Chapter 2, Scene 2: Cook Along With Mitch

INT. MITCH’S APARTMENT – DAY

A straight-on angle to Mitch’s tiny kitchen from the living room.

CUE MUSIC: The opening theme to the Sing Along With Mitch show from the 1960s.

Mitch faces the camera, standing behind a four-burner stove set atop a cabinet sticking out from the wall, acting as a small kitchen island. Behind him, we see a few cabinets, a small refrigerator, and a microwave inset to one of the cabinets.

A graphic appears on the screen: “Cook-Along with Mitch” in a colorful, happy font.

An obviously-fake applause track signals the end of the intro music.

Mitch wears a chef’s coat, speaking directly into the camera.

       MITCH
Welcome back to the show. Today we’re showcasing the diversity of New York markets with some tasty dishes, all based on locally-sourced ingredients.

He catches himself.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
And when I say “locally sourced” I mean stuff I’ve picked up here at the many stores on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

He grabs a stainless steel bowl and holds it at angle so we see some ground meat that’s been browned.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
We have our ground meat mixture that we browned up earlier in the show with some oregano and rosemary. It’s mostly beef, but with some turkey and some Italian sausage. That’s good protein to make this really hearty.

He sets the bowl down on the counter behind him.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
Of course, that came from the Fairway down on seventy-fifth at Broadway. Very popular, and if you go on Saturday, you can count on it being packed.

FLASHBACK:

INT. FAIRWAY GROCERY STORE – DAY

Mitch stands in line along with at least twenty other people lined around the butcher station. The place is replete with meat. He holds a grocery basket in one hand and a paper number ticket in the other.

INSERT: CU SHOT OF TICKET, with number ’81’.

From O.S., we hear the butcher call the next number.

       BUTCHER (O.S.)
Fifty-two.

Mitch shifts his weight from one foot to the other… patience.

RETURN FROM FLASHBACK – MITCH IN HIS KITCHEN

       MITCH
And we have our spaghetti squash roasting in the oven down here. That’ll give us a bit of a starchy feeling, but still keeping in Paleo and gluten-free! That came from the Whole Foods, much closer, over on Columbus at ninety-seventh.

FLASHBACK:

INT. WHOLE FOODS GROCERY STORE – DAY

Mitch stops at the display of various gourds, squashes, pumpkins, etc, looking at the spaghetti squash.

INSERT: CU SHOT OF Price Sign ‘Organic Spaghetti Squash: $4.29 / lb.’

Mitch looks at the next sign:

INSERT: CU SHOT OF Price Sign ‘Conventional Spaghetti Squash: $1.89 / lb.’

He shakes his head in mild disbelief and takes 2 of the conventional squash.

RETURN FROM FLASHBACK – MITCH IN HIS KITCHEN

He grabs a large platter with a variety of vegetables:  green, red, and yellow peppers, zucchini, mushrooms.

       MITCH
And we have our veggies for our primavera sauce.

He sets that down.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
These came from the WestSide Market up here on Broadway at ninety-eighth.

An AMBULANCE SIREN howls as it passes Mitch’s apartment outside, much louder than we might expect, blaring through an open window in Mitch’s kitchen.

Mitch waits for it to pass, looking at the camera with a slightly embarrassed and wry smile.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
So.. WestSide is a comprehensive market, with lots of top-quality stuff. Pretty gourmet, actually. But to be clear, that’s the only time you’ll hear me say the word ‘gourmet’.

Although I just said it again.

He resets.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
It’s the creme of the crop, I think. Nothing against Whole Foods, but they’re from Austin, Texas. Come on. This is a New York cooking show, right?

FLASHBACK:

INT. WESTSIDE MARKET – NIGHT

Mitch stands before a heaping wall of fresh produce, checking out the bell peppers. A cornucopia of produce is stacked high on the wall. Leeks, radishes, exotic lettuces and herbs complement the standard cucumbers, carrots and cauliflower.  The grocer has crowded as much as he can into a small space.

A WIDER SHOT shows just how cramped the store is. Several other shoppers carry plastic grocery baskets as they maneuver through the stuffed aisle.

An OLDER JEWISH LADY pushes a small grocery cart. She runs it into the back of Mitch’s legs. He turns to see her.

       MITCH
Oh, excuse me.

She pays him no attention and steps on down the aisle.

Mitch takes one of each color of bell pepper, places them in his basket, and moves on.

LATER

Mitch stands in a long line of customers which extends down the beer and prepared foods aisle. At the end of the aisle, we see the small check-out stations. Ten of these tiny booths are crammed along both walls along the narrow exit.

RETURN FROM FLASHBACK – MITCH IN HIS KITCHEN

       MITCH
So, yeah, the Westside market is definitely one of New York’s gems.

He sets the platter of veggies down on the counter, and then reaches down ….

       MITCH (CONT’D)
And of course, there’s Costco.

… to pick up a large bag of onions. And by large, we mean, crazy huge. He plops the bag down on the countertop, rattling everything else in the kitchen.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
Some of you may surprised that a Costco even exists here in Manhattan. I mean, who has room for all that toilet paper?

INSERT: SHOT of Mitch trying to stuff a super-sized PACK OF TOILET PAPER into the upper section of his closet.

BACK TO KITCHEN:

       MITCH (CONT’D)
But they put one in Harlem. It’s a symbol of the New York attitude. No matter how big, we can cram it in. That’s the thing I love about this city… the belief that nothing is impossible.

He takes a moment of introspection, with a genuine look of hope and determination on his face.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
Nothing is impossible.

After a couple of beats, he takes a couple of onions from the bag.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
In fact, watch this.

With the onions, he reaches for the platter of veggies, and turns his back to the camera. As he turns, we see him also grab a chef’s knife from a magnetic rack mounted to the wall.

Now with his back to the camera, we hear the obvious SOUND EFFECT OF RAPID CHOPPING.

Then via a very obvious cut in the video, the sound effect stops, and Mitch turns around to face the camera with all the vegetables chopped and sorted.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
Presto!

He sets the platter back down on the counter.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
Now, let’s get this going.

He side-steps toward the window and stands on a STOOL to reach a POT RACK mounted on the wall, high above the window.  He pulls down a medium-sized POT from the rack and steps off the stool, but something outside gets his attention.

He leans toward the window and speaks to someone outside.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
Hey, I’ve already asked you not to smoke out there.

A male voice responds in a thick Indian/Pakistani accent.

       SMOKER GUY(O.S.)
It’s not bothering you.

       MITCH
The hell it’s not. Come on, man, we finally get a nice weekend to open up the windows, and you have to do that shit, right there?

       SMOKER GUY(O.S.)
Don’t sweat on me, man.

       MITCH
It’s “don’t sweat me”, okay, and I’m trying to cook in here, you know, with food, for humans.

The smoker starts jabbering in his native language.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
Move it on down the street, will ya?

The babbling continues, but his voice diminishes in volume as he moves away from the window.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
Thanks.

       SMOKER GUY(O.S.)
(from a distant)
Asshole.

Mitch turns back to the camera.

       MITCH
Sorry about that.

He puts the pot on the stove. He rakes the chopped onions off the platter into the pot, fires up the burner, and drizzles in some olive oil.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
We’ll sweat these onions for a while to soften them up.

He draws in the smell of the sizzling onions.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
These onions will be for the special complement to the entree dish. It’s a delicious recipe for some kale greens, with a special kicker — we’ll get to that in just a minute, but first we need to get the primavera sauce going.

He turns back to the pot rack, takes a large skillet off its hook, and puts it on the stove.

He rakes the rest of the chopped vegetables into the skillet, adds the meat, and pours in a liberal amount of olive oil.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
Two final ingredients for this.

He reaches into the fridge and grabs a container of marinated sun-dried tomatoes and another container of fresh, peeled whole garlic cloves.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
These go right in there. ‘Cause, you know, it’s big and bold, full of aromatic flavor, just like this great city.

The entire mixture fills the skillet nearly to the rim and begins to simmer on the stove.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
The thing about this kale recipe, though… a dear friend tipped me off to it years ago, and I’ve probably made it a hundred times since then.

He reaches into the fridge and grabs a large bowl of kale greens, with the leaves already pulled from the stalks.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
It’s, um… always a big hit.

He looks at the stack of greens in the bowl.

FLASHBACK:

INT. MITCH’S KITCHEN AT HIS HOUSE IN KENTUCKY – DAY

4 YEARS AGO:

Mitch takes a bowl of kale greens from the fridge and sets it next to the stove.

We hear the FRONT DOOR open and close from the other room, and the voices of REBECCA, at age 14 and CHELSEA, at age 11.

       REBECCA (O.S.)
We’re here.

       CHELSEA (O.S.)
Daddy! Daddy!

       MITCH
In the kitchen!

The girls dash into the kitchen with their backpacks across their backs, carrying their weekend-bags full of clothes.

       CHELSEA
Are you making kale greens?

       MITCH
You know it.

       CHELSEA
Yes!! What else?

He hugs them, pulling them all together into a tight group.

       MITCH
Steaks are on the grill and potatoes in the oven.

Rebecca opens the oven door to check on a roasting pan full of red-skin potatoes, coated with rosemary and garlic.

       REBECCA
Dope.

       MITCH
Rebecca, honey, will you go flip the steaks, please?

       REBECCA
Sure.

She exits the kitchen toward the outside deck.

Chelsea steps to the stove and stands over the onions, drawing in the smell.

       CHELSEA
So good.

Mitch adds some water to the pot, turns up the heat and dumps the kale greens in there.

       CHELSEA (CONT’D)
How long ’till we eat?

       MITCH
Twelve minutes.

       CHELSEA
Is it ready for the secret sauce?

       MITCH
Yep.

She opens the fridge and grabs a bottle of Allegro Hickory Smoke Marinade.

       CHELSEA
Now?

       MITCH
Hit it.

She pours some of the marinade into the pot.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
That’s good.

       CHELSEA
This is my most favorite meal.

Mitch smiles at the joy shining from her face.

       MITCH
Yeah… me too.

RETURN FROM FLASHBACK – MITCH IN HIS KITCHEN

With everything prepared now, Mitch spoons some cooked kale greens onto a plate.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
So, just to recap, we have these smokey-good kale greens, our meaty primavera, …

He takes a good portion of the meat dish onto the plate.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
… And some spaghetti squash that I sauteed quickly with some butter and garlic.

He dollops a bit of the spaghetti squash onto the plate.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
And voila… here’s a healthy meal you can prepare for your family.

He positions the plate for optimal camera viewing and addresses the camera directly again. He flashes a camera ready smile.

       MITCH (CONT’D)
So, thanks for tuning in, and I look forward to cooking along with you again soon!

We hold on this for a bit, then we –

CUT TO:

INT. MITCH’S APARTMENT – KITCHEN – CONTINUOUS

No longer doing the show, Mitch places his plate on the other side of the island in front of the bar stools.

CUE MUSIC: ERIC CLAPTON’s Hard Times.

       ERIC CLAPTON (SINGING)
My mother told me,
‘Fore she passed away,
Said son when I’m gone,
Don’t forget to pray.
‘Cause there’ll be hard times.
Lord, those hard times.
Who knows better than I.

[action continues over music]

Mitch steps out from behind the stove into the living room, to a small antique cabinet, and opens a lower door, retrieving a bottle of wine. He pours a glass and sits on the bar stool.

After a long sigh, he picks up his fork to start eating.

But with the next breath in, he smells something he doesn’t like. His expression shows a frustrated “Not again”, and he shakes his head as he cranes his neck to look out the window.

Mitch starts to stand, ready to engage the Smoker Guy in another round of negotiation, but he takes a look at his plate, and takes a longer look at the heaping amount of food spread in front of him on the stove… well more than anyone would cook just for one person.

CUT TO:

EXT. MITCH’S APARTMENT – DAY

WIDE SHOT from across the street:

SMOKER GUY, 40s, of Indian/Pakistani heritage, clearly struggling to make it in America, stands under Mitch’s window, reading from a pamphlet of some sort, with a cigarette in his other hand.

       ERIC CLAPTON (SINGING)
Well I soon found out
Just what she meant
When I had to pawn my clothes
Just to pay the rent.
Talkin’ ’bout hard times.
Lord those hard times.
Who knows better than I?

Mitch exits the building and approaches him.

We can’t hear the conversation, but from far away we see Mitch talking with his hands, and Smoker Guy shaking his head.

Mitch’s animated gestures mimic the cooking — chopping, stirring, etc., and pointing up and down the street.

Smoker guy waves the hand holding the cigarette and his head moves around as he replies.

The conversation is clearly a lively one.

Then Mitch is done. He simply puts his hands on his hips and waits to see what Smoker Guy will do.

Smoker Guy looks Mitch in the eye for a few beats… it appears to be a stand off.

       ERIC CLAPTON (SINGING) (CONT’D)
I had a woman
Who was always around
But when I lost my money
She put me down.
Talkin’ ’bout hard times.
Lord, those hard…  
Yeah, yeah, who knows better than I.

Finally, Smoker Guy drops the cigarette to the ground and steps on it.

Mitch nods in approval and motions with his right arm toward the front door of the building. Smoker Guy steps toward the direction Mitch points to and enters the building, with Mitch trailing behind.

CUT TO:

INT. MITCH’S APARTMENT – DAY

Mitch and Smoker Guy each sit on a bar stool at the kitchen island, each with a plate of food, each with a glass of wine.

       ERIC CLAPTON (SINGING)
Lord, One of these days
There’ll be no more sorrow.
For when I pass away
And no more hard times.
No more hard…
Yeah, yeah, who knows better than I.

Their conversation continues over the meal.

FADE OUT.

cookalongwithmitch

 

 

 

 

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