Continuing with my self-imposed challenge of writing a short story of less than 1500 words.
If you missed part one, click here.
The Proof of the Pudding is in the Eating. (continued)
Soon, Igor set about creating a new look for his restaurant, offering a fresh menu based on ancient recipes. Gone were the gourmet courses, in their place more rustic fare of heartier proportions. The dishes delighted his customers, returning in their droves to sample his Compost (mixed roots with a honeyed, wine-based sauce) and Pegions (stewed pigeon).
For some time, Igor enjoyed great success, but when a notable food critic presented himself at the restaurant, suspicions were raised. Having read Laurel’s articles, he noticed similarities whilst eating Igor’s food, “Hm, this stew is not dissimilar to the young lady’s Stue Capon, and the sauce with these roots resembles her poiteven version. I smell a rat!” Rather than confront them, he – as critics are prone to do – wrote an inflammatory report calling into question their claims of creating the controversial menus
Igor, seemingly unperturbed, launched a preemptive strike and headlines soon followed, Igor Romanski Plagiarised! Laurel’s reputation suffered, immediately attracting criticism from throughout the industry. Incensed, she swooped upon the only chance to prove her innocence by challenging Igor to a cook-off, with a blind taste test to determine the true menu creator.
With staunch backing from her readers, Laurel insisted upon a fair trial – by taste. Naturally Igor refused, believing his acknowledged talent and ancestry lent him the advantage. Repaying his tactics, she contacted the press, who pounced on the idea and harassed Igor, until he had no option than to agree or lose face.
The cook-off date was set for the following Saturday, the rivals were asked to create a new, original recipe to showcase their understanding of the period. Laurel was cock-a-hoop, sensing victory from the start, assuming that Igor, notorious for having drunk away his profits, no longer had the focus to concoct a winning dish. He retreated into his kitchen and remained unseen, the restaurant closed, until the day of the contest.