The Case of Chef Diane
by Cathy Ornburn
Chef Diane laid sprawled across the kitchen floor of Di’s a trendy restaurant in Wheaton. A small bullet hole through her temple. As of a week ago, everything seemed fine in Chef Diane’s life. Di’s was finally beginning to turn a profit. The restaurant critic of the local blog had only positive things to say, bringing in additional business.
Five years ago after toiling under Chef Jake at his snobby Italian chophouse, Diane had said enough is enough and quit. Diane then opened Di’s with her business partner Peter Morris. Peter, a former Northwestern University football defenseman was using his business degree to make sound investments. Last Monday, Peter came to Chef Diane and wanted out of their partnership. Now that Di’s was profitable he wanted his money. He didn’t care if it was good for Diane or the business, he just wanted his money. Diane was unsure how she could stay open if she had to buy out Peter.
She hoped that she would find a comforting shoulder to cry on when she told her husband, Phil. But Phil took the opportunity to harp on the point he had been making since she opened. It was too much work and she was neglecting him. When the yelling reached a crescendo, Diane stormed out of the house and went to Suzanne’s condo across town. Suzanne had been her best friend since she was ten and had confided all her secret hopes and dreams over the years. But this too came crashing down on her. Suzanne professed her love for Phil and told Diane if she did not know how to treat her man, Suzanne certainly did. Now, five days later the corpse surrounded by local detectives was all that remained.
When Delightful Dining heard the news, they were horrified. DD had been coming to Di’s since she opened. The local news said the police believed it was suicide. The conversation around the Delightful Dining dinner table agreed that Chef Diane would never have killed herself. She had confided to Delightful Diner Becky that she was on tap to compete on a nationally televised chef competition show. Diner Tom, lover of mystery novels was certain that he could discover the truth. Diner Mary, an avid viewer of Murder She Wrote offered to help Tom discover the truth.
The next morning, Tom and Mary stopped by Chef Diane’s restaurant. The police were gone, so they tried the door and found it unlocked. The kitchen was cold and empty. The only indication something terrible occurred was a small red smear next to the refrigerator. Tom noticed something shiny peeking out from under it. It was a unique looking turquoise stud earring. Mary was studying a photo on the wall when Tom showed her the earring. She pointed to the photo and they knew who the killer was.
Tom and Mary were standing with Police Detective Bill Johnson in the restaurant foyer. Chef Jake was vehemently denying that he killed Chef Diane. Tom held out the turquoise stud earring, he and Mary had found. Jake stared at it in disbelief but continued to deny anything to do with the murder. Mary brought out the photo she had found on the wall of Chef Diane’s kitchen. The photo taken at Chef Diane’s restaurant opening clearly showed a smiling Jake hugging Diane while he was wearing the very earring Tom held in his hand. Jake finally broke down, telling them he was also in the running to compete on the same television show as Diane. He needed the win and she was in his way. Detective Johnson cuffed Jake and pulled him toward the squad car. Tom and Mary had quite a story to tell at the next Delightful Dining Dinner.