*This encounter would serve to challenge your party’s creativity rather than their combat abilities.
While walking in a more upscale district of [Name of City], have your party overhear a man sobbing and cursing in an alleyway behind a building. If you approach him and ask him what’s wrong, he will first give some vague, overdramatic answer like “my lifelong dream is as good as dead…that’s what’s wrong.”
Trying to comfort him will cause the sniffling young man to wipe his eyes and apologize for his rude behavior. He will then introduce himself as Isidore Igname and tell you that he’s an aspiring chef about to launch a soft open for his upscale, fine-dining experience “La Taverne.”
Unfortunately, due to an error in orders, he did not receive the assortment of vegetables, meats, fruits, and breads that he had requested. Instead, he has received crate upon crate of potatoes: red potatoes, brown potatoes, sweet potatoes, fingerling potatoes, etc.
He is now woefully behind in his food prep and completely unprepared for his guests who will be arriving in an hour to experience a x-course meal (set the number of courses equal to the number of party members). If you choose to help him in the kitchen, he will be skeptical of your culinary abilities but desperate enough to try anything.
Turn Up the Heat
Once in the kitchen, your party will find a variety of things like spices, herbs, some miscellaneous food items like onions and garlic, but little else. Well, little else except for barrels upon barrels of different potatoes.
To complete this mini-game of sorts, each party member will be responsible for designing a different dish. In general, each dish should have a “purpose” in the fine dining-experience: soup or salad, appetizer, palate cleanser, main course, dessert etc.
Each party member will need to describe what kind of dish they would like to prepare and what they would like the dish to look like when plated.
If you, as the DM, are satisfied with the party member’s plan, you can have them roll an ability check to determine how well it goes. The ability check should largely be based on the kind of dish they want to prepare. For example…
- If the dish requires a lot of dicing/peeling/shaping of potatoes, have them roll a dexterity check (DC 15)
- If the dish requires a lot of roasting over fire/boiling/soup-making, have them roll a constitution check (DC 15)
- If the dish involves a lot of other added ingredients or spices, have them roll a wisdom check (DC 15)
- If your party decides to make vodka from the potatoes, they can, but they are going to somehow need to cheat the fermentation process to complete the whole beverage in under an hour (which could lead to interesting results…)
Isidore will also offer his expertise and do his part, maybe even giving struggling party members suggestions of ideas or offering them advantage on rolls during the cooking ability checks.
However, about halfway through the cooking process, Isidore will need to leave the kitchen and take care of front of house as his guests start to arrive. While this is going on, your party will hear chatter as well as beautiful harp music being played by a bard, providing ambiance for this fancy environment and its distinguished guests of honor.
Once dinner is ready to begin, each party member will appear and introduce the dish to the guests while Isidore makes his rounds to serve them.
This is another chance to add some creative flair and, maybe, even make up for poor ability check scores during the food prep stage. The player character will, first, need to give the dish a fancy-sounding name to impress the clientele and, then, provide some BS story about the dish’s origin (like learning this recipe in some distant mountains from monks) or selling them on its gastrointestinal curative properties.
If you, as the DM, think the player has given a stirring introduction to the dish, give them advantage on their performance or deception check.
To calculate the success of the evening, take into account how the dishes taste (based on the earlier ability checks) and how impressed the guests are with the service/introductions. Describe in detail what your impromptu chefs see as the audience samples their food. This would be especially fun if any of your players absolutely ruined their dishes. Diners could gag, have watery eyes, cringe with each overly chewy bite, politely spit out their half-eaten tater into a napkin, etc.
Depending on the success of the evening (providing that it isn’t a total trainwreck), Isidore will offer you various rewards…
- An okay result — Isidore will give you all doggy bags of the remaining food to take home with you at no cost. He will also give you an honorary chef’s hat that provides advantage on all future cooking-related ability checks.
- A good result — Isidore will give you a chef’s hat (see above) as well as a pouch of a special rare spice that, when sprinkled onto someone’s food, can charm them for 30 minutes (good for one dish, one diner).
- A great result — Isidore will give you the chef’s hat (above), and the pouch of spice (above), as well as offer you a special booth at La Taverne where you are always welcome to eat; your party could use this as a meeting place with officials that you want to impress or, perhaps, to eavesdrop on the conversations of the rich and famous who would attend a fine-dining location like La Taverne.