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Renegade Chef: Is the earth really flat?

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I am at a food show in St. Paul. The Landmark Center is full of restaurant and hospitality people filing down long rows of vendor’s booths in order to see and sample the latest and greatest things the food industry has to offer.

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Attendees to these wonderful events vary to extremes. A pair of luxury-hotel executives join me in line at the first booth where two vendors share a table featuring fried chicken tenders and plastic cutlery.

They are followed by a hoity-toity chef adorned in a crisp, white coat with French words emblazoned on his breast pocket. Behind him is Barney, from the Greasy Pig, located in Hog’s Bladder, Minnesota.

The hotel execs wear expensive shirts and ties, their fancy jackets draped casually across their shoulders, as they bite into toothpick-skewered pieces of poultry product. The chef, who sports more medals on his chest than General Eisenhower, does the same.

They all grimace in disgust, so they apparently like it. So does Barney. Personally, I think the chicken and the plastic cutlery taste about the same, though the “spork” will eventually cause havoc on my digestive system.

Barney wears his jeans hung down low, for no other reason than the fact they are weighed down with more keys than there are doors in the entire town of Hog’s Bladder. Yes, he has a plumber’s crack and the wonderful aroma of a two-pack-a-day habit surrounds him like his own, personal cloud.

He obviously knows what he’s doing — no mere mortal would be trusted with so many keys, or his own cloud.

The next booth samples two more fried chicken products. They are right next to a booth featuring fried fish products, so I — always the comedian — deftly switch the samples.

“This chicken tastes fishy!” cries one of the hotel execs, as he spits his fried morsel into a napkin.

“Definitely not free-range,” says the French chef, as he spits his own morsel into the nearest trash-can. “And if it is,” he continues, “well, this chicken ranged freely with eelpout.”

“This is the best fish I’ve ever eaten!” cries Barney from the Greasy Pig, as he takes a bite out of his chicken nugget.

“It’s actually a new product called “ficken-chish,” I loudly joke, causing the chicken and fish vendors to call security. But they quickly change their minds when Barney signs up for eight cases of the stuff.

A bit farther down the rows, one of the vendors is swamped. He is a genius. He has in his repertoire, the greatest discovery since the concept of a round earth. It is a flat hotdog.

“So now you need to come up with a tube-shaped burger,” I say to the genius, who sports a “Global warming is for idiots” button.

“That would be pretty stupid,” he assures me, to the delight of his audience, including Barney, who buys eight cases.

To keep this story short, I departed the food show smelling like fried ficken-chish. But I also left with a bunch of new wisdom.

Global warming is a myth, the earth is flat — and so are hotdogs.

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