As Selena pushed open the glass door of the restaurant, her heart seemed to skip a beat. She swallowed nervously, then took a deep breath and stepped into the room.
Her first impression was of luxury. Beneath her feet, the royal blue carpet lay so lush and thick, that Selena felt as if she were floating on it. A quick glance around gave her the impression that she was now standing in a place that didn’t merely serve food, but was a hub of worship to the sheer idea of food, and all that was associated with it.
The large, round tables were set with crisp, white linen cloths, which then had serving placements so beautiful, that the room seemed to almost glisten with the reflection of sun on glass and silver. Each table had a cut-glass vase in the centre that was empty at the moment, but which Selena knew would have a flower placed in just previous to opening. She almost groaned with nervousness, not sure that she could cope with such luxurious surroundings but, with a deep breath, she stepped fully into the room, and let the door go, so that it slowly closed with a muffled thud behind her.
As she took a step towards a small table that looked as if it was a central serving area, a door opened in the wall that she hadn’t noticed, as it was covered with the same linen-look wallpaper as the walls. She stared at the figure coming through, and swallowed again, recognising him from her interview.
‘Ah, Miss Thomas, isn’t it?’ He came forward, with a hand held ready to shake hers, ‘please, do come in. Did you have a good journey here?’
Selena put her slightly shaking hand in his, expecting it to be crushed, but was surprised at how gently he held it.
‘Yes, thank you. I don’t actually live too far from here, so it was only a matter of hopping on the number fifteen, and I was here in twenty minutes – the traffic, you know?’
‘Ah, that’s good. If you can get here in that time, considering the fact of it being rush hour, then you should be fine on a regular basis. Come – may I call you Selena? Yes? Good. We do like to have a little informality behind the scenes, although I do stress that, on this side of the door, we keep it a little more formal for our customers, yes?’
As he spoke, he gently led Selena with a hand to her back, to the door he had come through, and she stepped through into a quiet passageway, which then faced a set of double swing doors that had viewing windows set at head height. She was guided towards these doors, and pressed one side in as her companion pressed the other, so that they stepped through them together.
The contrast hit her immediately. Here was the hub of the restaurant, the epicentre of all that made the place. Here, she saw, was the place where ordinary ingredients were turned into works of art, and then sent out into the world to be consumed with all the appreciation that they deserved.
Even at this early hour, the room was awash with sound and movement, with people bustling around and busily getting on with their assigned jobs, and Selena took it all in with a delight that quickly dispelled any sign of the nervousness she had felt on seeing the restaurant. Now, here was a place she could fit into!
She was guided deftly through the hubbub, into a room at the back of the kitchen that had a large window looking over all that went on and, before she could say a word, had been sat at the large desk that dominated the room, while her companion slipped around and sat opposite her.
‘Now then, Selena, are you clear as to the full terms of your employment? Did you read the file you were sent with your job acceptance?’
‘Yes, I did Mr Toliver. Everything was as described to me at the interview.’
‘Good, good! Well, are there any questions you wish to ask before I settle you into your job?’
‘I don’t think so, sir. If you don’t mind, if something crops up, I would appreciate being able to ask you but, otherwise, everything has been laid out very clearly for me.’
‘Now then, Selena, there are no sirs behind that door,’ he gestured towards the area they had come in from,’ so I’d like you to use my given name while we work together, yes?’
‘Thank you, Peter, I appreciate that.’
Selena took a quick look around the office, seeing how busy it must be here, with a rank of large, metal file cabinets dominating one wall, and a smaller desk tucked into the corner opposite them, with a very business-like looking computer and combi-printer dominating the space on it.
‘Now then, to work!’ Peter exclaimed, rubbing his hands together, and then standing quickly, ‘come with me then, Selena, and I’ll show you all the facilities. There’s a full staff room here, along with all the usual conveniences, and we also have two changing rooms for the staff, so you’ll be able to leave your outer things there – which reminds me, I’d better let you have a key to your own locker!’
Saying that, he went to one of the file cabinets and, taking a small key from his trouser pocket, he fitted it into the lock and, with a twist and pull, opened up the draw. He reached in, and took out a small key that had a bright red tag with a number on it, then handed it to Selena with a smile,
‘Now, guard that with your life!’ he grinned at her,’ that’s the key to your own locker, and you’ll be able to put everything you need to in it once you change in the morning. Well, come along then, Selena, let me show you my kingdom, and you can change into your white’s once we’ve gone through everything in the kitchen. I must say, I think it’s going to be good to be working with someone as talented as you are!