Bossing the Virgin

By: Lila Younger

“I’m sorry for your loss,” I remember to say. “Your dad was a great man.”

The elder Mr. Leary was very well known in the city, not just because of his restaurants, but by how he managed to transform his parent’s restaurant into a chain that spanned the entire region. He did it through the recession even, which makes it even more impressive, according to my dad.

Logan nods his head stiffly. He must still be torn up over it, I think sympathetically. I couldn’t imagine losing my dad. I put my purse down by my feet as he opens up a file with my information. I sneak a peek at his desk. It’s immaculate, with almost nothing on it to clutter it up. The only decorative item on there is a simple, silver picture frame. It’s pretty much the complete opposite of my own space at home, which is covered with post-it notes clustered around my laptop and half-finished food magazines piling up in the corner. My eyes dart up to his classically handsome features, then down at my hands. Way to pick a time to be nervous, I groan inwardly. Come on Mikayla! Good eye contact is important in an interview.

“So Mikayla,” Logan begins, and my eyes snap back to his. His gaze is dark and smoldering, making me feel things that have no place in an interview. I squeeze my fist to pull myself together. I’ve never felt so off balance at an interview before. “You’ve just graduated from culinary school.”

“That’s right,” I say, keeping my chin up. “However, I’ve worked in many kitchens before, and I have done catering before where I’ve been tasked with creating my own menu.”

“Can you give me an example menu for what you might serve if I wanted to hire you for a dinner party in two weeks?” he asks.

“Sure,” I say confidently. I outline a menu featuring local, fresh ingredients, giving a little twist to each. I try to keep my answer short and to the point, but it is food, and I can’t help but describe it, especially dessert. That’s okay though, because instead of looking bored, Logan looks almost hungry. “Of course, with the colder weather lately, some of the ingredients can’t be guaranteed, but I try to do my best to go with the seasons when it comes to food. There’s nothing that can beat the taste of fresh.”

Logan nods appreciatively.

“Tell me,” he says. “When was the last time you visited a Red Canyon Steakhouse?”

I freeze momentarily. I want to say, ‘just the other day’ but honestly, it’s been a few years. Even though our state isn’t known for its cutting edge food scene, we’ve been swept up in the trend of farm to table and international fusion. There are so many wonderful new restaurants that it’s honestly been quite a while since I stepped into a Red Canyon Steakhouse. In all my preparation for the role, I hadn’t even thought to visit one of the restaurants.

“I’ll take your inability to remember to mean it’s been quite a while,” Logan says drily.

“Well, yes,” I confess. “That doesn’t mean I don’t like the food. I have many fond memories of celebrating birthdays there.”

“Unfortunately, that seems to be the case with most people,” he says, leaning forward. “Red Canyon Steakhouse has fallen behind on the times. In fact, we haven’t changed our menu since my father took over that first restaurant. And it shows. Nowadays, there are so many exciting options for food, like the kind you describe, that we are often put on a backburner. There’s nothing exciting on the menu, nothing to draw people in. But I want to change that. The menu you have, it’s exactly the direction that we want to be heading in. I want to update the restaurant, make Red Canyon Steakhouse the place to be again.”

“That sounds fantastic,” I say. “I would love to be given a chance to be a part of that.”

“There’s a lot of work to be done,” Logan says. “And obviously, since it’s across a whole chain of restaurants, there are restrictions on just how much you can do. I won’t be able to give you carte blanche to create as you please like you would if you were only cooking at one restaurant. Supply chains will sometimes dictate what we can and can’t put on the menu.”

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