Three years prior
Gervasius Adamo couldn’t help the satisfied sound that left his full lips as the vintage red Bordeaux hit his tongue. “1990, now that was a good year.”
“Every year’s a good year for you, Whelp,” his mentor, Alois Hummel, owner and executive chef of Hummel Steaks, said as he finished pouring the Château Ducru-Beaucaillou.©
His father Cirillo, chimed in. “Indeed. You have me as a sire, the Adamo good looks and your health. Now after decades of hard work, you’re the executive chef at one of the finest restaurants in all of Europe.”
Gervasius’ father spoke as if he was relaying indisputable facts. Of course, his father was biased, but it was hard to argue with a man who had as many restaurants and Michelin© stars as he did.
His father raised his glass. “A toast, to my son…fruit of my loins and all that.”
“Here, here,” the fraternity of chefs cheered Gervasius’s promotion. If anyone considered it odd that despite it being the twenty-first century each member present was male, no one commented. It was simply a physical manifestation of a sad truth: there was rampant sexism in professional kitchens.
“Ah, to be forty again,” his father waxed.
“Hell, to be fifty again,” Alois said. “For that matter, to have an all-male kitchen again.”
“You don’t like the pretty female chefs?” Cirillo inquired as he lit his cigar.
“I like them on their knees before me, but not so much in my kitchen.”
“And yet you employ females in your kitchen,” Gervasius said.
“Washing pots, fetching things.”
Alois’s remarks were met by a chorus of male laughter.
“Times are a changing, my friend. Surely, someone’s going to notice that other than your mistresses, the only females in your employ are stewards.”
“And if they do?”
“You will not have a leg to stand on, Alois. Take my advice. Do not allow your own prejudice to cost you money. Hire a female chef…one you are not attracted to.”
“What’s the point of hiring an unattractive woman if I have to hire a woman at all?”
“I didn’t say hire Quasimodo©. You simply cannot hire a woman that you are attracted to. The point is to give the appearance of equality, not incur a sexual harassment lawsuit. Americans are sensitive about such things.”
“Americans are damn sensitive about a lot of things,” Alois grumbled.
Cirillo laughed. “Says the man who would’ve sold his own mother for a green card. You have five restaurants, Alois. You don’t have to give her London, New York or Vegas. Stick her in one of your newer restaurants…one of your country venues.”
“Well, there is my new venture in Atlanta. My son and nephew are doing their best to run it into the ground.”
“That’s the problem with hiring family. They don’t work as hard as they could. See now why I sent Gervasius to you to train?”
“I do. Now you see why I didn’t send you Axel or Gunnar?”
“I thank you for that because I don’t think our friendship could stand me murdering your relations. Neither boy has discretion.”
“Some days it seems they can’t even cook.”
“Find a woman who can. An unattractive woman…a desperate woman. She’ll turn your Atlanta restaurant around and you will retain all of the glory while she does all of the work.”