Hearing Jo Minjun’s shaking voice, Chloe lightly smiled. She wanted to see his eyes shake from nervousness again. She wanted to hear his cautiously gentle, and soft and soothing voice once more.
The two of them tried to pretend like nothing happened after Grand Chef ended, but there was no way they could do that. Of course it wasn’t that Jo Minjun avoided Chloe’s calls or anything like that. Rather, he was even nicer than before, and she could tell that he was careful with every text he sent to make sure she wouldn’t get hurt.
She was thankful for that. It meant that Jo Minjun cherished her enough to do that. But at the same time, it was torture. As a member of the opposite sex, the fact that the person you like needs to be cautious around you rather than be comfortable around you… would be difficult for anyone to handle.
“It’s been a while. Have you been well?”
That was why Chloe tried to speak as casually as she could. If Chloe had a more manipulative personality, she could try to lean into Jo Minjun’s gentleness… but she did not do that. She could not do that. Jo Minjun sat down next to Chloe and started to speak.
“How did you get here? You should have called me to let me know you were coming.”
“I didn’t want you to get nervous. The pasta is delicious. No, should I say the jelly is delicious?”
“Well, in the end it is a pasta. The jelly is just the ingredient.”
Chloe nodded her head as she quietly put the pasta in her mouth. Jo Minjun debated for a moment. What could he say to make this awkward atmosphere disappear? But he felt like it would not disappear no matter what he said.
“Congratulations. I heard you are dating Kaya.”
“Yes, it ended up that way.”
“Just so you know, I am not saying it sarcastically or as a formality. I really am happy for you. You and Kaya are both my important friends.”
She wasn’t forcing herself to say this. This really was Chloe’s true feelings.
When she first found out that Kaya and Minjun were dating, Chloe’s heart was crushed. It had no other choice. Of course she knew that something was fishy between the two of them from a long time ago, but the weight of that suspicion becoming reality held a completely different type of weight.
At first, she had no confidence to meet the two of them. Although she had not done anything wrong, she was embarrassed. She even really debated never contacting the two of them ever again, and live on like nothing had ever happened. But she could not do that. As she just told Minjun, Jo Minjun and Kaya were her important friends.
That was why Chloe had no choice but to say it.
“Don’t worry. Minjun. I am not as innocent or pure as you think I am. My heart that I gave to you, I will take it back soon. So……”
Suddenly, Chloe stopped talking. Maybe she put on some tint, but her lips were shining. But the reason Jo Minjun was looking at her lips was not because of the shininess. No, it was because of the way the corners of her lips were weakly shaking, which was telling him more than the things she just said to him.
“You don’t need to worry about me from now on. A lot of time has passed. My heart has changed a lot as well.”
“Okay. I’ll keep that in mind.”
It was a simple answer, but it did not mean he was taking Chloe’s words lightly. Rather, it was the greatest respect he could give to Chloe. He clearly felt Chloe’s fear about destroying her friendships. Jo Minjun could not step on such feelings.
It was at that moment.
“Minjun! How dare you say that on starbook …… uh, Chloe?”
A familiar voice came from behind him. Jo Minjun suddenly felt like his heart skipped a beat and awkwardly looked behind him. Although he wasn’t cheating or anything, just the fact that he was with Chloe made him feel like he did something wrong.
Thankfully, Kaya seemed to have been surprised at the fact that Chloe was there, and did not try to decipher Minjun’s expression. Kaya started to tear up before pushing Minjun away and sitting next to Chloe.
“What is this. You always told me you were too busy to see me.”
“I can’t say anything since I was busy too. It’s nice to see you.”
Kaya said that before giving Chloe a big hug. Chloe had a slightly nervous expression as she awkwardly put her arms around Kaya. She had also never expected Kaya to show up. Also, being in front of Kaya made her feel sorry as well. No matter how you put it, she had desired her friend’s man. Jo Minjun looked toward Kaya as he asked.
“You said you were going to Dallas for the weekend. Is it done already? It’s only Sunday.”
“I rushed back because I wanted to see you.”
Kaya smiled as she answered. Chloe watched the two of them with an embarrassed expression. Rather than being jealous, she was surprised. It was so unexpected. Even if they were dating, for that Kaya Lotus to show this type of affection and cuteness was something Chloe could have never expected.
“Chef Minjun! What are you doing!”
“……Ah, I need to go back to work. Kaya, I’m sorry. You just got here but I have to go back. Catch up with Chloe for a while. Let’s talk once we’re done.”
“Ah. Jelly. Give it to me too.”
“Got it. Just wait a bit.”
Kaya, who was watching Minjun’s back as he walked away, smiled as she looked toward Chloe.
“Since we are both settled in now, we should be able to see each other often, right?”
“Yes. We should be able to. But work really is busy. I barely made time today. What about you, Kaya?”
“I am busy as well but……I like it because it makes me feel like I am living and not wasting my life away. You know how I grew up.”
“I don’t think the old you was wasting your life away either. You were flailing with all your strength to survive. That was what made you become the wonderful chef you are today. That is why……”
Chloe peeked toward Minjun. He was back to visiting customers and smiling as he explained the menu. In that moment, he seemed to have even forgotten about Chloe; the only things in his eyes as he greeted the customers were his passion and pride toward cooking. Chloe calmly continued to speak.
“You got a cool boyfriend like that too.”
“Hmm…… he really is, isn’t he? He’s cool in your eyes too, right? Chloe?”
“If it wasn’t for you, I might have snatched him for myself.”
“No. Minjun is mine.”
Chloe calmly smiled. She did not show any bitterness. She planned on keeping the words she said to Minjun. Although she could not do anything about her true feelings, at least on the outside, she did not want to show any longing.
“Yes. Minjun is yours.”
“Whose dish left the greatest impression?”
Rafael started to speak. Next to him were Rachel, Jack, Lisa, and lastly, Ella. Ella looked like she wanted to say something, but she had enough tact to not butt in on the adults’ conversation. Lisa caressed Ella’s hair as she started to speak.
“Honestly speaking, all of them left a great impression. You don’t get to try molecular gastronomy every day. I’m sure the people who tried these dishes feel the same. If you want to look for differences, you have to look for it not in the impression, but in the taste.”
“Mommy, I like the jelly uncle made the most.”
Ella whispered in a quiet voice in Lisa’s ear. She looked so innocent as she said that. Lisa lightly kissed Ella’s cheek. Ella opened her eyes wide as she asked her mom.
“Mommy, which one did you like the most?”
Lisa took a look around the empty dishes. All four of them tasted wonderful. The texture that touched your tongue was great, and you could tell that they really researched their recipes. But as a baker, there could only be one she enjoyed the most.
“Mommy likes uncle Javier’s creme anglaise. I wonder how it would taste with bread.”
“I didn’t like that one.”
“It is because Ella is still young. When you grow up in the future, you’ll understand the acquired taste of it.”
“……You always tell me I’m young. I’m all grown up.”
Ella puffed her cheeks and started to pout. Jack started to speak.
“I have never tried molecular gastronomy before …… it is refreshing. Rachel, I can see why you are interested in it. You always hated to stand still. Both in life, and in cooking.”
“So, Jack, which one do you like the most?”
“I feel the same way as Lisa. Any baker can’t help but have their hearts stolen by that type of creme.”
“I liked Janet’s film ravioli. Film is actually really annoying for beginners to handle …… but she managed to succeed with it. Chef Rachel, which one did you like?”
Rachel started to speak.
While Rachel and the rest were judging the demi chefs’ molecular gastronomy dishes, there was another quiet judging going on at a different location. Well, since this was a gathering to judge the food, there really wasn’t anybody who was not judging.
But these two were a bit special. A man and a woman who seemed to be in their thirties. They did not seem to be a couple, but they shared a unique characteristic. It was the way they treated the food.
These two did not immediately put the food in their mouth like other people to start. They first used their eyes to see the angular beauty that the white space of the dish and the food created, then used their noses to enjoy the fragrance. It was only then that their tongues got a taste.
Their attitude toward the taste was a bit different as well. While most people would be debating whether it was good or bad, these two were having a conversation like this. The bald Asian man wearing a suit with a fedora started to speak.
“Personally, I can see that a lot of effort was put into this ravioli. Alicia. What do you think?”
“I can see that the decorations were used with a purpose, not just as space fillers. The baby greens on the side have a purpose. The interesting texture from the crunchiness of the peanuts and the softness of the broth is held together by the crispiness of the leaves. Clever. Also, skillful. The one that made this was that female chef, right?”
“Yes. You like it?”
“Like it is too ambiguous. Honestly, it is molecular gastronomy they have been practicing for ten days. It would be weird to call it amazing. If you ask me if it is okay, I can confidently nod my head. If this is the result of ten days, by the time they open the restaurant, the level will be much much higher. The funny thing……”
The woman called Alicia started to smile. She looked toward the plates on the table with a gaze full of amusement.
“Is that all of these are the works of the demi chefs. Not the sous chefs, but the demi chefs who have learned molecular gastronomy for ten or so days. Our seniors really were right when they said Rose Island is really different. Chen.”
“We can finally fulfill our desire. Now we won’t need to hear ‘You haven’t even been to the main Rose Island restaurant’ anymore.”
They must have been bugged about it a lot, as there was a sense of liberation in Chen’s gaze. Alicia nodded her head.
“That is that, but I wanted to verify it with my own eyes. The truth about the restaurant that made people say that three stars were not enough and that it needed four stars. I hope it is the same as before.”
“It is Rachel Rose and Rafael Yoon. In addition, they have Jo Minjun who is famous for his absolute taste. With a combination like that, won’t they do something crazy?”
Chen rolled Jo Minjun’s spaghetti on his fork and put it in his mouth. His body then shook with joy. The spaghetti, as well as the lasagna and ravioli, were perfect. He could not find anything missing. The texture of the jelly, the seasoning of the ingredients that ended up in it, and the type and harmony of the garnish on top. It really was the level of a Michelin star restaurant menu item.
“……Wow, this person really does have absolute taste. Otherwise, it would be impossible to so meticulously express this kind of taste. Personally, I think Minjun’s dish can be put on the menu right away. Not a small dish like an amuse-bouche, but as a full on appetizer.”
“It really is surprising. Just ten days, and for a twenty one year old to show this much skill……I can’t imagine what kind of monster he will become in the future.”
“Rose Island has always been full of geniuses. There are even talks about how the reason everybody on the Rose Division became successful without an exception is because they never take people without talent in the first place.”
Chen mumbled in an excited voice, as if his heart was pounding.
“But Jo Minjun is the first genius Rachel personally recruited. What do you think that means?”
“Does it mean that he has overwhelming talent even among her disciples?”
“Yes. Number one disciple. And think about how most teachers treat their number one disciples.”
Alicia tilted her head with a confused expression. But it did not take long for her face to be filled with shock. She started to mumble as if she had not even considered the following.
“Perhaps…… Rose Island?”
“Rachel Rose is a widow. She also has no children.”
Chen turned his head. His eyes chased after Jo Minjun who was making his way through the crowd of people. He then continued to speak in a meaningful voice.
“It would not be weird……even if she was thinking of that young man as the successor to pass everything down to.”
<Taking the initiative (3)> End
Translator : Miraclerifle
Proofreader : Miraclerifle
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