Friday came and a waiter led me into the kitchen. Two men stood at the stove, dark and compact, foreheads glistening. I greeted them and smiled broadly. They barely looked up. One, short and slight, had a navy bandanna tied around his head. The other, broader and cheek-stubbled, wore a silver hoop earring. I was in my school chef’s jacket and shined cook’s shoes, they were in denim and sneakers. “I’m Diane,” I ventured. “Did Gwen, uh, chef, tell you I’d be helping out on Fridays?” Bandanna shrugged and turned back to his saute. Stubble gestured to a rear alcove. “In there,” he said, the words freighted with Spanish. He glanced at me through narrowed eyes. “You cut vegetables?” “Sure,” I bubbled, showing the chef’s knife I had brought, “I practice all the time.” He hoisted a crate of carrots, then others of leeks, shallots and celery onto a steel counter and pointed to a bin of meticulous dice. “Good,” he said, and walked away.
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