Jared, a prodigy chef with an unhealthy ego, had a humbling experience after encountering a homeless man who knew more about him than he expected. Despite his world-class culinary skills, he gets a taste of humility.
Addressing his staff of waiters, chefs, and administrators in an empty luxury restaurant, Alex made an announcement. “Most of you know why I’m here, but for those who don’t, I’ll explain. I’m opening a new restaurant soon and will be selecting the best among you to lead it.” The staff eagerly awaited their boss’s decision.
All but one. Jared, the handsome culinary prodigy, leaned casually against the wall with a smug grin.
“I’ve already gone forward and picked my top chef, Jared, to be the head chef of the new establishment. So please, let’s give him a well-deserved round of applause,” Alex continued.
The staff gave Jared a round of applause with feigned smiles of concealed resentment. Jared looked around with that same smug look — he already knew he would get the position.
Later that evening, Alex organized a party at the restaurant in Jared’s honor. If it were up to them, most of the staff would have never pitched. The team didn’t get along with Jared because he was narcissistic and had confidence that comfortably bordered on arrogance.
Unfortunately for them, nobody could question his skills and ability in the kitchen. Jared was a natural, and everybody loved his cooking. He came out top of his class in culinary school, superseding anyone that had come before him. This later granted him an internship in a restaurant in France. The rest, as they say, was history.
“To Jared!” Alex cheered.
“To Jared!” the staff clamored as they toasted their champagne glasses.
Jared was never blind to his team’s resentment or snide whispers around the kitchen. He just thought it came with the territory. Never one to doubt himself, he felt he had a right to proudly walk in his achievements.
However, sometimes the subtle exclusion got to him and made him feel alone. As the evening progressed, Jared began to feel isolated by his colleagues once again, so he decided to go outside for some air.
As he stood leaning on the backdoor of the restaurant, a homeless man dressed in a tattered hoodie and a raggedy scarf over his face suddenly approached Jared from the alleyway.
“Greetings, sir. I was hoping you could help me with a little food from your kitchen. I’ve barely eaten all day,” the man pleaded.
Jared laughed jarringly. “Look. It’s tough for all of us. You’ve just gotta put in the work, you know?! But I’ll tell you what. Maybe I can get you some sausage casings. Free of cost. How about that?” Jared said with a scoff.
Jared expected the hobo to turn around and walk away. Instead, the man drew closer to Jared, inspecting him. “You? I always knew you’d become a great chef. My only worry was would you become a good person,” the man said with a lagging chuckle.
“Watch your mouth, old man. I think you’ve mistaken me for someone else,” Jared said, stepping back uncomfortably.
“No, it’s definitely you. Remember your final dish during exam in culinary school?” the man asked.
“What? Who are you, man?” Jared asked, trying to get a better look at the man. But his multiple bruises, the hoodie, and the scarf over his face made it near impossible, especially in the dimly lit street.
“I remember it very well,” the man continued. “You may have forgotten, or maybe you didn’t even know. But on that last dish during your exam, you forgot to add saffron to the duck leg sauce,” the man said, finally revealing his face as he took off his scarf. Jared immediately recognized him.
“Mr. Maurice?!” Jared said in shock.
“Ah! Now you remember me. Was it my face or the fumble with the exam?” Mr. Maurice asked with a grin.
“Nonsense!” Jared scoffed. “There was nothing wrong with my dish! You’re just jealous because I ended up working for a gourmet restaurant while you ended up begging for leftovers outside one!” Jared said coldly before rushing back inside.
Later that night, Jared lay in bed tossing and turning as he recalled his random encounter with his old lecturer. A part of him felt bad for how he had treated the man. Mr. Maurice had always encouraged Jared and thought he had a promising future.
Seeing the once highly respected man he used to look up to begging outside a restaurant also didn’t sit well with him. But Jared couldn’t accept what Mr. Maurice said. He had put his blood, sweat, and tears into acing that exam all those years ago.
Jared went to his old culinary school the next day to investigate what had happened with Mr. Maurice. He went to the chancellor, who was over the moon to see their top-achieving alumnus return.
“Ah! Jared! What a pleasure!” the chancellor said, shaking Jared’s hand.
“Good seeing you too, Chancellor Stevens,” Jared replied.
“I hear you are out in the world continuing to make us proud,” the chancellor cheerfully replied, beckoning Jared to sit.
“Well, what can I say? It’s what I do!” Jared said, shrugging. “But I’m actually here to ask about Mr. Maurice,” he continued.
“Oh…him,” the chancellor remarked, his demeanor suddenly not as cheerful.
“Uhm… Yes. I actually saw him yesterday. He looked pretty bad. May I ask what happened to him?” said Jared.
The chancellor sighed deeply, then explained, “Look, I normally don’t like talking about this. But, since it’s you…” he paused, contemplating as he eyed Jared suspiciously. He finally continued:
“Mr. Maurice was kicked out of the academy a while back. He was mired in debt, started drinking, and eventually found himself on the street.”
“Just like that?” Jared asked, not completely convinced.
“Yep! What can I tell you? That’s life. These things happen,” the chancellor concluded with a shrug.
“Oh…okay. Well, thank you, chancellor,” Jared said, noticing the chancellor impatiently checking his watch as if signaling for him to leave. “Uhm…I would love to chat longer, but I know you’re a busy man, and I’ve got quite a bit on my plate as well,” Jared concluded, shaking the chancellor’s hand and leaving.
Jared was exiting the school’s premises heading for his car when he heard a voice call to him.
Jared turned to see Chancellor Steven’s secretary, Linda, approaching him.
“I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation with the chancellor. You were asking about Mr. Maurice, correct?” Linda asked.
“Yes, ma’am,” Jared said.
“Yeah, well, the chancellor didn’t tell you the full story. Mr. Maurice was kicked out by the chancellor because of a conflict the academy tried to keep on the hush,” Linda explained in hushed tones.
“What happened?” Jared asked.
“Mr. Maurice was dismissed for helping a student pass an exam they were sure to fail. This student became one of the most famous graduates of the academy, so his certification wasn’t revoked in order to keep the integrity of the academy. Do you get where I’m going with this, Jared?” Linda asked inconspicuously.
“I’m not sure I follow,” Jared said, in denial as the dots were starting to connect.
“I think you do, Jared. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be here. But if you want me to spell it out for you: Mr. Maurice got fired trying to secure your future!” Linda said.
“Goodbye, Jared,” she concluded, leaving Jared deeply perplexed.
Jared couldn’t believe it. He owed everything he was to the very same man he had treated inhumanely just the day before. Jared felt ashamed and immediately went searching for Mr. Maurice.
He finally found Mr. Maurice sleeping by a dumpster in an alleyway near the restaurant where Jared worked. Mr. Maurice awoke to find Jared kneeling at his side with a fast food bag in his hand.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Maurice. I didn’t know. But I promise I’ll do right by you and get you a job,” Jared said, handing him the food. Mr. Maurice accepted it with a friendly smile.
Jared took Mr. Maurice to the mall and gave him a complete makeover. He got him a haircut and new clothes and took him to the restaurant. Jared introduced Mr. Maurice to the chefs and told them he would be joining them as a new recruit.
Some staff recognized Mr. Maurice as the homeless man who stayed around the area. However, they didn’t question Jared’s decision. Instead, for the first time, they looked on at Jared with sincere respect.
Later that day, Alex came to the restaurant to have dinner with some of his business partners. As he inspected the menu, he was shocked to see a dish he wasn’t familiar with. He figured it was Jared, who often experimented in the kitchen.
So, confident in his top chef, he ordered it for the whole table. His waiter brought the dish to them, and from the very first bite, Alex and his partners were mesmerized.
“Not to blow my own horn, but I have never eaten anything tastier!” Alex said.
“Me too! This is spectacular, Alex!” his business partner exclaimed.
“I have to compliment our chef right away!” Alex said, getting up and heading to the kitchen.
“Jared, my boy!” Alex said, barging into the kitchen. “You’ve absolutely outdone yourself with this new dish! The sauce was exquisite!” he exclaimed with a chef’s kiss.
“Uhm… Sir, I didn’t make the dish,” Jared said.
“Oh? You didn’t?” Alex remarked, confused.
“No…” Jared started, gesturing toward Mr. Maurice. “It was actually our new recruit, Mr. Maurice here. I hired him today, and seeing how you enjoyed the dish, I plan on making him the assistant head chef,” Jared said with a confident, proud smile.
Alex stepped closer, inspecting Mr. Maurice with a disgusted grimace. “I know him,” Alex said softly before going on an unhinged rant. “THIS IS THE HOMELESS MAN THAT SLEEPS BY THE DUMPSTERS NEAR THE RESTAURANT!! YOU’RE HIRING HOMELESS PEOPLE TO WORK AT MY RESTAURANT!?” Alex yelled, fuming, as everyone looked on in awe.
“No, sir… You don’t understand. Mr. Maurice is a qualified—” Jared started before being cut off by an enraged Alex.
“You! I want you out of my kitchen now!” Alex barked at Mr. Maurice.
Suddenly, a waitress rushed into the kitchen in a panic. “Sorry, sir. B—B—But Mr. Lancet, the famous critic, is here,” the waitress said in a nervous stammer.
“What? Why am I only hearing about this now?! What did he order?” Alex asked anxiously.
“Uhm… I… I didn’t know it was him until just now. He ordered the new dish. I’m sorry, sir,” the waitress nervously explained.
“Oh snap!” Mr. Maurice said, suddenly remembering. “I forgot to put the saffron in it!” he exclaimed, holding his head in frustration. Jared grabbed his shoulder assuringly, an inapt, calm smirk on his face.
“You homeless moron! You’re going to run my business to the ground!” Alex snapped at Mr. Maurice.
The critic suddenly came into the kitchen. “Please excuse my intrusion. But I’d love to meet the chef who made this,” he explained. Jared pointed at Mr. Maurice, who held his head down in shame.
“You’re a genius!” the critic said to Mr. Maurice’s surprise. “I want to write an article about this restaurant and your dish!” he added enthusiastically.
“Unfortunately, I no longer work here. I’ve just been fired,” Mr. Maurice explained.
“Then I’ll do everything in my power to get you working at the best restaurant in town!” the critic promised.
Alex couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He had just missed out on one of the biggest opportunities that could have taken his restaurant to the next level. For once, Alex was uncharacteristically speechless.
A couple of weeks later, Mr. Maurice invited Jared for dinner at the new five-star, exotic restaurant he now worked at. They talked for hours until the place closed down.
Jared told Mr. Maurice how embarrassed Alex was after losing out on one of the best chefs around. He told Mr. Maurice about how he had finally formed solid relationships with his staff after they saw how he treated Mr. Maurice.
Mr. Maurice updated him on how it was running one of the biggest restaurants in town. They even reminisced about the old days, bewildered by how far they’d come. Two culinary geniuses, two generations, at one table.
“Thank you, Jared,” Mr. Maurice said as the staff cleaned up around them.
“For what?” Jared asked.
“I know you put the saffron in the dish. I don’t know how or when you did it, but I know you did,” Mr. Maurice said.
“Well, it was your first day, and you had a lot on your hands. I was just doing my job as the head chef, ensuring everything went smoothly. I can only thank God that it did,” Jared said.
“I guess we’re even now,” Mr. Maurice said, holding his glass up for a toast.
“I guess so,” Jared said as they toasted cheerfully.