"This is Lobin Reach, and welcome to Lifestyles of the Infamous and Comfortable! I hope youíve brought your appetite along, because itís time to tempt your tastebuds with a visit to Baron-Administrator Lando Calrissianís kitchen here in Cloud City. While the superb restaurants and cafes of this magnificent resort city boast some of the most renowned chefs in the entire republic, even the most dedicated gourmet occasionally prefers the simplicity of a home-cooked meal and the satisfaction of doing it himself."
Lobin signaled his holocam tech to pull back from his close-up and pan around Calrissianís sleek, modern kitchen Ė almost as sleek as the man himself, he thought. The room bristled with a full array of the latest gadgets and a charming, if suspiciously artful, clutter of pots and utensils. Standing to Lobinís right and wearing an apron emblazoned with ĎLan Can Cook!í across the front, Lando smiled hugely as the camera focused on him. No doubt this fellow was aware of the value of publicity. Unlike that Jedi fellow...
"Welcome to my kitchen. Iím just putting the finishing touches on tonightís dinner, Lobin."
Flawless presentation and perfect cue-in; Lobin endured a momentís insecurity for his job. He showed his teeth as he smiled. "Whatís on the menu, Baron? Or should I say General?"
Landoís grin contained the exact mix of humility and prideful accomplishment designed to disarm him and put the audience at ease. "Oh, please, no titles tonight! Iím off duty. Call me Lando. And watch out! I might put you to work." Lobin sourly noted a masterfully timed wink aimed at the invisible audience.
"Iíve taken the liberty of preparing a meal for us featuring the favorite dishes of various galactic notables. For instance, this," Lando gestured toward the cooker unit, "is our first course, a soufflé of Krayt Dragon eggs from Tatooine. One of Luke Skywalkerís favorites, by the way."
Name dropper, Reach labeled his vic... host.
Grimacing inwardly, Lobin assumed a suitably impressed expression. "We recently had the honor of visiting the Jedi Masterís closet. Quite a unique experience, I must say." The frustration from that encounter was still a little too fresh for comfort.
Lando chuckled graciously, knowingly. "I donít doubt that at all." He lifted the fish-head cover off a tureen resting on the counter and spooned up a dipper of pale liquid. "Hereís our soup, a delicate blend of Naboese herbs in a Gungan-inspired Colo-Claw fish stock. Iím told it was frequently featured on the Emperorís table and was one of the few things Darth Vader was able to digest after his... accident."
Lobin discreetly cleared his throat and tried to keep from gagging. "Err, yes. And just what are those... things floating around in there?"
Landoís smile broadened into a smirk as he winked at the camera. "My secret ingredient. Chunks of Ice-Worm Tails from Hoth. Got the idea from Jabbaís chef when I went undercover on Tatooine to free olí Han from carbon freeze. Porcellus and I swapped recipes. Heís one hell of a good cook."
Lobin fell back on his extensive on-camera experience to save his expression from congealing into a caricature of unwelcome anticipation, although he was pleased to note his voice was perfectly steady as he encouraged Lando. "Sounds delicious."
Lando gestured toward a shelf containing a variety of cookbooks and videos. "Heís published a wonderful cookbook. Available at the unbelievable price of only 25 Credits from LanCal Enterprises. Or, receive his book, 100 Recipes for Hutts, entirely free as a bonus when you order the Wookan Chefs Video Collection--"
Reach interrupted hastily. This guy was taking self-promotion to a higher level. "Do tell me, what is the source of that tantalizing aroma?"
Lando frowned briefly, appeared to remember the camera, and recovered almost instantly. "You must be wondering about our main course." With a flourish worthy of a conjurer, he presented a large platter of beautifully garnished cuts of meat. "Rancor loin roast, marinated in vintage port for a full two weeks, seasoned with my own mixture of spices from Ďround the galaxy, thinly sliced to bring out the flavor, and garnished with fresh Ewok eyeóerr, Endor orbs and a classic Alderaanian orange sauce. Princess Leia swears this particular dish Ďis to die forí."
Lando leaned in toward the camera and winked conspiratorially once more. The cam tech grinned at the impudent gesture and Lobin knew he had a winning interview.
"Donít tell her I told you so, but I think this recipe could weaken the most determined of feminine resistance, if you get my drift..."
"What a masterpiece of presentation!" Lobin gushed, wresting control of the interview away from Lando. He eyed the elaborately decorated platter and tried to ignore his roiling stomach. "How do you carve the eyebaóahem, orbs into those amazing shapes?"
Calrissian positively beamed and all Reachís instincts hit full warning mode.
"Oh, nothing to it! I just used the special blossom attachment that comes with the Calamari Sushi Knife set, available from LanCal Enterprises for the low, low price of only 200 Credits. But if you order in the nextó"
"Is that a Corellian Spice Cake I see?" Lobin exclaimed desperately, hoping it didnít sound too much like a deliberate interruption. "Your prize-winning recipe from the í02 Corellian World Fair?"
Lando scowled and put down the platter, then appeared to again remember the cameraís existence, and poured on the high-voltage charm. "One and the same."
Lobin had to admit the charm was pretty dazzling close-up. "I donít suppose youíd care to share that recipe with our billions of viewers?" Soaked in Corelliaís finest whiskey and loaded with Kessel spices, Corellian Spice Cake was justifiably famous.
Lando visibly perked up, seemingly considered the idea, then abruptly blanched as much as possible for him and assumed a sober expression. "No, sorry, canít do that. There are some things that arenít for sale at any price. This is more than just a recipe to me, itís... itís a family heirloom."
A rustle of noise from the outer room intruded and grew louder. A golden droid, wearing an identical ĎLan Can Cook!í apron hurried into the room, eyes flashing deep amber to signify alarm, and jostled all three of them aside in his rush to reach the cooker, trailing apologies and distress like so much confetti.
"Master Lando! Canít you smell it? My soufflé is burning!" The droid needlessly donned a pair of cooking mitts before reaching into the cooker and pulling out a rather dark, crispy and rapidly shrinking concoction. "Oh dear!"
His souffle? Once Lobin received a thumbs-up gesture from his camtech, he contentedly stood back and let the drama unfold.
Calrissian recovered his balance and nervously brushed at his mustache. "Ah, Threepio..."
The droid, now recognizable as C-3PO, rather prissily emptied the ruined soufflé into a slot in the wall labeled "organic" and began to inspect the other prepared dishes.
"Master Lando, are you entirely certain that soup recipe is safe for human consumption? I still donít think you altered enough ingreó"
Landoís smile began to falter. "Iím quite certain. Itís been tested any number of times. Would you pleaseó"
"I do hope you havenít managed toóoh my! What are these in the Royal House of Alderaan orange sauce? Really, Master Lando, if my cooking doesnít meet your standards, Iíd appreciate it if you would tell me before I go to all that effort." The droid delicately picked up an eyeball and examined it thoughtfully before delivering the verdict. "Canned, not even fresh."
By now Calrissian appeared to be more than a little flustered. "Threepio!" That got the droidís attention and he turned to face Calrissian. "Would you go into the dining room and please open the wine?"
"Oh, of course! Let me justó"
Obviously affronted, the droid departed, but his querulous words were still clearly audible. "Well, I never! I just wanted to make sure you hadnít made any special modifications to Captain Soloís spice cake. You know how particular he is about his motherís reci--"
The closing door silenced Threepioís voice, and Lando smiled brightly at Reach, entirely unfazed.
"Sorry for that interruption. Now then, did I mention my new line of extra-strong coffee blends? Itís called Coffees from the Dark Side and is available..."
And this time Reach
couldnítíve cared less. He smiled. "Do tell, Lando."