Those were childish words. But maybe it was because the intention behind her words were too pretty and nice that he didn’t dislike those childish words that much. However, it was also true that Alan’s words were nice. Jo Minjoon said in a calm voice.
Maybe the intention behind her words were too nice that he didn’t dislike the childish words that much.
“I didn’t lie. And I won’t give up on cooking. Alan, I promise you that I won’t stop until the day I own the best restaurant, so don’t worry.”
“……Now that you speak like that, I do get a bit more relaxed.”
“But what were you talking about back then? That you fled from the kitchen.”
“When do you think it’s from?”
Alan smiled softly and asked back. Jo Minjoon fell in his thoughts for a moment and then opened his mouth.
“Isn’t it certainly from when you learned below Rachel for the first time?”
“No. It’s the opposite. I had hope back then that when I became a demi chef, a sous chef, a head chef, the story would become different. This suffering would end, and I will be able to handle the kitchen with joy as if it was mine.”
“…..That wasn’t the case?”
Jo Minjoon asked back with a face he couldn’t understand well. Alan smiled brightly and turned to look at Rachel. Rachel was looking at Alan with an expression you couldn’t know the meaning of. While facing that face, Alan slowly thought up of the memories in his heart.
“Hope is a step you should make in front of you. Just like I said when I was a demi chef, a sous chef…….looking over that made my heart feel calmer. The reason I have it hard right now is because I’m just a person from below. Something would change when I become a head chef. And…..”
Alan clicked his tongue and shrugged his shoulders. And after that, he let out a clear sigh and said with a composed voice.
“When I became a head chef, I realized that it isn’t the most comfortable place, but the place you hold the most responsibilities in your shoulders. You would have seen it many times on the internet. The look of a head chef yelling towards the kitchen like a crazy person. What do you think about this?”
“……..Isn’t their temperament just bad?”
Kaya said with a confused voice. If perhaps there was someone yelling at her like that, she wasn’t that confident on being able to fight back. Anderson butted in.
“There are many cases where their temperaments are bad, but the temperament isn’t the only thing that helps on making that harsh atmosphere.”
“Right. You would have to work while getting a hold of yourself. But there’s no need to yell like that. Well, it’s not that I feel bad about that. Honestly speaking, I’m determined to start biting like a hyena when I become a head chef, because of my temperament.”
“…..You are already determined to do that?”
“It was quite an easy resolution. That’s why I got ready first. What, can’t I?”
At Kaya’s natural answer, Anderson couldn’t speak anything else and put on a dumbfounded expression. Kaya’s brows twitched like a wave and then glanced at Jo Minjoon. But Jo Minjoon’s eyes were directed at Alan. He opened his mouth.
“I think I kind of know what you mean. That because of the burden of being a head chef and having to lead the kitchen, you just spend a day which you yell like that, right? And that there’s no way you will feel relaxed.”
“It’s similar. But that’s not the only thing. Being a chef means that you will also mind about the reputation and sales of the restaurant. You have to develop new menus, show a flavor that’s testing but not too excessive, and at the same time, dishes that won’t disappoint the hopes of the regular customers.”
Alan let out a sigh and shook his head.
“Honestly speaking, I still have it difficult. People I know tell me what’s there to worry when I already have a two star but……I still can’t get accustomed to this burden. Each and every day is war. Is the kitchen fine? Did they bring the ingredients like usual? Are there no complains by the customers? And if there are, was there a problem on my dish, or was that customer too picky? You start to get a lot of thoughts……..and the more it becomes the more your head hurts.”
“I can’t say that I know it all but…..I think I do understand what you meant.”
He remembered the words Rachel said, that cooking was still difficult. Rachel was like that, so how would Alan be? On whatever it is, it was natural to become harder the deeper you go. Wasn’t the ground like that? Jo Minjoon opened his mouth. There was a big possibility for him to work with Rachel when the broadcast ended. That meant he wouldn’t have a lot of time to meet other chefs.
So if that was the case, he wanted to obtain all the information he could. Of course, Rachel would teach him a lot of things, but he believed that there would be things only Alan knew. Alan continued speaking.
“In the end, the hardest thing is your mentality. Employees get stressed because of their boss or the store, but we get that from our customers. What’s ironic is that the customers are the one that bothers a chef the most……But the person a chef loves the most and receives the most love is from a customer.”
“Won’t it be better to not think of jerks as customers?”
“Do you think jerks are jerks from the start? A customer that always left good words and a smile left the restaurant with a stiff expression after eating one day. And after that he didn’t return. Later on, you realize that he wrote all of the disappointments he had about the restaurant on his blog. It’s the biggest scar a chef has to face. Compared to the person that lost their lover, that sense of loss won’t be small.”
How long would have passed that he became able to say those words out of his mouth. The atmosphere became heavy. Alan clapped his hands.
“But of course, this is just talking about the dark side. Just like complaints come, smiles and compliments will also follow you back. And the consolation and happiness that gives you will be big. But, even if you are happy, you may get a disease because of an attack that entered instantly. And to not get that disease, you shouldn’t be frail. Minjoon. Anderson. Kaya. Are you weak or are you strong?”
No one could say that they were strong. People are like that. Even if there are many that pretend they are strong, you wouldn’t be able to find real strong people even if you looked for them. But of course, there may be some that imagined that they were strong, but the three of them didn’t know themselves to that point.
It was then that Martin slightly glanced towards Alan. Alan closed and opened his eyes lightly and then opened his mouth.
“If you don’t know, won’t you do a test?”
“Stand in my kitchen.”
Alan pointed at the pasta that was disappearing.
“The recipe of that pasta, I will teach you the most I can before night comes. Are you confident on proving yourselves to the night customers?”
Kaya asked back with an uneasy voice. Alan replied with a serious voice.
“That you are chefs.”
It had been a while since he wore a cooking uniform again, but it wasn’t unfamiliar at all. He was borrowing it from someone else, but it was still like that. Jo Minjoon liked that part of himself. Not feeling unfamiliar to the uniform was because his mentality became similar to a chef’s, he got that thought. But of course, it was a childish thought……..Kaya opened her mouth.
“I wore it after a long time, but it’s not unfamiliar at all. Is my soul also that of a chef’s? What, Minjoon? Why are you looking at me with those eyes?”
Jo Minjoon turned his head with an awkward expression. Anderson said with an annoyed face.
“Don’t play like this when you are cooking. I will pour salt on you.”
“Do I look like a kid who doesn’t even know how to differentiate a work place?”
Anderson shut his mouth as if there was no need to even answer. Kitchen. It was between dinner and lunch, so Alan and the chefs were catching their breaths and resting. But of course, that was an exception for the low ranked chefs. Three people were still stirring the pot that had soup, sauce, etc. in one kitchen table, and the others were looking at these three with interesting eyes.
“We will be able to take one countertop each. At least for now.”
It was when Jo Minjoon mumbled like that. Martin and Alan approached them. Jo Minjoon looked at his surroundings and their back and said.
“Where did the others go?”
“They left to explore the street food of Florencia.”
“And we just practice cooking here?”
“Why. You don’t like it?”
“No. It’s not that……”
Even if Florencia’s dishes were delicious, in front of the opportunity of being able to feel the air of Alan’s kitchen with your body, it was nothing at all. Martin opened his mouth.
“We are planning to put some competition between you for the sake of the fun of the program and the limited space of the kitchen.”
“The person that makes the most delicious olive linguine among you three will work as the demi chef in charge of the section of pasta. And the other two will work as their helper.”
Kaya, Anderson, and Jo Minjoon looked at each other awarely. There were many times that they competed each other as team leaders and team members, but this time it was a helper. For them that were none other than friends and comrades, they could only dislike it more.
Kaya said with a voice filled with motivation.
“Fine. Then, tell us the recipe.”
“You grate basil, put it on the olive oil, and then fry garlic on that oil. Slice some bok choy and squid, and put it on the oil. After flambeing with white wine, you fry it once again and place salt on it. Cook the linguine for about 7 minutes and then fry it while it’s still a bit wet.”
Jo Minjoon organized the recipe Alan said. And after a while, he said with a perplexed face.
“Is it…….. The end?”
Alan said with a confident voice. And because of that, Jo Minjoon could get all the more perplexed. Because the expected cooking score he was seeing was showing a ‘9’.
‘What is it?’
But of course, if his skills worked as a support to raise the flavor to a limit, it wasn’t impossible to bring a higher score than the recipe. But just like it implied, it only wasn’t impossible.
The cooking level of the sous chef in charge of the pasta section in the kitchen only had a level of 7. It was almost impossible to cook a 9 points dish as a 10 points one. Even if it was Jo Minjoon, it wasn’t easy to make a 7 points dish with a 6 points recipe.
Then, the answer was in one of the two. Alan told them a wrong recipe or he didn’t tell them a part on purpose.
‘Is he telling us to find the lacking point in the recipe and fill it up ourselves……’
Jo Minjoon closed his eyes. Even if he composed the recipe in his head countless of times, he couldn’t get an answer at all. For now, he could only make it.
The three stood in front of their countertops and cooked the linguine. The knives trimming the vegetables were different. Kaya was rough and splendid, Anderson was quick and careful, and Jo Minjoon was calm and tidy.
The olive oil with grated basil emanated a nice aroma that heated their bodies and squid and bok choy was placed over that. As white wine was poured, flames with a dense color surged up and soon the cooked linguine fell on top of that.
Jo Minjoon, who took out the noodles before it dried up, placed the linguine on the plate beautifully. The bok choy and squid were placed next to the pasta, finely. At least externally, it looked exactly the same as the pasta he ate before. But Jo Minjoon could see with his eyes that the score of the dish was 9.
There was nothing to feel happy because it was a 9-point dish he couldn’t usually see. Because the secret for that score wasn’t on his skills but on the noodles. Jo Minjoon slowly rolled the pasta in his fork. It was delicious. The deliciousness of the noodle, the elasticity, and the aroma of the squid and bok choy was vivid. But something was regrettable. Alan, who was glancing at Jo Minjoon, opened his mouth.
“Do you think you recreated it the same way?”
“……..No. Something’s lacking.”
Alan looked at Jo Minjoon with a face that was holding his laughter. And after seeing that face, he was now completely certain that there was something missing on the recipe. Jo Minjoon went to the other two and asked.
“Can I eat it?”
“If you also let me eat yours.”
Jo Minjoon changed dishes. Kaya’s and Anderson’s linguine wasn’t that different. The ingredients, and the recipe were the same, so it could only be like that. Although there was a minuscule difference on the flavor…..It wasn’t that big to change the score.
‘On the recipe Alan said, all the ingredients were on what the system told me.’
As all the ingredients were in it, it meant that there may be some differences on the cooking time, or the order on cooking. At least, Jo Minjoon thought like that. It was when he was thinking like that and he ate the pasta Alan made. A faint sweet flavor passed by the tip of his tongue. It was a sweet flavor he couldn’t feel in his dish.
It was then. He felt like he knew the identity of that thing.
< What a kitchen is (3) > End
(PR: It was sugar. Just kidding.
If you like this story, please give your support to the author, translator, and proofreader.)
Translator’s note: Thanks for reading!
Translator : Subak
Proofreader : Saihikawa