The Menu (2022) | Transcript

A young couple travel to a remote island to eat at an exclusive restaurant where the chef has prepared a lavish menu, with some shocking surprises.
The Menu (2022)

(LIGHTER CLICKS)

Babe. Please don’t smoke. It’ll kill your palate.

Then my palate will die happy.

Hey. Margot, tonight is huge, okay? The flavor profiles, it’s all super delicate. When you smoke, you ruin your ability to be able to appreciate them.

(SCOFFS) Oh, come on!

Please. Please.

Fine. Jesus.

Thank you.

(SHIP HORN BLARES)

Oh! Thank God.

(INTRIGUING MUSIC PLAYING)

MARGOT: Is that gonna fit everyone?

TYLER: Yeah, easily. Twelve customers total.

MARGOT: A night? How do they turn a profit?

TYLER: $1,250 a head. That’s how.

You’re fucking kidding, right? What, are we eating a Rolex?

Come on, let’s not ruin this by talking price, yeah? Just go with the flow. Let it be magical.

Hey, it’s your dime.

Mmm.

BRYCE: Not bad!

DAVE: Oh, thanks, man.

SOREN: You deserve this, baby.

You know who’s gonna love this? Betty!

It’s just a “fuck you” to Accounts.

It’s not even a client dinner.

(LAUGHS) Fuck. We’re dicks, huh?

(GROANS) Great. A power tasting. They’ll be wasted by the amuse.

SOREN: Hi, guys.

DAVE: By boat.

How did you think we were gonna get on the…

TED: Look at you on a gangplank in heels.

Fuck.

(MEN GRUNTING)

Holy fucking shit. Lillian Bloom. Oh, my God.

Who’s Lillian Bloom?

(SHUSHES)

Food critic for Saveur. She basically discovered Slowik. Okay, well, it’s official. Tonight will be madness.

(TYLER CHUCKLES SOFTLY)

BOATMAN: All aboard for Hawthorn! Hawthorn! All aboard!

Wow.

CAPTAIN: (OVER PA SYSTEM) Ladies and gentlemen, please make yourselves comfortable for our short journey to Hawthorn Island. Thank you.

GEORGE: Ahoy! And avast, me hearties! Let’s hope she’s seaworthy, eh?

Yes, sir. Yeah.

Boat… Boat jokes.

Yeah, yeah.

Boat, yeah.

We’re on a boat.

Yeah. We’re on a boat.

(ALL CHUCKLE)

SOREN: Hey, we got a famous person on board, huh?

BRYCE: FP in the house.

DAVE: Barely F anymore, though. It’s not 1998.

BRYCE: He’s a P, and he’s F.

Oh, my God. Check it out.

GEORGE: Hey, aren’t you supposed to be running interference for me? Make sure people don’t bother me, then?

God, we both know you were not bothered.

MARGOT: I saw all his movies when I was a kid.

FELICITY: Hey, listen.

Apparently, he’s a big foodie. You know, thinks he is.

WAITER: Chef Slowik would like to welcome you with a raw local oyster in a mignonette emulsion, with lemon caviar and an oyster leaf. Enjoy.

Beautiful. Thank you.

Thank you.

It’s one of his classics. Mmm-mmm.

The lemon pearls are made with alginate.

Alginate, as in, um…

(CAMERA SHUTTER CLICKS)

As in algae. Come on.

Right, yeah. Pond scum.

It’s not…

Delicious. (CHUCKLES)

(CHUCKLES HAPPILY)

Oh, my God. It’s laughable. It’s actually fucking laughably good.

It’s good.

Mmm.

Think I prefer just the oyster, though. Love oysters.

No. No. It’s the balance of the products. You need the mouthfeel of the mignonette.

Please don’t say “mouthfeel.”

Too late. Mouthfeel.

(CHUCKLES)

(SHIP HORN BLARES)

(INTENSE CLASSICAL MUSIC PLAYING)

(INDISTINCT CHATTER)

Hi.

LILLIAN: Thank you.

Jesus, this is like prom.

Yeah? I never went to prom.

Really? Why not?

(MUSIC FADES)

‘Cause none of the cool girls like you said, “Yes.”

Aw, poor baby. Well, fuck those bitches.

(CHUCKLES SOFTLY)

Bryce.

Welcome.

Welcome, Mr. Lorimer.

Hello. Felicity Lynn.

ELSA: Hello. Good evening.

And Damien Garcia.

ELSA: And Mr. George Diaz.

Mr. Diaz. Welcome.

You gave my real name?

Of course I gave them your real name.

What about the paparazzi?

It’s a pleasure to have you.

Paparazzi? We’re on an island.

Of course I gave them your real name.

Welcome to Hawthorn.

Mr. Ledford and Miss Westervelt?

(STUTTERS) Oh, no. Um…

Sorry, yeah, no. That was, uh…

That’s not Miss… She had a change of plans, so Miss Westervelt couldn’t… This is Miss…

I’m Margot. Hi. Nice to meet you.

(TYLER CLEARS THROAT)

Margot. Welcome. We’ll endeavor to make your evening as pleasant as possible.

Thanks.

Right this way.

Thanks.

Oh, my God. I’m so sorry. That was really awkward. I’m sorry. That was not…

No, no. Fine.

(SIGHS)

Don’t worry about it.

TYLER: (CLEARS THROAT) Sorry.

ELSA: Mr. Leibrandt. Mrs. Leibrandt. Welcome.

RICHARD: We’ll just go straight to the restaurant, if you don’t mind.

ANNE: We’ve seen the tour many, many times.

ELSA: Yes, yes, you have.

My esteemed guests can continue their conversation this way. Thank you. Please follow me.

So, like, what are you working on now?

Oh, hey, thanks for asking. See, people still know me. I’m moving into the presenter phase of my career. You know? Do me.

ELSA: Hawthorn Island comprises 12 acres of forest and pasture. We have the bounty of the sea surrounding us.

Oh, yeah, right.

Out there, right now, we are harvesting scallops. You’ll eat them tonight.

No, get out. Oh, shoot!

Yes.

Hey! (LAUGHING)

Hey, harvest harder, me dude! We’re starving!

(ALL LAUGHING)

Oh, my goodness.

I do like the sense of it being a sort of biome of culinary ideas.

Right. Like, it functions like an epicurean salon.

No, I like biome better I think.

Biome’s better. Yeah, yeah. I mean, that’s… Yeah.

MARGOT: We have reached the base camp of Mount Bullshit. This is insane. (CHUCKLES)

(DRAMATIC MUSIC PLAYING)

Smell that.

BOTH: Mmm.

SOREN: We’re gonna be hungry.

GEORGE: Yeah, I’m a huge embarrassing foodie.

I love this stuff.

And I’m close, personal friends with the chef.

SOREN: Okay, player.

ELSA: Our smokehouse is in the Nordic tradition. We use the meat of dairy cows only, which we age for an astonishing 152 days to relax the protein strands.

BRYCE: Ah, yes. Yes.

TED: Can we pop in here?

Dude, I read about one of these online.

Oh, yeah? Can I check it out?

DAVE: Korean barbeque.

Yes. But please, do not touch our proteins. They’re immature.

So, what happens if you serve it on the 153rd day? Does all hell break loose, or…

Well, I suppose the bacteria would introduce itself to the consumer’s bloodstream and spread into their spinal membranes, after which point, he or she would become incapacitated and shortly thereafter expire. So, yes, all hell would break loose.

(ALL CHUCKLE NERVOUSLY)

Good thing we’re pros, yes?

GEORGE: I’d like to work for her.

SOREN: Yeah.

DAVE: Cool.

ELSA: This is where we live.

BRYCE: Yeah? What, you actually live here? All of you?

ELSA: All of us. Except Chef.

Yeah, well…

LILLIAN: Oof.

Esprit de corps. No?

ELSA: No, Mr. Feldman. It’s very much more than that. Here we are family. Each day starts at 6:00, with five hours of prep work. We harvest. We ferment. We slaughter. We marinate. We liquify. We spherify. We gel.

They, um… They “gel?”

Yeah.

We gel.

Dinner is typically four hours and 25 minutes. Each day ends at well past 2:00 in the morning. So yes, it’s best that we all live here.

You guys ever get burned out, or…

“Burned out?”

Yeah, sorry, sorry. Like, tired of doing the same thing?

Chef holds himself to the highest standard, and so do we. We never burn anything unless by design, to make delicious. Now, who’s hungry?

MARGOT: There is food at the end of this, right?

TED: Boat food to dinner table.

Elsa. Excuse me. Elsa. Elsa, hi. Uh, who lives there?

Chef.

Oh, can we see that?

Even we are not allowed inside Chef’s cottage, Mr. Ledford.

MARGOT: (SHUSHES) Come on. We mustn’t disturb the Lord High Emperor of Sustenance.

Yeah, all right.

Isn’t the GOAT the greatest of all time, though?

No, no, no. Back in the day…

GEORGE: You think he’d pick that big guy?

(INDISTINCT CHATTER AND LAUGHTER)

So, I think that maybe we’ll just time the post.

Oh, yeah? Bring you to the best spots?

FELICITY: Yes, well, I book the best spots.

So you tell me.

GEORGE: With my name.

FELICITY: Well, I…

Hi, again.

BRYCE: Gentlemen, parfait?

FELICITY: Oh! Look at that view.

Wanna take a picture?

(CLASSICAL MUSIC PLAYING)

(INDISTINCT CHATTER)

SOREN: Where we going, chief?

Here. Switch seats with me.

Miss…

Mills.

Ms. Mills. You will be sitting in Miss Westervelt’s seat.

RICHARD: Just… You should have the better view.

ANNE: Well, I don’t… (STUTTERS)

I don’t need a better view.

RICHARD: No, I’m gonna look at the kitchen.

MARGOT: Thank you!

RICHARD: The rosé, we’ll get first.

Enjoy.

ELSA: Feel free to observe the cooks as they innovate. But please, do not photograph our dishes. Chef strongly feels that the beauty in his creations lies in their ephemeral nature.

Here, come on. We can’t miss this.

MARGOT: Oh. Um…

Do you make that with a Pacojet?

Exactly right, sir.

Mmm.

You know, a Pacojet can produce a powderized, uh, snow-like texture.

Cool.

Yeah. I have one.

You really know your stuff, Mr. Ledford.

You know my name?

Oh, we like to know everyone who dines with us.

And Chef, is he around here somewhere? I’d love to talk with him.

Why don’t you take your seat? We’re about to serve.

Oh, right. Yeah, okay. Thank you.

TYLER: Wow.

More Lambrusco, madam?

TYLER: Well, the attention to detail, it’s like, fuck! And he knew my name, babe!

Yeah. I noticed you didn’t ask his name.

Yeah, well, you know.

(SHUSHES)

TYLER: There he is.

Fuck me. Is he looking at me?

(UNSETTLING MUSIC PLAYING)

(INDISTINCT CHATTER)

TED: Bland? You call that bland?

LILLIAN: Well, it is bland.

SOREN: You like the winter, don’t you?

DAVE: I don’t actually…

SOREN: Fucking freak.

SERVER: Here we have a compressed and pickled cucumber melon, milk snow, and charred lace.

SOREN: Thanks.

Enjoy.

Oh! This ongoing obsession with snow.

It’s officially a plague, and no one is immune.

Can you taste a little goat? Right at the end. A little kid.

She said milk. I wonder.

She did not say of what species.

TED: She did not.

FELICITY: I want to hear your pitch for the show, but first I would like to say “thank you” for the last two years.

(PHONE CAMERA SHUTTER CLICKS)

FELICITY: This opportunity has been, uh…

GEORGE: The best of your life?

Let’s have to many, many, many more.

Come on. I’m trying to do a goodbye toast. Can you please just let me do that?

No, it ain’t. No, it ain’t.

Yes, it is.

I’m starting a new position.

Oh, my God!

FELICITY: My mom got me a job at Sony.

I told you this two weeks ago.

Here’s my, uh, work phone. Here’s the production company’s credit card.

What are you doin’? Non-transferrable.

And here is the key to your house in LA…

I don’t have pockets.

…your apartment in New York and your other apartment in New York that your wife doesn’t know about.

BRYCE: How’s Amanda?

FELICITY: Take it because I won’t be there on Monday.

(CHUCKLES) We’re doing this?

The “talking about our lives” thing?

Is that it? We’re close?

Hey, I don’t want to either.

But shouldn’t we?

DAVE: Well, do we have to?

Well, not good, Bryce. Okay?

Me and Amanda are not good. It’s not good.

BRYCE: Are you at fault?

No, it was her fault. She made me text her coworker.

Yeah, fucking of course it’s my fault, bro.

I’m an asshole.

Well, at least we have work.

DAVE: And money.

To work and money.

DAVE: Yeah, baby.

Yeah, baby.

We’re pathetic, aren’t we?

SOREN: Oh, my God, dude. Somebody, shoot us.

(BOTH SPEAKING SPANISH)

FELICITY: (IN ENGLISH) No, I’m not gonna have…

Jesus Christ. I want to live inside this thing.

Mmm. So it’s okay that I’m not as into this as you are?

Oh, no, no. It’s good. I’m sitting with the coolest girl here.

Okay, so what is it with this food thing?

I don’t know. It’s like, you know how people idolize, you know, athletes, and musicians, and painters, and stuff?

Mmm-hmm.

Yeah, those people are idiots. What they do, it doesn’t matter. They play with inflatable balls and ukuleles and shit. Chefs, they play with the raw materials of life itself. And death itself. It’s… I mean, I’ve watched every fucking episode of Chef’s Table two or three times. I’ve watched Slowik’s 20 times. I’ve watched him explain the exact moment a green strawberry is perfectly unripe. I’ve watched him plate a raw scallop during its last dying contraction of muscle. It’s art on the edge of the abyss, which is where God works, too. It’s the same.

That was beautifully put, Tyler.

Stop. Don’t. No.

No! I’m being serious. I think I’m, um, starting to get it.

Really?

Yeah. A little.

(BELL DINGS)

(SUSPENSEFUL MUSIC PLAYING)

Okay.

Yes, Chef.

(CLASSICAL MUSIC PLAYING)

(CLASSICAL MUSIC FADES)

SLOWIK: Good evening.

Good evening.

Good evening. Hello.

GEORGE: Hello.

Welcome to Hawthorn. I am Julian Slowik, and tonight it’ll be our pleasure to feed you.

The curtain rises.

SLOWIK: Over the next few hours you will ingest fat, salt, sugar, protein, bacteria, fungi, various plants and animals, and, at times, entire ecosystems. But I have to beg of you one thing. It’s just one. Do not eat.

Is he serious?

Taste. Savor. Relish. Consider every morsel that you place inside your mouth. Be mindful. But do not eat. Our menu is too precious for that. (CHUCKLES SOFTLY) And look around you. Here we are on this island. Accept. Accept all of it. And forgive. And on that note, food!

GEORGE: Yeah, yeah. Bring it, bring it.

Here they come.

LILLIAN: Oh, wow. It’s like a marching band.

SLOWIK: Our first course is called “The Island.” On your plate are plants from around the island, placed on rocks from the shore, covered in barely frozen, filtered seawater which will flavor the dish as it melts.

You know, this is what the guy was fishing for earlier…

SLOWIK: Sorry?

TYLER: Um… Sorry, Chef.

It’s perfectly all right. Yes, they are those very same scallops. Now, here is what you must remember about this dish. We, the people on this island, are not important. The island and the nutrients it provides exist in their most perfect state without us gathering them or manipulating them, or digesting them. What happens inside this room is meaningless compared to what happens outside in nature, in the soil, in the water, in the air. We are but a frightened nanosecond. Nature is timeless. Enjoy.

(GUESTS CLAPPING)

That’s a cheery thought.

(SNIFFLES)

Are you crying?

It’s just that I find it all very moving. It’s all so beautiful. I just… It’s almost too beautiful to eat.

(PHONE CAMERA SHUTTER CLICKING)

MARGOT: You know, the nicest restaurant in my hometown was…

You don’t think Chef’s mad at me, right? For the scallop thing?

You don’t have to call him “Chef,” Tyler. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t even know about your existence.

I kind of want him to…

Like you? (CHUCKLES)

Yeah. Kinda.

Tyler, you’re the customer. You’re paying him to serve you. It doesn’t really matter whether he likes you or not.

Right. Wait. What does that mean?

Mmm. Nothing. Relax. Just eat your rock.

And to pair, from our friends at Caroline Morey, a Chassagne-Montrachet premier cru from 2014. Not just a single vineyard. A single row of vines.

Wow. Perfect.

It’s magical.

TED: Thoughts? I’m really feeling this is quite…

It’s half-great. It’s there in moments.

There in moments.

There’s a neediness to the plating, you know. I mean, it’s been tweezered to fuck. But the flavors are there. It’s very clean. It’s very, um, thalassic.

“Thalassic?”

Oceanic. Thalassa was the primeval spirit of the sea.

Oh, Thalassa and Pontus. Yes, yes, yes.

Correct. So, we are… We’re eating the ocean.

We’re eating the ocean.

Yeah.

Yes.

FELICITY: How is it?

Mmm. It’s good.

You can’t just say “good” for the show. You have to… You have to embellish.

Oh, my God. For crying out loud. It’s not brain surgery, okay? It’s a goddamn travel-food show.

I know. Okay, so then, do it.

Yeah, yeah. So pitch it to me.

Okay, so we go to Italy, right?

FELICITY: Mmm-hmm.

We shoot me in capri pants on a pastel green Vespa, driving around to get to some Giuseppe’s farm with cheese. I eat the cheese, and then… There’s a close-up of me. And I close my eyes, and I fake an orgasm, and then off to South Africa, and then, I maybe… I talk about how racism is not so cool, and bingo bongo, Emmy time.

That’s it?

Okay? Can I eat now?

That’s what you’re gonna pitch to three streaming services on Monday?

Yeah. Pretty much. That’s that.

Yeah. Jesus fucking Christ. That’s a disaster. I don’t think you can go to South Africa with a DUI.

SOREN: You like this?

The otter food?

Yeah. It’s solid.

SOREN: I mean, I’ve had shellfish just as good with my chef at home, Ricardo. You know Ricardo. He’s amazing.

BRYCE: Incredible.

SOREN: Whatever.

At least we can say we’ve been here, right? My dad used to say that you buy the experience.

RICHARD: I mean, this looks like a suburban landscaping. What the fuck?

I saw Perry at DeLaurenti’s the other day.

Oh? How is he?

You know… Perry.

Thank you.

SLOWIK: I want plating in five!

COOKING TEAM: Yes, Chef!

(BELL DINGS)

(CLAPS)

Is he gonna keep doing that?

Bread has existed in some form for over 12,000 years, especially amongst the poor. Flour and water. What could be simpler? Even today, grain represents 65% of all agriculture. Fruits and vegetables only 6%. Ancient Greek peasants dipped their stale, measly bread in wine for breakfast. And how did Jesus teach us to pray if not to beg for our daily bread?

Beg for our daily bread.

It is, and has always been, the food of the common man. But you, my dear guests, are not the common man. And so tonight… you get no bread.

(BELL DINGS)

LILLIAN: He must be joking.

TED: He’s joking.

(GUESTS LAUGH)

This is next-level.

FELICITY: How are you not gonna…

Wow, he’s not kidding.

Not gonna serve bread at a restaurant known for their bread. That’s sweet.

What?

ANNE: Thank you.

It’s not a fake-out, is it?

What?

TED: No.

It’s gotta be a bit.

Are you fuckin’ serious?

SLOWIK: In this spirit, please enjoy the unaccompanied accompaniments.

FELICITY: “The bread you will not be eating tonight was made from a heritage wheat called red fife, crafted with our partners at the Tehachapi Grain Project devoted to preserving heirloom grains.” This is insane.

GEORGE: Mmm!

I gotta say that the shit around the total absence of the bread is, like, really good.

I mean, it’s a little outrageous, isn’t it?

It’s fiendish, really. I mean, he’s always been keenly aware of food as a history of class… I mean, as have I.

Sure.

Though I will say that this emulsion does look slightly split.

TED: Yeah. I mean, I wasn’t gonna say anything. I noticed as soon as it came down. It’s broken. It’s broken.

Yeah, which is really… I mean, you really… You really shouldn’t see that in a restaurant of this quality. There it is.

Well, there it is.

Yeah.

Oh, my God. I mean, it’s next-level badassery.

The way he weaves in historical allegories. I mean, the game is trying to guess what the overarching theme of the entire meal is gonna be. You won’t know until the end.

Wait. You… You like this?

Mmm-hmm. Oh, yeah.

He’s basically insulting you.

No, no, no. You don’t get it. It’s a concept.

I know what a concept is, Tyler.

Trust me. He’s telling a story. That’s what makes his food so exciting. He’s not just a chef. He’s a storyteller. And he doesn’t give a fuck about the rules.

Call me the girl next door, but maybe there are some rules that you should give a fuck about, like, I don’t know, giving food to people at a restaurant.

Dearest, no one would ever call you the girl next door.

LILLIAN: I make my own bread.

You do? I didn’t know that.

Yeah.

Oh, yeah. I mean, it’s very rustic. It’s peasant style. Yeasty.

What kind of yeast are you using?

Oh, I make my own from apples.

Well, of course you make your own yeast from apples. You wicked thing.

(ELSA CLEARS THROAT)

ELSA: Ms. Bloom?

Mmm?

ELSA: Here is another broken emulsion. Courtesy of Chef Slowik.

(AMUSING MUSIC PLAYING)

SOREN: Hello.

BRYCE: Excuse me.

Is everything to your liking, sir?

Well, actually, no. Thanks for asking. Uh, I mean, look, the food’s great and we totally get all the conceptual stuff. But could we please get a little bread? You know, and some gluten-free for my friend as well?

No.

(AMUSING MUSIC STOPS)

“No?”

No.

(CHUCKLES NERVOUSLY) Okay.

This is all very clever, and I didn’t want to pull this card, but you know who we are, right?

Yes.

You do? You know who we are?

I know who you are.

Mmm-hmm. Then you know we work with Doug Verrick, right?

No, you work for Mr. Verrick.

Exactly.

Oh, fuck it.

And so you know, we all play on the same team. So, just slip us a little bread.

Please.

We won’t tell a soul, lady. I promise, okay?

No.

(SOREN SIGHS)

Did you say, “No?”

I said, “No.” Yes.

Okay.

Okay.

Wow.

Okay.

That will be all, though. Thanks.

May I?

You don’t have to do… Okay.

(WHISPERING) You will eat less than you desire and more than you deserve.

It’s a pleasure to serve you.

TED: Well, I remain in ketosis, so that’s good news.

TYLER: Without the bread, it really focuses you.

It’s so fucking good. Embalm me in this.

Are you not gonna try it?

No.

No?

No.

This is great stuff. I’ll take it and eat it.

Yeah, go for it.

(ALL GASP)

TYLER: That was a total accident.

MARGOT: It happens to the best of us.

TYLER: I’m…

I’m sorry. That was…

No, I’m so sorry.

You haven’t touched your food.

There… There is no food.

Well, no. This is food.

So, um, lots more food to come. Don’t wanna fill up.

That would not be possible. I’ve precisely designed the portions to account for that.

So, (CHUCKLES) you won’t fill up. Please eat. The menu only makes sense if you eat.

But you told us not to eat.

That is not what I meant, madam. And you know it.

Well, thank you for your concern, but I am perfectly capable of deciding when I eat and what. Thank you.

Christ, that was humiliating.

MARGOT: “Humiliating?”

TYLER: Yeah.

MARGOT: Tyler, the guy is a prick.

TYLER: Please don’t.

You shouldn’t be so fucking rude.

MARGOT: What?

TYLER: He asked you to eat.

MARGOT: I don’t like it.

TYLER: Just try it.

Please.

(SOMBER MUSIC PLAYING)

Plating in three, my friends!

COOKING TEAM: Yes, Chef!

(CLASSICAL MUSIC PLAYING)

(CLASSICAL MUSIC FADES)

SOMMELIER: That’s a 2013 Pinot Noir from Ross Cobb. We hyper-decanted it with an immersion blender to awaken it from its slumber.

(BOTH CHUCKLE)

Slavonian oak, rich cherry and tobacco notes, and a faint sense of longing and regret.

Yes. Enjoy.

MARGOT: Longing and regret. My favorite.

ANNE: She’s staring again. Where do we know her from?

We don’t.

Well, she really does look like Claire.

Why do you keep saying that? She doesn’t.

You don’t think so?

She’s nothing like our Claire.

That same faraway face.

Can we not obsess? Please?

I know. Hypothetically, if you were leaving…

FELICITY: Right.

…which you’re not…

FELICITY: Mmm-hmm.

…what would you be leaving for?

Associate Development Co-Exec.

And what the hell is that?

It’s in development, so I’d be developing or helping to develop things…

Why would that be better than working for me?

Well, because there’s a future there. It’s a corporate…

Right. Right.

A different kind of future. Does that make sense? At the corporate…

Thank God it’s all just hypothetical anyway.

(SLOWIK CLAPS)

The next course is called “Memory.” And that is what it’s meant to evoke. A memory. So, let me tell you a memory of mine. When I was growing up, a child in Waterloo, Iowa, Tuesday was taco night.

GEORGE: Oh, yeah!

Taco Tuesday!

GEORGE: Yeah!

(GUESTS LAUGH)

And this, here, this lady here. This is my mother.

(GUESTS EXCLAIM)

As you can see, she’s rather drunk.

(GUESTS CHUCKLE)

This is not unusual. When I was seven years old, one Tuesday, my father came home quite drunk. Really drunk. Also, not unusual. My mother grew angry and screamed at him, at which point, he proceeded to wrap a telephone cord around her neck and pull it tight. I wept. I screamed, I begged him to stop. To make him stop, I finally had to stab him in the thigh with kitchen scissors.

You remember that, Mother, don’t you? Now, I suppose I should’ve stabbed him in the throat that evening. But we’re not so smart when we’re young. It was, as you can imagine, as a very memorable taco night.

GEORGE: Oh, thank God he didn’t.

I mean, what the fuck was that?

Theatrical.

FELICITY: You liked that?

Yeah, it’s a backstory to what makes him a chef artist.

Dude, that guy’s got some really dark sense of humor, bro.

GEORGE: He’s such an intense dude.

SLOWIK: So, here you have house-smoked Bresse chicken thigh al pastor and our own tortillas made with heirloom masa, one of Hawthorn’s signature dishes.

Thank you.

SLOWIK: We change our menu constantly, but, as Ms. Bloom knows, this has been a staple since day one. It’s what you once said…

Put you on the map.

SLOWIK: Put me on the map. Precisely what map would that be… I wonder. Anyways, because we’re always innovating, and we fear irrelevance, an update to a classic. The images on the tortillas have been made using a laser-engraving machine. It’s the first time we’ve used it. We hope this taco night evokes strong memories for us all. Enjoy.

(LILLIAN CHUCKLES SOFTLY)

Well, of course he had to do a taco.

TED: Here you are. What are they, Lil?

LILLIAN: They’re restaurants.

Um…

That I reviewed that all closed.

TED: Oh!

Like a gag, then?

LILLIAN: Um, I think so.

ANNE: Richard, what are these?

Taco things. For the tacos.

No, the pictures. They’re all of us. This one is after you had the melanoma removed from your forehead. There’s the bandage. Isn’t that nice? They remembered us.

MARGOT: Tyler, is that you?

Yeah. They’re all me from tonight taking fucking photos.

(TYLER SIGHS)

Jesus Christ, what’s with this guy?

I knew it. He hates me. God damn it. I didn’t think he’d really mind. Should I apologize?

Apologize for what?

GEORGE: Oh… (LAUGHS)

FELICITY: What?

Calling Doctor Sunshine.

Oh, my God. I forgot about that one. (LAUGHS)

Dumb part. Bad script.

Fun shoot, though.

Hmm. Maybe it’s a joke ’cause you’re friends, right?

Yeah, yeah, you know, friends. I mean, you know, do I have any friends?

SOREN: Wait. Um… (STAMMERS) Hey, guys, what the fuck?

DAVE: Are these… How did they get these?

It’s not good.

BRYCE: Uh, excuse me.

(CLEARS THROAT)

Can I help you, sir?

(CLEARS THROAT)

Yeah. What… What the hell are these?

These are tortillas.

(SPEAKING SPANISH)

(IN ENGLISH) Yes, and what are these?

These are tortillas which contain EchoBrite’s tax records and other documents, showing how your company has created invoices with fake charges.

How did you get these?

I’m sorry, but Chef never reveals his recipes.

(SCOFFS) Do you know how fucked you are? We’ll have this place closed by the morning. Do you understand?

Oh, no, that won’t be necessary.

Enjoy.

ANNE: And this is you and… Who is that woman?

Uh… (SCOFFS) Well, how the hell should I know? It’s faked. It’s some sort of stupid joke.

SOREN: It’s a fucking taco, okay? It can’t hurt you.

Yeah, a fucking taco that might hold up in court.

We have plausible deniability, and if they try to turn us in…

SOREN: (SNAPS FINGERS) Right!

If they turn us in, they’d be turning Verrick in. And then they’d be just as fucked as we are.

Right? So, we’re fine.

Right?

Yeah, we’re good.

We’re fine. Yeah, fuck it.

They can’t take your photograph without your consent. This is insane.

Stop talking and let me think, okay?

I have to make this right somehow. I have to.

Well, I’ll tell you how you make it right.

You send this shit back. Excuse me.

Excuse me! Sir, hi.

Hey. Margot! Margot!

Did you just fucking snap at me?

Do you know how long I’ve been trying to get a reservation here?

No, and I don’t really care.

You do not send shit back to this kitchen, you child.

You thank them for even letting you in the door.

What did you just call me?

I called you a child because you’re fucking acting like it.

Tyler, you need to apologize to me right now.

You cannot speak to me that way.

Actually, I can because, ding dong, I’m the one who’s paying.

So maybe, shut up and eat.

Mmm. Oh, my God.

Oh, my God.

This is incredible. You have to try this.

No, thanks. Don’t let me interrupt.

Miss Mills? How can I assist you?

Just looking for the ladies’ room.

Right this way.

Thank you.

What’s behind that silver door?

Something very special.

(DOOR LOCK CLICKS)

(LIGHTER CLICKS)

(DOOR UNLOCKING)

No, you can’t…

(DOOR CLOSES, LOCK CLICKS)

You shouldn’t be in here.

I’d like to know specifically what it was about the last course that you did not enjoy. You’ve barely eaten the food. Why? I need to know. Why don’t you eat?

Why do you care?

I take my work very seriously, and you’re not eating. And that wounds me.

I guess I’m just not very hungry.

I’ve told you who I am. I’m Julian Slowik, and I am the chef here. Now, who are you?

I’ll ask again. Who are you?

I’m Margot Mills.

So, where are you from, Margot?

I’m from Grand Island, Nebraska. Now, does that make you feel better? You want the address for Mom’s trailer park, you asshole?

No, it’s not who you want me to think you are. Who are you?

I am Margot.

You shouldn’t be here tonight.

Please get the fuck out of my way.

(EERIE MUSIC PLAYING)

(DOOR OPENS, CLOSES)

(INDISTINCT CHATTER)

Still very theatrical, but minimalist, like the Japanese, the “minimirasuto” style.

(TENSE MUSIC PLAYING)

LILLIAN: But he was being playful, right?

TED: Yes.

LILLIAN: I mean, let’s talk about the tacos.

It’s a dialogue. It’s playful.

(SLOWIK CLAPS)

I’m excited. We’re ready for our next course, which I think you’ll find…

Excuse me. But what the hell is going on here?

Would you just let me finish, please? That okay?

Thank you.

Ladies and gentlemen, please meet sous-chef Jeremy Louden.

(CLAPPING)

Jeremy created the next dish. It’s called “The Mess.” Originally from Sparks, Nevada, Jeremy studied at the Culinary Institute in Hyde Park. Jeremy’s goal, as he wrote in a heartfelt letter, was to work for me here at Hawthorn. Isn’t that right, Jeremy?

Yes, Chef.

(CLICKS TONGUE)

Jeremy is talented. He’s good. He’s very good. (SNIFFLES) (CLICKS TONGUE) But he’s not great. He’ll never be great. He desperately wants my prestige, my job, my talent. He aspires to greatness, but he’ll never achieve it. Correct, Jeremy?

Yes, Chef.

Like me at his age, Jeremy has forsaken everything to achieve his goals. Like mine, his life is pressure. Pressure to put out the best food in the world. And even when all goes right, and the food is perfect, and the customers are happy, and the critics are, too, there is no way to avoid the mess. The mess you make of your life, of your body, of your sanity, by giving everything you have to pleasing people you will never know.

Jeremy… do you like this life? This life that you dreamed about?

No, Chef.

Mmm-hmm.

And do you want my life? Not my position, nor my talent. My life.

No, Chef. (BREATH TREMBLING)

(KISSES)

Ladies and gentlemen, your fourth course, sous-chef Jeremy’s The Mess.

(CLAPPING)

(GUN FIRES)

(GUESTS SCREAM)

GEORGE: Fuck!

(SINISTER MUSIC PLAYING)

ANNE: Oh, God!

SOREN: What are you doing?

What’s wrong with you?

LILLIAN: The fuck is that?

That was a shock. I didn’t see that comin’.

SOREN: What the fuck, man?

SLOWIK: Please. Sit. Sit.

SOMMELIER: Everything’s fine.

SLOWIK: Please, it’s all fine.

What happened?

It’s just part of the menu. It’s part of the show.

It’s a show?

GEORGE: That’s a show? That’s not…

This is what you’re paying for.

GEORGE: That’s a stunt? (STUTTERS) What was that?

SLOWIK: This is an exclusive experience. Please just…

SOREN: What the fuck, man?

…return to your seats.

Thank you so much.

DAVE: Is he dead?

FELICITY: It’s definitely a squib or a packed…

Stay right there.

Can I invite you to sit down, please?

FELICITY: I’ve seen them use it before.

DAVE: It’s not funny.

What the fuck?

Is this real?

BRYCE: What is happening?

GEORGE: It looks so damn real.

LILLIAN: No, no, no. This is just theater, right?

SOREN: What the fuck are you talking about, lady?

He just fucking shot himself, okay?

TED: It looked very real, Lillian. Quite real.

This is… This is just theater. It’s stagecraft.

Is it really?

LILLIAN: Yeah. This is what he does. It’s part of the menu.

(TENSE MUSIC PLAYING)

Eat!

(GASPS)

Enjoy.

(SUSPENSEFUL MUSIC PLAYING)

Fifth course on order.

COOKING TEAM: Yes, Chef!

Tyler, what the hell is going on?

SOMMELIER: And here we have a biodynamic Cabernet Franc from our friends at Domaine Breton. It has no added sulfites, a bit of barnyard funk, and just a wonderful match with roasted proteins. Enjoy.

We’re leaving. Now.

(STUTTERS) But I have to get my wrap.

Forget your wrap. Get up.

But I…

ELSA: Mr. Leibrandt?

We’re leaving.

Is something wrong?

We’re leaving.

There is no boat to leave on.

Then I’ll call a helicopter.

That would be very difficult without phone service.

Fucking move.

Jesus. Just do what they say, for God’s sake!

I’ll handle this.

Just let me handle this.

With which hand, Mr. Leibrandt?

What?

With which hand will you handle this? Left or right?

What the fuck are you saying?

Shall we choose?

RICHARD: Choose what?

Very well. Left hand.

Ring finger.

Let me out! Let me out!

No!

(RICHARD WHIMPERS)

GEORGE: Come on. Come on.

Leave the guy alone.

What the fuck are you doing?

SOREN: Come on. Easy. Easy! Leave him alone!

GEORGE: Leave the old guy alone!

Mr. Leibrandt, please hold still.

(CLEAVER THUDS)

(SCREAMS)

(GUESTS SCREAM)

(SCREAMS)

(GUESTS GASP)

What the fuck are you doing?

ANNE: Richard!

(RICHARD CRYING IN PAIN)

Richard!

Please stay seated.

(RICHARD CONTINUES CRYING)

Please stay seated.

FELICITY: What the…

GEORGE: What the hell’s goin’ on? Get a doctor for him.

Do you need assistance finding your seat?

There’s a finger. The finger. There’s a finger right there.

The man is screamin’ in pain!

SLOWIK: Please, sit.

Sir?

SOREN: It’s not funny, lady! Jesus Christ!

It’s all part of the menu.

(LILLIAN LAUGHING)

LILLIAN: Oh, my God!

This is real, isn’t it? I can’t do it.

I can’t do a hostage thing. I can’t.

Then why don’t you go talk to him?

Go talk to him! Because you know him, right?

I made that up.

Why?

Because I’m a name-dropping whore. That’s why, okay?

(RICHARD CRYING IN PAIN)

ELSA: Your husband’s ring, madam.

Thank you.

You’re welcome.

LILLIAN: Ted. Ted!

I honestly think that this whole thing is just for our benefit. I mean, us. That’s why he texted me. And this is incredible. Right?

The acting is astonishing.

What the fuck are you talkin’ about?

Chef Slowik would like to see you in the kitchen.

TYLER: Can I come, too?

ELSA: No.

No, no, I’m sorry, but you’re all wrong.

(CHUCKLES)

Why are you doing this?

You’re just simply wrong.

What are you talking about?

Who are you?

Margot. My name is Margot.

I’ve served many Margots. You’re not a Margot.

No.

What the fuck does it matter?

It matters because this menu, this guest list, this entire evening has been painstakingly planned. And you were not a part of that plan. And it’s spoiling everything. In order to proceed, I have to know where to seat you. With us, or with them? It’s really… It’s very important.

And then you’ll let me live?

Let you live? No! Of course not. Can’t you see that that would ruin the menu? We’re all gonna die tonight.

Isn’t that right?

COOKING TEAM: Yes, Chef!

So, the question is, do you wanna die with those who give, or with those who take?

But I die either way? It’s arbitrary.

No, it’s not arbitrary. Nothing in this kitchen is arbitrary. Please pick. These decisions are important, and, uh, our menu is strictly timed. In 15 minutes, I’ll take a break between courses, and that is how long you have to decide. It’s our side or theirs.

(TIMER TICKING)

In the meantime, please return to your seat. The next dish is exquisite.

Plating in five!

COOKING TEAM: Yes, Chef!

I love you all.

COOKING TEAM: We love you, too, Chef!

(OMINOUS MUSIC PLAYING)

TYLER: Fuck! He offer you a kitchen course? All right, what was it? Protein or veg?

Protein or veg? Hmm?

God damn it. It’s not fucking fair. Why do you get a kitchen course? You smoke all day. Can’t even fucking taste it.

(BREATH TREMBLING)

BRYCE: We’re cornered. Let’s focus.

Wait, what’s the play here? What are our options?

DAVE: The door is guarded, but it could be a play.

BRYCE: Yeah.

Has anybody seen down the hallway if we can…

Hey, guys. We gotta do something, and we can’t be cowards. This worked in a movie I did called The Assault. When they bring their knives and forks, we just storm their kitchen, okay?

You think we have better knife skills than them?

GEORGE: What other choice do we have?

DAVE: I don’t fuckin’ know, man.

BRYCE: So what, then? We…

Fuck it. I’m gonna break this fucking window.

GEORGE: Yeah! Go for it! Go for it!

(YELLS)

(MUFFLED YELLING)

(YELLING)

Fuck!

Please let me help you back to your table.

Fuck.

I’m sorry, man.

(CLAPS)

God.

SOREN: Fuck.

SLOWIK: There’s a saying. “Sometimes all you need is a good cup of tea.” I learned that growing up in Bratislava. I’ve found that not only does tea cleanse the palate, but it offers a soothing balm when facing some hard home truths. But before we continue, are there any questions about me or Hawthorn? Any questions?

(COUGHS)

Is this bergamot I’m getting, Chef?

Yes, it is.

GEORGE: (CLEARS THROAT) Chef?

Yes?

Uh, I think I speak for everybody here when I say that, uh… I wanna know… I mean, we wanna know…

Why the fuck is this happening, man?

SLOWIK: Well, I’ll tell you. Think of yourselves as ingredients in a degustation concept.

What?

SLOWIK: A tasting concept. Figuratively speaking. (CHUCKLES) I think that is the best way to describe it. But none of this should be a surprise to most of you. Ms. Bloom. Lillian, if I may, my cherished early advocate knows the damage she has done to so many livelihoods.

No, no, no. (STUTTERS) Hang on, Chef.

SLOWIK: No, no, no. No, you don’t talk.

TED: I’m sorry, Chef. You submitted to an interview with Lillian Bloom.

SLOWIK: What? What?

And that interview created this restaurant.

SLOWIK: You enable her filth. You enable her filth. You buttress. You coddle.

SERVER: More broken emulsion, madam.

SLOWIK: You loved that I texted you an invitation for this evening. Me yearning for your attendance. (SCOFFS) Your ego was fed. But that is to be expected. And no, you’ve fed my ego as well.

Ten minutes, Ms. Mills.

Please. My… My husband needs to go to the hospital.

I’m fine. Just let my wife go.

My loyal regulars. How many times have you eaten here in the last five years?

I don’t know. Six or seven?

I think it’s more than that, Dick.

Eleven. Eleven times. Most people consider themselves blessed if they eat here only once.

(SIGHS)

Mr. Leibrandt, kindly name one dish you ate the last time you were here.

(CLICKS TONGUE)

Eleven times you take the boat out here where we introduce every dish every single time. We tell you exactly what we’re feeding you. Please tell me one dish you ate the last time you were here. Or the time before. One. Please.

(WHISPERS) Cod.

What?

Cod.

Cod.

It wasn’t cod, you donkey. It was halibut. Rare, fucking spotted halibut.

What does it matter?

It matters to the halibut, Mrs. Leibrandt. And to the artist whose work turns to shit inside your gut.

(CLICKS TONGUE)

I’ve allowed my work to reach the price point where only the class of people in this room can access it. And I’ve been fooled into trying to satisfy people who could never be satisfied. Starting with her. But that’s our culture, isn’t it? And my restaurant is part of the problem.

You say it’s your restaurant. But if we’re all just bein’ honest tonight, it’s not.

You’re right. Doug Verrick is my angel investor. He owns this island and this restaurant. And since Hawthorn is my entire life, I would have to say that Doug Verrick owns me. Except now things are a little more complicated, and I own Doug Verrick.

(LAUGHING)

(EERIE CHORAL MUSIC PLAYING)

(GROANING)

BRYCE: Oh, Jesus.

MARGOT: Oh, my God.

BRYCE: Holy shit.

SOREN: Hey, hey. How do we stop this, man?

No.

Okay? Just please just make it stop. Just fuckin’ tell us how to stop this. We’ll stop it, okay?

SLOWIK: You can’t stop it.

Obviously, we have money. Just say how much, and we’ll give it to you!

Just say a fucking number, man!

SLOWIK: No. I don’t need your money.

(DAVE WHIMPERS)

(GROANS)

He kept you open through COVID, you prick!

SLOWIK: Yes, he did. And he questioned my menu. He would even request substitutions despite the fact that there are no substitutions at Hawthorn!

Fallen angel, please.

DOUG: No! No, no!

BRYCE: What the hell?

SOREN: No. SLOWIK: Listen.

This is fucking…

I said, “Listen.”

DOUG: No! Julian!

SOREN: This is fuckin’ insane.

I said, “Listen.”

FELICITY: No…

SLOWIK: (SHUSHES) Listen.

SOREN: No, no. This is fuckin’ insane.

SLOWIK: No, I said, “Listen!” Just listen!

(GUESTS GASPING)

Yeah.

(MUFFLED SCREAMING)

Do you hear? And… And… under he goes, and… quiet.

(TIMER TICKING)

Do you hear it? Do you hear that silence? Listen, can you hear it? That silence means… I’m free.

(TIMER RINGING)

(FELICITY GASPS)

ELSA: Time’s up, Ms. Mills. Chef will speak with you now in his office.

(KNOCKING AT DOOR)

Come in.

You’ve made your decision?

I have.

And what have you decided?

That you were right. I shouldn’t be here. And I say this with respect, because I’m sure that you’re quite brilliant, but, um, all of this is not meant for me.

You’re not sure I’m brilliant, so don’t say it. It’s false.

Fine. I’m not sure that you’re brilliant.

Oh, I was expecting more.

Fuck you!

I guess I’m gonna have to make your decision for you. You belong here with your own breed.

And what breed is that?

With the shit shovelers. You thought I couldn’t tell? Oh, I know a fellow service industry worker when I see one. Mr. Leibrandt. How do you know him? You’ve been eyeing him all evening.

Well, I think you know.

No, I don’t. So, he paid for an experience. And I can tell, as one provider of experiences to another, that you don’t rattle easily. So, how did he rattle you?

(SCOFFS) He didn’t rattle…

Margot.

He told me to agree with everything he said and continue eye contact while he jerked off.

Wow. Specific.

Not really. Pretty unoriginal. What rattled me is that he told me to tell him that he was a good man, and that I was his daughter, and that he loved me, and I loved him and…

And so, he’s a romantic.

(SCOFFS)

No, I don’t need details. You know, I… I know what a bad customer is.

(OMINOUS MUSIC PLAYING)

Yeah.

Do you enjoy providing your services?

Yes.

Or I… I used to. Do you enjoy providing yours?

Oh, I used to, but I haven’t desired to cook for someone in ages. And one does miss that feeling. Come with me.

SLOWIK: (CLAPPING) Everyone’s so down! Ladies and gentlemen, for our next course, let us take the evening air! Come on! Outside!

SOMMELIER: Please, sir.

Come on. Outside, everyone.

SOREN: If we can find a boat, we can make a break for it.

SLOWIK: Regulars, too. Come on.

ELSA: Please follow Chef.

Chef, I’d love to talk to you very quickly, Chef.

SLOWIK: Come on!

SOMMELIER: After you, please.

Guests first.

(RICHARD GROANS)

ANNE: Richard.

SLOWIK: Follow me. Into the tranquil night air. Don’t be frightened. Nothing to be frightened of.

So, maybe there’s a spare boat somewhere and we can get out of here.

To what?

What?

Get out of here to what?

What the fuck are you talking about, bro?

We’re dead.

It’s okay.

No. We’re gonna die tonight.

Yes, we are. Yeah.

Yeah.

SLOWIK: Our next course will be presented by sous-chef, Katherine Keller.

Good evening, everyone. Three years ago, Julian Slowik tried to fuck me. I refused his advances. A week later, he tried again. And again, I refused. But he didn’t fire me. No. He kept me in his kitchen, and refused to look me in the eye or speak directly to me for eight months. He can do that. Because he’s the star. He’s the man. Our next course is called “Man’s Folly.”

(SQUELCHING)

(GUESTS GASP)

(SLOWIK GROANS)

(GUESTS GROAN)

(DRAMATIC MUSIC PLAYING)

I’m sorry.

(SLOWIK GROANS)

(GUESTS GROAN)

SOREN: Fuck.

To our male diners, we now offer you the chance to escape. You’ll be given a 45-second head start, at which point members of my staff will try and catch you. If they do catch…

(SOREN GRUNTING)

Okay. Forty-five seconds starts now.

(TIMER TICKING)

Hold this.

What?

I’m sorry. Come on. You know I’m awful.

TED: You’re a wonderful critic. (KISSES)

I’ll… I’ll send for help. First thing.

(CHUCKLES SOFTLY)

You, too.

I’ll, uh, leave you to it.

KATHERINE: Care to join me inside? It’s getting chilly. It’s right this way.

LILLIAN: Okay.

This way.

(DOOR CLOSES)

(TIMER RINGING)

Go!

FELICITY: Thank you.

ANNE: Thank you.

(TENSE MUSIC PLAYING)

(WISTFUL MUSIC PLAYING)

Mmm.

LILLIAN: This is fantastic. The tartness of the umeboshi and the waves of ferment. It’s rich, and yet it’s clean. It’s delicious.

Yes, well, there was a time that would have meant a lot to me, Ms. Bloom.

(SNIFFLES)

(SOBBING)

MARGOT: Mmm.

FELICITY: It’s so good.

ANNE: Yes, it’s really good.

MARGOT: Mmm-hmm.

You know, it’s the emoji for me.

Umeboshi.

FELICITY: Hmm?

Umeboshi.

FELICITY: Umeboshi.

LILLIAN: This is so good.

FELICITY: You’re very talented.

KATHERINE: Thank you.

Usually don’t like foam, but…

SOREN: Don’t fucking run next to me, bro!

BRYCE: No, you’re running next to me!

SOREN: It’s a big fuckin’ forest! Fuck off!

BRYCE: Get away from me!

SOREN: Fuck off, bro!

(TENSE MUSIC PLAYING)

Fuck.

SOREN: Oh, my God.

Yeah.

ANNE: So… You know my husband.

(SCREAMING)

(COUGHS) Um… Yeah. I do.

Right.

FELICITY: You can tell us. Are we all really dying tonight?

It doesn’t work if you live.

ANNE: What doesn’t work?

The menu.

FELICITY: Why not?

It needs an ending… That ties everything together conceptually. Otherwise, it just tastes good, and who cares.

LILLIAN: I mean, really, you should have your own place. Right? And I could help you with that.

I’m sure you could, Ms. Bloom.

LILLIAN: I could. I could. We would just have to talk about… (STUTTERS) (CHUCKLES NERVOUSLY) …the dying thing.

Oh, everyone dying was my pitch, actually. I’m super proud of it.

Anybody want any wine?

Yes, please.

LILLIAN: Fuck it.

ANNE: Thank you.

(WINE POURING)

(GROANING LOUDLY)

I heard a pop. (YELPS)

Fuck! Fuck!

(CHICKEN CLUCKING)

(GASPS)

SERVER: A special bite for the last guest to be caught. A little play on the Passard egg with crème fraîche and maple.

Enjoy.

Thank you.

Not that you guys give a single, flying fuck, but my name is not Margot. It’s Erin. And I’m from Brockton, Massachusetts… So there’s that.

(DOOR OPENS)

Party’s over.

SOMMELIER: Come, gentlemen.

Welcome back.

What did you get?

SOMMELIER: Sir? Please.

Excuse me. I’m sorry. I’ll take that. Thank you.

Ms. Bloom. Please.

Allow me. No, it’s fine. It’s fine.

Here.

Oh, God.

(DOOR CLOSES)

FELICITY: How’d you do out there?

I did great. I killed it. I’m the only one who got away. I’m sorry. I’m a fuckin’ failure.

It’s okay. I’ve been stealing money from you.

GEORGE: I know.

I know you know.

I wrote a negative recommendation to Sony.

I know. You cc’d me on it.

SLOWIK: Folks, I’m afraid our menu cannot continue as planned until we deal with an unresolved matter.

You.

Me?

SLOWIK: Mmm-hmm. You. Tell me why you’re here.

(GRUNTS) You know, because I wanted to…

Swallow first.

(TYLER GRUNTING, GULPS)

I wanted to experience your food, Chef.

And what were you told?

(TYLER STUTTERS)

What were you told ahead of time?

You told me it’d be the greatest menu ever created.

Right. And? And?

And that everyone would die.

SLOWIK: “Everyone would die.”

(GUESTS GASP)

SLOWIK: You had a date. I seem to remember you had a date. Not the young woman here tonight, so what happened to her? Your date?

She broke up with me, Chef.

So, you brought Margot.

TYLER: Mmm-hmm.

SLOWIK: Mmm-hmm. Why?

‘Cause you don’t offer seatings for one.

So, you hired her knowing she’d die.

(TENSE MUSIC PLAYING)

(BREATH TREMBLING)

TYLER: Yes.

You entitled piece of shit!

(GROANS)

I’m gonna kill you, Tyler!

(MARGOT GROWLS)

TYLER: Calm down.

(PANTING)

SLOWIK: You can’t blame her, can you? For the eight months I’ve corresponded with you, I gave you, Tyler, access to our world, hmm. And I swore you to secrecy. Why do you think I’d do this?

You wanted me here because…

Why? Why?

…you said I know a lot about food.

SLOWIK: That’s right. You’re not like the others, are you? I mean, you know what a Pacojet is.

Yeah.

SLOWIK: You knew what the bergamot was.

Yeah. I could taste it.

Yeah, you could. Yeah, I know, but you identified it. Picked it out.

Mmm-hmm. Right.

That impressed me.

Really?

Yeah, yeah.

I mean, you’re a cook.

Oh!

Cooks belong in the kitchen. Right?

COOKING TEAM: Yes, Chef!

SLOWIK: Yeah. Come with me.

TYLER: Really?

Me? Really?

SLOWIK: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I have something for you.

TYLER: (CHUCKLES) Okay.

Come here. Elsa has it. Ah, it’s a chef’s jacket.

(SLOWIK AND TYLER CHUCKLE)

Courtesy of Hawthorn.

TYLER: Wow.

SLOWIK: Mmm-hmm.

Ah!

Nice.

Thank you.

You look wonderful. Doesn’t he look wonderful, Margot? Doesn’t he look good?

COOKING TEAM: Yes, Chef!

Mr. Handsome Boy.

I’m gonna personalize the jacket.

“T, Y, L, E, R.”

Thank you. Thank you.

I’m proud of you.

Thank you, Chef.

Tyler, now cook.

What?

Cook. You’re a cook. So, cook.

Oh, I don’t know if I can cook here.

Cook. Cook.

Now? I don’t…

Cook! Go on, now. What do you need? We have everything.

ELSA: Please rise to observe the demonstration.

Don’t be frightened.

What do you want… Um…

Please rise to observe the demonstration.

SLOWIK: Everyone, please come around. Please. Tyler’s gonna demonstrate his culinary expertise.

Please rise to observe the demonstration.

SLOWIK: Everyone, please. Come around. Come closer.

What do you need?

Uh… Leeks.

Get the cook some leeks. Leeks. This is your station here. What else?

Um… Sh… Ah…

Oh… Shit? Would you like some shit?

No. Uh…

(STUTTERS) Shallots.

Shallots for the great foodie!

The phenomenal Mr. Food himself!

TYLER: Excuse me, I’m sorry.

Everyone gather around. We must learn from Tyler. This is a new dicing method of which we have been woefully ignorant. What next?

Uh… Butter.

Butter? Butter. Leeks and shallots sautéed in butter. I bear witness to a revolution in cuisine. Would you like a protein?

Uh… Lamb.

Lamb!

(CLASSICAL MUSIC PLAYING)

TYLER: (GROANS) Oh!

(TYLER MUTTERING)

(INHALES DEEPLY, EXHALES SHARPLY)

(PANS CLATTER)

Oh!

(PAN SIZZLING)

Oh, yeah. I think it’s done, Chef.

You think it’s done? You’re sure?

Mmm-hmm.

You wanna… Maybe you wanna jam it into the Pacojet.

No.

Mmm.

Wow. Wow. It’s actually quite… bad.

(BELL DINGS)

You are why the mystery has been drained from our art. You see that now, don’t you?

Sorry, Chef.

Come here, son. Come. Come here.

(INDISTINCT WHISPERING)

Yes, Chef.

And now you’re free, too.

Um, ladies and gentlemen, I wanna apologize to you all. What you just saw was not originally part of tonight’s menu. We strive for perfection, which of course does not exist, and that is a hard truth for me to accept, so please forgive me. Come with me.

SOMMELIER: And that concludes our demonstration. Please return to your seats.

SLOWIK: Listen to me. There’s only one more savory course left in our menu. That means we must prepare for dessert.

(SIGHS)

Dessert requires a large barrel that is supposed to be there in the corner.

(CHUCKLES SOFTLY) Do you see a barrel?

MARGOT: No. No, I do not.

SLOWIK: Neither do I. That is because my negligent colleague, Elsa, forgot to assign someone to bring it. So, Margot, you will fetch the barrel instead.

Me?

SLOWIK: Yes. You remember the smokehouse? Hmm?

MARGOT: (STUTTERS) Maybe… I don’t… Chef, perhaps one of us should…

SLOWIK: Margot is now one of us, Elsa. Right, Margot?

MARGOT: Yes.

Yes, what?

Yes, Chef.

Elsa, give her the smokehouse key.

Yes, Chef.

(KEYS JINGLING)

SLOWIK: Go. Go!

Um…

(SINISTER MUSIC PLAYING)

(DRAMATIC MUSIC PLAYING)

(BIRD SQUAWKS)

(RICHARD BREATHING HEAVILY)

(DRAMATIC MUSIC INTENSIFIES)

Excuse me. Uh…

(DRAMATIC MUSIC FADES)

(STUTTERS) I’m sorry, Chef. Sir… Sir Slowik. Um… Hi.

What’s up?

Oh… Well, look… What I really… I just wanted to say because, um… Look, I’m not trying to sound, like, all whatever here or anything, but I just don’t think it’s really fair. Maybe. (STUTTERS) If…

Do you wanna know why you’re being punished?

(HESITATES) Sure.

I saw the film Calling Doctor Sunshine, and I did not enjoy it.

Wait, sorry?

It was a Sunday. My one day off in months. The most precious day. The day where I was allowed to live. And I saw the film Calling Doctor Sunshine alone in the cinema.

But look, I didn’t direct it. I just acted in it.

The memory of your face in that film, and seeing you again now haunts me. Drives me. What happens to an artist when he loses his purpose? It’s pitiful.

No, you’re right. And what about her?

What school did you go to?

Brown.

Student loans?

No.

I’m sorry. You’re dying.

(SWITCH CLICKS)

(OMINOUS MUSIC PLAYING)

(SUSPENSEFUL MUSIC PLAYING)

(SWITCH CLICKS)

(SUSPENSEFUL MUSIC STOPS)

Motherfucker. Really?

(DOORKNOB RATTLING)

ELSA: No one is allowed inside Chef’s house. Do you think you’re special? You’ve disobeyed this rule. I take care of the customers so that Chef can take care of the menu. You’ve been a nuisance since you have arrived.

I’m sorry. If you don’t mind me asking though, why would you die for him?

You will not replace me.

Replace you? Trust me, I have no… (SCREAMS)

(TENSE MUSIC PLAYING)

(MARGOT SCREAMING)

No, no. No!

(BOTH GRUNTING)

(BOTH SCREAM)

(BOTH GRUNTING AND STRUGGLING)

MARGOT: Stop! Enough!

He didn’t tell me about the barrel. I didn’t forget.

(MUSIC INTENSIFIES)

(MARGOT SCREAMS)

(SQUELCHING)

Oh, my God!

(BLOOD GUSHING)

(CHOKING)

(MARGOT GROANS)

(PANTING)

(TENSE MUSIC FADES)

(SUSPENSEFUL MUSIC PLAYING)

(LOCK CLICKS)

(SWITCH CLICKS)

Oh, my God. (GASPS) Um…

(RADIO TURNS ON)

Hello?

ALL: (SINGING) Happy birthday, dear Bryce

Happy birthday to you

You told them it was my birthday?

Seemed funny about three hours ago.

Thank you.

Well, leave it there and take your seat.

(PANTING)

I want you to understand something, Margot. I am a monster. No, was a monster. And a whore. But tonight, everything I’m doing is pure. Egoless. And at last, the pain is almost gone. Chef’s hands. Asbestos hands. I can carry a cast-iron from a hot oven to your table with no protection. I can no longer be hurt, Margot. As Dr. King said, “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor. It must be demanded by the oppressed.”

Did he just quote Martin Luther King?

Yep.

Yes, he did.

(SHIP HORN BLARES)

What? I see you found our radio. Clear the dining room immediately!

It’s a boat!

Did you call someone?

(SIGHS IN RELIEF)

It’s a boat.

It’s a boat.

What? What are you doing? (GROANS)

(RICHARD GROANING)

GEORGE: Easy! Easy, there!

BRYCE: The fuck are you doing to that man?

GEORGE: Bro, easy with that!

SLOWIK: Tight, tight, tight.

Good.

You’ll be tempted to ask him for help. To plead, even.

No, no, no.

This would be unwise. He cannot help you. Ask yourselves two things. One, if you really wanna be responsible for the death of an innocent man. And two, ask yourselves, this entire evening, why didn’t you all try harder to fight back? To get out of here? Honestly, you probably could have. Something to think about.

SLOWIK: Good evening, Officer. How can we help you?

I got a report of a disturbance.

Uh, here? (SCOFFS) What kind of a disturbance?

OFFICER: A violent one.

Are you the owner?

I am the executive chef. Ownership changed hands recently, but that’s another story. Now, I don’t wish to be rude, but as you can see, we’re right in the middle of service.

Did anybody here call in a distress over the shortwave tonight?

(SLOWIK LAUGHING SOFTLY)

We’re not in the habit of serving our guests shortwave radios with their meals.

(COOKING TEAM LAUGH)

Hey.

Uh… Are you…

Yes, yes, yes. I am.

Wow. I’m a big fan.

Thank you.

Would you like his autograph?

(HESITATES) Uh… I don’t want to bother you.

No, no, no. It wouldn’t be a bother.

(STUTTERS) I just, I don’t have a…

SLOWIK: No, we have a pen. Let’s do it.

Yeah.

Thank you.

What’s your name?

Dale.

GEORGE: Dale. What’s up, Dale?

Hi.

You’re great.

(PEN SCRIBBLING)

My wife and I, we loved that, um… What’s it called? The one where you play the surgeon? Yeah. Calling Doctor Sunshine.

DALE: Yeah! Yeah, great stuff.

GEORGE: Here you go.

Thank you so much.

(CHUCKLES)

Okay. Um… Well, sorry again for bothering you folks. Uh, I’ll be leaving now.

GEORGE: For all you do, man, anytime.

SLOWIK: Well, thank you for your service.

DALE: Hands on your head! Everyone! Now!

No, no. You’re joking.

(ALL GASP)

You’re joking.

DALE: I am not joking, sir.

SLOWIK: Come on. Clearly, there’s a misunderstanding.

ANNE: Help us!

FELICITY: Yes! Yes!

ANNE: He wants to kill us all!

DALE: Back to your seats! Everyone! Back to your seat now!

SOREN: He’s fucking crazy!

Back in your chair now.

Silence! Everyone, back to where you were.

Sit down. Now!

Quiet!

It’s him! It’s him!

Him!

DALE: Everyone!

He wants to kill us all!

DALE: Do not speak! You. On your knees with your hands over your head. Now.

GUESTS: Yes!

ANNE: Thank you!

You are fucked!

Yes! Yes! Yes!

LILLIAN: Oh, my God!

SOREN: All these other fuckers are with them too, sir. Watch out.

DALE: Calm down!

Fuck you!

DALE: Stay calm.

Fuck you!

Nobody move until I say so. No one move!

No, no!

What are you doing?

GEORGE: Hey, hey, hey.

TED: Him, him, him!

GEORGE: No!

(GUN CLICKS)

SLOWIK: Thank you, Dale. Thank you.

(SLOWIK GRUNTS) Good job.

So, in a kitchen we all work together, or nothing works at all.

(BREATHING NERVOUSLY)

We work as a team.

You… Margot from Nebraska. You… You’ve betrayed our sacred bond of trust. And you’ve shown your craft to be careless. I was wrong. You’re an eater. You’re a taker. Like all the rest.

(TENSE MUSIC PLAYING)

Final course! Plating in five!

COOKING TEAM: Yes, Chef!

(INDISTINCT MUMBLING)

(GROANING)

(TENSE MUSIC FADES)

MARGOT: I don’t like your food.

What did you say?

I said I don’t like your food, and I would like to send it back.

SLOWIK: I’m sorry to hear that. What about my food is not to your liking?

For starters, you’ve taken the joy out of eating. Every dish you served tonight has been some intellectual exercise rather than something you want to sit and enjoy. When I eat your food, it tastes like it was made with no love.

Oh, this is ridiculous. We always cook with love. Don’t we?

COOKING TEAM: Yes, Chef!

Everyone knows love is the most important ingredient.

Then you’re kidding yourself. Come on, Chef. I thought tonight was a night of hard home truths. This is one of them. You cook with obsession, not love.

(SUSPENSEFUL MUSIC PLAYING)

Even your hot dishes are cold. You’re a chef. Your single purpose on this Earth is to serve people food that they might actually like, and you have failed. You’ve failed. And you’ve bored me. And the worst part is I’m still fucking hungry.

You’re… You’re still hungry?

MARGOT: Yes, I am.

How hungry?

Starved.

Well, what are you hungry for?

What do you have?

Everything.

You know what I’d really like?

Tell me.

A cheeseburger.

Yeah, we can do a cheeseburger.

A real cheeseburger. Not some fancy, deconstructed avant bullshit. A real cheeseburger.

Well, I’ll make you a very good, very traditional cheeseburger.

I don’t think you can.

I’ll make you feel as if you’re eating the first cheeseburger you ever ate. The cheap one your parents could barely afford.

Show me.

How do you like it?

Medium. American cheese.

American cheese is the best cheese for a cheeseburger, because it melts without splitting.

How much will that set me back?

$9.95.

That come with fries?

Niels.

Yes, Chef?

Is the fryer still on?

Yes, Chef.

Crinkle-cut or julienne?

(MEAT SIZZLING)

(ORCHESTRAL MUSIC PLAYING)

Hmm.

Mmm.

(CHUCKLES SOFTLY)

(MUSIC FADES)

Now that… is a cheeseburger.

Yeah. That is a cheeseburger.

Unfortunately, I think my eyes were a little bigger than my stomach.

Well, I understand.

Can I get the rest to go?

One moment, please.

(BELL DINGS)

One cheeseburger to go. And a gift bag. Thank you for dining at Hawthorn.

Thank you… for, um… For everything.

Before our final course, there is the matter of the bill. We’re on a no-tip system, so gratuity is included. And please enjoy your gift bags. Um… Some goodies in there. A booklet of our local suppliers, some house-made granola, one of Doug Verrick’s fingers, and a copy of tonight’s menu.

Oh! No, no. It’s on the magazine.

(EERIE MUSIC PLAYING)

(GEORGE SIGHS)

I told you you weren’t leaving.

So, once again, thank you for dining with us tonight. You represent the ruin of my art and my life, and now you get to be a part of it. A part of what I hope is my masterpiece.

(MELLOW MUSIC PLAYING)

(GUESTS GROANING)

SLOWIK: And now, our final dessert course is a playful twist on a comfort food classic. The s’more. The most offensive assault on the human palate ever contrived. Unethically sourced chocolate and gelatinized sugar water imprisoned by industrial-grade graham cracker. It’s everything wrong with us, and yet we associate it with innocence. With childhood. Mom and Dad. But what transforms this fucking monstrosity is fire.

Oh, God.

The purifying flame. It nourishes us, warms us, re-invents us, forges and destroys us. We must embrace the flame.

Jesus fucking Christ! Please.

(ENGINE STALLING)

(GUESTS GASP)

We must be cleansed. Made clean. Like martyrs or heretics. We can be subsumed…

(SPEAKING INDISTINCTLY)

…and made anew.

Thank you.

(SIGHS)

(ENGINE STARTS)

I love you all!

COOKING TEAM: We love you, Chef!

(ENGINE STOPS)

(SIGHS)

(DISTANT EXPLOSION)

(GASPS)

(SOMBER ORCHESTRAL MUSIC PLAYING)

(UNSETTLING MUSIC PLAYING)

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