Disclaimer, author’s notes, etc...:
See chapter one, as from here on this will not be repeated.
-----Chapter Two - Today’s Secret Ingredient Is? ... Challenge
Xander’s standing before the studio audience, in front of the curtain next to the judges table. He adjusted his eye-patch and silently cursed Andrew and the younger Slayer girls under their combined charge.
Andrew was the one that suggested a cooking theme for their small party of Animé-Manga convention goers. He was dressed as ‘Iron Wok Jan
’ and most of the Slayers were dressed as different chefs or pastry chefs from the manga known as, ‘Yakitaté ! Japan
’. But they all agreed that Xander had to dress as a mixed character. He was great at many things and they all felt that his character should reflect that too.
Besides there wasn’t much that would fit the tall, muscular Scooby, so the Xan-man just shrugged and said, “Okay, what should I wear?”
One of the youngest shyly handed him her pale pink hair band to keep most of his hair out of his face, except for a strand or two. She said, “Hands of the Sun, Azuma Kazuma.”
The other girls nodded and agreed. Azuma Kazuma is the lead character in ‘Yakitaté ! Japan’ and the entire manga is devoted to a boy’s journey in trying to develop one bread, by type, style or uniqueness, to be known as a Jap-an Bread. Many other countries had their own, like French, American, Italian, but the boy was determined that Japan should have one of its own and so his quest begins in the normal cute manga-animé adventure way with a journey where a young boy leaves home and enters a baking contest.
Next he was handed the ‘The Grand Encylopedia of Cooking’ book and an orange apron with a pocket in the front. The book is absolutely fake, as there is no such book in existence. It’s Andrew the consummate manga geek that he was who added the word ‘Oishinbo’ followed by Shiro Yamaoka under the book’s title. The apron tied properly in the front, but had colourful cutting-board looped into the strings and a gold medal is attached to the apron. The book was tucked into the front pocket of the bright orange apron.
“Cooking Mama: Cook-Off
champion,” one of the girls said referencing the orange apron now tied on their favourite Watcher. They all cheered.
Xander had his face in his hands shaking his head and laughing. Everyone had a good laugh at that one, but it couldn’t be helped. He is currently unbeaten in the game even though it is a game designated for girls. He is surrounded by them on a near daily basis, after all.
As the challenger of this strange event, he is now kind of glad that he’s a mixed chef because these imaginary chefs had several talents that would aid him in this contest. He is not unfamiliar with the Iron Chef T.V. series, but there is something extremely unnerving about having to cook in a contest format against one of the true Iron Chefs of America. That and he didn’t have any Sous-chefs with him.
The Chairman walked towards him and said with a bow, “Welcome Chef Xander to Amateur: Iron Chef.”
Xander returned the bow and saying, “Thank you”, following it up by shaking the Chairman’s hand.
“Now Xander,” the Chairman said with a dramatic pause. “You work with Slayers taking down various demons, do you feel that you’ll be up to slaying the competition here in Kitchen Stadium or will you be the one planted with a stake through your heart.” He quirked an eyebrow up in animé style with a quirky twist of his lips.
Xander heard a familiar snort from behind the curtain and knew that one of his sous-chefs was standing there. He grinned ferally and said, “Scoobies always slay the competition.”
“Very good,” the Chairman said. He swung his right arm around to point the direction towards the large smoking silver cover that contained an image of crossed knives pointing up east and west. He went up behind the display while Xander stood to the left waiting for the man to continue. This was a minor change up from normal as the Challenger always named the Iron Chef first before they made their way up to the hidden ingredient container. However this was for HVTV and some forgiveness is permitted.
“Tonight we will have our very first Amateur Chef battle against one of our own Iron Chefs,” the Chairman said. “There are still a few things left to sort out. Chef Xander which Iron Chef, will you be testing your keen blade and sharpened stake?”
The Chairman directed everyone’s attention to the large poster images and the pedestals which held the shadowed outlines of all the current Iron Chefs found at Kitchen Stadium and the television series.
Each Chef was spotlighted and named by the Chairman.
“Iron Chef: Bobby Flay.”
“Iron Chef: Mario Batali.”
“Iron Chef: Cat Cora.”
“Iron Chef: Masaharu Morimoto.”
“Iron Chef: Michael Symon.”
“Last, but not least, the newest Chef to the Iron Chef Pantheon, Iron Chef: Marc Forgione.”
“Now who will you choose to compete with here at Kitchen Stadium,” the Chairman said, again with a comic image of exaggeration. It was all done with the viewers in mind and he was having fun, even if his program had been hijacked by some other dimensional presence.
Xander turned his eye to the Chefs standing there and tried to gauge which one he should be choosing. With his strange luck, whoever he chose would also be affected by some spell, but only in the sense of probably knowing exactly how to cook whatever the secret ingredient would turn out to be. He gave them a final look and then said, “Having watched this showed for quite some time, I’m somewhat familiar with the cooking styles of the regular Iron Chefs, so I believe that I will choose the one whose footing is relatively unknown like myself, Iron Chef: Marc Forgione.”
Iron Chef Marc Forgione is pleased to have been selected for this strange cook-off because he is extremely curious to see what kind of secret ingredient would be revealed soon. He had a very good feeling that it would reflect the tastes of the new viewers in the demon dimensions. Still, he’s very sure that he’s the first of the Iron Chefs to cook with whatever it is that was hiding under the silver dome.
Alton Brown took over the broadcast to announce a commercial break before finding out about the evenings’ secret ingredient. This had the purpose of letting the chefs discuss various ordinary tasks with their sous-chefs prior to finding out what the ingredient was. Sometimes during the regular television program, the viewers may not see how the sous-chefs seem to know just what their Head Chef needed, but that was because in a one-hour program. It had to be edited for commercials, so the Chefs truly were actually cooking within the one hour limit. Sometimes the conversations of this nature took place on the fly as Chefs gathered the secret ingredient and sometimes, like this time, they had a few pre-planned tasks that made their tasks flow smoothly before cooking up a storm.
“Oi Harris,” Spike said stepping out from behind the stage curtain. He’s currently dressed in cooking whites, his normal black jeans and always familiar Doc Martin boots. “What’s up with this outfit,” he asked plucking the white tunic. Next to him stood Oz, who took one look around the room, widened his eyes and quirked one eyebrow up.
“Spike?” Xander’s tone is questioning and incredulous.
“Yeh,” the vampire said, looking up to the human and wondering why he is surprised.
“How can you be here,” the one-eyed man asked walking up quickly to the dye blonde vampire. He took hold of that beautiful narrow face and fingered the scar above the creature’s left eye, causing the vampire to lick his lips in anticipation. “You died, didn’t you?”
Spike had to frown at this and then he asked, “Didn’t the little geek tell you.” The human shook his head. “He knew I was back when he visited Angel’s office a few months back. Figures he wouldn’t tell your bunch. Didn’t quite like the souled poof running Wolfram & Hart, I guess.”
“Hm,” Xander paused. “He might have mentioned that about Angel, but there was no mention of you. Are you back to stay?”
“Seem to be,” Spike said with a shrug. He watched as Xander turned to give his other sous-chef a full out welcoming hug. He felt a pang at not being including, but then he didn’t want that kind of show of affection to be seen on tele by anyone, especially not when they were currently in some demonic dimesion.
Xander huddled them together and said, “I know some of your cooking strengths even if we don’t know the secret ingredient, we still have to make some sides or other things like rice and taters. So, once whatever is under that hood is revealed we’ll have to race the clock and create five dishes for the five Judges, plus the Chairman.”
“Actually those rules have changed based on the number of Judges you’ll be feeding,” Alton said to the contestants, while minor discussions were going on during the commercial break. “The point method will remain the same except for the total score, but the number of dishes will be three and they must follow the same format as regular restaurants. So you’ll each need to provide an appetizer, an entrée and a desert featuring today’s secret ingredient. We’ll be reviewing the rules shortly, but it’s best that you two chefs know that you need to make only three dishes.”
“That’s cool,” Xander said. He looked at his opponent who nodded his head in agreement. They both turned their attention to the Kitchen Stadium pantry in order to quickly see what is available to them.
Xander is keeping an eye out on the judges too. He knew they’d be introduced shortly, but there is one there that he knew he’d have to watch out for. The reason for the man being there could only be to cause a bit of mischief in the stadium, but he had another thing coming to him if he thought that the contestants would put up with much meddling for the fun of ‘chaos
‘Ethan Rayne had better keep the rest of his spells to himself
,’ Xander thought. ‘Why the hell is he a Judge for this kind of contest?
’ His attention is pulled back to the Chairman, as the man welcomed the audience back from the commercial break.
“As always, here in Kitchen Stadium, we only have the best ingredients for our chefs,” he stated looking into the camera. “But the most important ingredient is the ‘Secret Ingredient
’, which our chefs must use in new and creative ways.” A whip sound and sharp eyed look was sent to both chefs followed by, “And today’s secret is...” The chains pulled up the large rectangular dome revealing the ingredient that the two main chefs were to use, “Minotaur horns and hocks.”
Iron Chef Forgione blinked and then took a closer look at the ingredients present. The horns are normal bull like horns, but there is something interesting about them. It looked like they had some meat on them, but it didn’t look like a natural meat. Hocks were hocks and he had ideas about how to cook those.
Alton Brown took up the commentary and explained to the studio audience and T.V. audience, “Oh my, you may well be rightly asking what are Minotaur horns and hocks, but something looks wrong with the horns.”
“They contain the demonic or other remains of the last opponents they battled before dying,” Xander said. “You might find a few usable meaty bits from other demons or creatures. The blood and marrow in the horns are the best part, so think of those being kind of like coconuts only with a meat-like taste which is like a mix of beef and lamb together.”
Alton Brown was surprised at that bit and wondered why the challenger chose to give cooking advice to his opponent. However instead he explained, “In Greek stories the Minotaur is defined as a creature with the head of a bull and the body of a man, however that is a myth. In this case the Minotaur is a humanoid creature from the Hrik’Stor Dimension, whose main torso seems like that of a normal human, but the head and feet belong to that of a bull. Good thing too because I don’t believe that the cooking would go so well if the Chefs had to contend with cooking up minotaur hocks if they looked like human legs and feet.”
This had the audience all looking sick and near throwing up at the thought, but the host is barely aware of what he’s saying due to the spell urging him on his normal host and announcing duties.
The chairman took over at this point and said his signature phrase, “So now, uh,” he had to pause quickly because this was not an American audience that he was addressing. “... HVTV viewers, with an open heart and an empty stomach, I say unto you in the words of my uncle.” Another dramatic pause, then a quick windmill of his arms, followed by a karate-type chop, he yelled, “Allez Cuisine!”
“Spike, the horns,” Xander said. “Oz...”
“Veggies, on it,” Oz said moving away after handing Xander two large silver steam pans. They were the perfect tool for gathering the secret ingredient.
“Right,” Spike said. He used his vampire speed to pick up all of the horns and carry them away to a washing area.
“What,” Marc said, looking at the vapours of the dry ice whizzing in the direction of his Challenger’s sous-chef. He looked back and blinked at the fact that there are no more horns on the secret ingredient display.
“He’s gone to clean all of them for us,” Xander explained, while gathering the hocks he wanted. “It’s better for him to wash the residue off the horns rather than any of us here do it. You don’t want any magical repercussions from the decaying demonic flesh, especially since we don’t know what it was. He’ll turn over half of them to your station once he’s done. Is that acceptable?”
“Yeah,” Marc said, pulling a number hocks from the display. “Thanks. I’m just curious, but how bad could it have been?”
“Let’s just say that you don’t ever want to have a magic induced disease that no one on Earth can treat,” Xander said walking quickly to his station to deal with the hocks that he gathered. He quickly rinsed them off and then pulled out two pressure cookers in order to boil them thoroughly to get what he needed.
“The race is on,” Alton said of the chefs and the sous-chef bringing silver looking bins and bowls. “Each Chef taking various different sizes of hocks, which I could only suppose may have different cooking times, but will hopefully have different flavours to satisfy our judges. The preparation is quickly under way with both chefs and with Chef Xander’s sous-chef washing all the horns for both chefs. Although the reason seems suspect because if no human should be able to handle them why is the challenger allowing a human to do it.”
“He’s a vampire,” Xander said, while he prepared various bowls of wet and dry ingredients for baking a couple of things in the four ovens behind him. Each chef had access to four ovens and several other standard tools that sometimes needed to be rinsed before re-using. “Since he’s already dead, theoretically no disease from the demonic residue would affect him. If there is something, he’d also be better equipped to get rid of it due to his different metabolism.”
This information stunned the audience and all others in the room. The sous-chefs and the Iron Chef were unaffected by this information, as they’re concentrating on the dishes that they are creating. Many of the other humans in the room wondered if it was true that one of the sous-chefs was a vampire, but were afraid to mention it because if that was indeed the case then they didn’t to draw his attention to them, in case he was hungry.
Female computer type voice says, “Fifty-three minutes remaining.”
Again this was an alteration from the actual programming of the T.V. series, Iron Chef: America because the clock always stated how much time has ‘elapsed
’ instead of stating what’s ‘remaining
’. HVTV was careful that way so that the programs they produced showed that they were different, if it was in a minor way such as this.
“Ah,” Alton said. There wasn’t anything more he could say about that. It’s only a short work of minutes before all the hocks were cleaned and the sous-chefs began to mix and blend various things in the blenders and food processors. The pace is fast, but all chefs worked in silence and hopefully with a presentation or theme in mind.
“Well,” he began looking directly into the camera near him. “As you can see, things are starting to heat up here in Kitchen Stadium and ten minutes has already elapsed. We’ll take a small break. When we come back you’ll be introduced to our guest judges and see how far our chefs will take us in ‘Battle Minotaur Horns and Hocks
(scene) : Autopsy table with white sheets covering a couple of bodies, one of an obviously well endowed woman and the other of a man with his chest open, as a masked doctor is about to remove the organs.Deep voiced T.V. Announcer as the scene plays
: Tonight on HVTV, tune in to “Autopsies of the Rich and Famous
”. We’ve got a two for one deal for sweeps week folks and you’re in for a real treat.
We’re going to explore the age old question of “How did James Dean really die?” and “Who is responsible for Norma Jean’s death? So stay tuned here at HVTV for “Autopsies of the Rich and Famous