Jack no longer writes specifics on his recipes.
No cups or tablespoons or dashes, no whether the butter is salted or un, no whole or reduced or skim milks, no rock or Alaskan crab. He scratches them out of his head onto a pad and hands it to Steven in the mornings. By the time the menu reaches the rest of the staff, it's complete with full instructions, truly complete, including warnings to Seth about the consistency of his crepe batter and pointed reminders to Teddy about French versus American portion sizes.
It's how they know they've possibly been together too long.
It's been like this for years.
Just a few months in, and they do it again at Nolita, work in some sort of symbiosis and create a kitchen that gets rave reviews from everywhere and the restaurant is a big fat fucking success.
Steven drinks enough for both of them in celebration.
An afternoon like all the others, and Jim sees the menu discarded on a sidebar, the morning menu, the one in Jack's hand. It's the most confusing thing he's ever seen, shorthand and then he realises, it dawns on him somewhere that menus do not say things like "k sa ent" followed by "butr" "mlk" "sal". He considers asking Jack, but he's learned by now that Jack's just going to tell him that it's a master chef thing.
He might be a rookie, but he knows hanging bras under coq au vin pots is not a master chef thing, so he asks Steven.
Jim would raise his eyebrows if he had any (they're growing back, but it's a slow and tedious process, and he knows he looks like an alien freak, but no one laughs at him any more, so it's kind of okay), but he settles for crinkling his forehead. "Doesn't look like any menu I've ever seen."
Steven shrugs. "Someday you'll be able to read a menu like that like it's out of a bloody cookbook, kid." He likes Jim, Jim's got talent enough in the kitchen and promises to be a damn fine chef if he'd stop spooking so fucking much. He takes the crumpled paper. "King salmon souffle for the entree, three cups whole milk, half stick of unsalted butter..." He trails off and walks away abruptly, calling for Jack.
He finds him taunting Mimi and pulls him aside.
"I shouldn't be able to read your menus."
Jack looks perplexed. "Of course you should."
Steven shoves the illegible scrap in his face. "I'm pretty sure Jim thought it was some kind of voodoo ritual, mate, I shouldn't be able to read your bloody fucking menus."
"What's got you in a bunch, Jesus."
"I forgot what this is like." Steven looks frustrated and drags Jack into the walk-in. Seth and Teddy look on with unrestrained glee, and Jim just looks confused. Just a normal thing in Nolita's kitchen, nothing to see here. Jim picks up the again discarded menu and, without even thinking about it once, goes into the cooler to retrieve the half stick of unsalted butter and three cups whole milk.
Jack and Steven are kissing, and they both look kind of surprised about it, and when Jim turns crimson, Jack promises that one day, he too will eventually make out with his sous, it'll be a thing.
When he's a master chef.