Kaya and Amelia did not lower their competitive spirit even at Fabio’s comment. Of course, their bickering wasn’t going to impact Anderson and Jo Minjun’s teamwork ……Fabio just clicked his tongue before mumbling internally to himself.
‘Women. Why do they make their lives so complicated?’
There were only 5 minutes left of the original 30 minutes. Rose Island was already plating their dishes. You could see the difference between relaxed teams and pressured teams based on their plating. Kay started to speak. Her face was covered in a mask, but you could clearly tell that she had a smile on her face.
“Look at how relaxed our Minjun is. Other teams are plating one or two plates but Minjun seems to be plating based on the number of judges. Chefs have to be cool like that.”
“Anderson is the same way. To make a gnocchi dough and bisque in that short amount of time……our son is really amazing.”
“Minjun oversaw that as well.”
“Enough enough. Both of you, that’s enough. Anyway, Kaya, are your restaurant team members cooking based on your recipe?”
Fabio must have decided it would not end if he interjected and changed the topic. Kaya hesitated for a moment and twisted her lips. The response did not come out very quickly.
“……About half of half.”
“What is up with that odd answer?”
Kaya did not respond. It was not that she debating what to say. She just did not want to answer. She did provide the original recipe, however, it was adjusted and improved by the real head chef to the point that the dishes they were making down there were almost not related to her original recipes. To respond, she would have to tell them all of that or lie. Either way, it was better to not say anything at all.
Thankfully, Amelia did not ask any further. Kaya crossed her legs as well as her arms. Her eyes that were hidden behind her sunglasses chased after Chloe.
“……Chloe, you’re so cool.’
To not back down in front of so many people. Chloe’s expression was confident, energetic and always smiling. Kaya was envious of that face. She wanted to make that type of expression and let out that kind of voice. Being the Grand Chef looked luxurious on the outside, but all of it was just an empty shell.
‘What would Kaya Lotus be……if I was not the winner of Grand Chef?’
She couldn’t even come up with a recipe to send to the competition. That weighed heavily on Kaya’s heart. She wanted to be out there in the kitchen as a demi chef like Jo Minjun or Anderson… but she could not do that. First of all, she was a head chef. Although it was just head chef in name…… that was the only position she could have right now.
One year. I just need to persevere for one year. She tried to think that way …… but it was too frustrating to spend one year as more of a celebrity, no, actually, more like a mascot than a chef. It may sound like she was not thankful for what she had, but she wanted to hold a knife in her hand. She wanted to hold a pan and feel the heat of the fire. The softness of water that runs across your skin, the smell of the vegetables as you fry it in a pan, she wanted to feel all of it.
Maybe it was because of that desire, but Kaya’s eyes as she looked at Jo Minjun, no, as she looked at everyone cooking in that auditorium, were full of longing.
‘I……want to cook.’
Jo Minjun suddenly stopped while cleaning the plate. He slowly raised his head and looked toward the audience. Anderson took a peek at him before deciding to ask.
“Is something over there?”
“……Nothing. I was just wondering if Kaya would be here by now.”
“Seeing as how quiet it is, she must not be here. Either that, or she’s in a disguise.”
Jo Minjun silently looked over the plates. It was not only Jo Minjun that prepared 13 dishes. The rest of Rose Island did that as well. They seemed to want to feed the judges as well as the announcers. The chefs from the other teams just shook their heads in disbelief after seeing what Rose Island had prepared.
‘Crazy. Making gnocchi dough and doing molecular gastronomy while preparing 13 of each dish……’
‘Rose Island really came to put everything on the line.’
It was not something they could have achieved by practicing crazily for a couple days. It really depended on how strong the foundation you had built from the beginning was. All of the chefs who were present could feel it. The demi chefs of Rose Island were not at the typical demi chef level.
At the center of that was Jo Minjun. Matthew lauded them while quietly muttering to Chloe.
“Is it because of the experience on Grand Chef? Minjun’s lead was not that awkward. He seemed very experienced.”
“We had to handle difficult missions in a pressured environment. Minjun is gentle. If he has his teammates’ trust, he will even make the impossible possible to meet their expectations. He was a good leader. He was the best leader of the leaders I worked with on the show.”
“He really must have been for you to praise him so much.”
Matthew looked at Chloe as if he was trying to look into her mind. Chloe did not meet Matthew’s eyes. However, even without making eye contact, it was easy to tell how she felt. For the last thirty minutes, Chloe’s gaze was focused on Rose Island whenever she had a chance. To be specific, it should really be said that her gaze was directed at Jo Minjun whenever there was a chance.
‘This woman is walking a difficult path as well.’
Of course, that was none of his business. Matthew continued on in a calm voice.
“I will announce it when the time is up.”
“Please do. I am satisfied with announcing the beginning portion.”
Matthew silently looked at the clock. In the past, he looked at that clock from the audience. But now, he was looking at it as the announcer. There was a different feeling between the two. The border between the past and the present. Similarly, the Rose Island of the past with new demi chefs. After thinking about all of that, his voice suddenly rang out.
“Time is up. Hands up in the air!”
Rose Islands demi chefs had already finished before time was up. Jo Minjun just silently looked through the other chefs’ dishes. They were all good dishes. If you looked at just the cooking score, the majority were 7 points. There were some 9 points as well. In comparison, the Rose Island team’s dishes……
‘All 9 points.’
Which meant they did not make any mistakes while they were cooking. It was almost impossible for them to make a mistake. Throughout the process, if any of the other three looked like they were about to make a mistake, the estimated dish score immediately responded in Jo Minjun’s head. He headed over to the person each time to point something out and the rest of them was able to figure out a response to it.
“Good job everyone.”
“Don’t say good job before we even won.”
Anderson responded in a grumbling voice. Jo Minjun started to grin as he looked forward. Chloe
was shouting out into the microphone in a slightly nervous voice.
“Everyone, good job putting the soul of your store into these dishes. We will now announce the judges!”
As soon as she finished speaking, the curtain behind the MCs opened up. Jo Minjun flinched for a second and started to shiver. THere were two familiar faces.
“Mr. Jeremy and even Emily…… I didn’t expect to see them again here.”
“They are both famous epicureans.”
Anderson answered in a casual voice like he wasn’t surprised at all.
The tasting started. The thing that surprised Jo Minjun the most was Emily’s judging. Jeremy was always rough and known for his vicious comments. It wasn’t odd for Jeremy to have a lot of negative comments. However, Emily was different.
“So you are saying this is the dish that represents your restaurant? Disappointing. It would have been better to say this was a failed dish. I guess there will be no reason for me to visit your restaurant in the future.”
“The head chef personally came out. How many staff members do you have in your store? Ah. Then you probably spend more time plating on the island than actually cooking. So why did you decide to pick up the pan today? This dish made it very clear that you lost your touch. The meat was overcooked, and the puree is bland. Why didn’t you leave it to your demi chefs?”
“You mentioned that you lost a Michelin star lately. You also said you couldn’t accept that result. However, in my opinion, it was the right decision to remove that star. This dish in front of me is a basic dish you can taste anywhere. The taste is good. But the creativity is dead. Did you lose your passion for cooking or did you lose your creativity? Whichever it may be, it will be difficult to pick your confidence back up with the dish you made today.”
Of course, she was not so vicious to every team. The focus of her tirade was the teams that she determined lacked the foundation. The problem was that some of the dishes she critiqued were 8 points and 9 point dishes. But even if they were 9 point dishes, if you looked at the creativity component, it wouldn’t be hard to critique it.
The problem was that each of the judges had a different standard of judging. Any dish that did not meet their standards were criticized terribly. Even Janet was nervously biting her lips. That pressure was overwhelming.
But Jo Minjun kept his head up. Jo Minjun greeted the judges with a confident gaze when he went to put the plates in front of them. One of them opened their mouth to speak.
“It’s been quite a while since we last saw Rose Island at this competition.”
The response was, of course, JO Minjun’s duty. He confidently answered.
“Yes. We heard that was the case.”
“We have both nervousness and concern while we stand in front of these dishes. I am scared to even pick up my fork. Rose Island. Main Branch. Our memories of that place …… whether you will maintain it or make us think that the stories were exaggerated, how will it end up……”
“The memories will disappear.”
Jo Minjun answered in a quiet voice. The judge’s eyebrow went up at Minjun’s words. Jo Minjun slowly continued to speak.
“The main branch is no longer the past restaurant that will remind you of ten years ago. Chef Rachel is alive and the main branch is still there. No, in fact, it has improved.”
“Is that improvement perhaps talking about this molecular gastronomy? It’s not bad to see a focus on molecular gastronomy. The message that Rose Island is not stuck in traditional cooking is good as well. However, just because you attempt something new does not mean that you have gained something new. Based on what I have heard …… all of you have only been working on molecular gastronomy for one month, is that true?”
“Yes. That is true for us demi chefs. However, Chef Rachel’s past ten years is on top of these dishes. And the rest of us are all here because of our head chef’s hard work. The food that we have made is Chef Rachel’s dishes. Our molecular gastronomy experience will not be a problem.”
Jo Minjun said that as he pointed to the appetizer. He calmly continued to speak.
“The appetizer is jellified salad candified with brown sugar. Please have a taste.”
The epicureans picked up their forks at Minjun’s suggestion. Jo Minjun was not nervous. They did not make any mistakes and the recipe was perfect. For a dish made within 30 minutes, it could not get much better. They slowly put the salad in their mouth before having a disappointed expression. The candified sugar was nothing special and the jelly was the same. However, the situation changed instantly.
Jeremy started to speak in a surprised voice. Jo Minjun did not say anything. By now they should be overwhelmed by the fragrance of the salad bursting out inside of their mouth. They had controlled the density of the gelatin, the liquid salad that was swimming in the jelly should have been released.
All of the judges became speechless and just exchanged looks with each other. After eating the single bite of jelly, it was time for Anderson’s gnocchi. This gnocchi that was made from carrot dough was the result of Rachel personally teaching Anderson for a whole day. The end product was of course perfect. The soft taste of the carrot was partnered with the savory and sweet taste of the shrimp bisque hit your tongue like a beautiful plump noblewoman of the past. Even the texture of the shrimp ball next to the gnocchi was perfectly chewy and soft that you could not ask for anything more.
Even now, none of them were speaking. Some of them were lost in bliss while some of them reached for the next dish as if they could not wait any longer. It was Javier’s eel roast. On top of the eel that absorbed the smokiness of the charcoal was the soy sauce jelly and ginger cream foam sauce. The eel that lost about half of its fishy smell because of the charcoal was washed with the ginger cream foam sauce before it was wrapped in the soy sauce jelly. Although they were eating food, it felt more like they were admiring a piece of art that was on the top of their tongue. This eel roast made them feel like that.
The final dish was Jo Minjun’s dessert. Some of them looked confused at the dish that did not look like a dessert, however, most of them didn’t even have the luxury to do that. They were so absorbed by the meal that they slowly rolled up the spaghetti and put it into their mouth as if they were disappointed that they were already at the end of the course.
The melted chocolate in the spaghetti brought out more of the taste of the cocoa instead of focusing on the sweetness. Once that harmonized with the sweetness of the carbonated strawberry, it created a taste that nobody could anticipate at all. It was like an explosion. It was the most beautiful yet gentle and loving kiss.
In the end, some of the epicureans started to cry. It was not just torn. It was a painful expression full of sorrow and longing The four dishes created a perfect harmony that worked flawlessly.
Someone started to mumble as if they were chanting a spell. The other epicureans nodded their heads as if they agreed and started to mumble the same thing as well. Rose Island. Rose Island.
Jo Minjun had a conspicuous plan as he stood up straight and looked in front of him. All of the dishes were cleared cleanly. The dishes were completely clear without even a single drop of sauce remaining. The people who cleaned these dishes were whispering to each other.
This exact moment.
The legend had returned.
Translator : Miraclerifle
Proofreader : Dragneel, Illidanstormrage
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