For the period from 1929 through 1943, Montparnasse's Felipe Beaulieu was Paris' undisputed bare-knuckle boxing champion. Standing a diminutive five foot one, what the heavily-moustachioed Beaulieu lacked in stature, he made up for with blistering speed and an often ill-directed temper, exacerbated by a sizzling case of syphilis.
To Part 1...
As dawn's first light stroked a sepia outline to London's silhouette, for the first time in weeks, I allowed myself the slightest of smiles. As far as leads went it was a long shot but in a case like this where everything else had come up cold, a long shot was all I had.
I jumped into my car — a 1996 Ford Facial with a unhealthy thirst for oil — and headed downtown for HQ. I like to drive, it gives me time to think.
To Part 1...
What could be gained from denying the world these pioneers of the pantry? And without them, who would ever think of combining pears with pine nuts and popping it on a pork chop?
This time around the victim was Jordan Fancy — the seething, pock-speckled English chef from Kitchen Death Wish. Kitchen Death Wish (or KDW to its devotees) pitted wannabe chefs against other in three rounds - an appetiser, a main and a dessert. Hardly the most original concept but producers in the genre were becoming complacent.
It was early when I got the call. Way too early. Half asleep I slapped the trilling menace from its cradle and it landed with a crack on the maple of my bedroom floor. I picked it up.
“Moocjheenie”, I croaked.
“It’s happened again”, an electronic voice, altered, robot-like, “you know the drill”, then a click to dial tone.
I blinked the crust from my eyes and focussed on my watch; 3.16 a.m. and 23 seconds. A force of habit. In my line of work the difference between success and failure is so often in the minutiae.
It was the third call I’d received this week. All at the same unearthly hour. The fifth since the start of the month. The world’s celebrity chefs were disappearing, one by one. Kidnapped without ransom. I’d have an email waiting for me in my in-box, of that I was sure. Another stanza in a sick sonnet from one twisted puppy.
Born of the lack of a quality all you could eat restaurant in 1930's, depression-stricken London, the Astray Buffet first flung open it's doors on Fleet Street in 1931 (in the process, injuring a sleeping drunk who'd set up camp in the foyer, according to the Associated Press).
With it's prime locale — merely metres from the Royal Courts of Justice and a short stroll from the Headjob and Handbrake — the original Astray Buffet soon gained notoriety for all the wrong reasons. In short, those who could afford to indulge in it's delicacies — namely, the legal professionals and journalists that frequented that quarter of London — would never get the chance.