The 63rd Fire: A Tale of Trust
Always coming back to the Potan, it resets the landscape for me. The Potan series gives me a large oversight of everything done and moving forward. While the characters have grown and changed a bit, the heart is the same. May they continue to take me with them.
The Potan of the Potan Del La De Magnus
The Potan Del La De Magnus was open. It had been for a few months now, rebuilt on the location where it had previously burned. It was made different, yet familiar with much of the art decor redone.
It altogether looked much finer, even with the gargoyles that Le Mon had insisted stand watch on all the corners, The rest maintained its Gothic styling with the needed lighting and colors to reclaim its status as the grandest restaurant in all of Florence, or Verona, or even Europe.
Shit, maybe the entire world.
Everything had been operating smoothly, Pierre back in charge, the general manager and owner of his own Potan. While he had faithfully served the original iteration of the Potan, he did not outright own that version.
Now, he had no one to answer to, it was all his and he could do with it what he pleased. And what pleased him was to have it back the way it was, albeit without the occasional detractor or of undue worth.
Le Mon had the kitchen, though he now shared the reins with this Tanner, this island native who had his own style and way of doing things that Le Mon thought was interesting and worked with.
Both felt as though they were really in charge, though it had never come up as a point. While Tanner’s dishes wowed and tantalized the taste buds, Le Mon still ensured every other component and side dish was made to perfection.
Pierre was the only one with some reservations about Tanner, though he was the one who had hired him in the first place. While Tanner made impressive pastas and ice creams, he never consistently made anything, upsetting Pierre in his ability to inform both guests and wait staff of the menu options.
Every time the staff would correctly remember the ingredients or the guests returning expecting that favorite option, Tanner would change it to something completely off-kilter and uncategorized.
Whether it be the ice cream noodles from last week to the open-coal pit roast he just remembered to tell Pierre about an hour before open, Tanner was as off on his timing as he was at making some of the most tasty and memorable dishes anyone at the Potan before and after the fire.
So Pierre begrudgingly approved of it.He had hired Tanner to replace Le Mon, after all. If he couldn’t be expected to trust his own choices this late in life, it was already game over.
As Le Mon cut into the roast Tanner had taken out of the open-pit BBQ in the back, he thought now would be a good time to get some exposition on Tanner and perhaps some insight into his unscheduled and unannounced method of culinary.
“So Tanner, Pierre tells me you’re from the southern islands. Is that where you picked up on you skills?” Le Mon asked, his knife delicately slicing in the char-broiled flesh, unleashing a boutique of smells of lavender and cloves, seasoning fresh and prepared without any but Tanner’s doing.
The scent was so empowered, Le Mon missed the first part of Tanner’s sentence, lost in the sensory explosion that only freshly cooked, cut, and spiced flesh can have. “...but nah, I never picked up on cooking from the island. It wasn’t until I followed a girl to Europe that I basically had cook as work to provide.”
Tanner took a sip from his canteen of water. “And it was real good that I could do it too, because when she left me, I traveled, earning my keep a few months at a time, a restaurant here and there. All it took was my knowledge of the basic sauces, the cuts, and the tools to get in. And when I could demonstrate my skill, I could come and go when I pleased.”
Tanner took another long drink from his canteen. “So seems it was preparing me, allowing me to be ready for when Pierre hired me to run this kitchen.”
Tanner gave a sort of smirk into Le Mon’s focused face, knowing that he heard what he said. He guessed that Le Mon would just ignore it until sometime in the far future..
Tanner purposely left out of his life story that he had also gotten really good at reading people and knowing how to make them tick. He would never push it too far, just a little by little, to see what a person really thought of him. It was a bit psychotic, but everyone has their vices.
Pierre had his wine, Le Mon, his occasional Coors’ Light. Tanner was no different. Though his was to manipulate people emotionally, so it was actually way worse.
Le Mon knew what Tanner was doing and he also didn’t care. Le Mon avoided drama almost to a detriment. But he was happy, so it was a fair trade.
Le Mon looked up to Tanner right into his eyes and spoke. “Listen, I know what you’re doing.It doesn’t bother me because I know how I would feel if I was in your position.”
Tanner shifted uneasily,as if unprepared for such a blunt a direct response from Le Mon.
Le Mon continued. “But I believe you are good for the Potan. Even Pierre should be kept on his toes around here. You with your erratic menu does exactly that.”
Tanner smiled again, same way as before. “I know.”
Le Mon smiled back, earnestly, and both men got back to preparing and making the night’s meal.
Pierre, on the other side of the kitchen, was just finished having the wait staff repeat back the ingredients to Tanner’s newest meat dish, something that could be expected to be ordered by most of the guests. Tanner’s popularity seemed to be the only thing kept constant about him.
“...And don’t forget to include the fresh lavender as the reason for the restaurant having that smell tonight. The guests must be constantly kept at surprise but also at ease. We are here to serve and treat them. Let them treat us back with their bill and tip!”
The wait staff smirked a bit and the left to prepare their tables for the incoming influx of diners. Claudia had worked early preparing the proper flower arrangements along with dish and silverware placement.
Claudia had a way of working in the background that made her the true heart of the Potan, hidden and continually beating.
Pierre put his face into his hands for a moment, recollecting himself and thoughts. He was not happy. Tanner was originally going with the pomegranate truffle and ceviche, but informed Pierre of the roast he had been BBQing since the previous night.
Pierre was more than impressed with the meat, but it was the lackadaisical way in which Tanner informed him of this change that put Pierre on edge.
The rustle of footsteps stopping in front of him caused him to lower his hands allowing his eyes to peer out and see Le Mon stand before him.
“A quick observation, my friend,” Le Mon began.
“You know how none of the waiters or waitresses carry menus, and why the guests are told the specials and options of the eve?”
Pierre nodded again and responded. “As I was just telling the wait staff, it is to keep the customer surprised, but at ease knowing they will be served the best food anyone can have in the world today.”
Pierre grabbed a glass of wine, a bit early in the night for him.
Taking a drink he continued, waving his glass to encapsulate the staff. “And they keep the menu memorized so that they themselves feel personally attached to every single ingredient and note of flavor in the dishes they are to serve.”
“Then why don’t you look at Tanner as your own personal Potan, an expected surprise?” Le Mon asked, clearing his throat a bit.
Pierre thought for a second, finished the rest of his wine, and sniffed the aromatic scent of lavender and cloves.
“Tanner is the Potan, Le Mon. I know that.” Pierre smiled and clasped his hand around Le Mon’s shoulder. “And his dishes are proof.”
“You told me once before that we are the Potan, but that the Potan will never be us,” Le Mon said. “I understand. We all create a place and experience that would be nothing without us.”
Pierre smiled and nodded for a final time. He then went and greeted the first guests of the evening, Le Mon quietly returning to the kitchen.
The night continued, the Potan Del La De Magnus back and better than ever.