Mum’s Tea Room Spawns TV Chef, a short story by KiwiDreamer. Date added: 2012-03-20. Times viewed: 1393.
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- Intro: A young woman cooking for her mum's tea room is plucked from obsurity, seduced and will achieve global status of Celebrity Chef.
Every time one turns on TV these days, chances are a cooking show of dubious merit is either starting, or is midway through or finishing or its imminent arrival is being trumpeted.
Never have so many untalented people presented such mindless tripe on our screens in the history of television and being scandalously misnamed Master Chefs. The producers of such shows are greedily chasing big payments for rubbish conceived to satisfy the huge appetites of TV bosses to dupe viewers into watching programs that cost little more to buy-in than paying the salaries for staff in the nation’s top restaurant.
It is rumoured that the BBC was on the verge of screening something it purchased as ‘the Cheapest TV Celebrity Chef Show ever’ when it was discovered the production was made by two 15-year old girls using the mother of one of them as Chef Lucifer Jones. The 10-part series was filmed professionally and costs were kept low by the judicious use of smoke and mirrors. Well it was only a pub rumour.
* * *
Destined it would seem to become a top TV Celebrity Chef , Joanna Blake was born and reared in the village of Putting North-on-Railway (situated less than halfway between the borders with Scotland and Wales). Jo was already tagged a supreme cook of cakes and savouries by villagers before she was ‘discovered’ working at her mum’s tea room by a guy from an independent film-making company who was driving back to Manchester from Scotland where he’d interviewed a guy reputed to be Scotland’s greatest cook ever, but was disappointed to find the only things the old Scot cooked were haggis and baked beans on toast.
Ben King, a film director with Choice Independent TV Film Productions Ltd, arrived one afternoon at Putting North’s only tea room where Jo worked. He sampled the flaxen-haired blue-eyed 32-year-old’s cooking and an hour later Jo as well, that being possible because Jo frequently worried she was sexually under-nourished and was only too willing to share her golden triangle with big Ben.
Of course by the time Ben hit on her he’d already fed her the line, “I want to make you a star.” That ingenious line is probably the most powerful leg-opener known to man, especially to married fornicators like the ethically-deficient broad-shouldered Ben whose handsome leer always lurked… as the saying goes, to stand him in good stead.
Ben prided himself on his ability to get women off and was staggered to find Jo got him off before he had the chance to demonstrate his skill at turning his usual lethargic casual sex partner of the day (or the night) into a writhing and sweating mass of womanhood shouting profanities. Two ploughing encores produced the same result: Jo had him writhing and sweating and shouting uncouth profanities.
Ben interviewed seven candidates for the position of the new ‘super chef’ the company wanted to unleash on to the TV program cooking market already heavily saturated with film-makers offering similar fare. Of course he viewed the person being sought as ‘a demonstrator with undeniable screen projection of looks and personality’ because demonstrator was what most of them were, following a prepared script with aplomb and exhibiting demonstrator skill with some timely titbits to fill the gaps if their timing with the spatula was off-pace for any reason.
The company’s executive team attended Ben’s presentation of his top three finalists.
First up was the motherly Mrs Thelma Street wearing a soiled kitchen apron Ben had handed her. Standing behind a table she told the panel she believed her expertise lay in preparing economic meals to assist viewers stretch their pound further (as if anyone watching TV would want to watch that. Then following Ben’s earlier suggestion, she spent the remainder of her 15-minutes demonstrating the preparation and cooking of and awful-looking steak and kidney pudding.
She left, leaving most of the executives with a rather green pallor.
Miss Mary Smith was introduced as owning her own day-restaurant unappetisingly called The Nosh Shop. Mary prepared a revolting mix of chopped seriously fatty mutton mixed with pre-cooked and sieved carrots and green vegetables. Thankfully she covered her nosh with pastry and when opening the door to the oven dropped the prepared mixture on to the floor and she screamed ‘fuck’ and scooped her creation back onto the dish and placed it in the oven.
“Finally we have a candidate with a clearly understandable northern accent she uses with charm,” Ben said, putting in some groundwork. “Please welcome Joanna Blake whose specialty is fare from the best of English tea rooms.
Ben watched as the four men and three women on the panel nodded approvingly and then saw them gape as they watched the elegantly curved Jo arrive on stage as if dressed for a porn movie audition, with eight inches of cleavage evident and the hem of her little black dress stopped half an inch above her stocking tops. Even two of the three female executives licked their lips.
With intense coaching over three days by Ben, Joanna Adams-Blake displayed verve and obvious camera-focused expertise and she made vanilla cupcakes inside ten minutes and then from her carry-bag produced a plastic boxed filled with vanilla cupcakes she’d made an hour earlier and presented them to the CEO for the panel to sample.
She left and Ben grabbed a cupcake and said, “I hope you guys are not torn by indecision?”
“Jo will have to come on set with a higher-neck dress with a lower hemline, but not too high and not a great deal lower,” said the CEO, Bert Hopkins. “We don’t wish to prostitute Miss Adam-Blake. Do you all agree with me?”
Crumbs were sprayed as his team expressed agreement.
“Sign her up Ben as soon as you get back a security check clearance on her. You have your budget allocated so then get Miss Blake into the required training programme and hire your script writers and prepare your filming timetable for three half-hour pilots for us to hawk around.”
Ben was almost to the door when Bert called, “Oh Ben.”
His youngest film director turned and said, “Yes boss?”
“You really set us up audaciously. That was quite the best exhibition of a director pushing his barrow that I’ve ever see.”
* * *
Understandably, Jo was highly excited that Ben was in the process of plucking her from obscurity to transform her into a TV star. She didn’t take much notice of what he was saying about ‘initial contract’, ‘salary’, ‘pilot production’, ‘possible sales’ but absorbed mention of increased salary details when the show went into ‘full production’.
“Do you wish to reward me?” he asked, pulling out his boyish smile.
She smiled coquettishly, “You mean more sex?”
“Yes a real gluttony of sex and for that I’ll take you to France this weekend.”
“Omigod yes. This time you can go where it was previously forbidden.”
“Oooh,” he said, delivering his most seductive leer reserved in anticipation of momentous occasions.
“Oh god, give it to me now.”
“No way. Let’s stew on this. We leave from here to Saint Malo airport in northwest France to travel in eager anticipation to the small walled town of Dinan on the River Rane, a most picturesque place where I’m in the habit of going with some pals…”
“But this time it will be with me for unrestrained plundering.”
Ben ran a finger between his collar and neck and croaked yes
Jo returned home and told her mum the screen test had gone okay and the company would make three pilot half-hour shows and if they could sell the show they’d commence full-scale production that would take weeks to film.
“So you best replace me at least temporarily.”
“Very well and so how much will you earn filmmaking?”
“That’s uncertain at this stage,” Jo lied, having already signed the preliminary contract. “Um if I give up my flat in the village during the long wait, I’d like to move back home to live here and used it as my base”
“Well….” said her mother.
“I’d pay fair board.”
“Yes,” said her father. “That would be lovely.”
Jo lied, “Um I’ll be away this Friday and all weekend and then return to Manchester for dress rehearsals.”
“Perhaps I meant coaching.”
“But you’ll still pay board when you’re not here?”
“Yes dad. Perhaps we should talk about a reduced rate for nights when I’m not in resident.”
“Why talk. We agree to a 50% discount for no occupancy days.”
Jo felt a little guilty haggling with her parents over price because until she finished university, they’d supported her completely all her life and without complaint as far as she knew. Jo resolved when her big pay days arrived she’d finance them into the holiday her parents often talked about when half-drunk at home, cruising for two weeks on a luxury ship in the Caribbean.
* * *
Ben’s wife Hilda had taken their two small children to visit their maternal grandparents and that browned off Ben knowing that his wife’s girlfriend, who was also married, lived only forty miles from where Carol and the kids would be staying. Hilda had told him once that she and Carol had more than shared a room while they went through university together. So in retaliation for a deed he’d only suspected might happen, Ben had booked a Friday-Sunday weekend for two in France. He and Jo boarded a Ryan flight in Manchester and from Saint Malo airport they drove to stay Friday and Saturday nights at the Avro Hotel in the walled medieval town of Dinan on the banks of the navigable Rance River.
They acted like randy teenagers in bed and on the floor and sofa at their hotel and when out walking, sight-seeing and at restaurants they acted like lovers.
Their filthy weekend ended on Sunday morning when they returned to Saint Malo for the flight home, timed by Ben to ensure he arrived home before his wife returned with the children, That would allow him to pretend he’d been home all weekend spending much of the time at work catching up and going out with some of the lads at night.
When Ben dropped Jo off at her rooming house and kissed her goodbye, she thought goodbye you bastard, cheating on your family like this, but had the grace to feel guilty, knowing she was his partner in adultery. Next day she found a reasonable quality furnished 1-bedroom studio apartment for £465 a month. Ben had given her £500 to go towards the application vetting process and bond (deposit) since he would ‘be visiting quite frequently for interfacing including me getting a piece of you’. She hoped that ‘interfacing’ would include some restaurant visits and movies disguised as ‘nights out with the lads’.
Jo began going each week day for coaching at the filmmaker’s studios in Manchester, in a small brick building that originally housed a small brewery. She was thankful that she was not the only one pleased at her progress and gradually she became used to smiling, smiling, smiling and to look as if she were smiling even when narrating on camera.
But did she really like what she was doing? Yes, she decided, during her retrospective. She liked her work but had tired of having to be sneaky all the time with Ben. When into the second week of filming she decided to tell him she wished to finish with him romantically. There was little that was romantic about Ben’s treatment of her. He tended to couple like a randy bull. Yes she wanted to be romanced by someone who perhaps was good husband material, or at least appeared to be. It would be best to cut her secret ties with Ben now, early into filming and get him over it before they won a contract to allow continuation of the full series.
Ben acted devastated when she hit him with the proposal they end their liaison and yet Jo was left with the impressed he appeared almost relieved. Well perhaps he was? He declined to take back the money he’d given here.
Jo figured the liaison must be placing a strain on him as well, always watching when they were out, anxious that someone who knew him and his family might catch them out and inform his wife. Oh and the other thing was guys like Ben liked to flitter from pillar to post with women who caught their eye, or so she’d read on several occasions.
Next day at work Ben appeared to be gentler with her than usual, and that served to increase Jo’s confidence during filming. The scriptwriter had used the tried and proven method of having a guest or guests drop in to provide wider variety and her choice of making those guests mainly girls fourteen to twenty with a cooking bent appeared to be working very successfully.
“It’s giving us an edge of difference,” was the opinion of Malcolm Brown-Kingsley, the executive producer.
When the three half-hour episodes (editable to allow slots for advertising) were completed, Jo returned home to wait hopefully for a successful bid for a 10-series show. Her salary plunged to still keep her under contract. She decided to keep her apartment in the meantime because her mom had agreed to take Jo back into the kitchen of her tea room. Within two days of Jo’s return, news appeared to have spread that the pastries and cakes had really improved at the tea rooms and its popularity began climbing to the level not attained since shortly after Jo’s departure.
“I’ll boost your pay by twenty quid a week,” said her grateful mom. Jo was getting just under a quarter of the weekly payment she’d received when working on the pilot series and that payment by the company would treble if the planned series sold abroad as well as in England.
Nine weeks after leaving the studios in Manchester, Jo was recalled to begin expanding her work. The major buyer had paid the asking price, believing there were sufficient differences in the format to make the series achieve public ranking as one of the best cooking shows on UK TV. The buyer also wanted the production to be increased from ten and sixteen episodes. Then prospective buyers in France and America entered negotiations for screening rights.
“We’re in the money with this one,” the program package sales executive said to Jo at the small celebratory party after the signing of the principal contract.
“Yes and excellent work Edward,” she said, and he corrected her, saying his name was Teddy Atkinson, not Edward Atkinson as the name given him by his parents.
“Oh I do apologise,” Jo said. “How awful of me.”
Teddy took a close look to see whether she was being sarcastic and caught sight of the fading blush.
“Um Joanne, I’ve just returned from this extensive sales tour attempting to sell five of our company’s latest offerings and at present I’m without a date.”
“Are you married?”
“Then I’ll date you Eddy.”
“Gee Joanne, I can’t believe my luck. You know I thought I’d never have a chance with you because you’re so beautiful, so sophisticated.”
“God Eddy, you’ve pressed my button. Let’s duck off somewhere this weekend.”
A multi-media national promotion of the new cooking show, ‘Joanna Blake Improves Best Fare of England’s Top Tea Rooms’, will launch on the 14th of next month. The filming of the second series has commenced, according to a media release. Screening rights to the inaugural series has been sold in twenty-one of Britain’s former colonies including Canada India and Australia. In addition, viewers in France, Italy and Austria will also see Britain’s sweetest and sexiest cook in action, according to the program makers in another media release.
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