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Cmdr. Karrod Niac - Cuisine Astra

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By now we all know how talented @Karrod Niac, but I couldn't let this one go unnoticed. ;)



((Holodeck 2, Deck 6, USS Excalibur))

The key to good cooking, as Rostil had spent an inordinate amount of time trying to explain to Karrod, was preparation.  Everything, and the long dead master chef really did mean everything, had to be just right before you could even consider applying heat to pan.  So he had started in the one place aboard he could completely control every variable of the environment right down to Rostil's shockingly precise expectations.  The holodeck.  

Karrod had spent days working on the matrix he was now standing in the middle of, carefully recreating and tuning aspects of it until the recreation was aesthetically and functionally indistinguishable from the original establishment.  Working from Rostil's memory Karrod had dutifully rebuilt every detail of the master chef's original kitchen, right down to the slightly uneven tile below the prep counter that Rostil dubiously claimed helped with drainage.  Karrod had tried arguing the point originally but in this endeavor he'd been indulgent to Rostil's obsessive perfectionism for several reasons.  One, Karrod felt he owed Niac's memories of the man a small token of appreciation.  Even though he had groused endlessly about the state of the food and available seasonings on Demes II he'd managed to keep their food palatable and satiating for weeks, something Karrod knew he wouldn't have been able to accomplish on his own.  Two, Karrod had appreciated the distraction of an elaborate project after a difficult and stressful mission.  The damage that Starfleet had done to that planet and its culture was immeasurable but the more immediate and troubling thing for Karrod was the fate of Tina Kuppasoop.  Her mental collapse hadn't been his fault but he was none the less haunted by the fact she was another officer he had failed to save.  The third reason he'd been so indulgent to Rostil had nothing at all to do with the Chef and was, in point of fact, almost selfish by comparison.  

Karrod really wanted to impress Addison MacKenzie.

He'd found the woman beguiling almost from the moment he'd met her but since seeing the Commander in action on Demes II Karrod had to admit to becoming smitten in a way he hadn't in years.  She was beautiful and terrifying in equal measures, which was intoxicating enough by itself, but there was something more to the woman that Karrod caught glimpses of.  A depth to her, below the facade of sharp wit and cocksure professionalism, that spoke of long years spent in service to Starfleet.  Years that had left indelible marks on the woman which were well hidden.  Karrod had considered looking up their XO's service record for insights but felt it was somehow...impolite.  If they were going to share anything, they'd need to do so openly.  Otherwise there was no point to it at all.  Karrod realized he felt a longing for that kind of connection that he hadn't allowed himself to feel since he'd been a much younger man.  He hoped this experience wouldn't be quite as disastrous as that had been.  

Turning his attention back to the present, Karrod looked within and found that Rostil was at long last satisfied with the work they'd done.  The kitchen, it seemed, was ready.   Walking around the serving counter and out onto the main floor of the replicated bistro, Karrod confirmed that each bit of detail was just as it should be.  The view out the front window was as it had been decades earlier, looking out upon the watercourses of the Old City in Leran Manev, the Trill capital.  The canals had once served an important purpose as trade and travel arteries but in the present they were little more than well tended decorative features.  The later day light was shimmering on the clear water and small selfpiloting pleasure craft lazed their way to destinations unknown.  

The interior of the restaurant was smaller than it had been in reality, one small concession he'd gotten out of Rostil, as Karrod did not imagine they'd be serving twelve tables plus several under the exterior awning all at once.  The dining room was now a bit more private, with one table situated in the center of the room and accented by soft recessed lighting in the ceiling.  The motif was a bit rustic, with tables that had originally been hewn by Trill craftsmen from native hardwoods.  The chairs were comfortable, with tall backs and soft pads to encourage slow dining and ample conversation.  Karrod had begrudgingly admitted the effect was wonderfully soothing.  Somewhere deep within, Rostil beamed with pride.  

And now the real work began.  Karrod returned to the kitchen and donned an apron before he began laying out the freshly procured ingredients he'd had to beg, borrow and transport in from DS224 at prices that were somewhat eye watering, but Rostil assured him that these expenses would pay dividends in the meal itself and Karrod was increasingly inclined to believe it.  The pans, pots and cook surfaces may have all been synthetic but they were designed to mimic their real life counterparts so Karrod hoped, and had assured Rostil repeatedly, that the results of the meal would be unaffected.  With hands that seemed to know the work from memory, Karrod retrieved a chefs knife and began slicing vegetables, placing them into meticulously arranged piles nearby as he worked from item to item along the prep table.  Several heating units were already at temperature and prepared to simmer, broil and sear the various components just as soon as he got them ready.  

The menu would be simple according to Rostil but to Karrod, who had spent most of his life eating out of a replicator or as the customer of a restaurant, seemed daunting.  Over thirty different seasonings, nearly sixty separate ingredients and a strange cross-section of culinary techniques from across the Alpha Quadrant would be employed over the next several hours.  Karrod let Niac take the proverbial conn and found a deep sense of peace as he worked from item to item, chopping and slicing with the precision of a surgeon.  As the kitchen filled with a delicious bouquet of aromas, Karrod's confidence in the endeavor grew.  Rostil was in his element and enjoying himself in a way he hadn't in decades.  All too soon the meal was nearing completion and Karrod decided to extend his invitation. Tapping the commbadge he'd affixed to the apron with a flour covered hand he spoke to the air.  

Niac:  =/\= Niac to MacKenzie.  I hope you're hungry, Commander.  Holodeck 2 in twenty minutes or I'm starting without you. =/\=

MacKenzie:  =/\= Response =/\=

Karrod smiled to himself as he stirred the large simmering pot and gently drizzled a small handful of fragrant herbs into the mix.  This was going to be fun.  

((A Short Time Later))

The holodeck doors parted and Karrod held his breath, suddenly worried he'd overdone it and the woman would turn around on the spot.  When she didn't, Karrod called out from the kitchen.  

Niac:  Welcome to Bistro Manev, Commander.  If you can find your own way to the table I'll be out with starters in just a minute.  

MacKenzie: Response

Niac: I appreciate the gesture.  There's glasses and a cork in the sideboard behind you.  

MacKenzie: Response

Karrod plated their appetizers and stepped out of the kitchen with two large plates.  He delicately placed them in the center of the table before fetching some smaller sideplates for each of them.  

Niac: Like I said, I hope you're hungry.  Even then...we might be here for a while.  I let Rostil indulge himself and I think he decided to make enough food to serve half the ship.  
MacKenzie: Response


Commander Karrod Niac
Chief of Operations
USS Excalibur - NCC-41903-A
Commodore Kali Nicholotti, Commanding


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