I texted Gaspard from the Electro Company that I wasn't going to be making the competition. "PLZ RESCHEDULE ME." I had a real life Emerald Hill Zone I had to clear first. All the rings this time.
My first instinct with Torregrossa was that the name sounded Italian and that could mean the mob. Googling the name plus "mobster" kept bringing me back to the same result: Inchon Trattoria. It was a hot little Village restaurant owned by one Lee Torregrossa, a half-Korean, half-Italian chef. I knew the restaurant's name and a little more Googling turned up that Torregrossa was the second chef kicked off the 8th season of Top Chef. He tried to make a trio of melon. Never make a trio on Top Chef.
As the cab pulled up outside the restaurant I shouted with anger. Dammit, I cursed aloud, I shouldn't have crumpled up my paper with all the Top Chef references. This was going to be a goldmine.
The restaurant was just opening up for the day. It looked nice. Sort of like a bistro by way of Saigon. Pork parmiagiana banh mi and scallops bolognese written in chalk as the specials of the day. The hostess, in her slit-legged ao dai in green, white and red, was busy talking to the wait staff. I was able to sneak past and head for the back.
If Torregrossa was around he might be dangerous. As I passed into the hot clamor of the kitchen I took out my iPhone and slid my finger to the icon for my emergency whistle app.
I felt like Indiana Jones in the Temple of Woks, navigating tight spaces filled with swarthy characters wielding clanking tongs and hissing bowls of steam. Were any of these guys the Rey Mysterios that ruined my shoes with their dip spit? It seemed likely. How many kitchens in this city could have all Mexican cooks? They ignored me as I crept past. I could see the door to the back office. Almost there...
The cry startled me and I triggered my emergency whistle app. Instead of the shrill defensive screeching I had expected I heard the growl of my BidBear app. I had unwittingly placed a $400 bid for the Ghanan folk painting poster of Chevy Chase's Funny Farm. It depicted a giant skull painted onto an egg and a black man fighting a snake with two Uzi machine guns.
I turned, ready to deploy my second line of defense, to find Torregrossa approaching. He was scarcely more than four feet tall.
Torregrossa's restaurant had one Michelin star and 4 stars on Yelp. It was a good business, but no way was Torregrossa twisting arms with a heavy-hitter like Mulwray. The only way to find out how he was involved was to ask. And I was in the mood to ask rough.
"Hi," I said. "My name is Dennis, uh, Themanus and I, uh, am from the New York Newspaper. I wondered if I could ask you some questions about your restaurant. Please."
He showed me to his office. He paced and scratched at the back of his neck with his child-sized hands. Once the door had closed I really laid into him.
"I was hoping you could give me a little bit of information about your involvement with Hollis Mulwray."
"Mulwray?" His eyes went wide. "I heard. I can't believe he's dead."
"He's really dead. His body was gross. But I need your help in finding out who killed him. If you want justice."
He appeared to consider my offer.
"You're going to write an article about this?" he asked.
"Yes." So long as he considered a tweet an article I wasn't lying.
Maria Mitchell is shown holding a telescope to each eye, using them to ogle passing hunks on the street below. OOOGA! Her tongue rolls out like a firehose, her eyes comically bulging through the ends of the telescopes.
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