July 16th, 2014
I love to cook. I love to watch cookery shows, read cooking magazines, collect cook books and buy an abundance of useful kitchen oddities to work with while I cook. My figure isn’t perfect; I’m not obese, but it’s also obvious that I enjoy food. I spend hours surfing the web for anything related to cooking.
That is how I came across the Chef McNeff website – an amateur cook (with a slightly corny name) making and publishing his own cookery videos. If I can be called fat then this guy is HUGE. He eats a lot more fat and meat than any other human being on this god forsaken planet, that’s for sure.
Let’s start at the beginning – I don’t really dig reading stories backwards.
I studied Catering in High School, and then took a small course in it after I graduated. I never became a super chef. I’m actually just a cook in a local fish and chip shop, but personally fried food makes me wretch, so after dipping fish fillets in a deep fat fryer for 7 hours every day I go home and make a roast, or a hearty stew and dumplings, to delve into.
I am young and I know that it’ll take a while to work my way up the career scale; cooking is a competitive industry, and you really need skills to stand out, but I still aspire to be a head chef in a nice 5-star place someday. That’s why I spend pretty much all of my spare time researching into, and practicing, the art of cookery. I like all the more well-known chefs – Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsey, Nigella and so on. But there’s also something to be had from looking at small time cooks, mostly just working through Youtube with homemade videos.
Jona Mcneff came under my brow when I found a review of his website -probably a fake- completely honouring it. I typed the web address into my internet and was greeted by a cheerful, professional looking page, insisting that I subscribe to watch the videos uploaded onto it.
There was no access to the videos without a subscription.
With the review in mind, I signed up eagerly, having already many sites sending me emails with updates on cooks I was following and latest newsletters and such. It asked for my name, age and access to my IP address – something that I usually allow knowing it might help the web creators find out something useful about their users, which might improve the site in future. At least… I think that’s what it’s for. I didn’t think at the time! All I wanted were the videos. Websites are normally harmless, really.
So I subscribed. I created an account. I logged in. The videos, where they were absent from a barren screen, now swamped my page with frozen frames of a jolly, red faced fellow fitting all general stereotypes of passionate cooks. Sickly, he even wore the white mushroom hat. There was nothing suspicious about it.
Something flashed at the top of my screen, where before an advertisement for some local gardening shop had been silently playing out. It read, in a purple ringed box with elegant brown inscription “LIVE stream!” A live channel? This was only briefly mentioned in the review, but was still definitely worth a look while it was there.
I clicked on it, and it directed me to an equally as white and cheerful looking screen, filled with the moving pictures of the video. It was just beginning. The camera was zooming in slightly – shakily, as often home videos are. The setting was a fairly ordinary kitchen scene, with clean table tops surrounding him, a surprisingly large looking stove, plenty of lighting and sheets, covering things to keep them clean. The stereotypical fat chef stood with a pearly white coat and a cleaver. He beamed. It was almost as if he was smiling right at me… looking at me through the screen.
His musical voice erupted out of my speakers with a naturally jovial, likeable tone. “Hullo! Welcome to cooking with Chef McNeff! This is a long running show, approaching its third anniversary next month – thank you for subscribing! We do love subscribers.” A fairly typical intro. He continued, a chubby finger running along the cleaver’s sublime edge: “Today I am going to teach you how to make a three course dinner for one. The first course will be a thin but filling meat soup with fresh bread and cheese. The main course will be a perfect lasagne, with a traditional Italian twist. The pudding – always my favourite bit – will be a special red cake, full of spongy sweetness!” Lasagne? Soup? Both pretty simple dishes, but I supposed then that every chef has his own twists to even the most basic of recipes. The red cake was also intriguing. Did he mean red with fruits? Or perhaps it’d be a savoury creation, full of red peppers? Either way, it interested my studious mind to give it a go.
I listened to the video further, the “LIVE” button all the while flashing in the right hand corner of my screen. The chef began to play with ingredients on the table, still out of my line of sight. “I believe that the quality of my ingredients is what makes or breaks a meal of mine. That’s why all of my ingredients are fresh and free range – and I would encourage you to follow suit!” he said, stepping back. This seemed to be a cue for the camera to move downwards slightly, to allow the viewer sight of the ingredients neatly arranged on the table.
This… is where things became terrifying.
Shit. Holy shit… that was the first thought that came into my head. Just… holy fuck. It makes my eyes water to think of it now. Human body parts… actual human body parts, were littered across the marble surface, arranged in chaotic tidiness. An arm and a leg had tissues beneath them, as to not bloody the workspace, and were arrayed next to each other on the table’s far right. In the front middle were bowls of random organs – eyeballs, chunks of heart and probably some brains. The far left hosted some clear jugs of thick red liquid that left little to the imagination in regards to their contents. But what was most alarming was the continuation of the chef’s professionally calm composure. He went silent for a small moment, just smiling still with that pleasant face, polishing his cleaver with a cloth; giving his viewers time to take things in. After an appropriate while, about when I slunk back into my seat, he increased his smile – looking like the perfect television presenter. “For the soup, take a piece of meat. It can be tough, we shall pound it first.” He picked up the arm. It could have been a child’s arm. “Cut along the flesh and skin it. Place the skin aside as this can be used later. Remember: waste not, want not, my fellow chefs!” I was intrigued but horrified as he proficiently sliced down the arm and plucked at the fringes of its skin, peeling the leathery coating off. Next, with loving care, he cut the meat from the bone then dumped the bones in a bucket that was shoved under a table. I should already have called the police by now, but I wasn’t sure if what I was seeing was real, or some kind of awful joke. The chef continued, “Pound the meat with a hammer.” Out came the hammer. Thud. Thud. It was smothered against the table, flipped round, then pounded again. Thud. Thud. Already, it began to look like a long and stringy pork slab. Except for the still whole, white hand attached partially to the end. The chef noticed this too and swiftly removed it with his cleaver. “We don’t want that there. Now… cut up the meat… like so.” Hack, hack, hack went a carving knife. “Put it in a pot – I prepared one earlier.” Plop. Splosh. “Bring it to the boil, then add some extras for flavour.” One of the jugs from the left end of the table went tumbling into the pot. This was obviously the meaty soup.
The first course went on this way, then he turned to another counter, after ladling strings of gunk into the pot, where he made the lasagne in the same way. Ground meat. Fat. Pasta made out of tough… skin. I wanted to retch. It was completely VILE. But somehow, curiosity held me to my chair.
The same curiosity that killed that cat.
The pudding was the worst bit. By the time he came round to it, he had already coated himself in red. His white jacket was now just a slime jerkin. A number of cooking tools looking more like surgical armaments were scattered in a mess about the place. The pristine appearance of the kitchen from the beginning of the show was desperately faltering. But the chef’s pleasant smile still remained, preserved timelessly. “All this work makes me hungry, but there’s no time for eating just yet. Now it’s time to make the sweet red pudding!”
A cacophony. That is the only way to describe the ingredients that went into that pudding. It could be mistaken for trifle. But what a disgusting trifle it would have been! Using bones, he casually told the camera, the chef had earlier made gelatine. He coloured it red with… well. You can probably guess. He made a foamy top out of crushed… eyeballs. He salted and sugared it all excessively, then popped it in his large oven to “bake”. I did not want to see the end of the video, where he would create sides, compliment his previously made dishes and taste them. I scrolled down, finding not a single comments section, though plenty of other videos, viewing them completely in a distant light now. The video was still playing in the background. I was too numb to stop it: completely flabbergasted. The other videos had titles like “hand crafted sausages”, “long pig roast”, “honey ribs” and “delicious suet”. I clicked on one, it immediately opening in a new tab and playing upon loading. Human intestines. Smashed, human belly fat and meat. Pressed… pulverised… made into sausages. Bile started to choke me. Another: ribs, being literally ripped out of a woman’s chest. Thank God she wasn’t alive. My head began to swim, I felt as if hands were clawing at my throat: tears burned my eyes like acid. Disturbed, I made to close the window, closing the tab and finding… the Live stream still running. And the chef looking deadly serious at me. At his camera, rather. But it really felt as if he was looking at me-
He was.“Ashley Barnes…” he softly said my name. The crooked man in the screen said my NAME. “Ashley… please pay attention. It’s rude not to listen to someone else’s demonstration.” I froze in my seat.
I did not move an inch. Even my breathing seemed to stop. My heart fluttered like a butterfly caught in a glass jar.
And then… I heard the groaning. It was quiet, but without the chef’s butchering and cheerful nattering I could pick it up now. Feeling, somehow, part of a conversation, I quietly asked, “what… is that?”
“My next batch of ingredients.” The chef calmly replied. My eyes bulged. That’s when I looked at the camera inbuilt to my laptop. The little light indicating that it was on glowed gently. He was filming me. I was being watched, as he was watching me.
He was watching me.
I closed my internet down. I shoved blue tack onto my camera lens. I sat and took deep, shuddering breaths. Fifteen minutes were spent watching that creep chop away at arms and legs and other bits and pieces I would rather have only ever seen on a living, breathing human being. I should have stopped the moment I first saw what had been placed on the table.
I am typing my experience down now. I often review videos I watch – I take note of the recipes, the techniques, what appealed to me the most and what I really wouldn’t do myself. This time I am recording in fear.
Because when I subscribed… I gave the website- him. I gave HIM my name. My IP address. He was watching me. His fresh batch of ingredients… where do they come from? I am sweating like I never have done before. Only 20 minutes ago was that video last open. I have taken several pills and drinks to calm me since then, but none of them have started to work yet… will they ever? I need to move out of here. Before… something.
There’s someone at the door. Oh shit. I don’t want to open it. Maybe… maybe it’s just my girlfriend. My friend. My neighbour. But I look at the clock on the wall… 01:30 in the morning. Who the hell comes at this time of the day?
The knocking is getting louder, and now I almost know what’s gonna happen, but I don’t think I can believe it. How could he have gotten here so soon? Unless he was never that far away- shit. It sounds like a battering ram is at that thing. Please… please… I’m just going to upload this to Facebook, on my status, so my friends will see it, and my family, and anyone else. Share it. Let everyone know. Fuck. Fuck fuck. It’s going up now.