“I came at those steaks with a blowtorch!”

I was pretty irritated with Sandra, my driver. She couldn’t seem to figure out where I was even though I’d explained at great length and had followed all her directions. It was impossible to stay angry though, because when she finally pulled up, she gushed apologies.

Sandra was Cuban. Originally from Miami, she had moved to Hawaii to become a pastry chef and had just moved back to Miami to be closer to her family. She spoke a little about her niece – her sister’s daughter had just turned twelve, and she had made the “awesomest cake ever” for her.

“Are you a pastry chef here?” I asked.

“Nah!” she shook her head. “Too competitive. But I’ll give you a list of really great places to check out.” (She did.)

“What do you do?”

“I’m a food artist now,” she declared. “I make food look real good.


“Oh shit,” she declared. “I mean, one time, they dumped me with a bunch of raw steaks for a TV show. ‘Make it look good in ten minutes,’ they told me! It was like a kids TV show, where the kids were the chefs.”


“I know. Seriously, right? Who the f*** thought of that stupid idea. It lasted a season.”

“So what’d you do with those steaks?”

“I came at those steaks with a freaking blowtorch! They looked amazing. Got my aggression out too.”

“You like your work?”

“I mean, it’s almost the opposite of being a chef,” she lamented. “Chefs need to make food that looks good and tastes amazing. Food artists just make them look good. I would never eat anything done for a TV show. It’s disgusting. I mean, those steaks were completely raw inside.”

“It sounds gross.”

“Yeah. But you know what?” She turned then to look at me.


“That’s how life and people are like too, right? Beautiful on the outside. Rotten inside.”

I had no answer.


About the artist 

Courtney Zell is New York City and Los Angeles based artist.   Some of her favorite things are urban sketching, comics, letterpress, and travel. She is the illustrator of the ongoing comic series The Wonder City currently running on the NYCblog Untapped Cities as a web comic.  See more of her work at www.courneyzell.com.