By Wit & Whitby
[Complete] Old Money, New Flavours [Streets, Yards, and Homes] - Printable Version

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Old Money, New Flavours [Streets, Yards, and Homes] - Arthur McPadraic - 09-12-2020

The McPadraic family home was a grand Georgian home, just outside of town, surrounded by a modest piece of land. Though the McPadraic's were old money - old, reduced money, sadly - the estate had only been purchased several years ago, and wasn't like the grand estates of some of his fellow aristocrats. But it did the job: keep the family out of the way while he worked in York and lived in the town house.

These days, however, he was in Whitby a lot. He was determined to become Whitby's MP, and raising funds and votes required visibility. And entertaining guests. Which required spectacular cooking. Which required... a spectacular cook. And so Arthur paced the floor of his study, waiting for a footman to lead miss Rosewine to the room.

She was a bit of a mystery, apparently treading a narrow line between fame and scandal, and therefore all the more interesting for the guests he meant to entertain. The notion of a woman from a wealthy family becoming a chef was surely something to be frowned upon, and yet her skill was rumoured to be so good that even the wealthiest families wanted to hire her.

Even those wannabe aristocrats, the Carringtons, meant to hire her, or so Arthur had heard.

And so Arthur was determined: She would cook for him and his guests. And preferably before the Carringtons could show off.

When a footman knocked, opened the door, announced Miss Rosewine, and led her in, Arthur smiled at her and bowed a little. "Miss Rosewine, how good of you to come. I've heard such positive stories about you."

RE: Old Money, New Flavours - Vela Rosewine - 09-13-2020

Vela had found the challenges of London exciting.  She had made quite a name for herself there but had decided that she was ready to spread her wings out from her parents' and their friends' influences.   Also, the different kind of work she hoped to create for herself was going to work better outside of the big city households.  For now, anyway.

The kind of business she was hoping to create was new and different.  The world was changing, and many of the big families were having to change how they ran their homes.  Her own family had been required to change a few things in their household staff. As the older staff was retiring, some families were promoting current staff and not hiring new staff for the less necessary tasks.  Many families were doing more things for themselves.  Though some families were maintaining the old ways and were struggling.  Others were doing fine, of course. 

Her new business was making it possible to maintain the look of the fancy dinners and events with the quality of a professional chef without the cost of hiring a full-time proper chef.  The work she had started doing was to work with the current kitchen staff and work with the full-time cook (who might be paid less than a fancy full-time chef) to create amazing dinners for the client. 

She had started this idea in London and gotten several very happy clients.  Granted though, for some it had been just to get people to come to see if Vela could be as good as they heard she was or if she was just being spoiled by her family in letting her "play" at being a proper chef.  She had been quite proud to show them that the rumor of her skill wasn't a lie.

To really test her new business though, she had to get out from the wings of her family and friends.  She had gotten several contacts from various people that had heard about her work in London.  These were people that she had not known previously, so not through her parents.   The McPadraic family was one of the big families in the area and having been contacted to meet with someone there had made her very happy and excited. 

She dressed up in a deep green plain walking dress with puffy shoulders and arms that had cuffs that fell down from the elbow with buttons.  There were two sets of the same kind of buttons down the bodice of the dress.  The lower arms had white sleeves that fitted her slender arms.  A wide v-shaped collar went over her shoulders and allowed the neckline up along her slender neck end with a rose-colored ribbon.  A white lace fell down from her throat but not quite over the v collar. (image of dress).  Her hair was up in a twisted bun along the back of her head and her hat matched the material of the dress, with two white feathers and two rose colored roses. 

As she entered the room having already pulled off her gloves and held them in one hand along with her leather notebook, she nodded with a slightly lower of her head and greeted the gentleman.  "It is my pleasure to meet you.  I am still getting set up here in Whitby, and you will be my first formal client in the area.  I must be honest and say all that I have heard of your family is that is one of the more known families in town, and so having you invite me over to discuss a coming event is an honor."

"What have you heard about how I work?"  She asked politely to figure out how best to go forward.

RE: Old Money, New Flavours - Arthur McPadraic - 09-13-2020

The room was large, with a large, long window opposite the door facing the front of the estate. The wallpaper was a modest pale yellow and the polished wooden floor was uncarpeted, giving the room a distinct Georgian rather than Victorian look. Arthur preferred the order and simple beauty of former days, as opposed to the lurid colours and decadent clutter of his own. In front of the window was a desk, covered in files and books, that were nevertheless neatly organized in piles. There were bookshelves and cabinets against the walls, and closer to the door, there was a glass saloon table with a gold-plated frame, and two crème coloured upholstered armchairs. He gestured for her to sit in one of them, and, if she did, he sat down in the other.

Arthur watched her, not displeased with what he saw. He liked the sight of a pretty woman. But he was no fool, and he went back to business. "I've heard that you cook impressive meals, Miss Rosewine, and that unlike many chefs, you work for multiple families, being hired per occasion. Quite an innovative concept, I must admit, especially for a female cook. But our society is built on innovation."

Oh, he could appreciate technological innovation and economic enterprise, but he was suspicious of change. It was a pity that the technological and economic advances of the past century had brought in its wake the destruction of the old society in which everyone knew their place. Now old families like his were marginalized, former paupers had suddenly formed their own class of professionals who thought that they were the center of fashionable life, and even the illiterate beasts below the middling classes now had a say about who should run the country. Not to mention the families who had made great fortunes and pretended that they were the top of society now, but didn't know how to behave accordingly - like the Carringtons.

His smile said nothing of all that as he rung a bell. "Can I offer you something to drink? Some wine perhaps? I don't want to brag, but I do have quite the collection," he bragged.

RE: Old Money, New Flavours - Vela Rosewine - 09-13-2020

Making mental notes of the area, Vela started creating a profile of the family in her mind.  At least a mental image of the man she was about to visit with.  Traditional, not to be confused with dated, which could be due to various reasons.  In her mind, there were those that let a house go downhill due to lack of attention which she would classify as either they did not manage their staff well or had purchased/maintained an older home to make to appear they are "old" money or were not as financially placed as they let people think they were. 

Her own paternal grandparents had purchased an older property but had updated it with the more modern (of her grandparent's time) styles.  Her parents had updated a few personal areas but had maintained the rest for the most as they had gotten it.  Everything had been painted regularly and the staff was efficient, well trained, and prompt with the maintaining of the property.  So, her family was more of a mixture of modern and traditional.  The Rosewine family was still considered the among "new" rich group, even though she was the third generation of her family in the London Society.

No, this property had it well kept and with the cleanliness she observed, she felt the staff was quite well trained as well.  Traditional was more of a family that maintained the property well, had generations in the home thus a personal value in the way it looked, and it was kept in the design of how the family prefers.  The paint was not flaking as some might be.  This seemed to be kept up quite carefully.  She appreciated that concern for one's home.

The items along the top of the desk she observed made her believe that the man before her if it was his desk, that is, meant that he kept personally kept a hand in the business of the property, not just leaving it to a hired manager and going on to live his life.  Again, something that gave her a positive first impression.  She was hired by various people in London that were more about spending their money frivolously to keep up impressions and demanding things of their staff that were unreasonable.  She had grown up knowing such people, and so had known how to work with them, but within, she had found them foolish. 

She had focused on the meal and learned which clients to avoid as they could not always pay the bill.  There had been some that had been honest with her and wanted a wonderful dinner but had asked her to be modest in the materials she used to create it.  She respected that person more than those that spent more than they could afford just to make a good "picture" for their friends and she always made a bit more of an effort to make sure that modesty in supplies didn't show in the meal she put before them.

She had not gotten that impression with this man thus far.  Someone that took care of the property in such a manner was not going to have a problem paying for a fine dinner.  So, while she respected those that required less quality in their meals, getting to work with a family that could let her really let her have fun with her creations was a joy. 

She gracefully sat down when he invited her to do so, smoothing her skirts with her free hand and setting her notebook and gloves on her lap.  "If you will excuse my bluntness, it is a changing world, Your Lordship.   Some of the families that have been hit in the last decades are struggling to maintain the life they had always known.  I enable a family to still enjoy the pleasure of the society with grand events while maintaining a more modest budget to focus more on the necessary issues on hand.  A properly trained chef can be quite a hefty portion in a home budget.  A mere cook and keeping a modest kitchen staff helps those that are finding being responsible for the care of their homes in this new generation difficult."

"While I, like many of my fellow chefs, have started expecting more value for our skills, I predict that there will be a time when the grand families will one day not hire a trained chef for each property.  Either by choice or due to not being able to afford the number of staff members any longer, the households will change.  However, I also believe the urge to have fine events and dinners will always be with us.  Thus, the need for a transition to a new way of how to accomplish it."

She had felt it to be a logical transition.  A risk, yes, but she had a great start in London.  This next step, moving to Whitby, would be the big test for her theory.  Granted, she had her parent's money to support her if she didn't get enough work, but still a risk.  Being a female chef was in itself had been a rarity, but her skill in the kitchen had helped make her thought that trial, for the most part.  It was still unusual enough to bring the curious invited guests to the homes she has prepared fine dinners for.  That had led to those same guests hiring her for their own events.   Enough that apparently she had even been heard of here in Whitby.

At his question about a drink, she nodded.  "Perhaps a Madeira?"  She asked.  She had become fond of it.  It was dry but refreshing as well.

"Before we talk about the event you are planning, I should ask about the kitchen staff.  In some previous events, the staff is not approval of my being hired.  It can bring some conflict.   If you have a proper chef already here, bringing me in often can be taken as an insult.  In that case, I would suggest that I meet with the chef and propose a partnership for a grand event.  Making it assured that I am not to take over his or her kitchen, merely to add something unusual and different for a special event.  That I might be brought back for others would be possible, but not to take his or her place."

"If you have a cook, again insult can be taken even when not intended.  In that case, again, my visiting with the cook to reassure that his or her position is not at risk would be recommended.  Me working with the staff is important to a successful and smooth event."

She would speak of the cost and details of the meal once she determined what kind of climate she would be working with.  Arguing and watching for sabotage from the kitchen staff made for a more expensive kind of situation.

RE: Old Money, New Flavours - Arthur McPadraic - 09-13-2020

Arthur felt slightly annoyed when Miss Rosewine spoke of families too poor to hire an accomplished chef full-time. The mere reference to that in the context of a conversation about her cooking for his family, and the possible implication that his family might be such a family was offensive to him. But apart from a momentary twitch of the mouth, Arthur did not show his irritation. He was a politician, and born and raised with a title to his name, and hence perfectly capable of hiding his true thoughts and feelings.

He was about to reply to the lady's proposal about talking to the kitchen staff, when a footman entered. Arthur was pleasantly surprised that the woman did not only accept the offer but had a specific preference. "Bring the lady a Madeira. A brandy for me." When the footman had left, he turned back to the young lady. "Indeed, we do have a permanent very qualified chef," he said, just to do away with any possible doubt as to whether they could afford one - that notion still stung. "But I am certain he is willing to take a night off."

Not that she didn't have a point, Arthur realized. His other domestics came and went, but it was of little concern to him. Maids and footmen and even butlers were relatively easily replaced, though often it was a matter of switching one poor quality servant for another. But chefs were another matter. They were harder to replace and aware of it. Arthur would never forget how several years ago that bastard, Montini, had quit the night before a large dinner party was scheduled, just because they had denied him a night off the week before. It was true, they would have to tread with care.

But he would still prefer to be in charge of his own household, rather than let some stranger handle it, and a woman at that. "I will arrange it with Mr. Dauphin. You need not worry yourself about that, Miss Rosewine. As for the kitchen maids, I doubt we'll need to consider the feelings of the lower domestics," he added with a dismissive wave of the hand. "They will do as they are told and will assist you where you need it."

RE: Old Money, New Flavours - Vela Rosewine - 09-13-2020

Vela gave a polite nod at the knowledge of the chef.  It was a pricky topic, and she preferred to get right to it, rather than be surprised about it later.  His having a full-time chef made it both easier and harder for her to do her task.  The set up in the kitchen would likely be organized and the groceries she would require for a fine meal should be easily requested and purchased.  However, the temperament of the chef, that could color the staff either positively or negatively even if he was given the day off.  It would depend on how the chef took the situation and how the kitchen staff liked their chef.  She now knew how it was set up though, so that was the first step.

"I would like to meet with him.  It is not only the polite thing to do, but it will also allow me to know more about how he has the kitchen organized."  She replied reasonably.  Chefs were sometimes very persnickety.  Some would set themselves over the staff.  That she was a female could also be an issue.  Visiting with the man would help her either see that he would be glad of a night off or resentful and allow her to prepare for the temperature of rest of the kitchen staff.

She was not of the same mindset on how the staff is treated, though having grown up in a family with such a way of looking at the 'lower' class, she let it go.  She now had worked with the staff in various kitchens and had found that treating them as the worth of her interest and their ideas being worth hearing made most jobs go more smoothly.   That, however, would be more between her and the people involved.  Now, she must see what the gentleman wished.

"Are there any questions that you have of me before we continue?"  She asked quietly with a calm expression. 

"I prefer to do my own shopping for the produce and meats for the meal.   Each chef has their own manner of choosing such things."  She opened her leather notebook to began taking notes.  On one side was a calendar with several dates already holding names and times for future meetings.  She then wrote the family name on the top of the opposite empty page, she looked to him. 

"A few questions to get started.   What date would you like to have your event?  The time?  And how many people would be expected?"  She asked professionally.  "Will this be a formal event or more a friendly gathering?"

RE: Old Money, New Flavours - Arthur McPadraic - 09-13-2020

"No, I don't think that's a good idea, Miss." Arthur insisted. "I'm afraid Mr. Dauphin would be more likely to take offense. But I can show you the kitchen in his absence." Why was he sitting here considering the feelings of his hired staff? Ugh, he thought irritated, life wasn't what it used to be. Soon he would have to start offering his servants insurance and pensions. What had the world come to?

He shook his head when she asked if he had questions and nodded when she said she preferred to do her own shopping. "I can send a servant with you to help you carry things," he offered. "The dinner would be on the first of March. An exact time has not yet been scheduled, but it will be around eight in the evening. It will be around twelve gentlemen, some bringing their wives. I will let you know the exact number."

"The dinner is supposed to feel like a friendly gathering, but they are all important people, some of whom I don't know very well personally, so they will have to feel they have been treated with the appropriate dignity. This dinner is very important, and you will be hired especially for the occasion, and I will expect something to impress our guests. Something exotic perhaps?"

It would be the kind of dinner one hosted for people one didn't know very well, but whom one would want to befriend in order to obtain favours.

RE: Old Money, New Flavours - Vela Rosewine - 09-13-2020

She did not find that to be the best plan, but he was the client.  If the chef came around as she was there, she would have to figure out how to keep things running smoothly.  It had happened before, thus her request, but she was adaptable. 

"As you wish."  She nodded, though also surprised Baron McPadriac would want to personally give her the tour of the kitchens and show her how it was arranged.  The way he had spoken about the staff had given impressment that he did not deal much with the lower floors.  So, he apparently did stay aware of what was done in all areas and not just the property itself.  A positive on his side, in her mind. 

She wrote his last name on her calendar moving over to the next page for the month of March.  She put the time with a question mark and the time of 8 pm next to it.  Going over to her blank page with his name she also put the date and possible time.  Though here she added the notes about how many people and a note to check with the final number two days before.

She made the other notes, nodding as he explained the kind of climate he was hoping to create.  "To give the guests a feeling of having been to a fine event, I would recommend 10 to 12 courses.  Those don't happen as often any more even in the noble houses in London."  She gave him a look with a thought of consideration.  "Seven to nine courses are also found to be memorable."  She didn't go lower as those were typically expected for any big event.  Some of the middle-class clients had started with having six courses on their fancier events, though tended to go with three or four.

"Is there any food that you would like to avoid?"  She glanced at him ready to write down further notes, though she was already coming up with ideas for various courses to discuss with him.

RE: Old Money, New Flavours - Arthur McPadraic - 09-14-2020

Arthur was pleased to find that she dropped the request. He was used to getting his way, and he did not want to negotiate, especially not with a young lady. He sat back a little and observed her while she wrote in her agenda. Quite a fierce little thing she had to be, to make her own way in the world and do business with families of higher rank than her own. He's do wisely not to let his eldest daughter encounter Miss Rosewine, lest he'd encourage her unwomanly spirit. But having no interest in preserving Miss Rosewine's own decency and good reputation, Arthur was quite entertained by what he observed. There was a reason he'd offered to show her the kitchen himself.

He stopped staring when she looked back up, and looked around for a moment, as if he was thinking, before turning back to her. "Yes, make that ten. I mean to impress them, but it mustn't appear like vanity or showiness either. The key must lie in the quality. No fish, my wife is allergic." Was she really? It was a very inconvenient allergy in a seaside town. His wife had a lot of inconvenient allergies and dislikes. "Other than that, no limits, but it must be something exotic or unique, something they haven't seen or tasted before."

RE: Old Money, New Flavours - Vela Rosewine - 09-14-2020

A few more notes written down and she nodded.  "Then hors d'oeuvre, soup, appetizer, salad, fish, main course, palate cleanser, second main course, dessert, and mignardise."   She paused considering the various options.  She looked at him. 

"I would, of course, take out the fish course and can substitute an amuse-bouche before the soup, or I could put a cheese course before the dessert instead.  Which would you prefer?"  She asked thinking either option would be fitting.

She already had all kinds of ideas popping into her mind for various courses.  "I have some items in mind that would fit what you have in mind.  Will you wish to hear of various options for the courses for your approval?"  She glanced up.