Author : Patricia Stewart, Staff Writer
“How can I be of service?” asked Sam Dixon, Private Investigator.
“I need you to investigate a major competitor of mine,” replied Donald LeDuca, of LeDuca’s Fine Eateries. “I assume you’ve heard of Marshall’s Restaurants?”
“Ahhhh, yes,” said Dixon with an enthusiastic smile. “I love their restaurants. The Avian Veronique is to die for.”
“Yeah, well, that’s the problem,” rebutted the annoyed LeDuca. “Since his first restaurant opened five years ago, my market share has dropped to 8%. He’s putting me out of business. I need to know how he’s doing it.”
“Maybe he’s got better cooks,” offered Dixon.
“No. That can’t be it. We’ve stolen each other’s CHEFS countless times over the last few years. It has to be something else. I think he’s adding drugs to his food. I heard he was some kind of doctor before he opened his first restaurant.”
“Okay, Mr. LeDuca, I’ll take the case. Have my secretary make you an appointment for next month.”
LeDuca returned one month later. “Please tell me you’ve solved the case,” he pleaded as he entered Dixon’s office, and then quickly added, “Hell, you look like crap.”
“Yes, I suppose I do,” agreed Dixon. “I’ve been having, uh, stomach issues lately. Please, take a seat. First of all, you were half right. Marshall is a doctor, but not a medical doctor. He’s a developmental biologist. He’s done a great deal of work with emu eggs; that’s a large flightless bird from Australia. By some kind of molecular manipulation that I don’t pretend to understand, he was able to switch on certain dormant genes in emu embryos. This caused the reemergence of certain “lost” characteristics that had been buried in the bird’s DNA. After years of research, Marshall was able to produce the genetic equivalent of a living dodo bird, which had actually gone extinct in the seventeenth century. The technique made all the news reports. Perhaps you remember hearing about it? No? Well, it doesn’t matter. Anyway, while performing a laboratory experiment, Marshall accidentally killed one of his dodos. On a whim, he decided to cook it.” Dixon shook his head slightly, and then shivered. “Apparently, it was quite tasty. Tasty enough, in fact, to persuade Marshall to open a restaurant. He got a backer, and started breeding dodos on an island off the coast of Mexico.”
“You mean he’s selling dodo meat in his restaurants?”
“Initially, yes. But, that was years ago. He continued to experiment with bird embryos and made remarkable progress. He reversed engineered dozens of other animals. In fact, all of his specialty items are meat from previously extinct species. Well, I guess they’re not extinct anymore, eh. As it turns out, they all have a very unique flavor and texture that people can’t get enough of. So, once you leak this information, I think people will stop eating in his restaurants.”
“I don’t know if that’s true,” relented LeDuca. “I don’t think people will be that upset because they’re eating extinct birds. I’m sure the Europeans ate dodos before they were extinct. What’s the big deal?”
Dixon pulled out a sheet of paper from his top drawer. “This information was Top Secret. Marshall didn’t even tell his chefs what the meat was. Let’s see, the Jambalaya is made with Archaeopteryx meat, the Medallions in Dijon Mustard Sauce is cut from Raptor thigh, and the Avian Veronique is made with Pterodactyl. God! That was my favorite. I can’t believe he fed me dinosaur meat! Frankly, Mr. LeDuca, I haven’t been able to keep food down in over two weeks.”