed over her head, the Oompa-Loompas began to sing:

For those who eat most heartily
An occasional blocked artery
Is not so high a price to pay
For enjoying pleasures while you may.
But then there are the crabby sort
Who’d never take a glass of port
A good cigar, a hambone joint
Or paté foie. For them the point
Is bringing to a prompt fruition
The optimum in good nutrition
Devoid of butter, fat or lard
Just whole grain bread turned granite-hard
Broccoli, lentils, bitter kale
Brown rice that tastes like last week’s mail.
One of this kind was Veruca Salt
Present her with a chocolate malt
And you’d be greeted with a look
As if you’d deep-fried a phone book
Tofu, seitan, these were her meats
Served raw upon the greens of beets
Which she would chew with jaw askance
(And soon make noises with her pants).
So long poor V. eschewed her treat
Not us! For us, she’s just fresh meat
She suffers now a fate to heed—
We’re cooking this young Salt sous vide.

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