“Just because you have to cook for your family doesn’t mean that you should forget about us. You have to present not only a dish that is for your family, but also one that can be given an objectively high score to survive on this mission.”
Jo Minjoon let out a sigh inwardly. This mission was the most disadvantageous for him. In the case of Kaya and Anderson, they only needed to make a familiar meal, but in the case of Jo Minjoon he had to make a Korean familiar meal.
To satisfy the tastes of the judges……In conclusion, it wasn’t an easy mission. But of course, just like they are epicureans, they would be able to ignore the likes and the dislikes in ingredients like tofu and rice cakes to a certain point……
It was a mission he hadn’t thought about. Because originally, this mission didn’t even exist. Was it called butterfly effect? His sole existence changed the flow of the mission….. That made him proud but it wasn’t that welcoming of a sensation.
“Kya, chee up!”
As he turned to look at the stammering voice, he saw Gemma half-clenching her fist. The regretful thing was that as her fist was half-clenched, her middle finger was more extended than the others…….But Kaya smiled brightly. More brightly than ever. You couldn’t even see a trace of embarrassment from her face regarding her disabled sister.
“I will make you a really delicious thing. Just believe in me.”
As Gemma did that, all the other families felt that they also had to cheer. It was when Jo Ara yelled “Oppa, you can do it!”. Anderson’s parents, Fabio and Amelia stared at each other blankly. Amelia said with a voice full of arrogance.
“What are you doing and not cheering?”
“Won’t the mother’s cheering be of more strength than of the father’s?”
“That look of yours was really pitiable so I married you, but it’s difficult if you also act like that here.”
“What? You confessed to me first. Distorting the truth like this on a broadcast is difficult.”
“……..I’m fine with the cheering, so just be quiet.”
Below, Anderson said with a tired voice. He thought that he would be free of that couple’s fight while he was on Grand Chef’s house.
“You are still the same. Fabio, Amelia. Your son climbed to the top 3 on this competition. What do you think of it?”
“I’m planning on making him independent if he can’t win.”
“Huh, and if he wins?”
“I will still make him independent because he will be able to walk on his own. It’s on me whether I choose if it would be a good independence or not.”
“What do you think? Anderson.”
“If both sides are making me independent, does my words even matter? Because I already became independent.”
Amelia’s eyes became sharp. Anderson got intimidated and turned to look away. And then continued to say in a rather low voice.
“And regardless of what my parents think, I’m going to prove myself on this competition. That’s not only to get a good independence, It’s because I want to stand on my own.”
“…….Doesn’t that mean that you want to get independent in the end?”
Anderson’s eyes shook for a moment. ‘……..Is it the same thing?’ Anderson reddened his cheeks as if he was ashamed. Then coughed and turned to look away.
“I have to design the recipe. Don’t bother me.”
“I’m sorry Joseph. Our child is still a kid.”
At the word ‘kid’, Anderson’s brows twitched, but he didn’t react. Because it was obvious that if he said something only he would get exhausted. In some meaning, Amelia was more difficult of an adversary to handle than Kaya. Because she was a mother that made you more tired than someone you have an enmity with. Just how steep of a life was this.
“What kind of food do you want Jo Minjoon to make for you?”
Emily approached Lee Hyeseon and Jo Ara and asked. The translator whispered those words in their ears and then Jo Ara opened her mouth. What came out of her mouth was English, but her accent was so sloppy it made you wonder if there was really a need to speak in English.
“Honestly, I don’t mind. Uh, mmm……. What was that? The field on food……Ah, it isn’t a field but respecting the variety, what’s possible for my oppa and, mmm……..”
“Just say it in Korean.”
Jo Minjoon smirked and said. Looking at Lee Hyeseon’s soft yet without laughter, standard Korean eyes that was looking at Jo Ara, he thought that she may want to change her extracurricular English teacher when they returned home. Jo Ara said with a dispirited voice. And in Korean this time.
“In our house, there isn’t a boundary regarding food, so we are fine with whatever dish comes out. Even if it’s not a familiar meal, we are fine with it. But of course, I think that French dishes that seems like a bluff is a bit too much……”
“So she says. Minjoon. What do you think about it?”
“I will keep it in mind.”
Jo Minjoon replied briefly. The remaining ones were Kaya’s family. Alan wanted to say something and looked at Gemma for a moment. She moved her chin as if just standing still was difficult, and she moved her upper body to the sides as if it were a metronome. Alan approached and opened his mouth with a soft voice.
“Do you like Kaya’s cooking?”
“Yea, I laik unni’s cookin most………”
Grace slowly stroke Gemma’s head that replied like that. Was it because she was putting a sorry and sad expression too much? It looked like Grace’s face was filled with pain and hardships, and that was reflected on her skin. Because even her smile seemed hard and sad.
“Kaya treats Gemma really well. Ah, and of course to me. Even if she looks mean, she’s a really warm and tender kid. Everyone……I would like it if you don’t misunderstand Kaya.”
“We don’t misunderstand. There won’t be no one here that doesn’t know that Kaya has a deep heart.”
Anderson put a face that seemed like he was saying ‘I don’t know at all.’ Jo Minjoon smirked and poked his side. Anderson looked at him as if he was asking why he was poking him, but Jo Minjoon pointed upwards instead of replying. Amelia and Fabio were looking at Anderson with a strict face. Anderson said with a tired voice.
“……..I want to run away from home.”
“But this isn’t your home.”
“Out of my parents sight. How’s Korea? Is it good to live?”
“I wonder. Won’t everywhere be good to live if you just have the skills? Excluding Africa or places from the Middle East. Let’s stop talking and make the recipe.”
Anderson put a depressed face and kept writing down things on his note. Jo Minjoon closed his eyes and concentrated. The sound of the judges and the families was getting away, and soon he couldn’t hear a thing. His concentration was certainly one level higher even compared to his friends at school. It wasn’t that frequent but he had memorized 100 English words in 5 minutes. But of course, after the test he forgot most of it.
‘I will have to decide the style first.’
Honestly speaking, it was a bit uncomfortable to make a course cooking. How many Korean families would there be that ate like that? Not even needing to go to Korea, even in American families they placed mac n’ cheese, pancakes, etc. in the middle of the table and shared it.
But just because of that, to prepare an Asian familiar meal, he remembered the last vegetarian mission. Even if the judges tried their best to be objective, in the end they are people accustomed to Western cuisine. They could only feel some distance unconsciously regarding Asian cuisine.
But in the end, the thing that suited most in this situation was an Asian formal dinner. But it would be a bit unreasonable to make an enormous meal because you were given two hours…..
‘No, is it really unreasonable?’
Jo Minjoon looked down at his hands. He too had grown. The first time he came to Grand Chef he relied partly on the system’s strength, but now he was confident on being able to claim that he wouldn’t fall back on giving it flavor. However you saw it, he was in the top 3. Just because you knew the answer, not everyone would be able to solve it.
He tried not to be conscious of it, but he still felt a sense of inferiority. Compared to others, the path of being able to walk it while already knowing the answer. Because it was a strength already given to him, he tried not to be conscious of it. But every time people praised his absolute sense of taste or his ability to design recipes, instead of feeling happy he felt heavier.
And now, he wanted to get out of that weight. He wanted to get recognized that he was a chef with skills. He didn’t need the recognition of the system or the judges. He needed his family’s recognition. The recognition he couldn’t even get once after he turned 30.
‘If I’m going with Korean cuisine, I will go with the most luxurious one.’
If people said that it was Korean cuisine, some may think that it was simple and unsophisticated. But if you went with the royal court’s cuisine, the story changed. But of course, if he went that way the feeling of serving his family would lessen, but he was planning on fixing that point by finding a common point in a normal dish and a royal court dish.
Jo Minjoon mixed and broke down recipes in his head. It was at this moment that he thought that his skills had raised. They system was the one that evaluated the recipe, but Jo Minjoon was the one on designing it. And it was to the point he felt that he was getting more accustomed to it. First of all, there were almost no cases where the recipe became a failure because the lowest score among the ones he had thought was 6.
And even thinking up of an 8-point recipe wasn’t that hard. Only, it was on the case he took a really long time. Because the standard for the score was on the combination of time, dedication, technique, and creativity. So as the time gets longer, it was also obvious that he got a good score.
But there weren’t many dishes he could make while also making other things and getting 8 points in only two hours. The first thing Jo Minjoon thought of was a king’s dinner table. A king’s meal. If you wanted to give a Korean feeling, wasn’t that much an ideal thing? However, he couldn’t do so. Realistically speaking, for one person to make 12 dishes on 2 hours was simply impossible.
No, just making the side dishes would be kind of possible. But the number 12 in 12 dishes excluded the rice, soup, and steamed dishes. Thinking about all of that, it was really hard if you didn’t have two bodies. You wouldn’t know if the ingredients were already prepared……In the first place, you only had 4 burners.
That’s why the thing Jo Minjoon thought of was a 5-dish table meal. In the case of varieties of herbs, it doesn’t take as much time comparatively, so he thought that he may be able to accomplish it. He didn’t think of solely making the side dishes to be Korean. Just like Jo Ara said, just because they were Korean it didn’t mean that they always ate Korean meals on their house. The most important thing was the feeling. The feeling it gave of being a Korean meal. If he focused on that, he thought that it wouldn’t matter whether Japanese or Chinese dishes was on it.
Normally, he should be able to organize the recipe faster than anyone, but today he couldn’t do so. It was unavoidable because if the process of designing a 5-dish table, taking into account the cooking and composition score, was easy he wouldn’t have come as a participant but as a judge.
Lee Hyeseon looked at Jo Minjoon. Although he was her son, this was her first time looking him so concentrated like this. Rather than she didn’t see him concentrating in other things than cooking, she couldn’t be next to him. But even so, she felt weird.
‘……….Do you really like it? This path.’
She felt bitter. It wasn’t because her son chose the path of becoming a chef, that was one of the toughest ones. It was because even while making that decision, Jo Minjoon was being considerate and cautious to his parents instead of leaning on them. Perhaps it could mean that he had grown……. But parents always wish for the day their child grows, but when that day comes they shed tears without anyone knowing.
As she kept looking at Jo Minjoon with a nervous heart, the mission started with the judges’ voice. Lee Hyeseon and Jo Ara kept looking at Jo Minjoon cooking. They even got amazed at the fast speed he brought the ingredients compared to the others, but soon they got really surprised when he started to use the knife.
He was clearly different to when he was in Korea. He had stability and was faster. When they watched him handle the knife on the broadcast, they doubted if they didn’t turn the speed of the screen faster, but that wasn’t it. Just like watching the kniving is the easiest thing to measure the skill of someone, they got really surprised at Jo Minjoon’s skillfulness.
“Mom, when could oppa have practiced like that?”
The voice of the two didn’t reach Jo Minjoon. Part of it was because they didn’t talk in a high voice, but most of it was because basically Jo Minjoon concentrated the most when cooking.
A 5-dish table meal. Originally you should take a complex combination of rice, soup, stew, kimchi, pickled vegetables, fried vegetables, etc… But Jo Minjoon didn’t mind that. In the first place, he didn’t even remember the exact contents for a 5-dish meal. He didn’t need to because there would be no one that would make them do a 5-dish meal.
The things Jo Minjoon cooked were 8. Fine white rice, beef radish soup (소고기무국) that was boiled in a taiwanese method that had japanese parsley and other spices, gochujang stew, roasted neobiani with a soy sauce mixed with honey sauce, chicken leg boiled in handmade masala with root vegetables, fried scombroid with a handmade chili sauce, fried bok choy, and vegetable japchae. Actually, you could only say that the neobiani was the main dish, but the important thing was on the combination of the flavor.
The composition score was good. 9 points. the average cooking score was 7.3. Although it wasn’t perfect, he had done his best and put all his heart. Because of that, when he heard Joseph’s voice, he could stand firmly more than ever.
“It’s been a long journey. Perhaps, this competition by itself could be the first step in your lives, but for the one that survives until the end it wouldn’t be only one step, but five or perhaps 10 steps.”
“Regardless of the results today, you will be able to become excellent chefs. And the reason is simple. Rather than thinking of evaluating your dish, my head is filled with thoughts of enjoying it and wanting to taste it. A chef that makes an epicurean expect. And a chef that makes me expect aren’t many.”
Jo Minjoon looked up without words for a moment. He saw the nervous smiles of his mother and sister. The last elevator for the final destination was approaching. One, two, three.
“We will start evaluating.”
And then, the door opened.
< Cooking style (3) > End
Translator’s note: Thanks for reading
Translator : Subak
Proofreader : Saihikawa