Ben stared at Jo Minjoon with a disgruntled expression before taking off his apron and quickly turning around. As he walked out of the restaurant, anyone could see that his steps were full of anger. Jo Minjoon watched Ben leave with a cold expression. Javier, who watched what Jo Minjoon did, spoke as if he was in disbelief.
“……I thought he was an angel, but he was actually a ghost.”
“He’s not a ghost. He’s a fairy.”
An irritated voice suddenly interjected. Javier jumped up in surprise and looked around him. However, the only person sitting at his table was Janet. Javier looked towards Janet with a concerned expression.
“He’s like a fairy? Are you one of Minjoon’s fans?”
“What the heck are you talking about?”
“You said it just now. He’s a fairy, not a ghost. You even said it in such an irritated voice.”
“I never said anything like that. What are you talking about?”
Janet looked at Javier like he was crazy. Javier just shut his mouth with a confused expression. He was sure that he heard a voice. As he was thinking about it, a small head popped out from underneath the loose tablecloth.
Javier wanted to scream but held it in as his body started to shake. Ella looked towards the shivering Javier with a smirk on her face.
“My uncle is not a ghost.”
“……Uuhh, uncle? Are you talking about Minjoon? Wait, more importantly, who are you?”
“My name is Ella.”
Ella smugly responded before going and sitting down next to Janet. As Janet watched her with a nervous expression, Ella just laid down on the table and turned her head to look at Jo Minjoon. Javier tried to talk to her once more.
“Do you know Minjoon?”
“Yes. He’s my uncle.”
Janet looked at Ella in confusion. No matter how you looked at her, she showed no signs of being Asian. All sorts of complicated family trees went through her mind. However, Javier quickly caught on that it was just being used as a sign of their closeness. Javier looked towards Ella and asked.
“Your uncle must be good to you.”
“Yes. He plays a lot with me, he cooks tasty food when I’m hungry, and …..hmm……”
Ella twisted lips as she fell deep into thought. However, there wasn’t a need to listen any further. Javier quietly looked at Jo Minjoon as he thought to himself that if a child could give such positive evaluations of him, he must usually be a pretty gentle person.
‘Then why is he so harsh right now?’
Jo Minjoon’s evaluation was not only harsh to Ben who just left. He had to do it. His eyes kept seeing many people who were not ready. Of course, they applied to be apprentices because they were not ready, but there were only three people who seemed like they had spent a lot of effort practicing on their own.
Jo Minjoon walked in front of a thin Black man and looked at his garlic. All of the garlic slices were cut in even thickness. If he really wanted to find some faults he could, but that would not make a difference. Jo Minjoon looked towards the man. The man looked at Jo Minjoon and the others with an extremely nervous expression.
“……Mr. Justin. You said you taught yourself how to cook, yes?”
Anderson lifted up a slice of garlic to compare before starting to speak.
“Your application said that you were a truck driver. I know truck drivers work for long hours, how did you study?”
“I did what I can to sleep one minute less and cook for even a short amount of time. When I could, the meals I ate on the road were food that I cooked myself.”
It sounded like what Jo Minjoon had told Ben had left quite a deep impression. Jo Minjoon let out a fake cough with an awkward expression as Rachel gently smiled and started to speak.
“A truck driver. I guess it would be fine for you to take the wheel whenever we go grocery shopping.”
“Don’t get too excited. That’s only if you end up being selected.”
Jo Minjoon spoke in a cold voice. Justin’s face became disappointed, but it couldn’t be helped. There was one more test left for apprentices. Minjoon was worried that Justin would get extremely excited and be unable to show his true skills in the next test.
‘I can finally understand why Alan had to be so tough on us.’
Knife skills. After Ben, four more people were also eliminated. There were only four applicants remaining. Internally, Jo Minjoon was rooting for Justin. He was the only applicant with a cooking level of 5, and Jo Minjoon wanted skilled people to be a part of their family. You can’t really judge a person’s character in one day, but based on what he had seen so far, he did not seem to be too bad.
The ingredient for the next test was also garlic. The last test was focused on their precision and skills. This test was focused on how quickly they could peel a container of garlic. As Rachel announced the details of the next test, Jo Minjoon interjected.
“Just so you know, you cannot put it in the container and shake it. The only thing you can use is your knife. Since we are testing how fast your hands are, you cannot take the easy way out.”
There was also a time when Jo Minjoon was an apprentice and stupidly peeled one garlic at a time with his knife. Later, he learned that the garlic peels itself if you put it in a container and shake it ……but that was after he had already suffered for about a month.
However, when you want to test someone’s hand speed, making them handle ingredients, especially small ingredients like garlic, was a good way to do it.
Anderson blew the whistle loudly. The applicants got surprised and quickly started to use the butt of the knife to hit the garlic and split the pieces. Then, they used the point of the knife to remove the peel one by one.
The results were not as expected. Justin was the third to finish peeling the garlic out of the four people. At first glance, he seemed to be at a disadvantage, but Jo Minjoon calmly took a look at the status of the applicants’ garlics. Then, he made a final decision in his mind.
The judges spent some time to discuss their thoughts. All of their decisions were the same. Rachel finally started to speak.
“At first, we debated sharing the results with you all later, but there is nothing more painful than hopefully waiting. The judges made an unanimous decision. I will not prolong this more than I need to. It’s not like this is a broadcast or anything.”
Saying that, Rachel headed in front of Justin, whose lips were shaking with anxiety. Rachel patted Justin on the shoulder and started to smile.
“Welcome. We are now one family.”
“Thank you……THANK YOU!”
Justin’s eyes became red as he shouted in a shaking voice. Jo Minjoon looked around at the other three. The slowest peeler had an understanding look that he knew he wouldn’t get it, but there was a lot of disappointment in the other two. Jo Minjoon headed towards them and asked.
“Do you know why you were eliminated?”
“……No. I’m not sure.”
“Look at this.”
Jo Minjoon placed some garlic on the cutting board. It was the garlic that they had peeled, as well as one that Justin had peeled. Jo Minjoon lifted up the garlic as he spoke.
“The difference in your levels, can you feel it?”
They quietly looked at the garlic. Around the time they finally realized the difference and let out an ‘Ah,’ Anderson started to chime in from the side.
“Just because we asked you to do it quickly, doesn’t mean you can half-ass it. I’m sure you were all nervous. It made you focus on the time and made your hand move faster. However, under no circumstances can you let an ingredient go bad. Ingredients are the foundation of any cooking, and the apprentice will be in charge of that foundation.”
Justin’s garlic was clean without a single cut on the garlic. However, the others’ garlic did not look the same. Their garlic were cut on the side by the blade or had pain marks remaining, and because of that, the sap spilled out and made the garlic sticky as well. Jo Minjoon spoke in a soft voice.
“I understand that you were feeling rushed. However, there is only one reason for a chef to rush. A customer. When a customer is waiting. However, you still cannot use damaged ingredients just because a customer is waiting. If you keep that in mind, I am confident you will be able to be selected at any restaurant in the future.”
Although he did not have any real experience working as a chef, his words still held some weight. The reason was simple. Every time Jo Minjoon cooked, he thought about the people who will be eating it. His heart came across with each and every one of his words.
One of the eliminated applicants came up to Jo Minjoon. She was a white woman who seemed to be a bit younger than Jo Minjoon. She was looking up at him with sparkling eyes.
“Thank you for saying such kind words. It must be kind of funny for me to say this, but I started to dream of becoming a chef after watching you cook. You were the one who showed me how fancy cooking can be and how stylish it can be. Today, I feel like I learned something else from you. A chef’s heart. I will make sure to remember that.”
“……Thank you for looking at me in such good light. Let’s work hard together. For both of us, we still have a long way to go.”
The woman smiled with a disappointed expression before slowly turning around and starting to walk. Rachel watched the leaving applicants and started to speak.
“Do not let this bring you down. There is no failure in challenge unless you give up.”
She said this to cheer them up, but the person that this impacted the most was actually Anderson. There is no failure until you give up. There were many times when the world continued to focus on Minjoon that he thought Jo Minjoon was a wall he could not climb over.
‘You don’t lose ……until you give up.’
They had decided on an apprentice. Next in line was obvious the prep cooks. Of the fifteen applicants, four of them will end up a part of their family. Maybe it was because they were at the level to apply for prep cooks, but the majority of them had decent skills. Only one of them had a cooking level of 4, nine of them had a cooking level of 5, and the remaining five had a cooking level of 6.
‘It seems too much for a level 4 to apply to be a prep cook.’
The person seemed to be around thirty years in age, and Minjoon thought he might have worked at restaurants based on his experience rather than his skill. Jo Minjoon started to focus on the people with a cooking level of 6. There was nothing else he could do. Unlike the point system for dishes, he knew first hand the difference in cooking levels from coming up the levels himself.
There was even a difference between people who were at the bottleneck of level 5, and people who just broke into level 6. Of course, if you reached the bottleneck, you could level up with the slightest of insight, but you could never tell when that insight would happen.
Rachel started to speak.
“There is a simple reason as to why we are selecting four prep cooks. Minjoon and Anderson, as well as the two new demi chefs we are selecting today. We want each of them to have an assistant. What we are going to ask of you today is not creativity. What we are expecting from you is quite simple. You need to be able to complete dishes you are asked to make by following a recipe without making any mistakes. But before we start……”
Rachel had a mischievous smile on her face as she asked.
“I want to ask you a question. If you are selected and end up following one of the demi chefs, who do you want to work with? Since we haven’t selected the other two demi chefs, I guess right now you can only pick between Minjoon and Anderson.”
(TL: OOOh, Rachel, you gonna light a fire.)
She made it sound like it was a joke to lighten the atmosphere, but Jo Minjoon and Anderson both had sharp glares in their eyes. Men had a tendency to get fired up about such childish things; Jo Minjoon and Anderson were no different.
Anderson looked at Rachel with a fierce gaze.
“Teacher. Before they decide, can I make a campaign speech?”
“Of course. Go ahead.”
Anderson let out a fake cough before stepping in front of the crowd. Jo Minjoon sent him a look as if asking if he really had to do this. It made him question his decision for a second, but something made him want to win. Anderson started to speak in the friendliest voice he could muster, although it only came out sounding very awkward.
“I have a very stiff personality. However, this also means that I will not micromanage you. I will only step in when I see the need to do so to make sure everything is okay. Plus……”
Anderson spoke with a meaningful smile.
“I will promise you this. If you pick me and end up being selected, I will personally cook a fine dining dinner for you.”
The applicants let out some cheers and ‘ooooooos.’ No matter what, he was the runner-up in the Grand Chef competition. Plus, to be able to eat fine dining cooked by Anderson, who had been receiving elite cooking education at ‘Glouto’ since he was young was like a dream come true. They were both curious and full of anticipation. At that moment, Jo Minjoon glared at Anderson before stepping forward and starting to speak.
“Since Anderson has come forward with such a commitment, I guess I have no other choice. I will also treat you to fine dining. And honestly speaking……”
Jo Minjoon started to smirk as he looked at Anderson.
“How can you tell anything by trying it once? You need to try it at least twice to compare and dissect it. I will treat you twice.”
“……I agree. Then I will treat you three times.”
The two sharply glared at each other. Javier, who had been watching the kitchen from the hall, smiled as he started to speak.
“Men end up becoming children whenever there is a competition.”
“What?! Then my uncle will get younger?”
Ella took in a deep breath and her eyes opened wide in surprise. At such an attack that came from nowhere, Javier did not know how he should respond. Janet answered on his behalf.
“He may even end up younger than you.”
“Umm……is it also possible for women to get younger?”
“I’m not sure. I guess they might, depending on the person.”
Janet answered in a calm voice. Ella had a refreshed expression as if she was saying that she finally answered one of her lifelong questions, but started to mumble with a complicated expression.
“I think my mommy became younger too.”
“Why do you think that?”
Ella kept her mouth shut and did not answer. She could not answer. She wanted her mommy to maintain her pride. Ella sucked in her cheeks as she thought to herself.
‘That must be why mommy uses strawberry flavored toothpaste.’
< The Friendly Judge (2) > End
Translator : Miraclerifle
Proofreader : Miraclerifle
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