by Edel Waugh from Lucy Burdette's Key West food critic mystery, Death with All the Trimmings
You'll hear the whole story in December, but let me say that starting a new restaurant is a killer proposition. So far, Key West feels even harder than New York City, if you can believe that. Here's my theory: Established eateries don't welcome newcomers who can cook circles around them. People don't like it when someone else is in the limelight. A chef who can cook both new dishes and old standbys better than anyone else on the island is considered a threat. And when people feel threatened, they lash out.
|Photo by Jay DeFehr|
You know what's been the hardest? Finding good help. Maybe you've heard what they say about this southernmost island: Turn the state of Florida on its end and and shake it hard. All the loose nuts fall down to Key West.
I did manage to bring down some of my people from New York City, because I know I can rely on them. Even so, bad things are happening in my kitchen. And no, I can't take it to the police. I can't afford one sentence of lousy publicity. That old saw "any publicity is good publicity"doesn't work for a restaurant. One hint of cockroaches or spoiled fish or food poisoning, and the amateur food critics will be all over the Internet dissing the Bistro on the Bight.
The best I can do is try to cultivate my employees' loyalty, and make them see that if I succeed, they succeed. And the only way I know to do that is by example--cooking like I'm on fire. Tonight I'm trying to win them over by serving my grandmother's recipe for Bolognese sauce at the family meal. Do you think that will help?
If that doesn't work, I may call that food critic, Hayley Snow...people say she's good at nosing out a mystery...
DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS will be on bookshelves on December 2. But you can pre-order it now:
Barnes and Noble