While he was getting treated, Chloe’s evaluation was proceeding. There were no upsets. Although there weren’t compliments, there also weren’t critics.
Looking at the face of Chloe that was returning, Jo Minjoon frowned. But of course, it wasn’t because of the results of her evaluation. His pain was getting worse. The doctor applied an anesthesia through a syringe and said in a blunt voice.
“As time passes, your sense will awaken, and the pain will get worse.”
“……How long will it take to heal?”
“It’s different to each person, but normally it will take around 1 week for the scar to close. And in 2 weeks, it will completely heal. It will take even longer for the sensation of your finger to completely come back.”
The doctor talked like that and sewed his thumb with a thread. There were five stitches. The injury on a hand for a chef was no different than a company for life, but even so, looking at the needle sewing through his flesh, he felt somewhat uncomfortable.
“Don’t look. It’s not good for your mental health.”
As he turned his head to look at the judges because of what the doctor had said, Hugo was getting his evaluation last. 7 points. It was the same with the ossobuco, but he thought that Hugo was a relatively skillful chef. He thought that if he went on like this, he would reach level 7 in cooking in a few years.
“Thanks for your good cooking.”
With Emily’s last words, the evaluation ended. The judges glanced at Jo Minjoon. The final conclusion had to be done when all the participants were gathered. The doctor tapped Jo Minjoon’s wrist and said that the treatment was done. As he went back to his countertop, Joseph opened his mouth.
“We have decided the first place for today’s mission as the results of sharing our opinions. First, I’ll tell you what kind of dish got first place. Risotto. It is risotto.”
At those words, Jo Minjoon licked his lips and looked at the judges. There were only 8 points dishes today. Him and Kaya. However in the case of Kaya, she received a critic about her creativity, while he didn’t get any. So of course, he could only expect to it.
Joseph looked at Jo Minjoon. He raised his hand and made a gesture as to get closer.
“Minjoon. Congratulations. You are today’s protagonist!”
He couldn’t control his expression. The smile made his lips to raise, and he tried his best to shut his mouth. However, that result ended in being a bright smile. It was the first time. 8 points, and being first. He had always tried his best to survive, but there wasn’t a day where he became the best. However it was just like Joseph had said. He was today’s protagonist.
Joseph continued speaking.
“Get some confidence. Minjoon. Regardless of that absolute sense taste you are already an excellent chef. If you improve your risotto a bit, it can even be presented on my restaurant’s table. It was that kind of dish.”
“In my opinion, it seems that you have always doubted about your own skills. Saying that the best you could make was a 7 points dish is proof of that. Why are you thinking like that? Think about the risotto you made. Didn’t you say it yourself? That it was an 8 points dish. Stop doubting in yourself.”
After Joseph talked, Alan’s words made Jo Minjoon not able to reply back. He couldn’t just say that because the system said that his cooking level was 6, he could only make a 7 points dish at best. It wasn’t because he had to keep it a secret. Whatever it was, in the end it was evident that Jo Minjoon had surpassed his own limits.
He felt that his felt his throat choke and that something was surging up. That was resentment, happiness, sadness surging through his throat and made him want to shed tears. He planned to not cry until he had won, but he raised his hands to cover his eyes. Beyond his palms, a voice was heard.
“Cook like today. I believe that you being the best won’t end today. Because the twenties is a good age to grow.”
His voice was wet. Although it would be seen good in the screen, Jo Minjoon was rather embarrassed of his own voice. He felt that he wasn’t manly or old enough. But it just couldn’t be helped. Because the dream he had always wanted approached right in front of him and was saying that he could get it….. If in that kind of situation, you didn’t get a surge of emotions there were two reasons for it. That the dream was a fake one in the first place, or he had never felt moved.
As he stopped shedding tears and moved away his hands, in his cloudy sight, Alan was also looking at him with a moved expression. Jo Minjoon tried to make up a smile and bent down to the judges. It was a korean salute, but even so, he wanted to express himself.
As the announcement of the first place ended, after that came what made everyone bothered. The announcement of the disqualifiers. Even the judges couldn’t get used to that moment. Alan said with a hard voice.
“We ate many dishes today. In the case of risotto, we had our opinions collide a little, but in the case of paella the disqualifiers were too clear to see. Carlos. Coney. Come to the front.”
Carlos walked to the front with a pale face. Coney had a calm face as if she had already expected it. Alan said in a cold voice.
“Coney. You have made the most terrible dish until now. Did you know that?”
“However, it doesn’t mean that you are also a terrible chef. I have eaten well the dishes you have prepared until now. The dream to become a chef, I wish you don’t give up. You have potential. Just keep going like this.”
Coney replied as she nodded. After that, was the turn of Carlos. Carlos was nervous because of the soon to reach announcement and was tensing his muscles. The tattoos on his arm wriggled, but it just seemed like a weak cat with it’s fur erected. Emily opened her mouth.
“Actually, we have thought a lot picking you. Saying the truth, there were many participants who had made risotto in your level.”
“… … …”
“However, a disqualifier had to appear. And from those, we picked the chef we got the least amount of impression. I’m sorry, Carlos. It seems that you are done until here. Coney, Carlos. Leave your Grand Chef badges and leave please.”
Carlos and Coney pulled out the badges with their hands trembling. They left the badges in the table they had just cooked until now, and they could only leave the kitchen with strengthless steps. Jo Minjoon bit his lips and looked at Carlos’s back.
He couldn’t say that they were close, but it was the first time a participant he was rather close to and had shared conversations with to disqualify. They cooked together for the same dream, but in front of the crossroad they had to separate.
Actually, this competition could be called as a constant crossroad. Because every time the broadcast ended, at least one participant disqualified. If in the start you felt a strong feeling to survive, now it was at the point you had to compete with each other without yielding.
It was bitter. So much that the sweet taste of victory dispersed.
As the interview with Martin ended and night approached, the participants were gathered in the hall as usual. It was time for the broadcast to start.
Although there were two disqualifiers, it wasn’t right for them to keep being sad. Because even if they weren’t in this program any more, it didn’t mean that their dreams were ruined. Jo Minjoon massaged Hugo’s shoulders strongly. Hugo got surprised and looked back at him.
“You would be feeling lonely for your best friend to have disappeared.”
“………Whew, I don’t know.”
Hugo let out a sigh as he shook his head. Just as much as he was close to Carlos, regret was as big as that.
The broadcast started. Just like irony, the first one to appear in the screen was Coney. She was looking at the camera with resolute eyes.
- I’m an unmarried mother. My kid just became four and is going to kindergarten. And I’m in debt not being able to even pay the kindergarten. The talent I have? No. I don’t know if I’m able to call this as talent. It’s my last rope. I’m doing it because I like? I wonder. Honestly saying, I feel more pressured than feeling fun in cooking. Because it’s my last hope. Because of a stable life of my child and I…….I can’t fall here. I will win. Surely. I’m not as knowledgeable about cooking like the other participants, and I have just learned through going to all kinds of kitchens…… But my reason to win is clearer than all of them.
It was a heavy content. The people that tried to keep a bright attitude were sulking. If you were a normal viewer, you would cheer looking at that scene, but they already knew. That Coney had disqualified.
‘That bastard of paella.’
Jo Minjoon let out a sigh inwardly. Honestly speaking, even if Coney got through this mission, there was no way she could win. Because there was a basic difference in skills. But even so, he couldn’t stop feeling bad for her.
THe broadcast was about the three course. Jo Minjoon could look at that situation in detail for the first time. Precisely speaking, it was Anderson’s and Kaya’s fight. They, who were arguing about who was going to be the main, in the end, a mosaic was put in Kaya’s hand and then ended. Joanne hit Anderson’s arm and said.
“Do you want to beat a kid?”
“You two are similar, similar.”
At her words, Kaya that was far away, frowned and glared at her. Joanne raised both of her hands as if she was surrendering.
And after that, it was just as they had known. No, there was one thing he didn’t notice. And that was that the other teammate of Kaya and Anderson was Carlos. Anderson’s team disqualified and in the losers revival phase, Kaya asked for help to Jo Minjoon and then the commercials came. Now, the participants didn’t bother them about their love line. Because they have already teased them sufficiently. Although it would be different for the viewers.
“You won’t be able to sleep tonight too checking the comments.”
Hugo smiled and said that. Jo Minjoon looked at him and asked.
“You don’t check it?”
“I read a little. Even if I read it, there’s nothing I can say. And there isn’t much about me. Because I haven’t been put in a love line from the director like certain someone.”
“…….Be thankful that you weren’t. Because this is really stressful.”
“And why do you get stressed?”
It wasn’t Hugo who had asked the question. Jo Minjoon turned his head. Kaya was looking at him with a puzzled expression.
“You also check the comments because you get stressed. Isn’t it?”
“I do get stressed but not because of that. If you get grouped with me it’s an honor, why is that stress?”
“…….You shouldn’t get between a married couple’s fight. I’m out.”
“Enough. Sit. What couple are you saying?”
Jo Minjoon made Hugo, that was about to leave, to sit. Hugo glanced a little and whispered lowly in Jo Minjoon’s ear.
“I’m afraid of her.”
“Nowadays teens are all like that.”
“I don’t think I was like that.”
“You were a teen a long time ago. How old were you? 28?”
Hugo put a depressed face and dropped his head. At the sight of them playing by themselves, Kaya wanted to say something more, but in the end she didn’t. The broadcast was starting again.
It was about their personal stories. They showed the story of every participant and told the reason why they couldn’t disqualify, and it was also the same in case of Kaya.
- I’m not planning to return to that kind of a sewer. Well, the other participants should have similar reasons. A reason to not disqualify. But, I’m sorry but it’s unavoidable. Because I also have a reason. I’m going to win even if I have to kill them all.
It was really extreme, but nobody blamed her. Because they now knew well about her character. But of course, it would be different for the viewers.
He glanced at Kaya and saw that she was putting a quite serious face. It was at that moment. It seemed that Carlos was also at the disqualifiers revival phase, but they showed him cooking and on top of that, his voice covered it.
- Actually, in the past, I used to do drugs. And the way to get out of that was through cooking. It’s the truth. I’m not saying it for the emotional parts, but I really only had cooking. The only thing I could concentrate and have fun. Aside from drugs…… I only had cooking. Perhaps, cooking could have been a drug for me. And I’m planning to win everything with this drug like cooking. Reality, and prohibition syndrome. All of it.
Voices were heard among the participants. Nobody knew that Carlos used to do drugs. And it seemed to be the same for Hugo, because he had quite a serious face. Jo Minjoon patted Hugo’s shoulder lightly.
“It’s going to be fine. Although he got eliminated, cooking didn’t leave him.”
“…….It will, right?”
“It will. He was a good guy. Let’s believe in him.”
Hugo laughed bitterly and looked again at the screen. The broadcast continued running and soon was announcing the disqualifiers and the winners. Looking at the Grand Chef’s logo widening and filling the screen, Jo Minjoon felt the broadcast to be too cruel.
This broadcast’s victory was a sweeter mistake than anything else. However, this mistake was only allowed to one person. Aside from that person, all the remaining ones will end up in a failure. The disqualification and trials of the participants would give the viewers a stirring emotion that amounted to only a tear, but for the concerned party, they embraced them a suffering that made them feel about to crumble.
What would be in the end of that crossroad?
< Crossroad (5) > End
Translator’s note: Regular chapte!
Thanks for reading and for your support!
Translator : Subak
Proofreader : Maled