Can he cook?
The Potential New Boyfriend Checklist
There’s something sexy about a guy who can cook. Expertly taking control in the kitchen, serving up a meal, enjoying his food.
I like a man who enjoys what he eats, doesn’t over-think things, understands that quality counts, and can appreciate the simplistic genius of a perfect steak and a bottle of red wine.
On the imaginary Potential New Boyfriend checklist that I always refer to, “Can He Cook?” is one of the top questions, and earns bonus points for the correct answer.
One of the stories that I’ve included in the erotic gay fiction collection Peter Hooks Up is a story about cooking. More specifically, it’s about a passionate, demanding chef called Francois, and his new kitchen-hand Juan.
Here’s a few extracts to give you a flavour:
“How are the langoustines today Michel?” Chef Francois asked one of the young apprentices, in charge of preparing some of the seafood.
“Very good chef, super fresh!” replied Michel.
“Excellent, be gentle with them…” cautioned Chef Francois. “Frederick — this venison that we’re using for tonight’s special, you know how to break it down?”
“Yes Chef!” replied his assistant chef, “…we’re almost ready to start slow roasting some of the joints so that it will be ready for the first sitting tonight.”
“Excellent.” Chef Francois was feeling calm, feeling in control. He wandered out to the front of the restaurant to ask one of the floor staff to make him an espresso.
“Good morning Chef!” greeted Silvia. Young, glamorous, and ruthlessly efficient, Silvia was the perfect Front-of-House Manager. “All set for today?”
“Getting there Silvia, getting there…” he smiled. “Any chance of a coffee?”
“Of course Chef — I’ll get one for you now.”
As Silvia was packing the ground coffee into the filter handle of the espresso machine, there was a loud crashing and the sound of commotion coming from the kitchen. “That didn’t sound too good?” observed Silvia, raising an eyebrow.
“I’ll come back for that coffee Silvia…” signed Chef Francois, rolling his eyes, “…let me just go and make sure everything is alright back there.”
Chef Francois watched as Silvia directed the young guy over to where he was sitting at the bar.
“Chef Francois?” the young guy asked nervously. The chef held out his hand in greeting, the kid shook it. “My name is Juan — I’m from Barcelona.”
“Nice to meet you Juan from Barcelona…” smiled the chef. “You’re looking for work? How old are you?”
“Yes I am…” replied Juan eagerly. “I’m nearly nineteen. One day I would like to be a chef.”
“So you want to work in a kitchen? Ever worked in a kitchen before?”
“A few small restaurants in Barcelona, nothing like here at Jacques…” replied Juan. “Would you like to see my CV?”
“Don’t worry about your CV Juan…” smiled the chef, shaking his head. “You realise that working in a kitchen like this is hard work? It’s hot, it’s busy, everyone is shouting…” Juan nodded. “You have to start at the bottom, you have to do all the bad jobs, you have to do whatever anyone tells you?” continued the chef.
“Yes, I understand…” nodded Juan.
Juan’s head was spinning with the frenetic pace of the kitchen, he was focused intently on following each instruction that he was given, wanting to get everything right, to prove to everyone that he had what it takes to make it in this kitchen. He caught glimpses of Chef Francois in action and couldn’t help but be in awe of him — his physical presence, his sheer force of personality dominated the kitchen in every sense. Juan didn’t realise it, but Chef Francois was keeping a close eye on him as well. There was something about the Spanish kid that touched something in the gruff chef. Instinctively he liked the boy, wanted to look after him, wanted him to succeed and become part of his team. Chef Francois could tell that Juan was doing a good job, he wasn’t making mistakes, he wasn’t panicking under the pressure.
“So tell me a bit about yourself — how long have you been in London?” asked Chef Francois.
“Um, I’ve really only just arrived — a few days ago…” replied Juan.
“Really? And where are you staying?” asked the chef.
“It’s a hostel near Paddington — it’s pretty basic but it’s cheap. Although I should probably ring them to make sure I can get back in tonight…” said Juan, absent-mindedly.
“What do you mean?” asked the chef.
“Oh it’s just that they have this curfew system — I’m guessing that it will be a late finish here tonight so I’m not really sure that I’ll be able to get back into the hostel at that time.”
“But that’s crazy!” exclaimed the chef, “I won’t have you without a bed tonight. You can come stay with me — I live by myself and have spare bedrooms.” Juan began to protest. “No more discussion, I won’t have a member of my team without a bed…” concluded the chef firmly. Juan looked like he was about to cry. “What is it, what’s the matter?” asked the chef, concerned.
“You called me a member of your team…” replied Juan quietly.
“Come here you idiot” said the chef gruffly and he took Juan in his arms, embracing him warmly. “You are a member of my team — just you remember that.” The chef liked the feeling of holding Juan close, he could feel the warmth from his body, the boy’s soft curly hair against his cheek. He didn’t want to let him go but he knew that they had to get back to the kitchen. “Alright kid, we’ve got work to do — let’s get back in there!”
Juan happily followed the chef outside and they caught a cab across town to Shoreditch where Chef Francois lived. It was a big warehouse apartment space. Juan couldn’t believe how big it was.
“And you live here by yourself?” asked Juan, wandering around the large living area.
“Yup, just me…” replied the chef as he poured them both a large brandy. Juan took a sip, it tasted good, warmed him from the inside.
“What do you normally do when you get home from work?” asked Juan.
“I normally hit the shower…” said the chef “…try and wash the day away”.
“Yeah — I smell like onions!” laughed Juan. “I’ll have one after you if that’s okay?”
“Sure kid, whatever you want…” smiled the chef. He headed into the bathroom, turned the water on in the shower and stripped off his clothes.
It felt good to step under the water and feel it cascading over his tired body. As he grabbed the soap and began to lather up his body, he couldn’t help but think about Juan sitting out there on his couch, politely waiting for his turn in the shower. Almost without thinking the chef stepped out of the shower and stuck his head out of the bathroom door:
“Hey kid — it’s a pretty big shower in here, you could join me if you want?”