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May 8, 2014 12:27 PM EDT

In 2012, New York City police officer Gilberto Valle was arrested for allegedly plotting in online forums to kidnap, kill and eat women including his wife—fantasies that he illustrated with Photoshopped images found on his computer. Now, Valle has become a chef in prison.

New York Daily News calls it “ the most ironic jail work assignment in recent memory,” but Valle is totally serious about honing his chef skills while jailed. “He has mastered making pizza,” his mother, Elizabeth Valle, said. The hobby helps him “kill time” while waiting to see if he might be granted another trial. The Daily News story does not include comment from the prison where Valle is being held.

Valle’s lawyers are mounting a defense that argues that the former policeman’s fantasies of cannibalism were just that—fantasies. Despite bragging that he owned a “human-sized oven” online, Valle never took any actions to actually kidnap or eat anyone. The conviction blurs the line between online life and reality.

If anything, Valle’s fellow inmates don’t seem to be too nervous that he’ll include a special ingredient in his cooking experiments. They joke about his kitchen skills: “Don’t stand too close to the oven, and that kind of thing,” they say to him, Valle’s mother said.

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