The dish leaves, the dish returns. You could know how delicate and sweet this bridge between the two processes was even without rolling your head.
The dishes of the three was like that. Anderson’s, Kaya’s, and Minjoon’s dish was like that. After serving the last pasta of the last table, the tight nervousness got eased up slowly. Jo Minjoon breathed in while turning off the fire.
“This is fun.”
“……..It is but it’s too hot.”
Kaya wiped off the sweat flowing down her forehead and fluttered her clothes. And then stealthily brought her mouth to Jo Minjoon’s ear. He thought that the smell of her skin wet in sweat was walking towards his nose, but soon a husky voice filled his ear.
“Let’s go to the fridge.”
“No. You can’t.”
“Can’t you just tell me that I can?”
“Don’t act spoiled. Also.”
Jo Minjoon grabbed Kaya’s chin with an awkward face and separated it. He cleared his throat.
“I’m also hot. Don’t stick to me.”
Kaya glared at Jo Minjoon with a reproachful expression and then left. Anderson clicked his tongue and shook his head.
“Do you know that it’s really frustrating looking at the two of you.”
“…….I understand what you are trying to say, but don’t say anything.”
“I also hate butting in matters of other people but I can’t help feeling frustrated.”
Jo Minjoon just looked at Kaya instead of answering. She approached Berta, who was washing the dishes and was talking to her as a bully. Just like the paper that melted when placed on water, Jo Minjoon slowly showed his feelings over his lips.
“Kaya. I think that she’s a really good girl.”
“……I don’t think I will be getting that thought in my life.”
“Why. She is like that. She lived a harsh life, and speaks roughly, but her heart isn’t like that.”
“That heart, she is only like that towards you. You say that because you didn’t look at the faces of the ones Kaya cursed at.”
“That may also be true.”
Jo Minjoon shrugged his shoulders and moved next to Alan. It wasn’t that they had a conversation to speak. He wanted to see how the customers outside of the kitchen, at the hall, were eating his linguine.
There were only three tables that were still eating linguine. An old couple, young couple, and a family of four with small kids. Their linguine was rolled in the forks and every time it entered their mouths, Jo Minjoon gulped. And when their eyes bent down softly, his heart also let out a calm sigh. Jo Minjoon opened his mouth.
“I want to go out and ask them.”
“If my linguine was delicious. I want to ask it to everyone.”
“But why don’t you?”
“In case my light attitude disturbs the emotions given by the dish. As I can’t give it more flavor, I can’t disturb a happy time. And……”
Jo Minjoon spoke with a voice that was covered with happiness.
“I don’t think there’s a need to ask them.”
The old and young couple, and the family of four were all eating the linguine with satisfied faces. He couldn’t listen to their conversation, but he felt like he could know even when he couldn’t listen.
Sera approached Jo Minjoon’s side and looked at the hall. And opened her mouth as if she couldn’t understand well.
“How do you feel when looking at that as a chef?”
“It’s the best. Is there something else to ask for? Chefs exist to give customers a delicious memory. And when the customer leaves the table happily, the chef got recognized all his life with just that. The smiles of those people….. are telling me that my life isn’t worthless. I can only be happy.”
“Everything. You have a sense of taste every epicurean and chefs are jealous of, and that you get happy with just a smile of a customer.”
Jo Minjoon, who was looking at the hall, turned to look at Sera. And Sera flinched at that moment. He was certainly three years younger than her, he was a youth close to being a teen. But the depth of his eyes seemed to be deeper than hers.
‘……What are them, those eyes.’
Those were eyes that made people feel nervous for nothing. Should you say that it felt that the deep parts of your heart got read and touched? It was to the point that Kaya fell for him because of these eyes. Sera gulped. She felt that all of the muscles in her face hardened. Jo Minjoon opened his mouth.
“Sera is also a good epicurean.”
“Based on what are you telling me that?”
Sera put on a provocative smile. But it was only a pretentious one. The thread of uneasiness hidden behind her confidence was seen in Jo Minjoon’s eyes.
“Sera, if there is something a chef needs the most, what do you think that may be?”
“……..I wonder. Isn’t it greed to make delicious food?”
“That may also be the answer. When they talk among them with that, their opinions split everywhere. Some say that it has to be the heart towards the customer, and some that you have to protect your own philosophy. Well, honestly speaking is there an answer for a question like this? But.”
Jo Minjoon looked at Sera’s eyes properly. He spoke like a teacher teaching his student.
“You said it with your own mouth. That the greed to make delicious things is the most important thing for a chef. Then, if you are also filled with feelings of wanting to enjoy food as an epicurean, won’t that be enough with that? Don’t be jealous of me. Sera, you are shining plentily with that.”
Although it wasn’t frequent, he had seen positive opinions about Sera in the internet. That she was a cosplay epicurean star that has her looks as a weapon. But Jo Minjoon didn’t agree to that.
Sera plentily understood what kind of composition there was on a dish. But he wasn’t saying this just because her tasting level was 8. Because each and every word she usually says is directed to cooking in the end.
Jo Minjoon was thinking that Sera was a good epicurean. Because of that, he couldn’t agree to her feeling ashamed.
“You really think like that…..?”
“People think that I am gentle. I’m not. If I didn’t think well of you, I wouldn’t have consoled you like this.”
Sera shut her mouths for a bit. Several thoughts passed over her head. As the person she was jealous of and admired at the same time to recognize her like this, she couldn’t think how she should accept this. Should she still say that she was worse than him. Or thank him.
One certain thing was that funnily enough, Jo Minjoon’s words consoled her heart. Actually it wasn’t that different to what Emily had told her, but it felt different coming out of Jo Minjoon’s mouth. Sera looked at Jo Minjoon for a moment and then opened her mouth.
“French fries. Do you pour over it or dip it?”
“I dip it.”
“I pour it.”
Jo Minjoon looked at Sera as if what was she trying to say. Sera smirked and said.
“Just because an absolute sense of taste dips it doesn’t mean that the ones that pour it are in the wrong.”
Emily, whowas listening to their conversation, laughed softly. Alan, that was next to her, looked at Emily and asked.
“Why are you laughing?”
“The girl who was lacking something when I spoke to her, fixed her heart immediately like that when Minjoon speaks. So it was amazing. Are words really different based on who says it?”
“…….That may be the case. Even if it’s me and when I hear that it is delicious, based on who says it the happiness varies. When teacher Rachel…….or an excellent epicurean like you says that my food is delicious, I can only feel better.”
“Oh please, don’t say things like that in front of the camera.”
Emily flushed as if she was embarrassed. While they were having this atmosphere, Rachel was smiling brightly in front of Rachel and Kaya.
“You two did really well today.”
“Did we do something. In the end we only supported Minjoon.”
“But there aren’t dishes without supporters. You perfectly accomplished the needed role. Isn’t that enough to compliment you with just that?”
Anderson answered as if he was sneering at himself but Rachel still kept on her smile because it was true. Jo Minjoon wasn’t the only amazing one. Even when you do the same thing for hours, to not have made any mistakes in that process even once had already proved themselves. Rachel opened and closed her mouth and said.
“I feel like I am becoming a greedy old lady as I keep saying this in front of the camera……..But even so I can’t not say this. Anderson, Kaya, I want to also make the same proposal I did to Minjoon.”
Anderson opened his eyes abruptly. It was clear what that proposal was. She was talking about entering Rose Island, Rachel’s kitchen. Anderson opened his mouth hurriedly but shut it again. If he spoke now, he felt like his voice was going to tremble. Rachel patted Anderson’s arm with a sorry expression.
“You always showed me a mannered look, but I can only repay you like this.”
“N, no. Thank you. I’m really……..really thankful.”
He felt like all the sorrow piled until now was going to be washed away, and tears would flow out. Anderson sobbed and gulped down the cry that rose up to his throat. Anderson looked at Rachel with a determined look.
“I will certainly pay you back that you believed in me.”
“I will certainly pay you back for believing in me.”
“It’s good getting a resolution, but don’t feel burdened. It’s not for you, but for the customers. The heart of a chef always gets colored on their dishes.”
“I think that if Teacher Rachel stands in the kitchen, I will be able to cook with a happy heart for all my life.”
Rachel nodded with a faint smile and then turned her head to Kaya. Kaya couldn’t reply anything with a perplexed face. Rachel said as if she understood.
“I know Kaya that it is difficult for you to answer this with your situation. But the expiration date of my proposal will be much larger than what you think. I feel like I already told you at the competition in Grand Chef that you should grab my hands when it’s time. I think that this will be possible when you finish all of your activities as a Grand Chef.”
“……It’s something I haven’t thought about so it’s difficult to answer. But first, I will think seriously about it..”
“Yes. I will be waiting for a nice reply.”
After a short while of their conversation having ended, they were on the bus returning to their lodging. The seat of the corridor. While sitting next to Jo Minjoon, Kaya was thinking again about the proposal Rachel made.
It was a charming proposal. When she finished all of the activities of Grand Chef, there were two things which she could choose from. The first, meeting the owner of a small restaurant and becoming a head chef………. Or slowly climb up on Rose Island, which has a big and good reputation.
Based on her choices, there would be completely different results. If she just does well, she may become a recognized head chef at a young age. If it was the latter one, she may not be able to obtain something big immediately but at least, she will be given a chance to grow up while certainly learning. As she has never received proper teaching, An opportunity of being able to learn under a giant like Rachel was more precious than anything.
But what was funny was that Kaya didn’t feel the charm on Rachel’s proposal on the part that Rachel was in it. The main store of Rose island. If she went there then……
‘He may also be there.’
Kaya slightly turned her head. Maybe he had worked too hard that Jo Minjoon was sleeping while laying his head on the support of the chair. She thought that he would turn her head towards her just like it happens in melo films, but it didn’t happen. Jo Minjoon’s neck was hard, and his posture was also firm.
She looked at her surroundings. Emily seemed to be texting with someone that her eyes were fixed in her smartphone, and Alan and Rachel were talking about the things that would happen in the kitchen. Jeremy fell asleep and Sera was absentmindedly looking at the exotic view of a foreign country spread beyond the car window.
The remaining thing was the installed camera. Kaya flocked her clothes pretending to feel hot and then took off her cardigan, which was filled with holes, and placed it over her and Jo Minjoon’s knees. She thought that he may wake up, but fortunately that didn’t happen.
On the world below the cardigan, Kaya’s fingers wriggled out. When her hand, that was stuttering over his leg reached Jo Minjoon’s hand, a satisfied smile appeared on Kaya’s mouth. Kaya touched the back of his hand for a moment and soon grabbed it. Her heart started to beat because she felt that she was doing something wrong, but her heart was rather relaxed.
She felt like she may fall asleep like this. It was when Kaya thought like that and was about to close her eyes. A vibration occurred in her pocket. Kaya took out her smartphone with worn out eyes and opened the screen.
Something vibrated in her pocket.
And after a while, Kaya unconsciously gripped Jo Minjoon’s hands harder.
< People over the crossroad (1) > End
Translator : Subak
Proofreader : Saihikawa