Jo Minjoon looked towards the applicants. The wrinkles on their foreheads showed just how quickly their minds were moving right now.
He looked towards the hall. The demi chef applicants who cooked in the first group, as well as the selected prep cooks and apprentice were all sitting there. When Ella, who had been sitting in front of the table made eye contact with Jo Minjoon, she smiled like a baby and waved her hand with an excited look on her face. Jo Minjoon lightly smiled and looked next to her.
‘Javier. Current top candidate.’
Unless any of the remaining 13 had better skills than he did, he was pretty certain to be selected.
The dish that he showed was not a main but an appetizer. Honestly, that was the smartest dish to make. In the short amount of time they had, an appetizer made more sense than a main to show off your skills.
Javier’s appetizer was unique. He lightly poached a gould’s razor shell and wrapped it with a squid’s body chopped into the right size, put carp roe on top of it, and then ground up dried sage and thyme to make it look like snow. After that he smoked an egg yolk and placed it in the fridge to let it cool. That was the end of his dish.
On first glance, it seems pretty simple. In reality, the dish only scored 7 points. However, it was not lacking in taste compared to some 8 point or even 9 point dishes. The fragrance of the herbs and the unique fragrance of seafood working in harmony, that feeling …… was so refreshing that it would be considered one of the best dishes Jo Minjoon has ever tried.
‘We could put this on the menu right away.’
That was Rachel’s opinion. Jo Minjoon felt the same way. He was also stimulated at the same time. A 7 point dish. If he was asked to make it, he definitely could. However, if he was asked to make a 7 point dish that could receive a similar type of opinion, he had no confidence at all.
It was the side effect of only focusing on the point of a dish until now. An empty shell that relied on splendor and craftsmanship. The traits that the villains tended to show often in cooking movies or dramas, that type of trait was what Jo Minjoon himself had.
‘I need to fix it.’
He wasn’t anxious. He was still young, and since he was able to figure it out early, he’ll be able to quickly fix it. He was also feeling a bit refreshed. He was able to determine the cause of this unknown frustration he has had for a while.
Jo Minjoon’s eyes became serious. The situation was much different now than when the prep cooks were cooking. Unlike with the prep cooks, Jo Minjoon could not instruct the demi chef’s recipes. First of all, the mission was about their signature dish. In other words, it was a free for all, and at the end, they would be the same level as Minjoon as demi chefs. Him trying to tell them what they’re doing wrong may end up just causing some upset feelings.
Because of that, once they started cooking, Jo Minjoon could not remove his eyes from the tips of their fingers. The way they selected their ingredients and prepared it. The way they handled their pen and knives, and their knowledge that showed through their recipes.
Once he acknowledged them as competitors to learn from, the things he felt from the same movements were different as well. Even from the bad habits they were showing, Jo Minjoon was able to think about the things he would need to watch out for.
‘They do say that cooking is something you learn by looking over the shoulder ……’
That phrase seemed realistic. Jo Minjoon was extremely interested in Janet. It wasn’t because her level was the highest. It was because she was making some interesting selections.
‘Lemon butter and pear. A risotto flavored with mint. Putting a grilled salmon on top of that ……’
Risotto was a sensitive dish. You needed to focus for a long time, and in order to make a perfect risotto, you have to accurately measure your ingredients from the beginning. Once the broth is reduced down, you couldn’t add anything to it because the rice might expand.
That was why it was difficult to add a lot of ingredients to risottos. You needed to find the balance of all of the ingredients while making sure the flavors didn’t clash with each other. Jo Minjoon continued to watch Janet’s dish with curiosity.
It didn’t take long for that curiosity to turn into admiration. A shiny green risotto was laid into the plate, and when the grilled salmon which was covered with olive oil and butter using the arroser method was placed on top of it …… the dish turned into a 9 point dish.
‘……I’ve never seen anyone make a 9 point dish so easily.’
Anderson and Kaya both had cooking level of 8. However, even if they were standing in the same place, they would not be able to easily make a perfect dish just like she did.
Experienced. It had been a long time since he saw anyone who really fit that word. She was a well sharpened blade that it was hard to believe she was at the demi chef level.
“……Anderson, where are the applications?”
“Hold on. Oh, here.”
After receiving the applications from Anderson, Minjoon started to read Janet’s information. He then let out a small ‘wow.’ The name of the restaurant she used to work at was not that foreign to him. Pierro Garnish. It was a restaurant that had maintained three stars for almost 20 years.
“Why? Are you interested in her?”
“Of course. Based on what I’ve seen so far, her cooking is the most memorable.”
“……That green risotto? I don’t know. It looks like a typical vegan dish.”
“If it was vegan, there’s no way she would use dairy products or fish.”
“Then at best a pesco?” (TL: Guessing short for pescatarian)
“Even if that’s the case, that’s not something that’ll lose you points. What matters is the taste.”
“The problem is that it is typical.”
“I’m guessing you didn’t pay attention to her cooking.”
Jo Minjoon looked at Anderson with an ‘I knew it’ type of look. Anderson responded back with a thorny voice.
“No, you think I can watch all of those chefs cook?”
“The two of you. Stop it and come over here. We need to judge.”
At Rachel’s words, Anderson responded with a grouchy face and grumpily walked. Some of the applicants even laughed while looking at him. Rachel went to the first applicant and asked.
“Based on what I saw, you boiled the chicken down in a sauce, and then braised it with mereng.”
“Yes. I made the sauce with orange juice and a bit of soy sauce.”
Jo Minjoon cut a small piece of chicken breast and put it in my mouth. It was quite a fun taste. The moist mereng worked well with the dry chicken breast, and the chicken breast didn’t feel too dry either. It wasn’t because he boiled it.
People tend to think that if you boil meat, water will enter and make it moist. It’s not like that kind of thinking is completely wrong. But it only pertains to meat that has been marinated with salt and had its internal salinity increased. If you marinate it like that, brush off the salt, and then put it in a sauce, the broth or sauce will seep in very well due to osmosis.
‘Cooking is truly a science.’
As time goes by, there might even be people doing molecular gastronomy at home. Jo Minjoon started to speak.
“It’s a dish that shows you what a chef with a strong basic foundation should be able to do. The chicken breast was perfect and the mereng was light. The two made a great combination.”
The applicant smiled and responded to Minjoon’s words. Regardless of success or failure to join Rose Island, being able to get an evaluation from Jo Minjoon was a great opportunity. It was a chance to get the evaluation from someone who officially has the most sensitive tongue in the world. Plus, next to him was the legendary Rachel. Could there be a more luxurious exam anywhere?
It would be great if all of them could receive a good evaluation, however, there were also dishes that it was extremely difficult to only say praises. It didn’t matter whether it was because they were nervous or because they lacked the talent. The dish in front of them was the only thing they could use to evaluate them.
“Sweet potato mousse and codfish mousse……honestly, when I was watching you cook, I was looking forward to the taste. However, the two are not in harmony at all. Mr. Chris. What is the reason? Is the recipe wrong or did you not successfully follow the recipe?”
“Honestly, this steak is cooked well. But that’s it. A sauce made with apple cider vinegar and wine. To call it a signature dish on just that …… I feel like it is too lacking. It’s also not like the combination of the two in the sauce was highlighted either.”
“Each of the ingredients are alive. However, if you were to ask me if they all work well together, it would be hard for me to answer yes.”
Why did it feel like they were still so far away from Janet’s risotto? Jo Minjoon looked towards Janet with a slightly tired expression. Maybe it was because they were both Asian that he felt a weird sense of familiarity, but Janet was looking back at him with a cold expression without an ounce of friendliness. Rachel started to speak.
“A combination of pear and mint …… the broth was chicken broth?”
“Yes. In a fruit risotto, I believe that using chicken broth is the best way to bring out the flavor.”
“I could feel a refreshing taste in the rice other than pear and mint ……it is more soft than sharp. Hmm…….did you use lemon butter?”
“Yes. You really do know everything.”
Janet’s expression as she spoke almost as if she was in awe was quite gentle. It was much different than the expression she gave Jo Minjoon. It made him feel a bit disappointed. But that disappointment disappeared the moment he put the risotto and salmon in his mouth. Jo Minjoon spoke in an excited voice. He had the happiest expression on his face, happier than any expression he showed the other applicants.
“This is really good! I was wondering how you would handle the bitter taste of the mint, but the sweetness of the pear helps to cancel out the bitterness. The refreshing yet oily nature of the lemon butter makes the rice go down much smoother …… and I don’t need to say anything about the salmon. It was a perfect arroser without any faults. It’s amazing.”
“Yes. Thank you.”
Compared to the excited Jo Minjoon, Janet’s voice was stoic. Anderson wasn’t that friendly either, but Jo Minjoon felt it was almost poisonous. Feeling like he was being hated, Jo Minjoon asked Anderson in a crestfallen voice.
“Do people tend to have a bad first impression of me?”
“I can’t honestly say no.”
“……Everybody seemed fine until now.”
After trying a few more dishes, it was time for them to discuss their thoughts. Janet didn’t seem to like him very much, but Jo Minjoon liked her. He also liked her food.
Jo Minjoon strongly stated his opinion.
“Janet Pei. I think we must bring this person on board. The recipe was great and I couldn’t find any faults in her skills either. There were many other good applicants, but she’s the only one I feel certain that she is better than me.”
It was quite a heated push. Seeing Minjoon act like Janet’s fan, Anderson blunted answered.
“……How nice of you. You’re so persistent even though she’s acting so cold.” (TL: Don’t you know that’s Minjoon’s type?)
“The important thing is the food. If they cook well, I don’t even care if they swear up a storm.”
“I guess that’s why you acted the same way with Kaya.”
Jo Minjoon didn’t respond. He looked at Rachel and asked again.
“Let’s bring her on. This person.”
“We must be fated to meet like this again.”
Janet squinted at Javier who was happily holding his hand out in front of her. She spoke as she shook his hand.
“Since it is confirmed that we are not just passerbys in each other’s lives, I guess one handshake is okay.”
“Congratulations. On being selected.”
“Miss Janet, you were selected as well. You talk like it’s someone else’s business.”
“Just call me Janet. Being called Miss Janet makes me feel sick.”
“No problem. Janet. Ah, Mr. Minjoon, and Mr. Anderson.”
Javier headed towards them with a bright expression. Jo Minjoon shrugged his shoulders as he answered.
“Just Minjoon for me as well.”
“Okay. Minjoon. Then please just call me Javier.”
“That Gould’s razor shell and squid earlier …… I’m not sure what to call it. Either way, that dish, was really great. Let’s work well together.”
Jo Minjoon smiled as he said that. In the hall, all nine of the new family members were becoming familiar with one other. It felt like a small party.
Anderson didn’t memorize all of their names and didn’t really feel the need to memorize it, but Jo Minjoon was different. Memorization was one of his specialties. Watching Jo Minjoon going face to face to greet each one of them, Anderson shook his head as he spoke.
“I can’t ever act like that.”
“You didn’t seem like such a bad person on the broadcasts.”
“Who would do bad things on a broadcast? That’s stupidity before being bad.” (TL: Peter, plus pretty much half the contestants on Hell’s Kitchen. Master Chef contestants, not too bad. Master Chef Junior contestants, just ADORABLE)
He was grumbling as he answered, but even such a response seemed likeable. Javier smiled as he spoke.
“I would be happy if you called me Javier. Can I just call you Anderson?”
“That’s not okay.”
It wasn’t Anderson’s voice. Javier looked down, chasing after the childish voice surrounding his ears. Ella cockily turned her chin up, as if she was the owner of this humble party. The disappointing part was that she wasn’t wearing a dress, just a flower patterned t-shirt and yellow shorts. Anderson asked in a somewhat shaky voice.
“Uncle Minjoon said that you need to call people by the name they like the most.”
“……What is the name I like?”
Anderson felt a weird sense of anxiety grabbing onto his feet. Ella laughed mischievously and answered.
“Uncle dduksam!” (TL: Really just Uncle Mochi!)
“……I knew it would be like this. Why does that punk always …….”
“What is she talking about? Dduksam?”
“It’s nothing. Forget about it. Also……”
Anderson debated whether to tell him it was duksam and not dduksam, before shutting his mouth. It wouldn’t be to his benefit to say that. At that moment, Janet took a sip of sparkling water before starting to speak.
“You’re all so friendly already. Although it would be better to not be so friendly just yet.”
“Rose Island. This place is starting to bloom again. That means nothing has been decided. And of the things that have not been decided, there are ……”
Janet spoke in a sharp voice like a female warrior.
“What section each demi chef will be in charge of. This should be a part of it. FYI, I am calling dibs on appetizers.”
“……What will you do if I am also interested in appetizers?”
Anderson asked in a quite challenging voice. Janet answered with a confident voice.
“You’ll need to compete with me.”
<The Friendly Judge (5)> End
Translator : Miraclerifle
Proofreader : Miraclerifle
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