A/N: The original opening has been added back. Enjoy.
July 24 1999
"I think," Uncle Vernon started in that pompous voice of his that generally suggest that what he was about to say should be taken as holy gospel, "that this is a terrible idea."
"I think," Aunt Petunia replied, tone just as pompous, ignoring the way her husband was looking at her, "that this is my decision. Harry needs to start contributing to this family and not be a freeloader."
The last phrase was said with a glare towards the boy in question as if he wasn't already doing the majority of their housework at the tender age of 5. Harry once again found the whole thing highly unfair but kept his mouth shut. He had learned his lesson a few month ago when he had wailed about Dudley getting the last piece of chocolate cake and received a solid tap on his head for his troubles.
"But can't he do something else?" Vernon – there was no other word for it – whined, "It's our food Pet. It's sacred. What if he does something freaky with it?"
"He won't," said Petunia, with the utmost certainty, "Because if he did, he will regret ever being born."
Harry doesn't tell them he already does regret ever being born because that won't do him any good.
"Alright," Vernon finally relented, seeing that Petunia wasn't about to give in no matter how much he protested. "He can cook breakfast tomorrow." He had said it with so much reluctance that it was as if accepting took a great effort on his part; as if he was the one who would be stuck doing all the heavy lifting. Harry resisted the urge to ask him why he was complaining since all he had to do was eat. He didn't though because Harry wasn't an idiot and really didn't want to end the rest of his afternoon locked away in his cupboard.
September 20 2001
"Tell me Harry, what does cooking mean to you?" Mrs. Lily asked, her smile kind and her words soft. She didn't sound bored or distracted like all the other teachers at P.C Primary school when they asked students about their likes and dislikes and actually seemed interested in his answer. Her eyes were twinkling slightly and she looked so happy to be there that Harry couldn't help grinning back at her.
And that was why she was his favorite teacher of all times.
Mrs. Lily taught Home Economics. Although the class wasn't technically supposed to be on the curriculum until high school but P.C Primary decided to do a tone-down version for its elementary division. Mrs. Lily was invited to teach it because she had been a chef before she became a teacher and knew her way around a kitchen. Harry had seen her cook when she did a demonstration for the entire class the first day of term and he had been mesmerized by the swift movements of her hands as she gathered up ingredients and combined them in to a truly delicious dish.
He had asked to have private lessons with her immediately after class. Although he had never really enjoyed cooking up to that moment but the idea of being able to do what Mrs. Lily could do entranced him so much that he was willing to learn.
Mrs. Lily had been surprised that a 7 years old boy like himself would be interested in something so…domestic as cooking but she was more than happy to invest some of her free time afternoon on Fridays to teach him some techniques she had assimilated during her stint as a professional chef. She taught him how to cut properly, how to hold a knife as to not hurt himself. But most importantly, she taught him what it meant to be a chef.
"Cooking is all about intent," Mrs. Lily would tell him over and over again, "If you put your heart and soul in to your dish, people will be able to taste it. That is the true difference between a chef and a master chef."
Harry hadn't understand then what she had meant so Mrs. Lily had simply smiled kindly and assured him he would understand with time.
Under Mrs. Lily's tutelage, Harry flourished. He learnt so much and so quickly that even his teacher was impressed. But most importantly, he was having fun. He had found in Mrs. Lily a mother figure who would nurture him and care for him. It was an entirely new experience for Harry and he was entirely grateful for her. So much that when her birthday came around, he was determined to bake her a chocolate cake knowing that it was her favorite, to show his affection.
Finding the recipe for the cake was easy but actually gathering up all the ingredients was not. Luckily the school had most of them already so Harry didn't have to go out and buy anything.
He poured his entire soul in to that cake, desperate to bake something that Mrs. Lily would love. He wanted to show her just how much her support had meant for him; how much she had helped shape his person.
The ending result was beautiful.
"Oh Harry," she gasped when he had presented it to her, "That's incredible. Let me take a bite."
Harry handed her a fork and she reached out to take a small scoop and put it in to her mouth. Her eyes closed as she chewed and she made a moaning sound.
"How?" She seemed to be at loss for words, gaping at Harry as if she had never seen him before, "How did you manage this? I have never tasted something this good in my whole life."
Harry shrugged even though he was a little bit incredulous himself.
"I put my soul in to it like you said," He replied, face a little red due to her compliments, "And that made all the difference."
9 years later, Castle opened its doors for the first time in NY, thanks to its owner Hadrian Potter and quickly rose in fame as celebrities and businessmen alike fell in love with it.
All the critics agree on one thing;
The food there was simply…irresistible.
J: Welcome back ladies and gentleman to another exciting episode of The Host, where we talk about the latest trends in the world of music, arts, technology and cooking. I'm your host Jane Lyn.
M: And I am your host Mary Camp.
J: With all that said, today's episode is a special one and do you know why Mary?
M: No Jane. Why is today so special?
J: Well, that is because we have a special guest with us; Hadrian Potter, Head Chef and owner of Castle, voted by more than 20 magazines as the number one spot to visit when you eat out, will be talking with us about his experience as a teenage – yes, you heard me - teenage business man and world renowned Chef. Please give a big round of applause for Hadrian.
Hadrian comes out.
M: Wow, you are young. How old are you Hadrian?
HP: I'm only 16. I had my birthday a few days ago.
M: Well, happy birthday! Did you celebrate at all?
HP: I did actually. Me and some friends went to Miami to celebrate; we actually rented out an entire hotel. It was an incredible experience.
J: Was it the Brickwell hotel?
HP: Yes it was. How did you know?
J: My cousin works there as part of the management team. He told me about it during one our weekly phone calls. But, he mentioned that the hotel had been booked under Bruce Wayne's personal name.
HP: It was a birthday gift. A little extravagant I admit, but I couldn't exactly refuse when he already did so much.
M: So it's true then; you are close friends with the CEO of Wayne Enterprises. How does that feel?
HP: Bruce may be rich, but he's really like everyone else. We met at a charity ball he threw a few years back. I was working for a catering company back then and he liked my food so much that he asked me back a few times. We became friends after that. I think he kind of adopted me as a little brother.
M: Does Mr. Wayne give you investment advice? I hear that his portfolio is quite something.
HP: Oh god no. Bruce may be good at many things, but he truly doesn't have the patience to play the stock market. His butler Alfred is the genius behind it all. But Bruce did give me advice on how to negotiate better deals with my suppliers. In addition, I'm not sure if you know this, but he was the one who give me the money to start Castle. He saw that I was wasting my potential slaving away at a company who only pays me minimum wage and offered me a chance to run my own restaurant. I moved to New York after that and Bruce had been there every step of the way.
M: And one year later, you are the youngest self-made millionaire in the country. That must be quite a change.
HP: It is, and I won't be humble about it. I worked hard to get where I am and I'm proud of my accomplishments.
M: And we as well. But talking about your accomplishments, how did you start in this field? Were your parents prodigies as well?
HP: My parents are dead actually. They died in a car accident.
M & J: Oh I'm so sorry.
HP: Don't be, it was a long time ago. After they died, I was put in the tender care of my only living relatives. I didn't grow up in a happy home; they already had a son of their own and only saw me as an additional chore. I hadn't been physically abused, but verbal definitely wasn't off the table.
M: Oh god, that's horrible.
J: What happened to those monsters?
Hadrian laughed a little at that.
HP: My home economics teacher – incidentally, the one who first taught me the joy of cooking – noticed my depression. I was only 7 at the time and was smaller and weaker than all the other kids. She had been a victim herself so could easily tell signs of abuse. She investigated and found out the truth. She called the cops on them and took me in.
M: Like Oliver Twist.
J: No, Mathilda.
HP: Yeah, a little like that. I was so grateful to her that I was willing to do everything to make her proud of me. Cooking was the easiest since she loved it and I turned out to be quite the little genie.
M: What happened afterwards?
HP: She fell ill when I was 12 and asked a friend of hers to give me a job so that I can support myself if ever something goes wrong. I started working at her friend's catering place while she stayed at the hospital. She died a few months later. I continued my job because I was still a kid with nowhere to go. I was 14 when the Wayne Enterprise job came. Mrs. Amy, the owner of the catering place, hadn't wanted to take me along because having a 14 years old cooking for her was bad publicity. But, I was adamant and she finally relented. Of course, my food had been a success at the function and Bruce Wayne himself found out that I was the one to have cooked it. He didn't seem to mind my young age and invited me back a few times. Last year, he made me an offer I couldn't refuse. He would fund the entire cost of starting up my own restaurant for a return of 20% of the profits. I wanted to do something else with my life so I took a big gamble.
M: And of course, that paid off pretty well. He must be happy.
HP: He is. I'm supposedly his most successful investment up to date; even Alfred couldn't beat him. Apparently, it made him rather insufferable.
J: It's always wonderful to hear a success story such as this. You deserve everything you've earned.
HP: Thank you.
M: Unfortunately, that's all the time we have for today. Hadrian, it had been a true pleasure talking to you. To see such success in someone so young inspires us all. You can definitely expect us to make a visit to Castle in the near future.
HP: Thank you. I'll be looking forward to your visit.
J: And that's it for today's special guest ladies and gentleman. Please give a warm hand of applause to Hadrian.
HP: Thank you, thank you.
M: Alright, after the break, we will be discussing the latest in the world of technology. Please stay tune.