Cook/Chef

Enables the character to cook dishes of varying complexity with a degree of success determined by SL, and any talent he may have for it. The ability to cook should never be taken for granted; no one likes to trim the moldy rind off their cheese and chew old salted meat, dried fruit, and stale journey-bread all the time. This skill also includes making common snack-foods, refreshing summer drinks or warming winter toddies, common simple breads (batter-breads, muffins and biscuits, yeast and quick-breads), and familiar traditional cakes and pies. Brewing beer is a skill practiced by nearly every housewife, the staple drink in every commoner’s household, though not to the extent that the character is able to distinguish himself as a professional Brewer, unless he pursues that specialty. Though the art of making sauces and gravies is practiced as a trade in its own right in the gameworld, it is included here in the character’s Cook skill, anyway, though not to the extent that he is able to distinguish himself at it the same as a professional Saucer does, unless he pursues that specialty. The player must decide whether this skill was gained at home as part of a family tradition or personal character foible, or through some sort of apprenticeship, as a trade.

IF acquired by training at home, none of the specialty skills is available to the character, unless the parent should have happened to also be a Cook/Chef by trade.

If an apprenticeship is taken, and the player has the option of choosing the general Chef skill for the character, or one of the specialty skills such the Brewer, Vintner, Saucer, the Confectioner, or the Baker. The Brewer and Vintner specialties are fairly self-explanatory. The Confectioner specialty enables the character to make the grand dessert confections so loved by wealthy and noble feasters, fine, delicate pastries, sculptures of spun sugar, crystalized fruits, and enormous concoctions of fine cake, pastry, and candies to be paraded about the hall to delight the eyes as well as the taste buds, in addition to candies and other similar sweet bites. The Baker skill is required to make the finest breads and cakes, tortes, and soufflés and the sumptuous fillings, glazes and icings to go with them, special tarts, elaborate pies with light flaky crusts, and the like. The main distinction between Confectioners and Bakers is that Confectioners make fine, light pastries and sweet wafer treats, sculpting conceits of marzipan, and spun sugar, but don’t make pies or filled cakes, and Bakers make the more common pies and don’t make candies or candied garnishes or pastries/wafers or confection conceits. These can both be highly creative specialties, equivalent to taking the Artisan sub-skill under the Craftsman Trade. lf the character is a Craftsman-Artisan he is able to transfer that knowledge and skill to his effectiveness as a Confectioner, especially to his more fanciful holiday and special occasion creations.

The general Cook Petty Skill allows the character to practice any of these specialties except that of Vintner or Confectioner, but not to the standards expected of professionals, only to their own simple tastes, as more of a hobby.

At the player’s option, any of these specialties taken in lieu of the general skill, in which case it should be listed under its own name, not under the name of Cook. Taking a specialty in this manner limits the character to making ONLY those sorts of foods or drink covered by that specialty. Whatever the player chooses, the character may not cross over into the other fields unless he engages in a new apprenticeship in a new specialty, or otherwise finds the means to learn.

The Cook skill also encompasses the basic knowledge of every housewife in the common activities of pickling, relishing, jellying and jamming favorite types of fruit and vegetables and also canning all manner of sauces and foods. The character is able to “can” or “put-up” as much as he can secure materials (heavy pottery or glass pots/jars) and facilities to handle. The character must have lids for each vessel, and requires 0.25 lb’s of wax to seal each one. The containers used in canning should be no larger than 1 cup, 1 pint, or 1 quart in volume each. Once put up, the canned perishables can last (1 per 4 SL’s) years before their shelf life comes into play and they begin to age and then go bad. Once the seal is broken on a canned perishable its shelf life again begins to pass normally. Perishables such as those resulting from the Alchemist’s and Herbal’s arts may be canned in this way, as well as food items.

The Cook’s skill also includes the proper use and care of all the tools of his craft, how to keep knives sharper longer, keep them clean and oiled and rust-free, how to use and take care of a mortar and pestle, or a hand mill for grinding grain at home, and so on.

At the player’s option, the Cook may pursue a Weapon skill with the knives he uses in pursuit of this skill as a sub-skill. This allows the Cook to use any of the Cutting or Chopping knives used in food preparation, including the Carving Knife, Butcher Knife and/or Cleaver, in the Melee with no SL bonus to start with but without any non-proficiency penalty either, due to his familiarity and facility with them, BUT this is only in regards to attacking. Until the character reaches SL1 with the knife Weapon skills. The Cutting Blades and Chopping Blades should be treated as separate skills for these purposes. By playing with them in idle moments the PC can choose to develop a skill in throwing them as an Open subskill, if desired, as well.

Further, the Cook’s skills encompass the ability to salt, smoke or dry fish, meats, fruits, vegetables, and herbs for later use, in addition to the knowledge of skinning, cleaning, and the proper procedures of butchering, and dressing or trussing up animals from the carcass according to the needs for various dishes and types of cooking. It will also provide him with knowledge of the proper spices and herbs to buy or raise at home for use in his recipes for everyday, so the kitchen dooryard or courtyard can be duly ordered.

More importantly, this skill provides the character with some defense against the tricks used to cheat and pass bad stuffs for good at market when shopping for foodstuffs.

The costs for canning is 1 ha’penny per gill per pot/jar and 2 pence per jar for sealing waxes, plus the costs for whatever it is the character is canning (as applicable). The costs of the pots/jars is a one-time investment, after purchased they will only need to be replaced as broken, and the character will only have to pay for the wax, and perhaps the items to be canned.

When buying foodstuffs at market, especially when buying fresh produce, bread, meats, or any other foodstuffs, the Cook character is allowed an AWA check if he takes a moment to inspect and test the goods for quality and make sure he is not being taken advantage of by some Trickster, with a bonus based on his skill as a Cook or Chef.

The att. mod. to cook or clean an animal, or salt, cure, or put up jars of foodstuffs is based on the character’s CRD score, but to butcher an animal it is based on his STR and CRD scores.

GM’s Notes :

The DV’s for cooking vary with the type of fare that the PC chooses to try to prepare.

The DV for jellying, jamming, relishing, smoking, salting, and drying foods to preserve them for later is 1 for every (CRD ÷ 4) pots of jam or pounds of meat being prepared.

Standard laborer’s fare, or the sort of hot dishes that can be prepared from standard road rations will have DV’s in the “Piece of Cake” category.

The sorts of foods that can be found on the average craftsman’s dining table will have DV’s in the “Easy” category.

More sumptuous fare can range in DV from 15 to as high as 40 or 50.

The Cook himself should be allowed to choose the DV category for the recipes he prepares.

The DV for executing any given dish should be raised by 1 per 4 people to be fed by it. Where more than one skilled Cook is working on the meal, the checks for the success of the dishes should be made by those in charge of each, as the head Cook allots them. The time required to prepare a dish or a meal can be reduced by the use of semi- or un-skilled scullery maids and lads to clean and stir and turn spits and other repetitive, non-critical tasks, especially pre-work such as peeling and chopping vegetables and fruits.

The maximum number of extra sets of (un-skilled) hands the Cook may employ and over-see at one time is equal to (number of dishes being prepared).

In addition, a Cook/Chef may have up to (1 per LoA) skilled Cooks working under him, to a maximum of (CHA ÷ 4), whose LoA’s may not be higher than his own.

The DV for preparing an entire meal is equal to the DV of the most complicated dish to be served, plus the number of additional dishes to be served and plus (1 per 4) of the number of guests to be served

Under everyday circumstances when the character is making common fare, not going out of his way to impress anyone, whenever the AV is double the DV for a dish or more, or for the most difficult dish in an entire meal, the GM should just let him SL speak for itself, or let him slide with a single check for the entire meal. When the chips are down, as in a competition, or where his wares are to be for public sale or served to high-profile patron(s), especially for a special occasion or holiday, the GM should require a check for each dish.

The GM should see that the character who is serious about becoming a good cook collects, buys, and trades recipes and takes note of variants on standard recipes when travelling to other regions or foreign countries, he should consider granting a SP for each recipe the character collects, or especially for time spent interviewing other Cooks and swapping recipes with them, or eating out for the purpose of tasting the fare to determine if their cook has any knowledge he might benefit from. Recipes with DV’s of 15 to 20 or greater should be of particular interest, and is the most complicated and expensive to prepare.

The base cost for the raw materials for preparing each dish should be determined by normal market price of meat portioned on the basis of roughly 1 lb. per male and 1/2 lb. per female diner to be served in either meat or fish, or divided between a course of each, plus an amount equal to the DV in farthings per four diners for sauces, vegetables and side dishes.

This may seem steep, but some recipes will call for such things as gold leaf decorations, and such expensive spices as saffron (l0d. to 20d. for 4 to 6 threads!), cloves, mace (for a half-pound, 1.5 x as expensive as a sheep), and pepper (4d. or more per ounce), and the people of the period DO like their spices.

Whether or not the meat portions is sufficient to sate the diners is determined by assessing the [(modified) STA) ÷ 3] of the diners and multiplying by 0.25 as done in Appendix D. for determining the cost of Road Rations, the result is the pounds, to be compared to what the Cook has prepared.

The average meal in the average freeman’s house must consist of at least five different dishes, not including dessert. That is simply what the people of the medieval gameworld will expect. A fancy feast or banquet might consist of as many as 20 fancy dishes of various types. The usual fare in wealthier and especially noble homes will range somewhere in-between (10-15). Naturally, poorer folk is used to fewer, as few as two among the poorer serfs, probably a fair portion of vegetables and a bit of meat or fish usually about every other day to go with their bread and vegetables.

If there are to be a great number of dishes, it is assumed the diners is served far more than they actually need for dietary purposes, and in the wealthier houses it is assumed that every Good Wife will throw 5 to 10% of what was prepared out to the beggars at the gate, and most especially so in the noble houses who feel obliged to give 10-20% of the food prepared in alms at the gate for the poor.

In these cases, the base amount of food prepared is based not only on the STA of the diners, but also the household staff (though their fare is a great deal more simple, their meat NOT divided between multiple dishes or courses and their sauces and side-dishes coming to only 1hp. per 10 staff), and roughly 10-20% over what is needed is paid for and prepared, with maybe 5% held as leftovers for morning. Anything not eaten of it before the main (noon) meal is served would be thrown to the beggars.

Time to prep and execute a meal is equal to the DV in minutes, minus the AV in minutes

The time required for preparing an entire meal is equal to the DV of the most complicated dish to be served, in mileways, plus the number of additional dishes to be served and plus (1 per 4) people to be served in minutes.

From this is subtracted the Cook’s AV.

The time required to execute the recipes and menu the Cook character has laid out will then be divided by the (total number of LoA’s) of the skilled Cooks working for him, as applicable.

From the result, the number of (unskilled) helpers he has working for him (as applicable) is subtracted, in minutes.

 

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