Excerpt from the MasterChef USA parody novel ÜberChef USA now in the current issue of MEAT FOR TEA


ÜberChef USA

Episode One//Ten Chefs Compete in “Go Fish”

The sun tarried behind nomadic clouds as a shady man in a blue uniform and cap drove us to the pier. The Pacific was one colossal bowl full of flotage. Ocean pollution closed in on our boat. A gunmetal chill bilked my vision of a sunlit escapade. Never had a cesspool surfaced on prior episodes that I’d seen on TV, only postcard worthy shots of the sea. I began to grow used to this fractured version of reality. Gulls squawked and swept above us. One gull picked a fight with Joe Slick’s parrot.

Although we were docked, Chef Gordon R. Crank navigated the steering wheel from left to right, right to left, gazing into the distance as if he’d discover uncharted lands, or as if wondering what the hell he was doing here, on this boat, wearing that ridiculous outfit and catering to a television crew, when he could be prancing around one of his Michelin-starred kitchens acting the part of fat cat on a larger platform.

Slick stood at the balustrade staring through a telescope with Gram at his side. But Gram’s eyes were transfixed on the fob watch that dangled from Slick’s pocket. And I don’t blame Gram for staring, that watch was eye-catching on an otherwise somber clip. All it needed was a ray of sun to punctuate the most interesting part of Joe Slick.

Cards were dealt and we played Go Fish for a couple of hours, in which case the hours became bored. Ben Jax won. He demanded to know if he’d get an advantage in the fish challenge. “Cheesecake,” was the answer. Gram was in the mood for sweets.

After we watched the judges cram down pastries in the local bakery, we selected our fish at the local fish market.

Back at the SHAX television studio, we had fifty seconds in the ÜberChef pantry to find five ingredients to complement our fish. Crank thought it would be a hoot for us to see what it was like to be blind, therefore, we had to feel our way around blindfolded and make do with whatever ingredients knocked us in the head.

Chaos followed. Food fallout. Elbowed ribs. Pin-the-tail-on-the-idiot with ten of us fishing for a tail. The word “Cudgel” beat its way into my brain.

“We’re here to give you tips,” Slick said, as the trio surrounded my cooking station. He peeked into my skillet. “What’s that?”

“Butter,” I said.

Crank lit up like a firecracker about to pop. “Attempt to cook something sexy, as if you want to pick someone up…”

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