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“Who’s THAT Dude?”

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When a friend emailed me a link to this site, which offers the services of a man known only as “The Fondude,” I thought it was either an ironic joke fueled by nostalgic kitsch or a clever piece of viral marketing, perhaps tying up one of Lost’s many frustrating loose ends (Spoiler alert! Jacob is really the Fondude).

According to the site, you give Fondude 48 hours' notice and he will show up at your home with all the trappings for a proper cheese fondue feast. After preparing the meal, Fondude promises he'll leave you to stab and dip in privacy. He offers two packages: “Tête a Tête” (melted cheese for two, $150) and, uh, “Fromage a Trois” ($175 for three). The site lists only a phone number (no email), which I called immediately. No answer, no mention of Fondude or fondue or anything remotely cheese-related.

Maybe, I thought, the site is a front for a far more sinister operation. You call up Fondude and ask him with a nudge and a wink for “the works”; he shows up a couple of days later with much more than a wheel of Emmentaler. At best it’s the culinary equivalent of paying someone to come over and run a bubble bath for you and the sweetie. A certain amount of awkwardness—and interrogation—is inevitable.

So I did what any good journalist would have done minutes sooner: I Googled “Fondude” and found this article in the Chicago Sun-Times. It turns out the Fondude is a real dude, a 30-year-old “molten cheese hobbyist” who already has many satisfied customers in the Chicago area. My bad, Fondude.

But let me assure you, preparing cheese fondue isn’t project cooking (if you can make oatmeal, you can make fondue). But if you don’t live in the Chicago area and/or prefer your fromage en privé, follow this recipe (from the January issue of F&W) or one of many others from our online database.

There, I just saved you $150 and the chore of explaining to your sweetie that mysterious man in the kitchen with skewers.

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