[So, in this container we have emulsifiers and nitric oxide. If you put strawberry juice into this container like this, see what happens? You get this strawberry foam.
“……Hmm, if you put the foam sauce on top of it, wouldn’t it dissipate the taste and make it harder to feel it?”
Jo Minjoon, who had been watching a video on his smartphone for a long time, asked with a confused voice. He was watching a popular broadcast on molecular gastronomy. He agreed that the majority of cooking done with molecular gastronomy was fresh and boasted a stylish eating experience and taste, but he wasn’t too sure about this foam sauce.
(TL: Here’s a link to molecular gastronomy strawberry foam: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1i9mBkGF504)
Of course epicureans may be able to taste the slight flavor it brings out, but it would be difficult for the average customers to notice. Jo Minjoon looked towards Anderson.
“Are you interested in molecular gastronomy?”
“Why are you randomly bringing that up?”
“Because I don’t know much about it. That’s why I’m curious yet reluctant to learn it.
“It’s not like we will be doing it for a while. Molecular gastronomy only became popular in restaurants once teacher Rachel retired.”
If you were being specific, cotton candy fell under a type of molecular gastronomy as well, but as Anderson mentioned, restaurants only started to deal with molecular gastronomy after Rachel retired. Jo Minjoon shrugged his shoulders.
“You never know. She might have been researching molecular gastronomy for the last 10 years.”
“Do you think she really needed to do that? She became one of the best in the world with just traditional dishes.”
Jo Minjoon silently shrugged his shoulders. Anderson changed topics.
“How do you think the audition will be?”
“What do you mean by how will it be?”
“Do you think there will be a lot of people? Applicants.”
“I’m not sure. Minimally, there will at least be more people than the people who were camping outside the restaurant in my opinion.”
He was feeling weird. It was just a few months ago that he was in the position of being judged by the judges, but now he was the judge grading someone’s skills and potential.
“Does this mean we have succeeded in a way?”
“Success is for those who have their names in the Michelin Guide, as well as people who have homes in Beverly Hills or Hollywood. All we’ve done is barely get the title of demi chef.”
“But at least we got rid of the training wheels.”
“That is true.”
Anderson smiled for the first time in a long time. It was at that moment that Rachel appeared in front of the kitchen door and motioned to them before disappearing. Anderson and Jo Minjoon looked at each other before heading out into the hall. Rachel was not the only one in the hall; Isaac, Lisa, and Ella were also there.
“The auditions start tomorrow. Isaac, can you explain the details to them?”
“Of course. There are forty-nine total applicants. Out of them, fifteen have applied to be prep cooks, and twenty-seven for demi chefs. The remaining applicants have applied as apprentices. Nine of them have applied for the baking division, and we will be picking two of them to be Lisa’s assistant. We will be picking two more demi chefs and four prep cooks. Finally, we will be picking just one apprentice.”
“……Teacher, can I ask you a question?”
“Of course, go ahead.”
“How should we set the evaluation criteria?”
Rachel calmly answered.
“Do it however you please.”
“……Is it really okay to do it as we please?”
The day of the audition. He started to mumble while looking at the line of people outside of the restaurant. Even from far away, you could clearly see the anxiety and anticipation written all over their faces. He was going to be determining their fate, but to set the criteria as he pleased…
However, Anderson did not seem to be burdened at all. With his usually cool and even a bit cold expression, he looked out to the applicants.
“Our standards are going to be the same standards for the majority of other chefs. There’s no reason to be so tense. You seem more tense now than back during Grand Chef.”
“……I guess so. But the situation calls for it. Back then, my decision only impacted my life, but now, it can impact someone else’s life.”
“Don’t hesitate. If they cannot impress us, that means that’s all they have. Whether it is talent or hard work, if they have even one of the two, they’ll be able to catch our attention.”
Jo Minjoon just continued to look out the window rather than responding. He could see the applicants’ families or friends cheering them on from the side. However, the majority of them will have to drink the poisonous wine of rejection today. Furthermore, he had to be the one to personally hand them this poisonous wine.
Anderson quietly watched Jo Minjoon from the side. Jo Minjoon was surprisingly hard to read. At first glance, his gentle smile made him look innocent and pure, but as you spend time with him, you also realize that he’s not one to open up easily. He had no problem stepping into the hearts of others, but it felt like he had a hard time letting people into his own heart.
That was why at one point, even Anderson was confused. He couldn’t tell whether Minjoon truly considered him a friend or not. Of course, he didn’t have that type of stupid worry now. Anderson could now determine what kind of person Jo Minjoon was.
He had a deep heart and showed a lot of affection, however, when he needed to, he could be stricter than anybody else. He was the same way right now. The gentle light in Jo Minjoon’s eyes was slowly starting to fade away. Just a bit later, there was not a trace of that gentleness left on his expression. He had already sorted out his emotions. Anderson spoke in a terrified voice.
“……You scary dude.”
“Why am I scary?”
“Nothing. Don’t worry about it.”
Anderson turned his head away as if he did not want to say why. Jo Minjoon looked in the mirror and fixed the scarf on his chef coat. A white coat with a black scarf. The sous chefs would wear yellow and the prep cooks would wear grey. The apprentice would get a white scarf and Rachel’s scarf was red.
The relationship between the color of the scarf and the chef’s rank differed for each restaurant. In some restaurants, the head chef wore black scarfs, and in some places, they used the chef’s hat, instead of the scarf to determine the rank.
‘The black color is nice to see.’ (TL: Although with this being a Master Chef spinoff, black would be the apron color during a pressure test.)
He had no complaints. Watching Jo Minjoon smiling as he looked in the mirror, Anderson spoke in disbelief.
“Just a moment ago, you were in pain about having to put down someone’s dreams, but now you’re even smiling.”
“It’s not like I can cry. Plus, as much as I am sad, I am also full of expectation.”
“What kind of expectation?”
Jo Minjoon smiled.
“I have to let my tongue go every so often too.”
“Release your tongue later and come to the kitchen first. We need to do a final inspection.”
Lisa interjected with a sleeping Ella on her back. Jo Minjoon followed Lisa with an awkward expression. Inspecting the kitchen was simple. First, check the status of the frying pan, fire, and knives. Next, check the freshness of the ingredients, and then once you make sure the floor is not slippery, that was it.
“No problem here. What about the oven?”
“Everything is fine here too. Oh, could you hold Ella for a second?”
Lisa showed her back to Jo Minjoon who slowly took Ella from her back. Her instincts must be awake even when she is sleeping, as Ella got comfortable and grabbed onto Minjoon’s neck. Lisa stretched her shoulders before taking Ella and laying her down in the office couch. Feeling disappointed at the warmth that left his embrace, Jo Minjoon started to speak.
“At least Ella is a good girl. It must be boring coming to the restaurant like this but she doesn’t complain.”
“How could she be bored when the Mr. Fairy of her dreams is in front of her? Of course, I’m not saying our Ella is not a good girl. She is a good girl. A wonderful daughter too.”
“……I think you are a good mom too, Lisa.”
Jo Minjoon said that while looking at Lisa smile while watching Ella. However, his words caused her face to be full of sorrow. She spoke in a self-deprecating voice.
“A good mom wouldn’t make her daughter live without a dad.”
“……I know someone who grew up in a similar situation to Ella. She also grew up without a dad, living alone with her mom. And she says without any hesitation whatsoever that her mom was a good mom. I’m sure Ella will be the same.”
Lisa looked at Jo Minjoon silently. The moment she was about to respond, they could hear Isaac’s voice.
“The head chef has asked you to come to the hall.”
“I guess we are about to start.”
Hall. Rachel was waiting for them neatly dressed in her chef coat. She smiled gently as she looked at everyone.
“You all look like you’re about to head out to war or something. No need to be that way. Don’t be nervous and just relax. You have no reason to be nervous.”
Jo Minjoon quietly looked at his watch as Rachel spoke. 9:55. Only five minutes were remaining. Rachel slowly started to speak.
“This is an important day for those who are auditioning, but it is also an important day for us. Rose Island’s main store is officially conducting its first course of business. I’m glad that you are all here for this with me. ……Alright, Isaac.”
“Open Hell’s Kitchen.”
(TL: Okay, she doesn’t say that, I just thought about Gordon Ramsey opening Hell’s kitchen.)
Isaac nodded with a determined expression and opened the door. They could hear all sorts of noises on the other side of the door, but soon, they all came into the hall with nervous expressions. Jo Minjoon quietly looked them over.
‘Cooking level 5. 4. 4. 5. ……2? What are they planning to do with that type of skill?’
The cooking level showed their level of skill. There were definitely people like Yamamoto they met in Japan who was a level 7 like Jo Minjoon while being able to bring out a deeper flavor, but that was only the case when someone focuses solely on one field. If their level was this low, it was hard to expect that type of specialty.
Jo Minjoon’s forehead automatically started to frown. He was sure that the people with low cooking skills were probably apprentice applicants, but even for apprentices, he could not believe that these people who probably have never even cooked properly were trying to enter into the kitchen.
Cooking was not something you could only learn in a fancy restaurant. If you put in even a bit of time at home by yourself, your cooking skill would improve. But to not even be level 5, no even level 4…..that was proof that they did not normally put in any effort.
It was not surprisingly for Jo Minjoon’s expression to get cold. This path was something extremely precious to him that he was willing to dedicate his entire life to it, so he did not like that there were people here who had never even shown a bit of sincerity for cooking. Not only that, it was also an insult to the other applicants who were here.
However, even though he was feeling that way, he welcomed the contestants with a different expression. A white man with black curly hair who was standing in the back row, started to speak to the woman next to him with a thick Spanish accent.
“Ehh, Jo was always smiling during the broadcast so I thought he would have more of a gentle feel, but I guess that’s not the case. He has an extremely cold expression. I guess tv and reality are really different.”
The woman who had her long black hair in braids looked sideways with a focused expression. It was so sharp and scary that the man who spoke to her felt chills for a second. However, the voice that soon followed was surprisingly calm and beautiful.
“Maybe he’s trying to put more pressure on us.”
“I definitely feel pressured. Oh, my name is Javier Diego.”
Janet answered in a calm voice. Javier smiled as he spoke.
“Nice to meet you. I hope we both get selected. Ah, I’m auditioning to be a demi chef. You?”
There would be no answer from Janet. Before she could start talking, Rachel’s voice echoed through the hall.
“First, I want to thank all of you who have gathered here today. To say that you want to be a part of my family, that tells me that you trust in me a lot. Unfortunately, I cannot be together with all of you. One apprentice, two demi chefs, four prep cooks, and two bakers. That is all we will be selecting today. Of the fifty eight of you, forty eight will……”
(TL: Author changed it to fifty eight from forty nine….I guess the nine bakers do not count as part of the forty nine original number.)
Jo Minjoon quickly whispered.
“…….Cough. Forty nine will have to go home empty handed. The rules of the audition are simple. We will first start with the apprentice candidates. The test is prepared in the kitchen. For the other applicants, please wait in the hall. It is fine if you spectate what is going on in the kitchen. It is an open kitchen after all. Alright, let’s go.”
With that, Rachel turned around. Anderson raised his voice.
“Apprentice candidates, please head into the kitchen.”
Seven individuals responded and followed them into the kitchen. The things they were handed inside were simple. A cutting board, garlic, and a knife. Rachel calmly started to speak.
“The first test is simple. Please slice the garlic to be used in an Aglio e Olio. Minjoon, please demonstrate for them.”
Jo Minjoon grabbed the kitchen knife. The garlic quickly became thinly sliced with every movement of his knife. He did not look to be extremely focused, but every time he lowered his knife, the garlic was cut into thin and even slices that it was hard to see the changes in the garlic’s size with your eyes. Jo Minjoon lifted up a thinly sliced piece of garlic as he spoke.
“The thickness cannot be thicker or thinner than this. Alright, start cutting.”
Immediately after Jo Minjoon finished speaking, the apprentice candidates started their battle with the garlic. There were some who showed decent levels of knife skills, but the majority were all over the place. It made sense. Of the apprentice candidates, there was only one person who had a cooking level higher than 4.
There was no need to talk about those with level 2 cooking skills. Jo Minjoon silently went and stood in front of a young man. Was he multiracial? The young man who had a dark and ashy skin was using his knife to try to slice the garlic as thinly as he could……but it was not easy to slice garlic. It’d be a different story if they were cutting green onions. Unfortunately, garlic was very small to begin with, and it was difficult to firmly place it on the cutting board. If you hold the knife too tightly and cannot feel the movement of the blade, it would be hard to slice the garlic.
At the same time, it was not considered to be an advanced skill. If someone is interested in cooking, anybody can get to this level of slicing garlic easily. But that was not the case for this young man. Putting aside the fact that his slices were not the same thickness, the fact that he was holding onto the knife like a steel rod showed that he had no experience cooking in his life.
Jo Minjoon let out a sigh and looked behind him. Rachel, Anderson, and even Lisa were watching the young man with a grim expression.
‘……I guess I have to shoot the gun.’
The decision was quick. Jo Minjoon started to speak.
“Do you like cooking?”
“Yes, yes I do.”
“You’re lying to me.”
Ben looked towards Jo Minjoon with a confused expression. Jo Minjoon took the knife from Ben’s hands and held it like Ben was holding it.
“Do you think it makes sense for someone who likes cooking to hold a knife like this? Do you even cook normally?”
(TL: Will Minjoon channel his inner Gordon Ramsey?)
“……I do not get to cook often. But I do want to cook.”
“There are many people in the world who want to do things. The problem is whether or not they put in the time and effort, and show passion towards what they want to do. To me, it just looks like you came here to fool around, Mr. Ben.”
“That is why I applied to be an apprentice. I did it in order to put in the effort you are talking about. Isn’t the apprentice level focused on learning?”
Maybe he didn’t appreciate being told he was here to fool around, but Ben’s voice was both challenging and vicious. Jo Minjoon let out a sigh as he shook his head.
“Effort is not something that comes and goes depending on where you are. If you were really sincere about cooking, you would have tried to cook on your own even before coming here. Does it make sense to say you want to be a chef without having cooked?”
“I didn’t have time……”
“I hate that phrase the most. No matter what, you must eat at home. One meal, two meals. No matter how busy, you must eat. You must also sleep. There is nobody in the world who is so busy that they cannot even touch the knife once. You’ll have time if you slept just one minute less. Of course, I would understand if you were SO busy that you could not even sleep for one minute a night. Are you that busy?”
Ben could not respond. There was no way he was that busy. Jo Minjoon lifted up the garlic Ben had sliced.
“You mentioned that being an apprentice was the stage to learn. Don’t you have to first know the alphabet to learn English? Of all the people here, I think you are the only one who doesn’t even know the alphabet, Mr. Ben.”
The sound of whispers. It looked like he was speaking politely and gently, however, the contents were poignant and critical. Ben bit his lips and lowered his head. Jo Minjoon looked at him with a sharp gaze as he spoke.
“It is hard for me to think that the passion you did not even have in your own kitchen will suddenly appear because you are standing in a restaurant kitchen. There are too many visible stumbling blocks for us to be together.”
Ben’s hands did not even show any signs of sweat, as if mocking the other apprentice candidates’ efforts. Jo Minjoon looked at Rachel. She nodded her head. The decision was made.”
“Thank you for your time. Please leave.”
< The Friendly Judge (1) > End
Translator : Miraclerifle
Proofreader : Miraclerifle
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