THE LEARN TO COOK PROLOGUE
You arrive at a large yet unremarkable door along a quiet side street of an otherwise bustling city. You’re sure it’s the right one, you can smell the possibilities emanating from within, or is that croissants?
As you reach out to the handle, a familiar voice in your head says “Are you sure you want to do this?” You pause, “Cooking for others can bring about feelings of immense satisfaction, but the landscape is vast, no one knows how far it stretches, you could get lost”.
You look up and see something your eyes failed to notice until now, the engraving in stone across the arch of the door “Good Food is the Foundation of Genuine Happiness”.
You take a deep breath, get a grip on the roll of knives under your arm and push open the doors.
See Role Play Gourmet live at the Vaults Festival 2020.
Welcome to Role Play Gourmet
Over the coming weeks and months I will be sharing my favourite recipes and showing you the skills it takes to elevate your cooking game in the kitchen.
As you progress through the recipes (and indeed, whenever you cook) you will be awarded Experience Points (XP) which you can use to fill in your skill tree and plot your culinary progress.
You begin of course, at the bottom. A Level 1 Beginner Pot Wash (‘Esculerie’ in French).
Usually in a role play game you will be asked to choose a class for your character, this is where things are a little different;
Cooking is a vocation, an endless sea of knowledge to explore and, hopefully, stay afloat in. You certainly won’t learn everything here. It’s also a journey of discovery about oneself. What you cook and how often will determine your player’s character. There’s a skill tree for that too.
Each time you complete a skill circle, you can fill in a square on your progress track. Fill up the progress track, and you’re ready for level 2.
DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE PRINT AND PLAY ROLE PLAY GOURMET SKILL TREES NOW
Role Play Gourmet Skill Tree 1
Role Play Gourmet Character Class Tracker
Got questions? Head on over to the FAQ.
Once inside you are ushered over to a wall where you stand in a line with the other recruits. The room is mostly in shadow, the odd beam of light streaming in from an unknown source catches on various surfaces, teasing the image of something grand and sprawling.
Before you stands a colossal giant of a figure. Clad in a white jacket, and seemingly uninterested in the line of hopefuls. The light lands on one of its massive forearms. You can see it’s all gnarls and welts, the scars of a thousand burns and cuts adorn a hand that is now more scar tissue than skin. You notice that on its belt, where you might expect to see a weapon of legendary power sits only a humble, unremarkable knife. Without thinking, you stare at it curiously.
SLAM! The creature plants two massive hands on the ground near where you stand and stoops down to meet your now terrified gaze. A solitary, gigantic, camel like eye peers at you from under a bandana. When it speaks, its voice is rough and harsh, like coals being dragged over a metal grating.
“You like my knife?”
You steel yourself, try to show no fear and reply
“You have only one?” You say
“I ONLY NEED ONE!” it bellows, “Show me yours”
You try to stand tall, you’ve prepared for this moment, rehearsed it your mind countless times and now you’re ready. You take out your roll of knives and let them unfurl to the ground. A truly masterful collection, a menagerie of blades and gadgets of all shapes and sizes. Filleting, paring, an off-set pastry knife, a cleaver. On and on it goes. The light in the room somehow finds you and begins to dance off the galvanised steel teeth you have bared. This is your moment.
Sadly your moment is cut short by the booming of laughter. You thought its voice was rough but the laugh? It’s like being punched with sandstone.
“Pathetic! Tell me ‘Esculerie’…” At the mention of your new nickname there are some chuckles and guffaws of recognition.
“…How many hands can you chop with?”
“J…just one” You stutter
“Then you only need one knife. One hand, one knife, one sharpener. That is all you need, that is all you’ll get. Choose wisely, it is to become part of your arm”
“Since you are so keen to show us your skills, you shall be making dinner”
“D…Dinner for who?” You ask
“Dinner for us!”
At that moment the entire hall lights up to reveal a vast and shining kitchen. Rows and rows of ovens, prep stations, pots, pans, trays, tables, chopping blocks and stove tops stretch out for what seems like miles. Before you stands a whole motley crew of giants and trolls, dwarves and dragon born, a whole host of misshapen misanthropes cackling and slapping each other on the back. All of them awash with faded tribal markings covered in scars and scuffs, burns and boils. They’re all laughing heartily at your expense and you wonder for the first time, whether you’ve done the right thing. Looking to your left you notice there are no other recruits, just you.
“Use only what you can find in that cupboard”
You turn to see what must surely be the barest pantry in all the land.
“Oh and Esculerie, from now on you call me Chef”
You wander into the pantry, still shaking. After a thorough search, you return to the main room, find yourself a prep station and get to work. Despite your humiliation, you’re not a complete fool, you’ll show them.
You take a damp cloth and lay it down under your chopping board to stop it slipping, run your knife over the sharpener, check the blade by running your thumb perpendicular to it and lay out your ingredients.
(add it to your skill tree)
+1 Knife Skills (Sharpen)
You have found the following:
1x large onion (or 2 medium ones)
1x chorizo sausage (You can you use a good one if you like but there’s probably no need)
1x bottle of red wine (cheapest you can find)
2x tins chopped tomatoes
1 packet cherry tomatoes (leave whole)
2x tins of white beans (any you like; haricot, butter… honestly no wrong answers here, I used chickpeas in the one pictured. Obviously drain the liquid first)
1 tbsp fennel seeds
This makes the ‘rustic stew’ – the first recipe I ever devised myself. I was living in Spain at the time and needed to feed a lot of people on the cheap.
It’s the simplest recipe I know, none of the ingredients are chopped so much as ‘roughly hewn’ into sizes that will fit the average mouth.
The Chorizo does the heavy lifting in this dish. It’s always nice to rely on the labour of more skilful people and I urge you to find other recipes/produce that let you do the same. Making chorizo is a lengthy and complicated process, don’t do it, let someone else do it and then take the credit for it.
If you’re vegetarian then substitute chorizo for dried wild mushrooms (soak overnight) and some smoked paprika.
Put the chopped chorizo in a cold, large saucepan on a low heat and add a splash of oil. As the pan heats up, the fat on the chorizo begins to render and liquefy. Once the bottom of the pan is covered in red juice, add the onions and pump the heat up to a medium. Let the onions sweat. Once they have become translucent and red, add ALL the other ingredients. Leave it on a medium heat until it starts to simmer then turn down to a low heat and leave it alone for at least two hours. After two hours, give it a stir, a taste and a season with salt and pepper.
LORE: Season things as you cook them, this will enhance the flavour. If you wait until the end, you’ll just be making things salty
At about four hours it hits a real sweet stage, ladle some rustic stew into a bowl and serve with crusty bread. Maybe don’t wear anything white whilst prepping or eating this.
(add it to your skill trees)
+1 Knife skills for chopping
(+2 Paladin if you used wild mushroom version)
+ 2 Paladin
The cadre of miscreants each fill a bowl from the large pot of rustic stew you’ve prepared. They are less animated now than they were and to your surprise, they each thank you for the offering.
The sound of quiet, cheerful chatter is punctuated by the ting of steel spoon against porcelain as everyone devours the stew.
Chef turns to you and gives you a silent and deliberate nod of approval. You smile for the first time that day and a warm sense of accomplishment fills your heart.
Chef then motions to one side, you follow with your eyes and spy a mountain of dirty pots and pans dripping with food waste and grease. Your heart sinks, chef smiles.
“Welcome to the kitchen, Esculerie”
Got questions? Head to the FAQ and all will be answered.
Paul Flannery – Treguard of Dunshelm and Kitchen Master