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Used to be you wanted a cup of coffee, you’d head for the diner and swing your leg over a counter stool. You’d get a “Hotten it up for you honey?” and maybe a slice of pie, one of those apple pies with a scoop of real vanilla ice cream on it. Yeah. Used to be. Now it’s a paper cup of cappuccino of unknowable size, with a biscotti or a blueberry scone that tastes like a four day old biscuit. There’s no counter, no stools, just round tables barely big enough for a coffee cup, and overstuffed chairs and couches, like from some Salvation Army showroom. Heavy on the comfortable seating, short on the comfortable eating.
Yeah, you think. Times change.
So when the judge for the First International Chef Competition got poisoned, you figured he might have gotten what he had coming, or hadn’t seen it coming at all. Those clowns were always eating something off, something paired with a chemical powder that was never meant to be eaten, flaked, nitrogenated, Atomically Irradiated Beet Juice, with a side of frozen beef nostrils, mashed together as a glaze for a garden slug salad. You shook your head as you approached the hotel.
The sign out front was small and tasteful, “Welcome, Chefs, to the International Chef Competition.” You figured that, based on the sign, this was a low key affair, some meeting halls converted to kitchens, some primas, and the chief prima: one dead judge.