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The time they got on the food truck and left was right after lunch. The location was Hollywood. Since the crowd was focused in this area at all hours of day, Rachel calculated that this would be the best place to have the tasting. Rose Island was so famous that it didn’t even need PR, but it was still different to be active in people’s minds rather than in the corner of their memory.
With having so many people needing to move, the food truck alone was not enough. Justin was behind the wheel while the demi chefs and prep cooks were all in the van.
It was no wonder that the prep cooks were nervous and could not say anything. The demi chefs were nervous for a different reason, so they didn’t say much either.
In the middle of the silence, Jo Minjun just quietly stared into his smartphone.
#We are currently headed to Hollywood.
We plan on doing a simple molecular gastronomy tasting.
We invite all interested people to come check it out. The location is ……
Maya Patel: Molecular gastronomy? It seems it is rare to find a fancy restaurant these days that does not do molecular gastronomy.
└ Kylee Wilson : Although molecular gastronomy is treated as being completely different than traditional cooking, it is really talking about the act of treating cooking with science. So if you want to be strict with it, technically all cooking is molecular gastronomy.
Ravin May : Congratulations, Minjun. I was wondering when it would happen, but you finally made Kaya your woman. So when is the wedding?
└ Jo Minjun  : I am only 21 years old. It’s still …… a bit early to think about marriage.
└ Kaya Lotus : @Jo Minjun So that’s how you feel?
└ Jo Minjun : @Kaya Lotus ······ Why are you looking at this right now?
The peaceful comment box suddenly froze from the chill. Jo Minjun stared at the screen with a nervous expression. But Kaya did not respond. As he continued to refresh the page with anxiety, he could only see the comments from other people.
Ravin May : Did I just light a fire between the two of them?
└ Jasmyn Osburn : I think so.
└ Anderson Russo : Thank you. Thank you very much.
Jo Minjun silently looked to the side. Anderson did not make eye contact with Minjun while just looking at his smartphone. Jo Minjun asked in a low voice.
“Anything you want to say?”
“Is something wrong?”
Jo Minjun slowly shook his head at Javier’s question. Maybe Javier didn’t want the silence from before to return, as he quickly started up a conversation.
“Anyways, I am both nervous and full of anticipation. If it is Hollywood, maybe some celebrities will show up as our customers.”
“Even if we don’t go to Hollywood, once the restaurant opens, we will have a lot of reservations. I’m sure there will be a good amount of celebrities as well?”
“Even Obama might come.”
At Minjun’s response, the demi chefs, as well as the prep cooks all started to laugh. Only Anderson nodded his head with sincerity.
“It would be a question of when he comes. I’m sure he would come. As long as he can get through and make a reservation.”
“Don’t we usually give special treatment for VIPs like that?”
“Teacher Rachel is famous for not doing anything like that. Honestly, once you get to teacher’s level, there are no repercussions for doing that. Restaurants give special service to celebrities for the PR effect, but Rose Island doesn’t need PR. I’m sure if it is a personal relationship, it is possible to treat them on the side outside of the restaurant……”
A restaurant that even the president of the United States needs to wait in line. He felt like just being a member of that kitchen would give a sense of pride. Maybe the reason Rachel’s disciples continued to stay under the ‘Rose Island’ brand even though they are giants in the industry……maybe that type of pride played a big factor.
“I want to open something like a branch of Rose Island in the future.”
While talking about something like this, it was natural for this kind of statement to be said. If there was a problem with it, it was because of the person who said it. Antonio looked toward the driver’s seat with a shocked expression.
“Justin. You are just the apprentice. You can’t be talking about that already.”
Before Justin could say anything, Janet looked toward Antonio with a chilly gaze. Antonio had a guilty expression as he responded.
“Who are you to tell someone else not to dream? Can’t an apprentice think about what they want to do in the future? Do they not have the qualifications to do that?”
“N, no, it’s not like that ……”
“Of course it is like that. Then what do you think about when you are cooking? Isn’t it about getting your own kitchen in the future and owning your own restaurant? But you are telling him that because he is the apprentice, he can’t have a dream like that. It is too early. That is what you are saying right now.”
“Chef. I’m okay.”
Seeing the atmosphere turn tense, Justin opened his mouth to calm Janet down. Janet slowly turned her gaze to look at Justin. It was still sharp and fierce.
“Yes. Chef Antonio was just saying it as a joke……”
“So it’s okay to turn your dream into a joke?”
Justin could not easily respond to that question. Janet looked toward them as if she didn’t like them. Jo Minjun put his hand on Janet’s shoulder as he started to speak in a calm voice.
“Janet. I understand where you are coming from, but don’t put them on the spot like that. I’m sure Antonio wasn’t being malicious when he said that.”
“……I understand so move your hand. I’m calm.”
Jo Minjun lifted his palm as he sent a signaling gaze to Antonio. Thankfully, Antonio understood and quickly started to speak.
“I’m sorry. I will not treat anyone’s dream like that in the future.”
“Why are you apologizing to me?”
“Ah. Yes. Sorry, Justin.”
“I’m glad it ended nicely.”
Javier tactlessly smirked as he said that. Jo Minjun nodded his head.
“Janet is nice. Taking care of our youngest like that.”
Janet looked toward Minjun with a look of ‘what the hell are you talking about,’ before shutting up. If she responded to that, she would be the only one to look foolish. The prep cooks in the back started to whisper in a quiet voice.
‘Is he being serious?’
‘I never knew there would be anybody who would call chef Janet nice. Especially in a situation like this.’
‘Let’s try to understand. Chef Minjun is Kaya’s boyfriend after all.’
At those last words, all of them nodded their heads as if they agreed.
They soon arrived at their destination. It was in front of a theatre in Hollywood. The moment Jo Minjun and Anderson got out of the car, as if they had been waiting, a group of people started to crowd around them. Their voices instantly shot out like an explosion.
“Anderson! Can you take just one picture with me?”
“Minjun, congratulations on working it out with Kaya!”
“Can you sign this for me?”
Jo Minjun and Anderson couldn’t help but be swept up in their momentum. They took pictures with nervous expressions, shook hands, and signed things. They were thankful that there weren’t too many people.
Seeing the two of them signing things for the fans, the others just quietly watched them. Javier mumbled as if he was envious.
“I should have gone on Grand Chef as well. Then I would have fans like that too.”
“I’m sure it is not just one or two days but all the time that people crowd them. I don’t like it. I prefer the quiet.”
“Yes. That is very like you.”
Javier laughed at Janet’s words. He then looked toward the prep cooks. Gerrick mumbled as if it finally felt real.
“The two of them are decent celebrities.”
“I’m sure it is just a matter of time before they become star chefs. They already have the recognition.”
“The four of you over there. Stop staring at them and come over here. Let’s get the kitchen set up.”
“Ah, yes! Chef!”
At Javier’s order, the prep cooks all headed over. Thanks to that, once Jo Minjun and Anderson managed to get away from the unexpected baptism of fans, the food truck was all prepped. Jo Minjun immediately took a look at his jelly pastas in the food truck fridge. Their condition looked good. Jo Minjun looked toward Gerrick who was standing next to him and started to speak.
“Please do it well like we practice. I’m trusting you.”
There was a simple reason Minjun said that to Gerrick. For this tasting, the demi chefs were not actually cooking, but serving their food and explaining their dishes.
But since Minjun’s dish needed some extra touch up, he picked Gerrick as his assistant. It was because Gerrick had the best performance at the audition. Since the other demi chefs didn’t have any preference for the prep cooks, nobody cared much that Minjun took Gerrick.
“Let’s do a final check. You can just serve the ravioli like this, as for the spaghetti with crushed peanuts, you can’t crush the peanuts until you serve. Once the meatball becomes slightly warm, chop it up and put it on top of the lasagna. Don’t forget to not season it too much. The lasagna jelly is already seasoned inside. Got it?”
“Yes, chef. Do not worry. I practiced all night.”
“For doing that, you don’t really have any dark circles. You look fine.”
“I do have quite the stamina.”
Jo Minjun smiled as he patted Gerrick’s shoulder.
“Alright. I leave it in your hands.”
Maybe it was a coincidence or maybe it was necessary, but all of the demi chefs used different molecular gastronomy techniques. Javier made a coffee foam sauce with a saffron creme anglaise, and Janet improved her film ravioli from before as her final dish. As for Anderson, he mixed egg whites with water and microwaved it, with a lemon creme made from broccolini powder sauce.
For only having ten days to prepare, the results were pretty decent. Maybe that was why, but Rachel and Rafael, who were standing in front of the crowd, had a more confident and energetic feel to them than normal. Rachel raised her voice.
“Thank you for joining us for this Rose Island tasting today. The items that you will be the first to taste are the works that my demi chefs have spent the last ten days preparing. After that, we will give you a taste of Rafael’s molecular ice cream.”
“If you stay in your seats, the demi chefs themselves will come over to you and explain their dishes. Please wait patiently.”
While Rachel and Rafael were explaining the upcoming tasting, Anderson looked around at the crowd. He saw many familiar faces. He quietly whispered to Jo Minjun.
“You see that grandpa with white hair over there.”
“He runs a one star restaurant downtown. And that Asian woman with the Chinese-style makeup, she is the owner of a two star restaurant.”
“……Did they come to spy on us?”
“Honestly, us doing well won’t affect their sales, but I’m sure it is on their mind. It is a legendary return. Even after closing its doors, Rose Island was selected as the restaurant representing LA, and they were all trying to take that position. Outside of sales, there is a matter of fame.”
Jo Minjun nodded his head. To be called the best was fascinating no matter what world you were in.
The serving started. Thankfully, Gerrick was performing up to Minjun’s expectations. Every time the rectangular plate with the three types of pasta went by, people had looks of amazement.
“It is amazing. Didn’t you say you just started molecular gastronomy recently?”
“Although I started molecular gastronomy recently, I’ve been cooking for a while. I want to act modest and say I am still lacking quite a bit, but it feels odd to say that to a customer. Please enjoy.”
“What order should I eat it in?”
“You should start with the green spaghetti. The smooth broth and the oily taste of the peanuts should feel nice in your mouth. After that, please eat this lasagna. There is chili sauce and tomato paste mixed into the jelly, so even without any other sauce, just eating it with the meatball should have enough flavor. To finish it off is this ravioli made with fruits. It has fermented for a day, so the sweetness should be even stronger.”
Ironically, of the four demi chefs, the foreigner Jo Minjun was the best at handling customers. It wasn’t a problem of enunciation or accent. Jo Minjun’s face had Javier’s gentle smile, Anderson’s sincerity, and Janet’s quiet mystique.
Jo Minjun knew what he needed to say. His short tenure as a English teacher might have added to his skillful handling of the customers.
The one thing that was for certain was that his attitude made the receiving party truly feel like they were being served. After listening to his gentle and calm explanation, they felt like they could just happily enjoy the complicated taste of molecular gastronomy.
How many customers must he have served like that? Jo Minjun grabbed a dish and headed to the next customer. It was a woman with dark brown hair, wearing a refreshing flower-patterned dress. Although she had on large sunglasses that covered half her face, no matter what kind of eyes were hidden behind those sunglasses, it felt like this woman would be a beauty. Jo Minjun smiled as he started to speak.
“Hollywood sure has a lot of beauties.”
“Thank you. Can I hear an explanation of the dish?”
It was a husky and nasal voice, as if she had a stuffy nose. Jo Minjun went through his memories for a second. He felt like he heard this voice before. Jo Minjun carefully placed the dish down before starting his explanation.
“This green spaghetti is jelly made with basil and chicken broth. I put the crushed peanuts on the outside to add some oil. The lasagna is jelly made with chili sauce and tomato paste, and this ravioli is jelly made from a mixture of blue curacao and fruit juice. Inside it are pears and lime juice.”
“You seem happy.”
“I don’t know about any other time, but I feel like whenever I serve a dish I made to a customer, I should be excited and my heart should be fluttering. That is the way for the customer to enjoy my cooking as well.”
The woman smiled underneath the sunglasses at Jo Minjun’s answer. If it felt like that smile was kind of lonely, that would have been a mistake. Without knowing what kind of look was in the eyes, how could you find loneliness from just the corners of someone’s lips?
The woman started to speak.
“You are still the same.”
The woman answered as if she knew Jo Minjun. Of course it would not be weird for her to know him since he has been on TV quite a bit, but the way she said it made it feel like she didn’t just see him on TV. It was at that moment. Jo Minjun felt like he could tell whose voice this woman’s voice was similar to.
The woman took off her sunglasses. The playful voice carefully entered Minjun’s ear.
“I didn’t think you would recognize me right away ……but you are too much. You can’t figure it out until the end?”
Jo Minjun’s voice started to shake.
<Taking the Initiative (2)> End
 This is the first time I’ve seen the author write Minjun’s name in English. It looks like the author spells it Minjun, so I will be switching to that from here on.
Translator : Miraclerifle
Proofreader : Miraclerifle
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