8 points. Jo Minjoon looked at that score dumbfoundedly for a long while. He didn’t believe it. He thought that it was difficult to do so until now. And it wasn’t that he had made a dish you were familiar with like Hugo. He wasn’t familiar to, and didn’t even like risotto. He got 8 points with that risotto.
It would be a weird thing if that situation made him only happy. Of course, his heart felt like exploding for the score he had received for the first time in his life, but at the same time, he felt dubious. How in the world could he get 8 points? Was concentration alone enough to do that?
“Well, everybody take your hands off.”
Even before he could organize his thoughts Joseph yelled. Of course, there was no one to have failed in completing their dish after 1 hour. Because 1 hour was enough to make risotto and paella.
As he slowly checked at his surroundings, his eyes fell on Kaya’s dish. He couldn’t help it. Because he knew that she was showing a not confident attitude. But because of that, he couldn’t help but wonder. Cooking score 8. He understood that. But…….
‘Shallots and onions on a 1-1 ratio, parmigiano and reggiano, clam gravy, dry white wine….. This is exactly the same as Alan’s.’
The dish Alan had served them just then was copied exactly the same in front of Kaya. Did she originally cook it like this? He didn’t remember well.
Looking that it was 8 points means that she was successful in bringing out the same flavor. But can she get through the creativity?
‘Is not a problem that can get solved for me to worry about.’
Jo Minjoon looked away. He had made an 8 points dish for the first time in his life. It could be a selfish thing to say, but he wanted to enjoy this miracle to his heart’s contents instead of worrying of something that didn’t even happen.
The first one’s the judges evaluated were Carlos and Marco. Both of them weren’t able to make outstanding dishes. Because Carlos and Marco were 6 points. Jo Minjoon quickly looked at the dishes of all of the participants. And there was only one 5 points dish. Coney. From the remaining participants, she was the only one around her forties, and was also the most silent participant. What she had made was paella with corns and onion, but honestly even at first glance, it didn’t seem that delicious.
He thought that the one to disqualify would be Coney, if there were no upsets. However, it was uncertain for the risotto team. 7 points for Anderson and Hugo. Kaya was 8 points. And the remaining three were all 6 points. You wouldn’t know who of those three would disqualify. Alan ate a bite of Carlos’s risotto and rinsed his mouth with water. Then opened his mouth.
“Carlos. What’s the theme of this risotto?”
“I saved the aroma with basil and pine nuts……..”
“No, I can see that clearly. But why am I chewing more pine nuts than rice grains? The seasoning is good. And it’s the same for the recipe. But the oil of the pine nut is covering all of the flavor. Have you tried it?”
“No, I just…….Didn’t have the leisure to.”
“Are you saying that you made risotto without even trying it? You, do you know that much about risotto?”
Carlos lowered his head. And the evaluations that continued from Joseph and Emily weren’t that different. It was averagely good, but the problem was that the pine nuts covered the risotto’s flavor. In the end, Carlos became a disqualifying candidate and went back to his countertop.
And Marco also received a bad evaluation. He made paella that was fried with lemon juice along with a hard baguette, shrimps and saffron. However the fish gravy was weak and was a bit burnt, so in the end he also got to the disqualifying candidates.
After that was Kaya and Coney. The moment the judges looked at Coney’s paella, they showed hesitation, but couldn’t help but to lift their spoon and eat a bite. And then frowned. Emily let out a deep sigh and said.
“You are aware that it is overcooked right?”
“There are a lot of things that are lacking for it to be called paella. The rice grains are damp like cheese, and because of that, I get the feeling that the flavor of the other ingredients are also sloppy. Coney. Right now, you are the most convincing disqualifying candidate.”
After that was Kaya. After Alan ate a bite of Kaya’s risotto, he said with a casual voice.
“Before when you were preparing to cook, I asked you. If you were planning to imitate my dish. Actually, I said that half joking but you really did so.”
“……I told you before, that the risotto I ate before was the only time I have tried it.”
“If you say it like that, I feel sorry for telling you something, but even so I need to say what I have to. Didn’t you think about reforming a little bit of the basics of my dish?”
“Are you able to run before walking?”
That was the most indirect way Kaya could say. Joseph just chewed Kaya’s risotto without saying anything, and said with a soft voice as usual.
“Just like Alan had said, maybe it lacks creativity. Because it’s the same as copying another person’s dish. Alan should have thought that copying his recipe was the best you could make. Is that right?”
“I already told you. That walking is my utmost.”
“You are right. Alan. I think like that. That it’s a bad thing for a chef to test a customer with creativity that isn’t even theirs.”
Emily nodded and said.
“Actually, how many participants could there be that had used their own recipes. In the first place, this isn’t even that kind of program. You aren’t cooking what the others had already cooked, but the theme is to cook a delicious thing. I agree on the point that she had made the best she could. Of course, her lack of understanding towards risotto can be a diminutive point, but at least, it seems that she had done her best in her own environment.”
Alan didn’t refute the words of the two. Because he thought that there was some truth behind their words. The judges sent eye signals between themselves. Alan nodded and opened his mouth.
“Kaya. We think that we want to keep watching your cooking. It’s a bit disappointing that in today’s dish, there wasn’t a trace of your color but it was still good. You have expressed it completely like I had thought. You pass.”
Kaya turned back with a not happy nor disappointed face. And after that, it was the turn of Jo Minjoon. Precisely speaking, Jo Minjoon and Chloe’s turn. Jo Minjoon glanced at her dish. Sea mussel and shrimp was appropriately placed on top of the sea mussel’s shell so it seemed all the more luxurious. But of course, peeling off sea mussel was realistically more burdensome to do.
7 points. It wasn’t a bad score. At least, she could survive today. After he thought like that, his head got filled to the evaluation he was going to hear. It was his best work in all his life. So it was obvious for him to be expecting what kind of evaluation he would receive.
The first one to be evaluated was Jo Minjoon. Jo Minjoon couldn’t help smiling little by little. Alan glanced at the dish and opened his mouth.
“You said that you weren’t familiar to risotto, do you think that you had made it well?”
“Yes. I affirm it more than any time.”
Those confident words made Alan momentarily flinch. Alan raised his head and looked at Jo Minjoon. A voice was heard. Not from Alan, but from Emily.
“Minjoon. Last time you said that you had a scoring system. Was that called cooking score? So, what kind of score would you put to your dish? If you are confident, maybe a 7?”
There were rumours in Grand Chef’s house that Jo Minjoon scored a dish, and that he had said that his best was making a 7 points dish. Looking at Jo Minjoon’s confidence there was nothing wrong to say that his dish was a 7 point. But the weird thing was after that. Jo Minjoon replied while smiling brightly.
“No. 8 points.”
“…….8 points? Didn’t you say that it was difficult with your current strength?”
“I wonder. Maybe the word miracle is used at times like this.”
Jo Minjoon’s words were better than usual, it wasn’t with the meaning to use as broadcast material. The judges, the participants and the casting crew that were looking at him all felt that. Joseph put the risotto in his mouth as if he couldn’t take it more. He closed his eyes trying to feel the grains of rice one by one and soon, the same smile as Jo Minjoon was seen in his face.
“I understand those words.”
The happiness contained in those short words were really dense. Alan and Emily hurried to lift their spoon and ate the risotto. And at that moment, they could understand Joseph’s words.
Pear risotto. Actually, it wasn’t a special recipe. The combination of prosciutto and pear was used by commoners a lot, and using sage leaves wasn’t all that special either. Because it was a herb used frequently in risotto.
However, the depth of the flavor wasn’t ordinary. Because even if it was the same recipe, according to the amount of dedication you put in and invest time and effort, the flavor would get different. Cooking was about that. Cooking didn’t betray the time invested. Luxurious dishes taking a long time to make wasn’t a coincidence either.
And from Jo Minjoon’s pear risotto, that dedication and time was felt clearly. The ingredients were exquisitely harmonious with each other, as if trying to not ruin the flavor even a little, and through the teeth the texture of rice grains that were chewed and the flavor of the gravy and wine were perfect beyond asking.
Alan opened his mouth. It was a voice filled with satisfaction.
“How did you make this kind of risotto? Minjoon. This risotto kind of risotto shouldn’t be able to be made by someone who doesn’t know about risotto. Just say about seasoning, because that’s entirely up to tasting. Someone like you should be able to catch that easily. However, it isn’t for the rice. It shouldn’t be easy to boil down the gravy this exquisitely……”
“I won’t entirely say that it was all because of my skills. I’m thinking that I was really lucky back then.”
But just because of that, it didn’t change the fact that it was a good dish. Even if it was by coincidence, they felt good for having seen his potential. Joseph nodded and said.
“Miracle comes to those who are ready for it. Minjoon. It’s your luck and skills. Congratulations. If it’s 8 points it means that it’s the first time you have climbed your wall. The wall you have climbed once, will be easier to do so the other times.”
“Thank you. I would like it if it’s like that.”
Jo Minjoon smiled and replied. Alan slightly glanced at the other judges. However, there was no need to ask them their opinions. Jo Minjoon had already said that his dish was 8 points. And the judges agreed to that. It was the best this he had made so far. Alan opened his mouth.
“Minjoon. People are focused about your tasting right now. I also was like that. However, an excellent chef is not always an excellent epicurean. Even if you didn’t have that sense of taste of yours, you should have still made an excellent dish. Because you are a person that can pour all of the attention in one risotto. That concentration will become your weapon.”
“I agree fully with Alan. Minjoon. If you place this risotto in any restaurant, it would never get a complaint. You are calling this moment to be a miracle, but if you keep working like this I believe that your everyday will be filled with these kinds of miracles. I ate well.”
Emily continued to say after Alan. She was putting on a really big smile, maybe because of the risotto she had ate. Alan coughed and opened his mouth.
“Go and treat your hand first, Minjoon.”
“…….Did I pass?”
“The answer is on the plate.”
Alan lifted his finger and pointed the plate. Risotto, no, the plate that contained the risotto. It was a really clean one.
< Crossroad (4) > End
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Translator : Subak
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