As soon as the call ended, he thought he might get an angry text, or even an angry call from Kaya……but his smartphone was silent for a long time. He even tried to call her himself, but all he got was a busy tone on the other end.
‘……This is scarier than her being angry.’
Maybe she is extremely angry, or perhaps, maybe she was actually hurt by what he said. There was nothing he could do since there was no response whether he called or sent a text.
“Hey, what should I do? Kaya might not be okay.”
“If her mental strength is not even strong enough to handle something small like this, then, well, she should just give up living in society.”
“……You cold-hearted bastard.”
“If I really was cold-hearted, I would not have let you out of your slave contract after just one day.”
Jo Minjoon could only sigh in silence after listening to Anderson. Why did Anderson have to drag him into this mess? Anderson looked at Jo Minjoon’s back before asking.
“Are you going to make breakfast again today?”
“I’m not sure. If you think about our flight time, it doesn’t look like we would stop for breakfast anywhere; it might be better to just make it on our own. But we should probably ask everybody else as well. Since it is our last one, they might want to eat at a restaurant than making it on our own.”
“……Wouldn’t it take too long to go to a restaurant? We might only have enough time to grab a bento or something from a convenience store.”
“Then let’s just sleep in. Since we don’t have enough time.”
However, seven hours later, at 5:00am, Jo Minjoon and Anderson were standing face to face in the kitchen. Anderson, who had just come through the door, had a ‘I knew this would happen’ expression on his face before speaking.
“Didn’t you say let’s sleep in?”
“Yes……but I could not fall asleep.”
“I heard your alarm going off earlier. Even if you try to look like you’re so sleepy you might die, do you think I would believe you?”
At Anderson’s deduction, Jo Minjoon awkwardly looked around. Anderson let out a laugh. Even though he lied, it was hard to be angry at him.
“You idiot. Whatever. Let’s just make breakfast.”
“Is there something you’d like to cook?”
“Seeing as how you’re asking, sounds like you have something you want to cook.”
“Yes. There were many things I felt at Tokyo Harmony yesterday. First……”
Jo Minjoon opened the refrigerator. There were quite a few different items in there, but maybe because they made breakfast yesterday, there were quite a few ingredients that were lacking. Jo Minjoon looked at Anderson and asked.
“Let’s go shopping.”
Even though it was already summer, at dawn, before the sun had even started to come out, the wind and the ground were both cold. Jo Minjoon pulled the zipper on his cardigan all the way up and put his hand in his pockets. He shook his body trying to warm up.
“Ah, it’s cold. I shouldn’t have worn these shorts.”
“In the first place, you are wearing a long sleeve and a cardigan. Why would you wear shorts? Did you not expect it to be cold?”
“I thought the heat from the top would balance with the chill from the bottom. But it doesn’t seem to work that way. Just like in cooking, the balance between cold and hot must be very important.”
“Well, we are chefs after all. This type of habit isn’t bad.”
“Not bad but cold.”
Anderson shook his head left and right. Then, as if he could not hold back anymore, he started to speak.
“Hey moron, if it’s that cold, put your cardigan around your waist.”
“……Ah. Anderson. I didn’t know before, but you’re actually kind of smart.”
Anderson’s cheeks started to turn red at Jo Minjoon’s response.
Market. Jo Minjoon opened his mouth after looking at the fish available on display.
“For restaurants, do you think there are places that get their ingredients from large supermarkets rather than street markets like this?”
“More places probably get their stuff from super markets. If they have enough care to go to a street market, unless there was one right by them, they would probably go make direct contracts with fish suppliers. At our place, each ingredient is procured directly from the suppliers.”
“That sounds fun too. Going place to place, looking at the quality of the ingredients. Wouldn’t it feel like you were playing a puzzle game?”
Jo Minjoon started to smile, as if just thinking about it was fun. Anderson raised an eyebrow and looked towards Jo Minjoon.
“Why are you looking at me like that.”
“……The more I think about it, from the beginning, you romanticize so much about running a restaurant or things like that. How are you like that? You know what you need to know now. You know it isn’t just a relaxed and cushy job and that behind the glitz and glamor, there’s a significant amount of stress. Look at Samuel yesterday. Even someone as amazing as him cared so much about our opinions, even if it may have been for the camera. It’s a difficult job. A painful one too.”
“Of course I know. Why wouldn’t I know?”
Jo Minjoon stopped looking at the face of a Pacific saury and turned his gaze towards Anderson. When their eyes met, Anderson shivered for a second. Half a year. No matter how deep someone’s mind may be, it was enough time to generally understand what was in someone’s mind.
But every so often, there were times like this when Jo Minjoon showed him an expression that was hard to understand. It was like he was an elder who had more life experiences than he did; his gaze was full of sweetness and affection.
‘……Maybe it’s because he had planned on becoming a teacher?’
There was no time to come up with an answer. Jo Minjoon opened his mouth.
“But Anderson. Even that difficulty is entertaining for me. Of course, in the moment, my chest feels stuffy and it is painful, but maybe it’s because work and play is the same. Whenever I’m in front of the countertop, my chest gets tense more than any other time. Rather than wasting my life, if I think about the fact that I am doing what I’m supposed to be doing……just that thought makes me full.”
“Must be great to be full.”
“I’m sure you’re full too. You’re just like me.”
Anderson briefly opened his mouth at Jo Minjoon’s words. Jo Minjoon looked like he had some confirmation about Anderson, but initially, Anderson did not have that confirmation. Anderson hesitantly opened his mouth.
“What…….just what is it that you believe in me?”
There was no hesitation in that answer. Anderson looked at Jo Minjoon after hearing him speak as if it was an obvious answer.
“If you didn’t have passion, you wouldn’t have woken up at this early hour to make breakfast. Don’t you agree?”
Anderson briefly shut his mouth. His eyes headed towards a lady who was shopping in the market at this early hour. He started to speak in a quiet voice.
“I’m not such a straightforward person as you think I am.”
“I never thought you were like that?”
“……My feelings for cooking…rather than passion, it’s closer to affection.”
“It wasn’t my decision.”
(TL: So the word used could literally be translated to straight, and I had a good laugh about this conversation and the completely different meaning it could hold.
“I’m not a straight person as you think I am. I never thought you were straight? “ Completely explains the bromance.)
Anderson gave a short answer. But that short answer was full of all sorts of complicated emotions stuffed down and echoing everywhere.
“It wasn’t my decision. It was because of my parents. Ah, I’m not saying they forced me to do it. However, they only ever showed me one path. At first, I thought that was obvious, but the older I got, the more I hated it. Without looking at anything else even once, without being able to breathe even once, just walking down this one path. It even felt like my life was not my own but my parents’. So……”
Anderson’s eyelashes turned downward. If you think about Anderson’s pride, it wouldn’t have been easy to say something like this. It wasn’t that Jo Minjoon was a great person to cut down his pride. The reason was simple.
Jo Minjoon was his friend.
“That’s why I participated in Grand Chef. My life, I wanted to make it mine. I wanted to do it on a path I decided for myself. I also wanted to verify whether I could love this path.”
“……Yes. I remember you saying once that you wanted to get out of your parents’ shadows.”
Hiding behind those words were very deep levels of agonies and worries. Jo Minjoon opened his mouth. The gaze he was looking at Anderson with was soft, but his voice rang strongly.
“You got out of it. Anderson. I’m not saying it because you are good at cooking. You…..”
Jo Minjoon briefly closed his mouth. He wasn’t good at saying such sappy things. At least he didn’t consider himself to be that way. However, it was something he wanted to say at least once.
“You’re my rival. I wouldn’t be rivals with someone who doesn’t even like cooking.”
After saying that, Jo Minjoon quickly turned away and started to inspect the fish. He was getting itchy just thinking about what kind of look Anderson was giving him. It was at that moment. Anderson’s voice slowly came out from behind him.
“I’m glad you are my friend.”
Jo Minjoon did not respond.
There was no response needed for something so obvious.
The cooking did not start right away after they came back from shopping. Jo Minjoon and Anderson first sat at the table looking through each other’s recipes. They needed to think about the composition of the entire meal, the harmony of the ingredients, and the anticipated results for following the recipe.
In the midst of that, Jo Minjoon and Anderson were both admiring each other. For Anderson, it was at Jo Minjoon’s creativity in coming up with a recipe, for Jo Minjoon, it was Anderson’s knowledge of ingredients that came out every time he talked. Anderson started to speak.
“You, just…..how could your level be so high after learning at home through the internet? This makes no sense.”
“I had a fabulous internet teacher.”
“Who is it? I’ve never seen anyone so amazing as I looked through the internet.”
Anderson frowned at Jo Minjoon’s short answer. He soon started to speak in a grim voice.
“You’re not talking about Kaya Lotus, right?”
“……Stop joking. Kaya only started to appear on the internet after the broadcast. How could you learn by looking at Kaya before that?”
Jo Minjoon smiled but did not answer. It was impossible to explain it anyways. However, he was at least able to tell himself that he did not lie to Anderson.
“First, let’s talk about our distribution.”
“What distribution? Our roles?”
“Yes. If you think about it, our distribution has always been very primitive. It was always one of two methods. Each person makes one dish. Or one person is in charge of the ingredients and the other is in charge of the fire. Isn’t there something more efficient, that would bring out the best of the person’s abilities?”
They were full of enthusiasm to find a better method. Anderson quietly stared into the sea bream’s eyes before opening his mouth.
“We must become one body.”
“What the heck is up with your expression. I mean that we must move like we are one person! Something like a person with four arms. My thoughts become yours and your thoughts become mine. If we move like that, we can perfectly complete everything.”
“If we do it wrong, it could end up making things more complicated as well.
“To prevent that, let’s make sure we are on the same page with the recipe and composition before we begin. Then it should be a bit better.”
Jo Minjoon nodded his head. The recipes they shared were similar to basic homemade Japanese meals. It was their last day in Japan, and at the same time, the end of their time spent together like a family. The reason they picked something casual was because at least for this last meal, rather than a commercial dish, they wanted to share a meal like a family would.
The configuration was simple. White rice. At first, they thought about adding mushrooms and making mushroom rice, but unless they were using rice as a main dish, it didn’t seem like a good decision to add any other ingredient to the rice.
For fish, they picked the sea bream. To cook it, they cut off the meat and put the sea bream, soy sauce, mirin, and sugar in a broth made of water, rice wine and turnip, and braised it. In addition, there was a beef and potato stir-fry, roasted ginger pork, and clams steamed in rice wine.
With that, they had pickled cucumbers and pickled cabbage, sprouts flavored with salt and walnut oil, and cold tofu to complete the entire composition.
They did not say anything special. Jo Minjoon and Anderson continuously looked at each other’s condition. That did not mean that they were not focused on the dishes they were responsible for. Rather than saying they were inspecting each other’s condition, they were paying attention to the entire kitchen. It was like both of them became head chefs at the same time. If there was a difference with a normal head chef, it would be that there were two of them and that they were both working on the line.
It was a pretty fresh experience, and a beneficial experience as well. Cooking is something that could easily go wrong if you are not focused every minute while you are cooking. To pay attention to everything while eloquently handling the knife and pan in their hands, was harder to do than you think.
However, that made it more entertaining. The feeling that your brain and body were reaching their limit was so exciting that it was hard to describe with words. Specifically, not paying attention to how many points the dish was going to get made the whole experience completely different. The flame embracing the pan seemed brighter and more beautiful than normal, and the handle of the knife seemed to be wrapped in their hands more comfortably than usual.
‘Cooking……yes. It was something like this. This type of fun.’
Not paying attention to the score it will receive, each and every moment of the cooking process was like playing, and felt exhilarating. This was real cooking. Jo Minjoon had a small smile that you could barely see. It was small, but it was a more honest and clear smile than any other time.
Even their teamwork, which was a bit awkward at first, started to slowly become perfect. If Jo Minjoon moved, Anderson quickly filled that spot. And when Anderson thought he was going to need an ingredient, Jo Minjoon immediately handed it to him without being asked. They were each paying attention to one another’s presence and their actions, while listening to the kitchen’s noise.
Anderson could feel his heart beating quickly. At first, he felt like he was being controlled by Jo Minjoon. However, that wasn’t it. They were exchanging tons of words without actually talking, and communicating well with each other. It was a feeling he had never felt before. It felt like there was someone who could completely understand him.
So once the cooking ended, Anderson had a disappointed expression on his face as if a fabulous movie just ended. Then he looked at Jo Minjoon with those disappointed eyes. But it was weird. Jo Minjoon was looking at Anderson, no, to be specific, he was looking at something next to Anderson.
However, even if he looked in the same direction, Anderson could not see anything. It was at that moment. Jo Minjoon opened his mouth. He spoke in a very envious voice.
Cooking level: 8
Baking level: 7
Tasting level: 8
Decorations level: 7
<The reason they are hungry (2)> End
Translator : Miraclerifle
Proofreader : Miraclerifle