There was no need to hesitate. The moment he was given the two choices, Jo Minjoon had already decided.
Alan and Joseph were chefs with completely opposite nature. Joseph was basically a chef that took a serious importance in orthodox cooking, and Alan was a chef that favored originality.
But it wasn’t that one side was better or worse than the other. Only, he got the feeling that if he went to Joseph, he would consider more the skills than the recipe. So it was better to go to the side where he could save the recipe’s ability the most. Because Jo Minjoon’s best strength was the recipe designing of his system.
Jo Minjoon glanced at his sides. There were seven others that were leaving the kitchen along with him. Kaya, Anderson, Hugo, Carlos, etc. Chloe and Marco still remained in the kitchen.
The unexpected one was Anderson. Because Anderson’s cooking and character was uptight and tenacious. Orthodox cooking suited him more rather than a challenging one. Jo Minjoon thought like that.
When he looked at Anderson while thinking like that, he didn’t stop his feet and frowned.
“…….What is it? Don’t make me curious and just spill it.”
“It’s really nothing much. I just found it interesting for you to have chosen Alan instead of Joseph.”
“And why is that interesting?”
“Just so. You usually cook orthodoxly.”
Anderson smiled and replied.
“If you can make an orthodox dish, you can make any.”
“Right. Good for you.”
Jo Minjoon shook his head as if he was tired of him. Anderson frowned while looking at Jo Minjoon acting like that, but didn’t say anything. Kaya that was looking at them clicked her tongue and said.
“Are you kids?”
“…….I feel really weird listening to that from you.”
Because the most childish and spoiled one was her. She said with a blunt face.
“I’m still a teen. It’s an age I don’t need to act like a grown up.”
“Now that you say it like that, I get convinced.”
Jo Minjoon nodded and smiled.
Grand Chef’s garden was the size of a considerable stadium. Jo Minjoon moved his step with a more nervous face. Was his decision good? He didn’t know. Not until he had experienced it.
Alan was standing below a thick willow. In front of him was placed a table, and on top of it was a plate that was covered by a lid. Every time the wind blew and shook the branches, the sunlight made the shadow appear and disappear over Alan like a current of water. Rather than being romantic, it looked like a video that was playing in a screen with its pixels broken.
“There are seven of you? There are more than I had expected. I thought that you wouldn’t come for not liking me.”
Alan said with a voice you couldn’t know if it was a joke or he was saying it seriously. Jo Minjoon and of course, the participants looked at him with an awkward face. This was the time you could say that a strange distance was felt. Could it be said that his own words was deep, or he was in a 4D? Alan opened his mouth.
“What did you think would be the mission for you to come to me? Hugo. Answer me.”
“Uh…….To copy the signature menu of the chef, or for the chef to treat us to a dish he likes. I think that it will be one of the two.”
“Well, if I have to pick one side, it would be closer to the latter.”
Alan talked like that and looked at them meaningfully. He slowly opened his mouth.
“I will ask you a question before announcing the theme of this mission. I will give you a last chance to go to Joseph. You aren’t going to change?”
The participants just looked between themselves absentmindedly, but there seemed to be no one to have changed their decision. Because, there was no meaning in changing even before you got to know what the mission was. Alan nodded.
“Good. Then, I will tell you the contents of the mission.”
Alan talked like that and opened the lid of the plate. And at that moment, a laugh was heard. And it came from Jo Minjoon. He looked at the contents of the plate hopelessly. It seemed to be made with loyalty to the basics rather than being fancy. He could see the sleek white rice grains and the aroma that was felt was the smell of cheese along with the faint aroma of onion and leek.
Risotto. Koreans tend to think that it’s an italian bokkeumbap, but actually, it was closer porridge than rice. In Italy this dish was treated as primo piatto along with pasta or ravioli. In parties, it was common for it to replace pasta, but normally, it was a dish that was eaten in a normal family meal.
In Italy it was a dish that was as familiar and received as much love as pasta and pizza. Suddenly, Jo Minjoon became dubious. Was Alan italian? Honestly speaking, he didn’t care much about him, so he didn’t know his birthplace. But fortunately, his doubt got resolved immediately. Alan served a spoonful of risotto in the seven dishes and said.
“I was born in Italy. It’s obvious for pasta, and I also ate risotto as an everyday meal. That’s why I can evaluate the flavor more accurately. You have to make a risotto taking into account the normal cooking method, and at the same time, satisfy my mouth. You can use whatever ingredient you want. Just, don’t forget what a risotto is.”
Alan said in a strict voice. Jo Minjoon looked slightly at the faces of the other participants. Three seemed really confident, and the other three did not. Anderson and Hugo were the ones who were confident. By the way, there was a time where Hugo made the italian dish ossobuco in a perfect way.
And when Jo Minjoon asked him the secret to it, there wasn’t anything particular. Experience. His italian grandmother made him many italian dishes since small, and he said that he had made it several times. And he had also said that ossobuco was one of his specialties, so it being 8 points convinced him.
‘If you group together cooking level and experience, a dish beyond your expectations comes…….’
Honestly saying, he was envious. Jo Minjoon couldn’t eat well made dishes since small because of his mother’s sloppy cooking skills. Lee Hyeseon’s food was always salty or needed seasoning, and there were many times where the cooking wasn’t done properly.
The problem Jo Minjoon had was right that. That his cooking didn’t have a foundation. He looked in the internet or broadcast and copied the recipe of the dishes that seemed delicious. He wasn’t limited by boundaries, and the result of that was that he became able to cook all kinds of dishes. However it couldn’t be said that those dishes were his own. Because the food didn’t have a color of Jo Minjoon, but was transparent and faint.
He was troubled by it but he couldn’t do anything about it. The experience he had accumulated through his life, no, it was a problem of identity rather than experience.
It was at that moment. Alan looked at Jo Minjoon and said.
“Minjoon. You have showed us your absolute taste before. Can you guess all of the ingredients for this risotto?”
He didn’t expect that. But he understood. Because to just let that ability go to waste in a broadcast was really not a good thing to do. Jo Minjoon ate a bite of the risotto and slowly opened his mouth.
“The shallots and the onions are mixed on a 1-1 ratio. There is chopped garlic and the rice is arborio. Because it is an italian dish, it would be good to use italian rice. It’s obvious but there is salt, and also dry white wine.”
Jo Minjoon took the breath he was holding in. The participants were looking at him with an unknowable face. Jo Minjoon continued saying.
“There’s parmegiano and reggiano cheese in it. There’s a little bit of pepper for seasoning, it’s obvious for olive oil, and the gravy is a clam gravy. This seems to be everything?”
Alan looked at him with a face he couldn’t get accustomed to. At times, there were outstanding epicureans that got all of the ingredients like Jo Minjoon. However, even they couldn’t say those ingredients with absolute confidence. He differentiated the shallot and the onions? Those were ingredients you wouldn’t know how to distinguish between them if you didn’t know that they were included in the dish. Although if you ate knowing about it, it would be different. Weren’t normal people not able to discern between coke and soda?
So he could only be expectant to Jo Minjoon’s dish. A picture drawn by a colorblind and a normal person, and one drawn by someone who can see beyond colour could only be different. Basically, it was because the world they saw was different. And he thought that Jo Minjoon’s tasting world was different. He believed it to be like that. That if Jo Minjoon completed a flavor by his own, that flavor would be so luxurious and delicate as to not be able to compare it with anyone.
The participant’s sights became shameful. They knew that Jo Minjoon had a genius like sense of taste, but that sight was one which they just couldn’t get accustomed to. Anderson frowned and tried to feel all of the ingredients Jo Minjoon had named. But it was difficult. The flavor that was mixed time and time lost almost all of its original shape.
‘How can he read all of those flavors like that?’
Aside from talent, he was envious. He got the feeling that Jo Minjoon’s tasting world was more beautiful and happy world than theirs. But of course, in reality it was a bit different.
“Okay. Now that the little event has ended we will go again with the main point. If you look at the ingredients Minjoon had named, there are no special ingredients in it. They are basic and normal ingredients. But that flavor is…… it’s a bit embarrassing to say it by myself, but I believe that you were satisfied by it.”
The participants nodded. Alan’s risotto was so delicious it made them forget that they were in the middle of a mission. Alan continued speaking.
“The only I want to give is this. That a risotto must be like one. Don’t put in your excessive greed. And if you keep all of that, I believe that an excellent risotto would appear.”
Kaya mumbled in a low voice. Her voice that seemed like she was angry was telling that she was nervous right now. Because it was her character to erect her spikes when she got nervous.
Even at first glance, Kaya was putting on a face that told that she didn’t have much experience. And it was the same for Carlos. Their faces were so pale to the point that he felt bad for them.
‘Am I making the same face right now?’
Jo Minjoon extended his hands and groped his face. But of course, there was no way he could know what kind of face he was putting right now. Alan opened his mouth.
“One of you, and one of the participants that followed Joseph will disqualify. But of course, if your dishes are so perfect to the point I can’t disqualify you, today could become a day with no disqualifiers. I would also like for that day to come. Now, let’s move.”
Taking into account that they had moved all the way to the garden, it was a really sloppy announcement of the mission. But of course, they would be shown through the screen like they were really nervous……
“Can you make risotto well?”
At the unexpected voice, Jo Minjoon turned his head. It was Kaya. Jo Minjoon shook his head and said.
“Honestly, it’s not my specialty. But I will have to work hard.”
“It seems like you don’t have any specialties.”
“…….Now that I think like that, it does seem like that.”
At her words, he let out a laugh as if he was a little relieved from the nervousness. But he seemed to be embarrassed to have laughed like that and forced himself to not laugh and said.
“Even so, your food is delicious.”
“Yes. It is.”
“Oh, wait. Let’s stop. They will edit us once again.”
After she said that, she glared at the cameraman that was following from behind. As the cameraman laughed without noise and with a flustered face, she said while grumbling.
“You only get these things, right?”
The cameraman didn’t reply. She wasn’t expecting an answer, so she turned back with a cold face to look at Jo Minjoon. The cameraman grinned. Can that little lady know that her attitude is more charming in the screen?
< Crossroad (2) > End
Translator’s note: Regular chapter!
Thanks for reading and for your support!
Translator : Subak
Proofreader : Maled