The day when they were notified that the mission was going to start was after two days that Anderson got the name of Anduksam.
“Gather in the kitchen at or before 5 o’clock.”
Kaya mumbled with a not-too-bright expression as she looked at the back of the staff that spoke earlier
“In the end, one more ends up dying today.”
“Don’t say the word ‘die’. It’s horrible.”
“Okay. Today, one will get eliminated.”
“……That gets your mood foul by itself.”
“Then what do you want me to say?”
“Just don’t talk. It’s nothing good to think of.”
“So weak. Face reality,don’t run away from it.”
At Kaya’s words, Jo Minjoon looked at her with an astringent face. Kaya showed her white teeth and smirked. That smile was even more ill-natured today.
“I imitated you, how is it?”
“I realized that I am a really annoying bastard.”
“Good. Then it’s a success.”
Jo Minjoon looked at Kaya and extended his hand.
“How can you swear like this when today may be the last day we see each other?”
“…….If you get eliminated, you won’t plan to see me?”
“No, even so, this won’t be my end.”
“I know that we are going to see each other again. I believe. That’s why I also swear on it.”
“……If you believe to that point, wish me well instead of swearing.”
Instead of replying, Kaya put a fresh smile. As the conversation reached its end, you should be more nervous, but Kaya rather felt more bright. Perhaps, regardless of the conversation, it could mean that it was proof of her growth.
“If you survive today, I will do it. Wishing you well.”
“And if Anderson survives?”
“I will curse him… and you.”
“……..Anderson will listen to curses at whatever he does, when he gets eliminated and when he survives.”
“He just looks like someone you want to curse at a lot.”
Kaya tilted her head. The faint dimple next to her smile was really cute, so much that if the lamp fairy appeared in front of him, he would wish for him to touch her dimple. Kaya’s corner of the mouth lowered. Of course, her dimple also disappeared. After he moaned because of the regret, she tilted her head as if it was weird.
“What? Was there something on my face?”
“There was. A dimple.”
“I have a dimple?”
“A small and faint one. Not too deep.”
Kaya turned on her handphone and looked at her face. A made up smile appeared on her face. Only then did her dimples appear, and she nodded as if she was satisfied.
“Certainly, even my dimples are pretty.”
“………You said that you didn’t even know that you had them just now.”
After talking idly for a while, time passed. 4:47. Kaya looked at the clock without any words. She acted that imposing before. Jo Minjoon raised the corner of his mouth and said.
“You got nervous?”
“………That’s not it.”
“Just……It’s discomforting. If I may be able to survive.”
Kaya hugged her knees. Jo Minjoon looked at her calmly and said.
“I like only one soccer player, one violinist, and one singer. I like them that way. And half of them are on purpose. Well, you usually say this, but my character is a bit special. And there’s also one chef I’m the fan of: Kaya Lotus.”
“……..Why me? I’m still nothing yet.”
“Because I know what kind of person you will become soon.”
Kaya looked at Jo Minjoon’s eyes without any words. The words he said didn’t seem like words just to make up the mood. She had always felt this, but it was like Jo Minjoon really knew the future. Precisely speaking, Kaya’s future. If it wasn’t that, he wouldn’t be able to believe in her because even she couldn’t do it.
“……..Can I believe? I, that believe in you.”
“You can. It’s a bit funny to tell you this as a competitor but you…….For me, you are a person that makes me want to follow your back, as well as a chef I want to walk side by side with. I adore you.”
Taking into account the plain voice he said it with, the contents were really magnanimous. Kaya’s ears turned red, and she turned her head away.
“……You really seem like a player at times like this.”
“You know better that it’s not like that.”
“I don’t. Leave it, let’s go. There’s three minutes left.”
Kaya stood up. Jo Minjoon felt a bit of regret that if maybe one of them got eliminated, it would be the last time they would share a conversation in peace. However, it was something they didn’t have to think about yet.
As they got out to the hall, Anderson was already out. They thought that he would be more sensitive because of the mission that approached, but there was a pillow mark left on his cheek. Kaya opened as if she thought that it was absurd.
“I thought that you have caught some feelings because you went in with weight, but you were sleeping?”
“……It’s an obvious thing to recover some stamina before a mission. If I’m with you, it’s obvious that my mental strength will get drained.”
“Who’s treating me like such a beagle?”
“You already look like one.”
Kaya looked at Anderson with sharp eyes and then turned her head and said.
“Pour some salt on your cooking.”
“Then, you pour some pepper.”
“……..What are you doing, acting so childish?
Jo Minjoon let out a sigh. When they seemed to have gotten more mature, they act like this. He coughed and said.
“Let’s not fight and do well. Whoever it is, one will get eliminated, so you have to cook without regrets that much and spend the time without regrets.”
Anderson didn’t reply anything. Jo Minjoon hit Anderson’s back and smirked.
“Let’s go, Duksam.”
As they finished the pre-interview and got in the kitchen, the chilly air poked them. Jo Minjoon turned his sight. There was a curtain behind the three judges. Was there a cow or a pig in there? But even if that was the case, he couldn’t hear any cries.
As Kaya and Anderson stood next to Jo Minjoon, Joseph opened his mouth.
“You became the best three. Congratulations. Now you are only a step away for your efforts to bear fruits.”
“Before revealing the mission, I will give you one riddle. They are the most welcoming customers, but are the most bothersome to cook for. At the same time, the most difficult adversaries. Anderson, who do you think it would be?”
“I wonder. A kid?”
“A kid……. It’s understandable. But that’s wrong. Minjoon, what about you?”
“Mmm……Aren’t they the elderly? Because there’s nothing more picky than their tastes.”
“But they won’t be the most welcoming customers. Fine. Kaya, you say it.”
Kaya didn’t reply right away. She was the kind of person that when she couldn’t resolve riddles like this, she tried until she got it right. When the judges gave her a glance, Kaya replied with a not confident voice.
The judges didn’t reply and smiled brightly. At that moment, Emily went to the back and took out the curtain. At that moment, Kaya held her breath with an ‘uph’. Her eyes seemed to redden, and soon became moist, and Kaya contorted her face and covered it with her hands. But it seemed like covering it was regretful, that she took off her hands and put strength in her eyes. What caught her eyes was no other than her family.
And that wasn’t only the case for Kaya. Jo Minjoon looked to the front with shaking eyes. His mother Lee Hyeseon and sister Jo Ara were there. He felt that they had done their hair and done make up because they were going to be broadcasted, but even after having decorated, their faces were filled with complex feelings. Welcoming, stuffiness, sorryness, content…… It was even difficult to name them one by one.
In the case of Anderson, he was rather calm. ‘Mm, they came.’ That much was his expression. it wasn’t that different for their parents. His father had a comparatively submissive expression, but his mother had an expression similar to Anderson. Joseph looked at them once and yelled with a good tone.
“Now, go and hug your family!”
Jo Minjoon embraced Lee Hyeseon and Jo Ara. Actually in Korea, you would hug once in many months, and was in a quite a made up situation but…….At least for now, it was possible to make an honest hug. Jo Minjoon said with a teary voice.
“How did you come here?”
“I got a call a few weeks ago, if you are able to survive until the top 3, and if we were able to do a surprise visit…….I was half in doubt but in the end, you survived. You have done well. Really well.”
“It was really difficult to hold back not telling you. Anyways, it’s good to see you in a while……. Ah, why are you like that? Getting me goosebumps. Don’t put that face that you want to cry.”
Jo Minjoon gulped down the urge to cry that surged up to his throat. He knew how much his family suffered because of him wanting to become a chef before returning to the past. That’s why when he got these casual compliments, he felt more indebted than ever.
“Father…….Is at the company?”
“Yeah. He did want to come, but he said that he was really busy.”
Jo Minjoon slightly pinched Jo Ara’s cheek. He did control his strength for it not to hurt, but Jo Ara frowned.
“Ah, what are you doing? I’m getting broadcasted, so don’t treat me like a kid.”
“You are still a kid.”
“Leave it. Stop.”
Jo Minjoon put a faint smile and turned his sight away. Kaya was hugging her family with tears running down her cheek. And his sight went to one of them. Different to Kaya, she had a brown hair close to blonde. Her forehead that was twisted really awkwardly, and her unnaturally spread legs. She had the looks a normal patient that suffered from cerebral palsy had. Was she called Gemma Lotus?
“Look mom. I was right.”
At Jo Ara’s voice, Jo Minjoon turned his head again. Jo Ara looked at him with sharpened eyes as if she knew everything.
“You were denying that much…….look. Just looking at the broadcast is obvious. You really are nothing?”
“Minjoon. I don’t mind much about having a foreign daughter in law…….But will you be fine?”
“…….There’s nothing to be fine or what not, because it’s not like that. I don’t know how many times I have said this.”
“It’s because if you don’t defend yourself that many times, it seems like it’s an impossible thing. Always saying that it’s a misunderstanding.”
“Leave it. This is a cooking program. We even have mics attached, so let’s go normally.”
Was it that the heavens knew how Jo Minjoon was feeling? That the judges gave them eye signs. The three contestants had to return to the countertop once again. Joseph opened his mouth.
“There’s no customer that are more picky than your family. And there’s no one more bothersome of a customer like your family. There are many cases where your husband chef, father or son expect you to cook after having smelled fire and oil all day in the restaurant. And most of the chefs never act to your expectations. Because even cooking in your house is mentally exhausting.”
“At the same time, it’s not easy to suit their tastes. Compared to the ingredients in your freezer to the ones in the restaurant, the quality and the varieties are certainly lacking. On top of that, your family are rather accustomed to your cooking, and they can make ill comments about your dish more comfortably. And of course, the feeling you want to cook for them again disappears.”
Why was it that the words of those two wasn’t simply heard as an explanation, but were talking about their experiences. At the voices that even had some trace of resentment on it, Jo Minjoon smiled awkwardly. At one side, Anderson’s parents nodded and exchanged weird sights between them.
Emily opened her mouth.
“Saying the conclusion, the theme is one thing: a high class dish for your family. It has to feel normal and luxurious at the same time. You should know how difficult of a thing it is. We don’t care about the methods you use. Make an Asian meal, or a Western full course, or if that’s also not it you can make only one thing. That’s your choice.”
“The thing you have to be most aware is the satisfaction of your family. But of course, the final judgement will be on us, but don’t forget to take into account your family. Even if it’s a simple dish, put your skills and creativity in it. We will give you two hours to cook. The time to design the recipe is 30 minutes. Start the designing right now.”
Jo Minjoon just looked at his parents. His heart beat. It was the first time he showed his proper self. Then. Then…..
He had to show them. He wanted to show them how much he had run and where was he standing…
…as well as what kind of chef he was.
< Cooking style (2) > End
Translator’s note: Regarding Anduksam. It’s a name given by the chinese on the premiere when Neo goes to the matrix to go and catch Smith. The dialogue he used was “Welcome back, mr. Anderson” but in chinese it’s translated as (They say it’s teacher Anduksam’s welcoming party) It’s a mistranslation or perhaps a pun done on purpose. Just laugh it off and let it go.
PR Note: Anduksam sounds like something I’d encounter from a megaten game…
Translator : Subak
Proofreader : Saihikawa