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Morsels from the Chef: A Collection of Delectable Short Stories

Morsels from the Chef: A Collection of Delectable Short Stories

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Morsels from the Chef: A Collection of Delectable Short Stories

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150 pagine
2 ore
Sep 12, 2017


Morsels from the Chef showcases six delectable short stories ranging from life as a personal chef to the trials of a romance in a busy restaurant kitchen. Even the neighbor lady gets in on the action with her casseroles!

Featured Contributors:

C. Billingsley Adams ♦ Diane Goodman ♦ Dimple Shah ♦ Jackleen de La Harpe ♦ Jared Alan Smith ♦ and Nicole Bea

Sep 12, 2017

Informazioni sull'autore

Zimbell House Publishing is an independent publishing company that wishes to partner with new voices to help them become Quality Authors.Our goal is to partner with our authors to help publish & promote quality work that readers will want to read again and again, and refer to their friends.

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Morsels from the Chef - Zimbell House Publishing


from the


A Collection of Delectable Short Stories

A Zimbell House Anthology

Distributed by Smashwords

This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. All characters appearing in this work are the product of the individual author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the written permission of the publisher.

For permission requests, write to the publisher

at the address below:

Attention: Permissions Coordinator

Zimbell House Publishing, LLC

PO Box 1172

Union Lake, Michigan 48387

email to:

© 2017 Zimbell House Publishing, LLC

Book and Cover Design by The Book Planners

A division of Zimbell House Publishing

Published in the United States by Zimbell House Publishing

Distributed by Smashwords

All Rights Reserved

Trade Paper ISBN: 978-1-945967-83-2

Digital ISBN: 978-1-945967-85-6

Library of Congress Control Number: 2017951819

First Edition: Month/Year

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Zimbell House Publishing

Union Lake


Zimbell House Publishing would like to thank all those that contributed to this anthology. We chose to showcase six new voices that best represented our vision for this work.

We would also like to thank our Zimbell House team for all their hard work and dedication to these projects.

Finally, a special shout-out to The Book Planners for creating yet another great cover design!


Just Desserts by Diane Goodman

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger by

Jared Alan Smith

Mrs. Meriwether’s Casseroles by

C. Billingsley Adams

Food, Lost + Found by

Jackleen de La Harpe

Degustation by Dimple Shah

An Open Kitchen by Nicole Bea


Other Anthologies from Zimbell House

Coming Soon from Zimbell House

Just Desserts

Diane Goodman

Gem and Howard lived in an enormous mansion on an exclusive private island in Miami Beach. I was their personal chef, which meant I cooked dinner for them several nights a week and catered all of their parties and events. My work there also incorporated another definition of catering—to coddle or indulge, or overindulge—as in catering to the whims or desires or demands of a child. But these people I was coddling and indulging—the recipients of my fundamental urge to nurture and to nourish—were spoiled, demanding and often irrational middle-aged transplants from California.

The first time I met Gem and Howard, I went to their house to cater a Sunday afternoon college football party.

Howard, a billionaire entrepreneur with an athlete’s body and an old man’s white hair and weathered face, worshipped college football players. The walls of his office and the walls outside his office and the walls in the bathroom next to his office were covered with framed pictures of these guys kneeling or throwing or catching passes.

Just across from Howard’s office was the massive open kitchen. As I carried my bags and equipment in, I wondered if Gem was a football fan, too. There were already six photos of smiling quarterbacks on the wall above the sink, and I could tell that in subsequent seasons, new recruits would take their rightful places on the remaining kitchen walls. But from the looks of Gem—with her long fake fingernails and dressed in a skin-tight denim mini-skirt with a bedazzled magenta tank top—and the presence of a uniformed maid, I doubted she ever made her way to the sink.

Since I did not know them or their taste, I had brought my white trays to present the food.

Howard doesn’t like white, Gem had said when I placed the trays on the counter. I apologized, and she directed me to a cupboard that contained an enormous amount of heavy, old-school silver trays and bowls. Retro, but not in a good way. Clearly purchased, not handed-down.

She instructed me that the shrimp would go in the one shaped like a giant clam. There were cocktail napkins that said, GO TEAM on them, plexiglass wine goblets scratched from too many runs through the dishwasher, a silverware caddy shaped like a baseball mitt. Tortilla chips would be served in an enormous plastic football helmet.

Miami Beach has its share of tacky, but there’s a certain proprietary style to it; it was immediately clear to me that Gem didn’t understand her new surroundings, or that you didn’t serve chips in a plastic football helmet when you lived in a mansion on a private island.

That day, I didn’t think I would ever be returning, since Gem did not seem to care for my style or my food—she actually threw away a mound of cold scallops I’d prepared because she had only ever had scallops hot—and Howard altered every single item I put on the table.

From their pantry, he chose semi-stale Triscuits to replace my Carr’s Water Crackers, returned miniature multi-colored peppers to the kitchen because they have seeds, plunked a store-bought bottle of barbecue sauce—half-full—in the spot where my homemade chicken wing sauce had been because we don’t like spicy food.

Next to the football-helmet bowl of chips, Gem placed a seven-layer dip from Costco; not only was it still in its plastic container, but someone—who I later came to realize was Gem—had eaten several large spoon-fuls of it and then tried to cover up the hole with some of the sour cream-shredded cheddar topping.

When Howard saw the dip, he immediately whisked it off the table and onto the kitchen counter but not before giving me a look that said, How could you serve this? When Gem saw it on the counter, she immediately whisked it back to the buffet, with a look that said, Why aren’t you serving this?

So, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be returning.

Although I was looking for a full-time gig, I could already tell these two would be impossible to please, so I was fine with this being a one-time thing. But the next day, Gem called and said, Monday through Friday dinners, things for lunch in the frig and ready to go, and whatever parties we do.

I wanted to say no, but the price was right, and I believed that I could adapt to anything, so I said yes.

Gem did not cook and was proud of it because, despite so much evidence to the contrary, she thought it made her seem disinterested in eating—the badge of honor for many women struggling to be thin—and it contributed to her conviction that she was much thinner than she was.

The truth is she was obsessed with all things food. Although grocery shopping and kitchen stocking were part of the service I provided, she insisted on doing those things herself—especially the Costco run—vestiges of the life she was raised in and for, the one she left behind when in her late thirties, she fled the prairie for California and met her billionaire.

Gem did not know how to be rich. She was reared in the Midwestern middle-class, much like myself, and was meant for a plainer life—a life of work, weekend barbecues, movies, summer softball/winter bowling, possibly some kids. But she ended up marrying a man who already had kids, and grandkids, and wanted nothing more than an extravagant yet unencumbered life with a younger wife; one who had been his secretary in California.

By the time they got to Miami, she was in her early forties, he in his middle sixties; they had only been married for a few months when I met them, and I think all the change undid her. Gem couldn’t shake who she was, and the frustration made her insecure, and the insecurity made her crazy. In her own new home, she was totally out of her element.

Maybe the problem was that it wasn’t exactly her element; it was Howard’s domain. It was true that he didn’t like white, but he definitely loved beige. The entire residence was done in various hues of neutral shades of skim milk, sand, dust and balsa wood. The walls, the rugs, the furniture, the bedspreads—even the dishes and placemats and napkins—were all in some combination of these non-colors.

Judging by Gem’s bright neon and often sparkly clothes—orange jumpsuits with gold piping, hot pink mini-dresses, shiny silver leggings—I think she would have decorated differently had she been given the opportunity, but some women will make any sacrifice for what they perceive as their own greater good.

Even if that means living in an arboretum. Howard loved trees. Ficus trees. The residence contained over two-hundred of them. Several staff members from a local nursery were there every day, including Sundays, so that all those trees could be watered and tended to, constantly spritzing and misting and turning the home into a tropical rain forest. These trees were on the balconies, in each room, in the kitchen, in the bathrooms, in the outdoor hallway. Moving around the rooms without walking into a tree was a challenge, and not just for me.

One evening while Gem and Howard were having dinner at the kitchen table and I was emptying their dishwasher, they began to argue about why Howard insisted on using his computer in the kitchen instead of in his office. Every evening, including this one, he would be in the kitchen when I arrived, having plugged his computer into an outlet behind the giant kitchen ficus.

Gem was saying, You have a perfectly good office. Why do you have to do your work here? Clearly, the shift from secretary to wife had changed their dynamic.

Howard was responding, Because I like the view here. Why do you care? and they went back and forth like that for a while until, in frustration, Howard stood up to storm out, but instead, he tripped over the computer wire and fell, bringing the giant ficus down on top of him.

You would think this would be cause for alarm—a giant tree on top of a man!—but almost nothing was more important to these two than being right.

Gem started saying, See? See? I told you. Why don’t you ever listen to me? and Howard, from under the tree—you can’t make this stuff up—started complaining that the problem was not his working at the kitchen table but that the tree was too close to the table. Then he rolled out from under the tree and continued.

If we move the table farther out, it will be fine. He pulled the heavy glass table a few inches away from where the fallen tree had stood.

If you just work in your damn office, it will be fine, Gem countered, pushing

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