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Devil's Recipe

Early 1990s: London based food celebrity Paul Curzon and his friend Tony hear an old hotel in a great location is up for sale.
Tony brings in contacts, including a financial backer, the charismatic Lady Fiona Snaples, to put a successful business and catering package together. Paul is to be the figurehead to develop a top gastronomic destination working with the financial directors. They enlist staff including the sexily provocative Frieda, and take help and advice from locals who appear friendly. But as things progress Paul is made aware of some old local legends. Retired and slightly batty History Professor relates a tale that explains why some people in the area become twisted and envious. But is his warning too late? Gradually the team's position and trust is undermined, something they cannot understand. They strive to demonstrate organisation and culinary ability, yet does the pettiness and jealousy relent?
Three years earlier the protagonist Paul was part of a television series set around the coastline with one part filmed on the beach where he has come to rekindle an old friendship.
There is a communion of more than bodies when bread is broken and wine is drunk. M.F.K.Fisher
Paul meets his old friend Tony and they look at the hotel.
I would forgo four or five meals for one... he sets standards by which all others must be judged. Richard Binns
Paul links up with the potential financial backer Fiona and things seem positive.
CHAPTER THREE Hors d'oeuvres
The purpose is to stimulate the appetite not drown it… with tastes and textures that vary as much as possible. Robert Carrier
Fiona's accountant Bill and cronies, including Mervyn, meet in a seedy bar and discuss Paul
CHAPTER FOUR Le sauteuse
Ambition is like choler; which is an humour that maketh men active, earnest, full of alacrity, and stirring, if it be not stopped. Francis Bacon
Paul travels to Wales; the hotel is purchased. Paul meets Tony's partner Hilda and her friend feisty Frieda.
CHAPTER FIVE Mise en place
Every great event in history has been consummated over a banquet board. Brillat-Savarin
Paul visits an old friend Joel who tells him to ensure his agreement is watertight.
CHAPTER SIX En cocotte
The encouragement of fine food is not greed or gourmandise; it can be seen as an aspect of the anti-pollution movement in that it indicates concern for the quality of environment. Jane Grigson
The take-over of the hotel is filled with enthusiasm and ambition.
CHAPTER SEVEN First degustation
He is a cook of great imagination and intelligence, which is rather rare in his profession. He realized that if one has arrived too late in a world that is too old, one can no longer 'invent' cuisine; one must rediscover it, recreate it! Robert Courtine
Bill finds Frieda highly arousing; he niggles about Paul's audacious style.
What a pity you didn't turn up an hour before supper, and see the labour, the drudgery, and the imagination that made your pleasant evening. Alistair Cooke
A St David's Day feast is a success and Paul greets many of the locals, and the pushy local artist Melanie.
CHAPTER NINE Blanquette of savours
A man that hath no virtue in himself ever envieth virtue in others. Francis Bacon
Huw, another old friend arrives and agrees with Joel's sentiments and he enthuses over his vision of the redesign.
CHAPTER TEN Trou Normand
A verbal agreement isn't worth the paper it's not written upon. L.B.Mayer
The first signs of disagreement over design with Bill and his colleague Mike.
CHAPTER ELEVEN Courquignoise
My business partner has a passion for money that is virtually a sickness. I am constantly being embarrassed by it. Groucho Marx
A repeat of a TV programme Paul made several years earlier sees the bar packed with admirers; there is further quibbling over plans.
CHAPTER TWELVE Elusive veloute
There is nothing more exhilarating than to be shot at without result. Churchill
Builders start; Mervyn gradually interferes with routines; Freida banks money into a wrong account.
CHAPTER THIRTEEN Simmering court bouillon
Even the most perfect raw material can be enhanced by skilful blending with other flavours that will develop its subtleties and draw out its delicacy. Robert Carrier
Mervyn is attracted to Frieda; Paul's cooking is a great hit with diners and Mervyn shows his envious side.
Chapter FOURTEEN Reducing the stock
Although modern opinion might be right in its lower estimation of the merits of its flesh, there is none the less a certain special sensation which its consumption affords to the imaginative diner who is aware of its habits and antiquity. Alan Davidson
Old Henry has become more of a regular and observes the interference and feels he must warn Paul.
CHAPTER FIFTEEN Deglazing the pan
Cooking is an art and its appreciation, therefore, is governed by the law which applies to all artistic appreciation. W.H.Auden
Meddling is creeping in making Paul unsure of his position for he has yet to secure his contract.
The principle fruit of friendship is the ease and discharge of the fulness and swellings of the heart, which passions of all kinds do cause and induce. Francis Bacon
Paul visits Henry who relates how myths and legends are tied into the area and the nearby town's history; he tells the story of the local devil and why it makes many people bitter and envious.
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN Zest to the escabeche
Of what use is a golden cup if the wine in it be sour? Proverb
Provocative Frieda rouses the lust in Bill who continues to evade issues with Paul; Mervyn continues to stir.
There is no better way to moderate suspicions, than to account upon such suspicions as true, and yet to bridle them as false. Francis Bacon
Bill puts Frieda in more control that causes unrest with staff and customers. He insinuates Paul and Frieda resigns.
CHAPTER NINETEEN Masked with sauce.
Few of us can honestly admit that at some time in our lives we have not swanked, gastronomically. M.F.K.Fisher
Secretary Stephanie arrives and there is more sniping from Mervyn and Paul falls into a trap to employ a manager.
There is only one thing worse than fighting with allies, and that is fighting without them. Churchill
Paul rallies support from another friend Wynford while the others manoeuver further to undermine Paul.
Every butcher has won an award for his sausages and ours are no exception. John Sullivan
A successful evening with locals is marred by Bill and Mervyn's presence.
CHAPTER TWENTY TWO A brandied poivrade
Passion, here at least, means the height of emotional play between the two sexes ... two people who know enough, subconsciously or not, to woo with food as well as flattery. M.F.K.Fisher
Manager interviews are rigged by Mervyn; Paul and Stephanie, caught in a storm while out walking, become close.
The sculptor's work lives almost for ever, the writers for at least six months sometimes, but the cook's is destroyed in an hour and forgotten as the sounds and smells of the next meal make themselves apparent. Stephen Lister
On two day's break Paul finds the 'devil' in an old antique shop cellar; he returns to more intrusions from Mervyn.
There are some creatures of whom one could say, without gross exaggeration, that all they need for their trade is a tin opener and a water tap. Raymond Postgate
Manager Greysham arrives and he is impressed with Paul's cooking which annoys Mervyn.
It is precisely the sort of dish I like: simple, hearty, yet carefully conceived, refined, and ennobled by the chef's creative intelligence. Robert Courtine

When you have to kill a man it costs nothing to be polite. Churchill
Planning a mega party for a wealthy local couple Paul is further frustrated but rises above it with positive planning.
Gluttons exaggerate the importance of food, but it is the hypocrites, the cranks and the poseurs who belittle the part food plays in our lives. Stephen Lister
During preparations for the party Mervyn blocks food orders and introduces a cheap new menu.
His policies, such as they are, are conceived in hate and illiteracy. Alistair Cooke
Greysham begins to stir with questions over the licence and orders. Huw arrives in the disarray and tries to help.
The invention of a new dish adds more to the happiness of mankind than the discovery of a star. Brillat-Savarin
Paul's determination triumphs and the party is a success; then Melanie's artistic show is messed up to Paul's annoyance but amusement of many guests and gloating from others.
Once it has located its victim and attached itself thereto glands secret a substance that inhibits clotting the effects are invariably fatal. Alan Davidson
Paul discovers they have turned Fiona against him then realises the extent of Frieda's infidelity and feels isolated.
... the mysterious appetite that often surges in us when our hearts are about to break and our lives seem too bleakly empty. M.F.K.Fisher
Paul remains philosophical and optimistic then does he achieve some unexpected revenge?
The End
C D Pressdee has also published a very different novel
Reflections of a Vampire
The sinister travelogue of two Edwardian young men who are transformed into vampires on an expedition to the Amazon rain forests. They face many confrontations and fleeing adversity they travel across many countries over forty years, arriving back in Britain in the swinging sixties…
DEVIL'S RECIPE and Reflections of a Vampire by C D Pressdee
Both are available from - C D Pressdee - as paperbacks or to download Kindle edition