The Unsung Sous
The last thing I remember before my entire world crumbled was being in the throne room of King Kelpbeard. I had just completed another successful royal dinner. A delectable five course meal, composed of Ocean Salad Delight, Fresh Oysters, Kelp Gazpacho, Filet of Beef, Octopi Souffle. Made complete with a complimentary cocktail, no less! (Aged Tchea Juice, as I recall. And I do. I can recall in, amazing detail, every meal cooked in those castle kitchens.)
The King himself had called me in to personally thank me for such a marvelous meal. Beaming with pride I went to return to the kitchens when a Lady of the Court begged for my gazpacho recipe. It is quite amazing, if I do say so myself.
That’s when the throne room doors burst open with a loud “BANG!”. I’ll never forget what happened next. In walks a tiny, skeletal terror known as Dread. A ruthless pirate with a nasty reputation. He demanded payment for protection. The King kindly refused, attempting to explain our meager harvest, but it fell on deaf ears.
Dread cursed Maraqua and all who lived there before he stormed out of the castle. It was so quiet you could hear a sea shell drop. No one dared to say a word and avoided one another's gaze. King Kelpbeard shook his head and his pallor changed to a sickly grey.
My mind racing, I dropped my head and hurried for the kitchens wanting desperately to be with the dirty dishes. To be in my comfort zone. To focus on anything else than what had just transpired.
The rest of the kitchen staff joked heartily and shared what was left of the Aged Tchea Juice. Completely innocent and unaware of what was to come. And what was to come? I knew Dread was bad news, but what did that mean for Maraqua? What did that mean for the only place I’ve ever called lived?
Sleep evaded me as my mind reeled with different hypothetical disasters. Each worse than the last. The next morning was a groggy blur, but as we were clearing away lunch, that’s when I noticed it. The plates were rattling. Barely making a sound at first, but then the throne room began to tremble with a fury.
I remember the sound of all the fine china breaking and the rush of the ocean. Then it was black.
I never imagined the sun warming my skin would give me immeasurable joy, but after endless, crushing darkness, feeling the sun was like seeing a long-lost friend. The sand beneath me belonged to Mystery Island and I had luckily washed up on its shore.
In the days that followed, I would learn the disaster that befell Maraqua and all its inhabitants. It was hard to accept. I was devastated. I lost my friends, my king, my beloved job. I lost my home. Myself. I had lost everything. Dread had taken it all away with one cursed whirlpool.
After weeks of directionless wandering, I suddenly felt the urge to cook again. I wanted to immerse myself into the wonderful world of flagrant flavors. Just as I was pondering this very thought, I passed a tiki sign with the words, “NOW HIRING: EXPERIENCED CHEF WANTED”.
I walked inside and accepted the job immediately. Eager to busy my hands and my mind. I didn’t want to hear the details. I just wanted to start right away. As soon as possible.
Little did I know I would be cooking for Mumbo Pango. Did you know he requests a BRAND NEW dish every five minutes?! Demanding is an understatement. Neopians think the Island Chef Academy is hard, but my job is no game. Things are quite serious when you’re the chef to a gargantuan volcano god, am I right?
After only 3 days I was ready to quit. Up to my eyeballs in meal requests and fearing for my life if I anger Mumbo Pango. Who knew a comically, monstrous coconut could be so terrifying?! I sure didn’t.
Loneliness had started creep into the back of my mind. I felt like an outsider. Homesick and alone, I decided to take a stroll along the sandy shore to clear my muddled mind. I passed by the Rock Pool and decided to go inside.
I knew there were other Maraquan survivors. At least there were rumors. But here were numerous Maraquan Refugee Petpets for sale. I was in awe at the overwhelming nostalgia. Luckily being a chef to a god pays pretty well so I had pocketful of neopoints.
At first I was unsure. I had never had a Petpet before. I enrolled in culinary school when I was young and I never had time for such “distractions”. Would I even be a good owner? But I knew they had suffered the same loss as me. I couldn’t leave that shop without rescuing a companion.
Taking my time truly appreciating each creature and mourning the loss of our shared home, I came across a Ramosan. He looked frightened and kept emitting little bursts of electrical shocks. I had an idea! I quickly told the shopkeeper that I wanted to purchase this homeless eel.
I decided to name him Live Wire. And that is when I got my sous chef. He allowed himself a few day to get acclimated to his new habitat, but then he joined me in the Mystery Island Kitchen. Of course he had zero experience in the kitchen. But with his sharp mind and his craving to learn, he soon came to master many culinary techniques.
Months later we had fine-tuned our rhythm. In order to meet the insane demands for meals, we began preparing multiple meals at the same time. If a meal turned cold, Live Wire’s electric jolts were perfect for reheating dishes! Or my cup of Banana Cream Coffee. To say he exceeded my expectations doesn’t begin to cover it.
I was impressed. I even told him once. He responded with a huge grin.
Compliments are ultra rare from me. When you serve, you become accustomed to receiving complaints before compliments. That’s just the way the Cookie Negg crumbles, I’m afraid.
Even with Live Wire’s diligent work in the kitchen, Petpets cannot use the Shop Wizard. This is why I decided to enlist the help of all neopians. I am grateful for all that you do, truly. Sorry for my harsh attitude at times. With such a stressful job, it’s hard to keep my cool.
Hot heads and hot kitchens do not mix well. Live Wire knows exactly what words to say to make me calm as cucumber salad.
Mystery Island has become less alien to us both over time. With Live Wire by my side and with your help, I feel confident I can continue to please Mumbo Pango’s insatiable appetite. Hopefully for a long time.
My first home was Maraqua, but I found my second home is my passion for cooking. Dread can’t take that.
And I’m glad to share it with my fellow Maraquan pal. My first mate. My partner in crime.
Join me in recognizing Mystery Island’s unsung, culinary hero!
Three cheers to the best sous chef anyone could ask for and who I’m lucky enough to call friend.