When marriage and cohabitation was romanticized, they often have one thing in common. Waking up in the morning to the chirping birds and the sunlight reaching in through the window. As you scrunch up your face in sleepiness and open your eyes, you see the beautiful face of your gently sleeping partner right in front of your eyes.
And Kaya was currently in the middle of that romanticized moment. It was early morning. The fog had not lifted yet, so the sunlight was not that bright. The birds were not chirping yet either. The only thing present was this sleepiness that was making her feel heavy, and the side view of Jo Minjun she could barely make out with her heavy eyelids. He was just about two arm’s length away from her.
To close her eyes in sleepiness or to continue staring at Jo Minjun’s face. After contemplating this difficult decision for a while, her eyelids started to shake before they closed. After being frozen by sleep for a slight moment, Kaya took another deep breath as she cautiously reached over to the nightstand next to her. She picked up her smartphone.
6:57 am. Her alarm was set for 7 am. In the beginning, she would turn her alarm off and go back to bed, should she be happy that she could now get herself to barely wake up before the alarm even rings?
She debated just staying still until the alarm went off, but in the end, Kaya turned off her alarm and got up. She did not want to bother Jo Minjun’s sleep. Kaya approached Jo Minjun’s bed and kneeled, reaching her head over like a cat and looking down at Jo Minjun’s face. A smile started to form on that tired face of hers.
“He’s sleeping so peacefully.”
Some people have weird expressions on their faces as they sleep, but Jo Minjun was sleeping in the same calm and gentle manner as his usual self. Even the blanket on him was not in a mess. He really was a uselessly perfect boyfriend. But maybe that was the reason she liked him even more.
Kaya reached a finger over and poked Jo Minjun’s cheek. She really liked the feeling of his firm and elastic cheek. She would probably touch it all day if she could.
But she did not have that much time. Kaya kissed Jo Minjun on the lips and got up. It was time to get ready for work as usual.
Kaya’s day started with preparing breakfast. Kaya was also supposed to make lunch according to the two of their contract stipulations, but that was not realistically possible. The two of them could not be together during lunch. The only thing she could realistically do was to make breakfast, so Kaya put all her heart into making breakfast.
“Hmm. It fermented well.”
Kaya opened the lid of the pot to look inside before nodding her head in satisfaction. Inside the pot was none other than doenjang jjigae . She had boiled it yesterday and let it cool to bring out even more flavor. Kaya put the pot on the stove and turned it on low, before starting to wash the rice.
She did not turn on the tap water even when she washed the rice. The taste of rice would be completely different depending on which water you used for the first rinse. Kaya used the slow flowing filtered water for all three rinses of the rice. It was a lot of work but she didn’t mind. Her favorite thing was cooking, and her favorite person was Jo Minjun. Why would she not like doing something she likes for her precious person?
Other than doenjang jjigae and rice, the rest were dried side dishes that could be taken straight out. There was only one other thing she made on her own. But it was not an easy dish. Shrimp bisque puree and steamed sea bass with shrimp. It felt a little Westernized for a Korean breakfast, but she didn’t think the tastes would clash with each other.
“……You’re so loud even in the morning.”
She could hear someone clicking their tongue behind her. She didn’t even need to turn around. Kaya responded in a rough voice.
“Don’t eat it if you don’t like it. I thought I might as well make some for you while I make it for Minjun, but you are kicking it away yourself.”
“I said you were loud, I never said I didn’t like it.”
“Then shut up and wait. Don’t get on my nerves.”
Kaya bluntly shot back. Anderson was upset, but Kaya was the one with the blade right now. He just sighed internally as he started to speak.
“You seem like you’re almost done. Should I wake Minjun up?”
“No, let him sleep a few more minutes. And I will be the one to wake up him. I will kill you if you take that away from me. I mean it.”
There was nothing better than watching someone looking confused as they first wake up. A moment later, Kaya took off the apron as she started to speak.
“Set up the table. I’ll go wake Minjun up.”
Jo Minjun was still sleeping even though it was almost 8 am. It made sense. Recently, there have been many days that Minjun was researching recipes until late at night. In addition … … he could probably relax now that he had his own house.
She felt bad about it, but she had to wake him up. Kaya kissed Minjun on the lips. She then did not let go until Minjun could not breathe. In the end, Minjun’s body started to shake as he slowly lifted his head up.
“……What are you doing?”
“I’m waking you up.”
“What an interesting alarm.”
Jo Minjun smiled and hugged Kaya. Kaya flailed around as she started to speak.
“No. You have to wake up. I made breakfast.”
“Okay. Just 1 minute. No, 1 minute 30 seconds.”
“You’re such a cheapskate even when it comes to extending time.”
Kaya looked at Minjun in disbelief before starting to laugh. Anderson looked toward them from the kitchen before facepalming. He left his parents house to stop their nagging, but these two were terrible roommates in a different manner.
Their affectionate actions did not end in the bedroom. Jo Minjun smiled brightly and let out his admiration as soon as he sat down.
“Wow! Doenjang jjigae and rice. It really feels like a Korean meal.”
“I’m sure you miss it in the morning. It would be great for you to start your mornings off in a familiar manner while living abroad. The people at our market were the same way. Some of them would even stay here illegally and not go back to their home country, but always wanted meals from home.”
“There are two things that separate countries. People, and food.”
“So make sure to look after yourself. Are you eating well for lunch at the restaurant? No, I’m sure you’re eating well right now. How do you think it will be once you open?”
“I’m sure I’ll still eat well at that time. Of course, apprentices might not have any time because they need to prep the ingredients and prepare things during the gap time, but I’m a demi-chef. Plus ……”
Jo Minjun continued in a slightly bitter voice.
“Chef Rachel is extremely sensitive about the workers’ health. She had a bad experience in the kitchen. She probably doesn’t want to experience anything like that again.”
“I’m sure it would be terrible to experience something like that. So make sure you take care of yourself. Promise?”
“I should be telling you that. You seem to be a lot skinnier these days.”
“……Hey. Can we please just shut up while we eat? Kaya, didn’t you say we should focus on eating last time?”
Anderson started to speak as if he was exhausted. Kaya lifted her eyes to glare as she responded.
“Just shut up if you’re getting food for free, you lazy bastard. You have a lot to say for someone who didn’t help at all. Furthermore, last time was an amazing dish that you needed to focus on. Honestly speaking, this isn’t at that level.”
“Why not? I like this more than that restaurant.”
Kaya started to smile at Jo Minjun’s words. Anderson shook his head.
Rose Island was busier than usual that day. It was not only because their newly hired servers and sommeliers were present. There were cameras all around the kitchen and hall, as well as cameramen with cameras the size of little children walking around.
They were doing a special on Rose Island. The beautifully decorated main branch that lived in the memories of the old folks, and the fantasies of the young. Being able to do a special on such a location was an attractive topic for the broadcast station. It was also beneficial for Rose Island since filming was only scheduled until opening day. What problem will there be as long as they don’t get in the way of their cooking?
But the cameramen and staff were caught up in an unexpected situation. The demi chefs and prep cooks headed toward the staff after cooking every dish and asked them to taste it. At first, they happily ate it, excited that they would get to eat such luxurious food for free, but this baptism of food did not stop. The PD next to Jo Minjun stuck out his tongue.
“You’re already working this hard even though you haven’t even opened?”
“It’s been like this for a few months already. We can’t test our teamwork on customers.”
“……Then has our staff become your guinea pigs?”
Jo Minjun avoided the PD’s eyes. The PD let out a chuckle before starting to speak again.
“I heard a bit about you from Martin. He said you become a completely different person when you cook.”
“It’s not always the case. If it was, I would be crazy. Oh, did Martin perhaps call me crazy?”
The PD cautiously nodded his head. Seeing Jo Minjun let out a sigh, he quickly added on.
“Ah, but he didn’t just say you were crazy, he said you were a lovable crazy.”
“What is different about it?”
“The fact that there is some affection.”
“……I’m not sure. I don’t think Martin’s affection will help console the fact that he called me crazy.”
“He’s right. You are crazy.”
Janet, who was heading for the fridge, casually said that as she walked by. Jo Minjun looked at Janet with a devastated expression before turning back around to make eye contact with the PD. The PD shrugged his shoulders.
“Seems like a pretty official title?”
“Please edit that out.”
Jo Minjun shortly answered before focusing back on his cooking. The PD looked at the focused Minjun, as well as the servers practicing their serving in the kitchen and hall. Both the kitchen and the hall seemed to be very well trained.
‘……Did they say the menu changes every 15 days.’
The concept of Jo Minjun’s dish, putting air into mozzarella cheese to blow it up like a balloon, was quite fresh. To create a new menu like that every fifteen days … … any normal person would probably feel like their head was about to blow up.
‘But I guess this is Rachel Rose and Rose Island because something like that is possible.’
Even the extremely prideful famous restaurant chefs could not act that way in front of Rachel Rose. Is it because it is the kitchen of such person? Or is it because she picked only the best of the best? All of the demi chefs in the kitchen seemed to be extremely skilled.
There was nothing that got in the way of their cooking, and nothing that made them anxious. All of the dishes they made were works of art. Although they were pretty much making the same dishes over and over, that …… was actually harder than making different dishes. It was easy to get complacent while making the same thing over and over. Just the fact that they could maintain the same quality for every dish showed that they were already doing enough as demi chefs.
‘I heard Minjun has only been learning molecular gastronomy for a couple of months.’
For only learning for a couple months, he seemed extremely familiar with using the syringe, liquid nitrogen, and agar. Was it easier to cook things that required visible precision? Although the PD was not an expert, he had met many expert chefs while working as a PD. He could tell that Jo Minjun’s hand movements seemed just as natural as some of those experts.
‘……I remember Martin saying that as a PD, he had to focus on Minjun’s absolute taste, but as a customer, you couldn’t help but be in awe of his abilities.’
Realistically speaking, you couldn’t split the two apart. The absolute taste was a part of Minjun’s abilities. It made the PD recall a conversation with Martin.
‘Do you know what the most amazing thing was about making that series? In the beginning, Minjun was not really a very talented chef.’
‘But he managed to last until the final three, didn’t he? With your personality, I doubt you would have asked to push him forward for his absolute taste. No, even if you did, there is no way the judges would have done as you wanted. So then what happened? Was he just lucky?’
‘How could he survive on luck when there were so many competitions? His skills increased.’
‘…… Is cooking something that someone’s skill can increase that quickly?’
‘I’m sure technique improves slowly. But his intuition about food increased in a scary fashion. No, to be more specific, he absorbed the cooking styles of everyone around him. If you take a closer look, there were a lot of dishes that other contestants had attempted among the dishes that Minjun cooked in the second half of the show. That was how much he was stimulated.’
‘So what are you trying to say?’
As the PD could not endure the frustration and asked, this was how Martin had responded.
‘He will become a completely different person depending on who is around him. If he goes into a good chef’s kitchen, he will absorb all of it to make it his. His focus when it comes to learning something is out of this world.’
And that Jo Minjun was currently in Rachel’s kitchen. The kitchen of the person known to be the greatest chef in the world. The PD started to think to himself.
‘Minjun, please show us. Please show your growth to me, and ……’
 – Korean fermented soybean paste stew
Translator : Miraclerifle
Proofreader : Illidanstormrage
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