Chloe took in a long, deep breath. She tied her hair with a white bandana with flowers, and as she took on a white apron, she looked kind of boorish. The feeling got weirder as she stood next to Joanne since Joane sticked to the fashion of the ‘20s. They said that the fashion of that time was rather good, but in the end it was going back in time.
A striped white shirt, a brown cardigan, and a brown pelt floppy hat. It felt just like she was an American princess of that time. If they went to the mission like that it would have been quite a funny scene, but unfortunately that didn’t happen. The staff lent them cooking uniforms, and the two of them lowered their heads as if they were disappointed.
“I wanted to show my fashion senses because it was the last time.”
“How about going to a model audition later on?”
“I won’t even be able to apply because of my low height.”
At Jo Minjoon’s joke, Chloe replied with a serious voice. Could she have really dreamt of becoming a model? Kaya looked at the uniforms for quite a while and then opened her mouth.
“Ours are better than theirs.”
Kaya’s uniform colour was black. On the other side, Anderson’s team was white. Actually a bright colour would be better to notice if there was a stain on it, but if it was only for the looks, black was better. First, it made you look a bit slimmer.
When everyone changed clothes and gathered, Kaya opened her mouth. You couldn’t feel the rebel and troublemaker side of her. Her voice was calm, still, and warm.
“Thanks, everyone, for having worked hard for the past 6 days and following my methods without saying anything. I will certainly win. No.”
Kaya took in a breath and spoke as if he was swearing.
Everybody replied with smiles. They wondered if it wasn’t Kaya that had grown the most in this competition.
And it wasn’t talking about cooking skills. She had grown as a person. But of course, there would be some differences because everyone had grown. It was a competition they could only do so. In a short time they had to cook and keep cooking while putting their everything. They also had to cooperate with someone they hadn’t even talked at all, and sometimes they made things they were cooking for the first time. If they couldn’t grow in that extreme situation, that would rather be the weird thing.
Everyone calmed themselves and went toward the kitchen. You would ask if there was a need to feel nervous if it wasn’t even their competition, but they couldn’t. It was a place where famous chefs from all over the country were looking at them. If someone took an eye on them, then it meant that all of America would be looking at them.
Most of all they wanted to make Kaya the winner. Because whatever they did, they were a team right now. There was no one that bore ill intentions because she was doing better than them. At least, it was so between them.
As they got in the kitchen, there was one point that was different from before. The curtain that was between the hall and the kitchen disappeared. It meant that the chefs would check on how they would cook. Chloe clenched her fists. Her palms weren’t sweaty, but her heart was. It was also throbbing so much that every time she breathed, her chest hurt.
However, it was a good nervousness. Maybe expressing it as adrenaline rush would be appropriate. And that wasn’t only talking about Chloe. It was a structure that made you feel like that. It wasn’t only an ordinary open kitchen. They would be showing not only their skills to the best chefs recognized nationally, but also their efforts and the fruit of their labors.
They would be showing not only their skills to the best chefs recognized nationally, but also their efforts and the fruit of their labors.
Jo Minjoon took in a long breath. Inside the bulked up chest, many emotions swirled—nervousness, expectation, excitement—however when he exhaled, those things went away with the breath. There was only one thing that remained: resolve. And it wasn’t resolve about winning, not even a resolution of wanting to make Kaya the winner. It was a really simple resolve.
‘Let’s make something delicious.’
It was simple but really difficult to do. Even if he went with Korean, Chinese, or Western, in the end the thing he had to pursue was the same. On the mouth that even a fist can’t fit in, he had to put in his life.
‘No, what I have to put this time isn’t my life.’
It was Kaya’s recipe, her thoughts, and her ideology. Then, what he was actually putting in would mostly be Kaya’s colour. So what did he have to do now? Did he only have to copy the recipe like a machine? That was what Jo Minjoon thought for the past 6 days. What can I do to make an even better dish? When making food that wasn’t his, but of another one, what kind of attitude did he have to hold?
The answer came from none other than music. Precisely speaking, it was from classic music. When he listened to Mozart’s Violin Concerto No.3 he got inspired like Edison’s light bulb.
The chance was simple. It was a short thought.
‘Certainly for Mozart, Hillary’s concert is the best.’
In the case of classic, even if it’s the same piece, it would completely change according to who the director and the performers were. And he wasn’t just talking about the interpretation with what he felt. The movement of the bow, the fierceness of the bowing, the sharpness and range that goes between the times. All of those little things were melted in the performer’s personality, and the result made a big difference.
But just because of that, no one could say that he wasn’t Mozart. Because in the end the melody was the same.
Kaya’s recipe was the partiture for him. Then, the thing he had to do basically was to understand the partiture and the composer. And that’s why he thought, what could Kaya want to express with this langoustine? What does she want to treat? What kind of flavor does she want to produce?
He investigated and analyzed, and then he understood. The flavor Kaya wanted to show but was having difficulty to say with words. He knew precisely what kind of feeling she wanted.
Now, it was perfectly recreating it up to where he could. The evaluation that came next was Kaya’s job. The evaluation would also change according to how well she cooked it. Jo Minjoon trusted in Kaya’s recipe, but it wasn’t because of the high score the system was telling. Because he had seen until now. He had eaten until now.
The judges were standing in front of the countertop. Joseph said with a calm voice.
“Tonight, this table will be filled with chefs from all over the country. Are you ready to satisfy all of them?”
“Yes. I am.”
Kaya replied without even hesitating for a bit. Joseph looked at her as if it was surprising.
“You are more confident than usual. Even if it’s you, I thought that you would be more nervous in this stage.”
“I don’t want to become a fool in the kitchen because I was nervous.”
“Good. Keep that composure. Anderson, are you fine?”
“I’m certain that I’m calmer than Kaya.”
Maybe he didn’t want to lose to her, Anderson replied with a hard voice. But compared to Kaya, he had a face that was clearly nervous. Alan said with a casual expression.
“Remember. You aren’t alone right now. You have allies, and you have to lead them. Don’t even think the things related to the competition. The customers will soon come. I believe that you will show them a good side.”
Anderson shut his mouth. He didn’t want to make a dull mistake at a decisive moment. And right now, this moment was one of the most important in his life.
The mission started.
For each table, three chairs were placed. Some may say that having an even number of chairs was the best, but actually placing the chairs in a triangle was the ideal thing to be able to concentrate on the food and hold a conversation. It was easy to concentrate on the food, and was also comfortable to look at the people at the sides.
However, there was only one table that correspond to that. It was New York’s and California’s table. There were 50 states in America and there was one from Washington DC. If they divided themselves in 3, it would be normal to be able to divide it perfectly, but on their table there were only two people. New York touched his beard mark arrogantly and grumbled.
“How does the guy that lives in Illinois, and in Chicago on top of that, get the latest?”
“Originally the people that calls people to their region get the latest. It should be similar.”
“Getting late is the secondary problem. I came to Chicago but I couldn’t even eat Chicago pizza. What kind of stupid thing is this?”
At New York’s grumbling, California laughed faintly. Her teacher, she met in a long while, still had that unshapely taste.
“Even if it’s that good, in the end it’s only a piece of cheese. Do you really want to put that thing in your mouth?”
“Keep eating dignified dishes in New York. There are times that you start to miss those explosive flavors. You are able to talk like that because you live like a resident in heaven in California.”
“You are making those dignified dishes yourself.”
“Originally, the things you make yourself tend to be not delicious. You have to eat something others made or take things from others for it to be delicious.”
“…….I won’t get mine taken.”
At California’s vigilant voice, New York twisted his nose with a ‘hmph’ and slowly looked at the kitchen.
“He’s Fabio’s and Amelia’s son, right?”
“He looks quite detestable, i’m certain that he’s Fabio’s son.”
“Even so, he looks quite good? His body seems strong, and he’s manly.”
“…….He’s like a son for you. Don’t look him like that.”
“A son was too much! Let’s say that he’s like a nephew. We shouldn’t even have 20 years of age difference. And in the first place, I haven’t even looked at him with those eyes! And my son already go to primary school. He’s not that big!”
“He looks hateable, it’s certain that he’s Fabio’s son.”
California said while assuming a prim air. New York just looked at the others instead of replying.
“Right, she is Maya.”
“……..You aren’t talking about Kaya, right?”
“Ah, right. Kaya. You too get my age. The names start to feel similar.”
“Why don’t you call her Inka…… Well, leave it. First, how do you see the administration of the kitchen?”
“It seems sloppy.”
“On what point?”
“First, they are serving the gazpacho to that ugly Texas guy instead of me.”
“……Fine. The second?”
“The second is that the yells don’t hurt your ear. Will you be able to listen anything when you concentrate?”
In the first place, it was common that people could show that concentration. California put a weird expression as if it wasn’t convincing and looked at them.
“Is there someone you want to take?”
“Anderson. First, if I take him he would be able to at least fulfill the role of Sous chef. And if I teach him for a few more years, he would be able to take the role of head chef in a huge restaurant without problem. And……”
New York’s words got cut. Kaya was pulling the kart and was serving the gazpacho on their plates. New York looked at Kaya still and asked.
“You said you came from New York, right? What market is it?”
“The southern free market.”
“Ah, the price over there is fine but the hygiene is bad.”
“Then go to somewhere with good hygiene but with bad prices.”
“Can I believe that the hygiene of this gazpacho is fine?”
“It may have gotten a bit dirty because of you spitting on it.”
Kaya finished serving the gazpacho and smirked when she looked at New York staring at her absent mindedly.
“Have a good meal.”
Kaya moved to another table. New York said with a depressed voice.
“Young people nowadays don’t have manners towards the elderly.”
“That’s also it, but it’s also a problem that you didn’t become a normal elder but a detestable one. Before you weren…… No, you were also like that back then.”
New York didn’t reply. He took a spoonful of the gazpacho and brought it to his mouth. At that moment, his eyes turned sharp.
“It’s a clear flavor.”
“Mm, that’s right. It’s delicious. Although it’s difficult for a gazpacho to not be delicious, it’s still good. The flavor of the watermelon is denser than a normal gazpacho……”
“If the start is this much, it’s not bad at all.”
Anderson’s team’s dishes didn’t come out yet. There were 50 customers. Even if they formed a team of 5 people with assistants, it was difficult to make quality food. And it wouldn’t be different even if it was them. Normal kitchens tried to not lose the flavor and the amount of people they could handle were at most 30. But even so, it was possible on the repeated labor, the teamwork, and the accustomed recipe.
That’s why the chefs divided in two and were eating food of different teams. And in their case, they had to eat Kaya’s dish first.
Then, the chef of Illinois arrived. The person that had white hair smiled and sat on his seat.
“I got a bit late.”
“There’s nothing left for you.”
“That was a bit too much.”
Illinois smirked and raised his spoon. New York said with a disliking face.
“It’s a bit precious to give it to a latecomer.”
“Looking that you speak like that it seems like it was made well.”
“The ingredients are good. They didn’t use ingredients that got sloppily limp. As I saw, the fermentation was also quite well done.”
“Did they have time to ferment on a mission?”
“As I heard, there were some cases where they prepared the things that needed fermentation yesterday. And the dough for the bread is also like that. Good for us. We get to eat more delicious things.”
The gazpacho soon showed the floor. Kaya approached and took out the dishes and then, served the langoustine Jo Minjoon cooked. Besides the sights of the chefs, Kaya started to calmly explain about the langostino.
“It’s garnished with buttermilk purée and carrot purée. The foam on top is buttermilk foam. The langostino was sautéed once and roasted one side once more. If you enjoy the difference of the seared part and the opposite part, it will be more delicious.”
Illinois said with an admiring expression. Actually, looking at the exterior of it was perfect. However that wasn’t what he meant. It was the combination of the purée and the cooking state of the langostino. Illinois stained the langostin in purée, and after he ate a bite he smiled brightly.
“Your recipe is excellent, and your comrade that reproduced it without any flaws is also excellent.”
“Thanks. On top of that, Jo Minjoon was the one that made this langostino.”
“Oh…….It’s that person, the one with the absolute sense of taste. Am I right?”
Kaya smiled as if it was a bit embarrassing.
“He’s the chef I admire the most.”
< The winner’s scale (1) > End
Translator’s note: Thanks for reading!
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Translator : Subak
Proofreader : Saihikawa