(2011-03-01: This writeup appears to have been widely plagiarized in the decade since I wrote it. Google "Perlingine": The original plagiarist changed the name to that. I doubt all the plagiarists together made a penny from it, and I wrote it pseudonymously for free, so it's no skin off my ass. Just... weird.)

 

The Belgian Chef was a cooking show that ran for three and a half seasons on cable in New England, from the Fall of 1994 through March, 1996.

Chef Honore Pinginglinge hosted the show, preparing Belgian and Alsatian specialties along with occasional French items. Each week, he'd have a guest; at first the guests were restaurateurs and narrow-gauge local celebrities, but as time passed and the show caught on, he began to land nationally-known entertainers and media personalities.

Pinginglinge's manner was often confrontational, mimicking the avant-garde theater of the 1960s. He had a drinking problem as well, and a mercurial temperament. By the end of the second season, he had begun to drift off into rambling and incoherent diatribes on-camera, and at the end of the season's last episode he struck guest-star Dinah Shore with a mallet.

This behavior gave rise to concern. Pinginglinge's management prevailed on him to spend most of the summer of 1995 in a rehab program, and in September he returned to the show apparently refreshed and considerably mellowed. This condition did not last. In the third episode, he threw an iron pan of coquilles St. Jacques at guest Morton Downey Jr., and then sat down and drank a bottle of Burgundy while reading a speech addressed to his estranged wife, Esmeralda.

Subsequent episodes saw a further decline in Pinginglinge's mental state. He frequently threatened guests, and on several occasions he struck them. He would drink during the show, and by the end of an episode he was often unable to find the stove. Ratings soared; Pinginglinge was billed as "the Howard Stern of Gallic cuisine", and outside the studio the scalpers demanded -- and got -- hundreds of dollars for good seats on days when an unusually resilient or fleet-footed guest was scheduled to appear. By this time Pinginglinge had become dependent on IV methamphetamine. Blinded by ratings, the producers persuaded Pinginglinge's management to keep him out of rehab.

Thus passed the winter, and then, on Thursday, March 3, 1996, Vanessa Redgrave appeared on the show. For the first quarter hour, Pinginglinge was oddly quiet, and then with unsteady hands he extracted a revolver from his toque. Redgrave fled the stage. Pinginglinge avidly gave chase.

For forty-five minutes, while the cameras rolled and a terrified gaffer attempted (without success) to complete Pinginglinge's abandoned soufflé, Pinginglinge stalked Redgrave through the set and the backstage area, firing when granted a clear shot and reloading as needed. At one point he pursued Redgrave through the audience, firing shots over the heads of the panicking crowd.

As the credits rolled, the police arrived. Pinginglinge was cornered on the scaffolding above the stage and shot like a dog.

The show was cancelled immediately, and has not been released into syndication.

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