Let me introduce a little piece (an exposé really) sent to me by my St. Cloud Correspondent "Crazy Legs" Anderson.

Chanticleer: Confidential
Confessions of an Executive Chef

I looked at the table, hardly daring to look at the table. Someone had wrapped gold aluminum foil, the kind you wrap baked potatoes in, around the legs. Then I noticed someone had wrapped the legs of all four industrial-sized work tables with gold aluminum foil. It was going to be a long week.

When I opened the chef's office my mild bemusement turned to repulsion. I stopped short at the sight of a huge, greasy piece of pizza, languished lovingly across the desk chair. On top of the computer monitor rested assorted half-eaten bit of fruit, all in various stages of decay. The office was covered with debris, as if some debauched Mardi Gras parade had passed through before my arrival.

This was the beginning of Our Banquet Chef's slow slide into utter looniness, or, as the Salad Chef says, "He went completely mental."

I know it is wrong to mock the mentally ill. However, when you work with a person who is a controlling, manipulative egomaniac, it's hard to find pity. I've found it now, but it took a while.

Our unfortunate banquet chef (Let's call him Roy) had spent the last year asserting his superiority, claiming to be a "big city chef" among bumpkins. Strange, since he had come to us, penniless and destitute, from a resort in the middle of nowhere that no one had ever heard of. It was clear, to listen to Roy prognosticate that he had invented cooking, and perhaps food itself. Not to discredit him, he was good at making banquet food, but not the culinary Caesar he proclaimed to be.

Roy was disheveled and portly, bearing an unsettling resemblance to Napoleon. He worked his way through the grunt stations to Banquet Chef thanks to both his seeming hypnosis of our General Manager and a timely series of upheavals in the banquet department. Things went well for him for about six months, then voices began.

When I reported the condition of my office to the GM, it went unnoticed. It really wasn't that weird, after all, but things snowballed from there. Bizarre orders began to arrive. Two cases of lime leaves. No limes, just the leaves, Two cases assorted candy bars, which Roy put in the chef's office and proceeded to eat. Four cases of shallots, enough for a year at any restaurant. And finally (my personal favorite), two cases of Scottish shortbread. Who had ever heard of Scottish shortbread? What could he have possibly needed it for? It was delicious, but not very practical.

Then came the babbling and ranting. Roy had always been sort of "edgy" so it went unnoticed at first, but his monologues grew stranger.

"I need to know if you've ever heard of port-of-call and the things on the stairs, port-of-call and can you take the universe home?" came Roy's drawl over the kitchen phone, as I attempted to expedite four-course meals to over-stuffed St. Cloud socialites on a frenzied Saturday night. I thought he was bantering (a common device chefs use to defuse tension on the line), so I hung up.

He called back minutes later and restated his question in an even more twisted and incoherent manner. I told him I didn't understand the question and was very busy, so I hung up again and tried to make sense of what he had asked me.

The following week he made similar enigmatic comments or questions to various members of my staff, and finally, the General Manager herself. But the kicker was when I placed my order for the following week: The sales representative (Let's call her Meg) was badly shaken up, on the verge of tears.

"It's Roy," she said. "I can't take it anymore...."

I knew that their professional relationship was strained at best, but she was actually crying...

"He called me at four in the morning ... and told me..." she gasped, "that we had a meeting ... this weekend ... in Chicago ... at THE LAST SUPPER!"

End Installment One

Introducing another new feature!!!!!! We have started a weekly column: You are invited to present questions to the columnist -- who will attempt to answer family questions. It will be called "Let's ask Mom or Grandma."

OK, come along and see how we do.

Let's Ask Mom or Grandma

I have two questions to be answered this week.

1. (from Douglas) What house were we living in when I was born (1963)?

2. (from Donna) How many houses total did we live in,while I was still living at home? Locations and slight descriptions, if possible.

Because these are similar I will give one answer -- Doug, when you come to home number 10, that will be your birthplace. (Actually, you were born in Litchfield Hospital and brought to that home.)

1. At the time of Donna's birth we lived in a farm with older buildings in Ibsen Township (where I taught school) -- Richland County, North Dakota.

2. When Donna was 3, we moved to a farm near Miltona Lake, near where she lives now. This farm was small and hilly and had nice farm buildings. We lived there a year, but things didn't work out to buy it.

3. We next moved to Kingston for Dad to work on a dairy farm. When we arrived there, we saw it was a mistake -- the farmer involved worked like a slave himself and treated Dad like one. I was expecting a baby at the time. We lived in a really cute older house right in town.

4. While I was in Litchfield having Donnie (Remember, those were week-long stays), Dad and Jim moved our stuff to Aunt Gert's farm. We lived there for a short time. I can't remember much about it -- but that it was old and cold -- not the place to care for my baby.

5. We saw an ad in the paper for a dairy manager in the state of Washington. Dad called the man that advertised and we were hired over the phone. So house number 5 was in Washington -- near Kennewick. That didn't work out, as the hours were long and the cement floors with water running all the time were such that Dad gave up.

6. We went back to North Dakota and probably Donna remembers dropping Snooks out the window onto a mattress when we moved into a beautifully kept farm house near Great Bend, Minnesota. That job was the one where Dad fell and broke his back and could not work for a couple of years.

7. For a very short time we lived in a little apartment upstairs, and cramped. It was at Abercrombie, to be near my teaching job in Colfax. There I met Shirley Lindquist who lived in Wahpeton and taught at Colfax, too. We decided to move to a nice house in Wahpeton and drive together. We found a really cute little house there, and Dad kept house and baby sat while I taught. Donna got to go to kindergarten there.

8. We found out Dad could get an easier job -- as parts man in Howard Lake. We moved into the little pink house that belonged to Frank Zanders in Howard Lake.

9. Dad started a business of his own in farm equipment and we moved onto a farm near the Montgomerys which was south of town. Rather old farm buildings, but nice. Then Dad found a place where he could have his business and live the same place.

10. The Pillsbury place as it was known was a large, square gray home -- and I really enjoyed its roominess and handy arrangement. That was our home and business during the time the last three of our children were born, Marlene and Doug were born in Litchfield with Dr. Houts being my doctor. In between, while I was teaching in Winsted, I had Patty with Dr. Carol as my doctor.

11.We sold out and moved back to Wahpeton when Grandpa Anderson died. We lived at Parsley's house, another older but beautiful farm home.

12. Dad got a job in Breckenridge and so we moved into a beautiful home just two houses from the gas station where he worked.

13.I applied for an opening in a government sponsored seminar to improve rural teaching. It was at Chadron College in Nebraska. We stayed in one of the friends's mobile home during that summer session. In that time I accepted a job in Winsted Holy Trinity

14. We moved back to Howard Lake and lived in the old Hagelin house. There Dad started up his business -- and that was handy, as he did tractor painting in the trees. It was surely a cute little red house; most of you remember it, I imagine.

15. We built our own business and home -- where Donna left the family to make her own way

16. I will finish with the house that we bought from the Olivers in Howard Lake, because that is the one that several of the grandkids can remember, and out of it the rest of our kids left to make their own way!!!


Grandma, Mom, and Dorothy
and St. Cloud Correspondent Douglas Anderson