Cooking level: 7
Baking level: 5
Tasting level: 8
Decorations level: 5
Level 7. Had this number ever feel this lovely? It was a number that made him more happy than the 8 points that appeared next to the pork galbi. Now, he was on the same side as Anderson, Kaya, and Chloe. But of course, even if he was on the same level, there would still be some differences……. But even so, he thought that he had finally been able to catch up to their backs to some point.
Jo Minjoon looked at the number that was floating in the air with affection. If there was a problem, it would be Kaya that was behind the floating window he was looking at. She, who sensed his fierce sight, slightly turned. After she saw Jo Minjoon’s eyes, she frowned and turned back again.
‘What is it? Why was he looking at me like that?’
She did feel burdened, but she was too busy to mind that. It was the same for Jo Minjoon. The level had raised, but he still had to finish the plating.
He didn’t place a big amount on purpose, but he wasn’t planning on imitating french dishes, showing the white plate. Only, if he placed abundant food, there was a high possibility that they would feel burdened. 3 pork dishes by each participant. They were going to at least eat 21 pork dishes. Even if they made it deliciously, if the amount was much, there would be a high possibility that they would get sick of it from the start.
Tasting started by imagining the flavor before putting the food in your mouth. And if that was the case, there was a need to bring up the flavor they would imagine to the utmost. For the first time, he had made all of the dishes to be 8 points, and those were the last dishes he had made with cooking level 6. It was a meaningful moment, so he wanted to show that perfectly.
When he was placing the bite-size meat at the middle of each plate, there wasn’t even a minute left. Jo Minjoon licked his dry lips and looked at the judges. Alan, who was glancing at the clock, yelled with a hard voice.
“Time’s up! Take your hands off!”
The evaluation started. Jo Minjoon slowly looked at the other participants. There were only two person that got 8 points in all of their dishes: Kaya and Anderson. In the case of Chloe, she had two 8-point dishes, but the remaining one was 7 points.
The first one to get evaluated was Ivanna. Her dishes were all 7 points. It was a fine score. Since the participants of this season were all high leveled, she couldn’t show her outstanding skills. But if Ivanna had participated in the previous season, she would have been a participant that gave much more impression than right now. Aside of her cute face, she had the qualifications and skills, because it wasn’t easy for an amateur to make a 7-point dish.
The judges also reviewed her dishes taking that into account. Of course, they couldn’t tell if it was 7 or 8 points, but they could perfectly feel the level of that dish. Alan thought inwardly.
‘To feel regret in this kind of dish…….. This season will certainly remain in history.’
Probably, from now on, there wouldn’t be as many skilled participants as in the third season. In the first place, the story ended on the point that a participant had an absolute sense of taste.
It wasn’t that they reviewed Ivanna’s dishes in any special way, but even so the critic ended with quite good comments. Those were dishes that had stability. If you weren’t a special epicurean, most of the people that tried Ivanna’s dishes would be happy after trying it.
Sasha and Hugo weren’t that different. They had dishes that were 6 and 7 points. Although it wasn’t bad, those were dishes that lacked a bit to pass the evaluation. The judges had to crunch their heads thinking. It would be more comfortable if someone made a big mistake, since it would be difficult to eliminate one of them. In the end, they could only evaluate it subjectively.
“Minjoon, bring your dishes.”
But first, evaluating the remaining people came first. Alan looked at Jo Minjoon’s dishes with expectant eyes. Since when could it be? He started to enjoy it more rather than evaluating it. The growth of this young participant could be seen with his eyes, and his growth was felt more clearly on his tongue.
“Is there an order to eat it?”
“I recommend you eating the meatball first because it’s the less stimulative flavor among the three.”
Joseph said and brought a meatball in his mouth. The soft smoked paprika and the meatball that was covered in wine sauce was chewed in his mouth. In the paprika, an unexpected crunchiness remained, and along with that flavor, the rough but soft meatball stimulated his tongue and the ceiling of his mouth.
The flavor of the wine sauce that was mixed with balsamic vinegar and boiled down was quite normal. However, it didn’t mean that the flavor lost color because you couldn’t criticize a barbecue sauce for having the same flavor as barbecue sauce.
“You made this wine sauce to have a flavor that people just like it. It’s not simply sweet, but it had the acidity and sweetness that just suit with the meatball. On top of that, the special flavor of the dry wine……. Where did you learn this? This information would be difficult to find in the interne…….. Ah, right. You could read the recipe.”
Alan asked with a face full of questions, and nodded after he had understood. He knew the recipe of the things he ate. It was a really unrealistic thing to be conscious of that all the time.
He wouldn’t even need a teacher. Because just by going to a famous restaurant and eating their food, he would be able to obtain all of the information of that chef. Everytime he mastered a recipe that chefs would normally try to hide, he would master an ability that’s way beyond his age.
His fork reached to the next dish. It was the dongpo pork this time. The meat of the pork that couldn’t even be compared to normal dongpo pork was chewed, and the juice that was mixed with the sauce slowly wettened his tongue. On top of the flavor of the vegetables fried on chinese oil, the dense aroma of the kaoliang wine remained inside that sauce. He really felt like he was eating a luxurious dongpo pork in a good Chinese restaurant. It was a dish that you wouldn’t believe that it was made in just two hours and has this much effort and dedication.
Emily opened her mouth with an admiring face just like a pure girl.
“It’s remarkable to get this flavor in just two hours. I thought that time was for dongpo pork……..”
“I am the one that should be thankful after eating this dish. Will you be able to eat this kind of thing for free?”
Emily talked like that and smiled. At times, she felt like a fox, but at least when she evaluated a dish, she showed a pure attitude of a kid. And that was also the reason Jo Minjoon couldn’t hate her.
‘It would be good if you stopped telling me to become an epicurean.’
Jo Minjoon thought like that and smiled bitterly. It was now the turn of the last dish. Pork galbi. The judges put on a more serious face. Joseph opened his mouth.
“You should know this, but among the dishes you have cooked today, this pork galbi is the most important one. Because it will directly show the ability you have. And……”
Joseph looked at the shape of the pork galbi and slowly opened his eyes.
“Looking at the exterior, it doesn’t look like it has any flaws. The sauce is well sipped in it, and it isn’t burnt. The meat is seared with a really good colour. To not burn it, it’s the simplest but the most difficult thing. It’s accompanied with the sauce, and if it’s grilled, then all the more so.”
Joseph talked like that and put a pork galbi in his mouth. A sauce made by mixing barbecue sauce and soy sauce. If you made a mistake, it could end up to be excessively salty, but the wine, vinegar, and lemon juice was making that weight to be light. And it wasn’t just pouring the sauce on top of it, but after resting the meat, he cooked it with the sauce that was on the meat.
It could be felt with that bite that Jo Minjoon had grown. A small difference he was missing, it was a dish that was difficult to make if you didn’t feel the moment the fire touched the meat. It wasn’t that the flavor was more outstanding than the meatball or the dongpo pork. They couldn’t feel that much of a difference in the flavor or in the completion. However, if you were someone that cooked, you could only feel that difference. The effort and skills the pork galbi contained wasn’t normal. Alan opened his mouth.
“………I will honestly speak. I’m sorry, Minjoon. Previously, I didn’t see your probabilities of winning to be that high. However, after eating your dishes today, I am starting to think differently. Perhaps, you may do so. Yes, you will be able to win.”
It was a serious voice. Jo Minjoon smiled faintly. He thought that it may become awkward with whatever he said. But fortunately, Emily lent him her rescuing hand.
“Today, all of you had presented dishes that had nothing to call out on. And especially, it seems that from what Minjoon had shown us until now, it is the best. No, actually, every time he does a mission I get a feeling that he’s growing. I will also be expecting that for the next mission.”
It meant that he had passed. Jo Minjoon smiled and slightly bent.
The evaluations of Chloe, Anderson, and Kaya’s obviously didn’t fall that much compared to Jo Minjoon’s. They made dishes such as hamburger, shredded five-spice marinated pork, ravioli, etc. and it couldn’t be seen that it fell for even a little. Obviously, the eliminated person could only appear from the remaining ones: Ivanna, Sasha, and Hugo.
‘They wouldn’t eliminate all of them.’
Aside of doing the reviving phase or not, it became time to get some control on how many got eliminated. At least for the broadcasting material, they just had to do so.
‘Then, it’s a matter of who they eliminate…….’
Jo Minjoon slowly looked at the three of them. First, it didn’t seem to be Ivanna because her dishes were all 7 points. However, in the case of Hugo and Sasha, they made two 7 points dishes and one 6 points. Bust guessing who will be eliminated based on the score was hard.
“Sasha, Ivanna, Hugo. Come to the front.”
The three of them walked with nervous faces. They had also guessed that they weren’t the higher ranked ones, but the lower ranked. Joseph looked at them with a little exhausted face.
“I believe that you know the reason as to why we have called you.”
“…….Are we all going to be eliminated?”
“We won’t do that. Only one person. Actually, there wasn’t that much of a difference in cooking. They were all fairly good. But this place is one that you can’t survive with it just being fairly good. There are tens of participants, and if some of them made a horrible dish it wouldn’t matter. However, now isn’t it. Better than the others. It’s not enough with that much skill. Because there’s no one that’s sloppy among the ones that survived until now.”
At Joseph’s words, the three couldn’t reply anything. Because they knew better than them that their dishes weren’t that outstanding. Joseph opened his mouth, but closed it as if it was hard to say it. But Emily seemed to want to help her, and instead, raised her voice.
“That’s why we evaluated you. Not only for thee dishes, but we will save the one who we are expecting their food from now on. Sasha!”
Emily paused for a moment. And then, asked with a low voice.
“Why do you think I called your name?”
“……Ah, please. My heart seems to shrink.”
“I’m sorry. With the meaning of apologizing, I will tell you something good. You have survived. From what we have seen of you until now, we reached a conclusion that we want to give you more opportunities. Go back to your countertop.”
Sasha replied with a shaking voice, and after wiping off the tears that were in her eyes, she returned to her place. The remaining ones were two. Ivanna gulped and clenched her fists. She remembered Joanne.
‘I said that I was going to win instead of Joanne.’
But reality was like this. At that moment, she didn’t know where her ambition had gone, and if it was even in her. Everytime time she made eye contact with the judges, her heart beat, and she even started to have hiccups. Alan looked at Ivanna for a moment and opened his mouth.
“Honestly speaking, the one that’s better up among the three is you, Ivanna.”
“……..But, that’s all. Fairly good. Until now, you have never showed us something that breaks that concept. It meant that you have never showed us something that’s only yours, something that will stay in our memories. In the other side, Hugo had his ossobuco, and he had also showed a leadership that could lead others well. Ivanna, will we be able to pour our expectations on you?”
Ivanna bit her lips. Her face that was more pale than usual, was shaking. However, she didn’t have anything to reply back. Just like Alan had said, she had never showed something good of her. She had merely survived until now. And it was lacking with just that. But.
“……..Yes. Be expecting.”
“I,I……. Only know how to cook well. And just like chef has said, I’m just fairly good. But, it isn’t that I gave up on growing. I want to show you that I can get better. Give me a chance.”
Alan didn’t reply anything. Instead, he looked at Hugo. And asked with a low voice.
“Hugo, what do you think? Do you think that we should give that opportunity to Ivanna?”
At that moment, Hugo only smacked his lips. He didn’t know what he should reply. If he gave her that chance, he had to get eliminated. But also telling him not to give it to her felt bad. He asked.
“……..Is my opinion important?”
“I wonder. I don’t know. I’m just curious about what you think.”
“I’m thankful that you are thinking good of me. But I’m still lacking. Perhaps, if Ivanna’s dish was better than mine, I think that it would be right to evaluate it just with her dish instead of the future and expectations.”
“Then, you will be the one to get eliminated?”
“……..To get greedy beyond my abilities, that would only be mean.”
At his words, Alan’s corner of his mouth raised. He looked at Hugo with warm eyes and asked.
“One thing is certain. That there’s Italian blood flowing in you just like me. It was a wonderful speech. And just as that speech, I hope that you would be able accept my next words.”
Silence flowed from a moment, and what ended that was a blunt declaration.
“Hugo, you have been eliminated. Return your badge and leave the Grand Chef’s house.”
< The pork and the fire (3) > End
Translator’s note: Thanks for reading and for your support!
Translator : Subak
Proofreader : Saihikawa