Chef Michel Jacquet was the best in his craft and there was overwhelming evidence of this all over his prized restaurant, the Austerlitz. Medals, cups, plaques and ribbons were displayed all over the dining hall, for every client to see.
This, of course, had not happened out of miracle. No. Michel was born a chef. From age five, he enjoyed staying at home with his mother and grandmother and see them planning breakfast, lunch and dinner. He was particularly fond of grand feasts that his family held every once in a while to celebrate important days as July 14th, every family member birthday or a town gathering which his family was always asked to cater.
He lived all of his childhood and teenage years in the small town of Vaite, relatively close to Germany and Switzerland. And during all those years he watched his mother do hundreds of dishes, as well as his grandmother and the baker, Monsieur Grand.
From Mr. Grand, he learned the art of pastries and by the age of fifteen he did the best éclairs Vaite could offer its few visitors and residents.
Encouraged by his mother, he left Vaite for Paris at age seventeen, to live with an uncle and learn the craft of the best teachers he could get. They were a middle class family but Michel had the advantage of being an only child so there was some money to spare on his education.
It was his dream to be on the Cordon Bleu school but the tuition was prohibitive and they only selected the best in all fields and Michel was only a skilled pastry maker. He had no idea of meat or fish or how to cook grandiose meals as his mother used to do.
The solution? Learn by himself. His uncle was a postman and left early and got in late. This time was used by Michel to watch all kinds of cooking shows on TV. He would also look for high cuisine books in a nearby library and would even come in the butcher's store to ask him to teach Michel how to cut pork, veal and lamb.
Believing to be ready, he went through the hard test in the Cordon Bleu. He was denied entrance and that put him in a severe depression that lasted for a couple of months. It was a hot summer but he wouldn't come out of bed. His uncle begged him to go out, meet girls and go dancing but Michel wasn't interested.
In order to stretch our of his misery, he looked for more schools and found Mrs. Villette school for cooking. True, it was a modest place to learn but according to many older students, Juliette Villette was among the best cooks in France but some bad reviews of her restaurant brought the place down and she decide to teach instead of fighting and ever demanding crowd.
Be that as it may, Michel excelled in all classes and soon got his diploma with the highest honors. Then, again, he applied for Cordon Bleu and failed once more. This time, however, he wasn't sad or disappointed. He had decided to be the best french cook to have ever lived and nothing would be able to stop him.
That was his turning point. He became obsessed with success and recognition. He went from loving cooking and food to just use them to surprise people and be loved as he had always wanted to be loved.
Although no one ever knew it, Michel had never really been physically attracted to anyone. He had never had the need for romantic love or sexual intercourse. But he was obsessed with people knowing who he was. This was likely to be a result of people never really believing in him, except his mother. He did not trusted people and had a passive aggressive behavior, that rarely bursted out.
He visited her only after he got his first restaurant job. He was sous-chef for Gaston Bisset, a respected chef in the city of Lyon. The man had seen Michel's talent and decided to hire him for his restaurante, the Licorne. When Michel told his mother the news, she just hugged him and kissed his cheek. It was all she wanted. After all, the father had died when Michel was very young and she had always regretted not giving him a sister or brother to share with.
In the Licorne, Michel excelled. He was fast, thorough and clean. His cuts were precise and his deserts found a place in the restaurant's menu. Everyone in Lyon knew of this young man that made the most delicious deserts.
Bisset soon became annoyed because everyone came to eat Michel's deserts and not his more recent creations such as lamb in tangerine sauce or his version of the popular ratatouille. No, everyone wanted an éclair or millefeuille from Michel.
The situation became tense. People saw them quarreling, yelling at each other and not talking to one another for days. It all ended one day when Bisset didn't show up and Michel had to take care of everything. Bisset was said to be very sick and Michel took this to his advantage: the Licorne was his. In one week, he created the most splendid dishes: salmon in lychee sauce, passion fruit chicken and macadamia nut ice cream on chia seed cake.
Bisset died. Officially it was a stroke. Some wanted Michel to stay in the Licorne but he decided to leave as he needed to create his own place and did so in the city of Quimper.
Not really known for its cuisine, Michel made the city renowned with the creation of Austerlitz, his restaurant. And that was how he got all the prizes and awards and how France and the world fell in love with his creations, in special his pastries.
Bu then, when all was great, Justine Bisset arrived went to Paris. She had seen her father in his last days and believed in her heart the stroke was just the final part of his death. She proceeded to sue Michel of killing her father.
Soon, the necessary evidence was gathered and, sure enough, the Austerlitz was lost, as Napoleon did many years ago. Justine cried in the court and explained how Michel poisoned her father in a moment of weakness and then proceeded to take over the Licorne. Michel always denied it all but the evidence was hard to overlook.
But he wasn't surrendering. In a stroke of genius, he escaped the police and the country. He grew a beard, started to exercise and opened a small pub in Scotland. Every now and again he made his amazing pastries for the townsfolk. And when someone was too disrespectful or didn't like his creations, he simply added a thin extra layer cream on his sweet works of art.