The time for comfort ended immediately. Even before it became 9 o’clock, the participants had to go in front of the food truck. They didn’t even have the leisure to express that they were glad to see each other in a long while. After they attached a mic in their clothes, the judges appeared. They had met almost in one week. Joseph opened his mouth with a calm face.
“Last week, did you do well?”
The participants laughed bitterly. Their faces were saying it all. Joseph slacked his lips as if he understood.
“It should have been hard. You lacked sleep, and your back and neck hurt. But looking at the smiles of the customers you can’t even say that you are exhausted, that’s the life of a chef. And your lives should also be like that. The last one week, you can look at it as you have to work the same for the remaining 70 years.”
Perhaps, because it was the food truck that it was more comfortable. Because it wasn’t a normal one, but a food truck only for the sake of the mission. Normal restaurants would be better in that you don’t have to move, but excluding that, it wasn’t easy at all.
Alan opened his mouth.
“Later, you will be facing more stress than right now. It will be different depending on who you are working for, but as you know the character of most of the head chefs or sous chefs are dirty. And I’m not blaming them. It can only get dirty. It can only get rough. Because if you did even a small mistake, you won’t know what could happen. And what you place on the dish has to be checked as cautiously as a doctor’s hands. And………”
Because if you did even a small mistake, you won’t know what could happen. What you placed on the dish has to be checked as cautiously as a doctor’s hands. And…”
Alan glanced at Emily.
“If epicureans come and comment on the internet or the news saying things full of crap, you will forget why you were walking this road. Some of them will write unreasonable things, and things that make you wonder their comprehension towards cooking.”
“……..Well, even I sigh when I look at those epicureans. And it seems like you had already met sloppy epicureans in the food truck mission.”
The ones Emily was talking about weren’t the ones who talked bad about their cooking, because that was their obvious right. However, there were also some that wanted to get attention by speaking nonsense. They said that the flavor of an ingredient that wasn’t even used was felt strongly, and some even evaluated with the opinions of those, when they haven’t even eaten it.
“Minjoon. Hugo. Chloe. Because you were team leaders, you should have felt and endured more things than your members. How are you feeling?”
Jo Minjoon glanced at Hugo. Maybe he was forcing himself, but he didn’t look good. He could only be like that. Because if he didn’t lie about his profits, today’s third place would be his team. Hugo wasn’t the type to lie about these things, he was the type to feel all the more responsible in this kind of situation.
The first one who replied was Chloe. She seemed to also be feeling at ease. Her voice wasn’t that heavy.
“It was hard, but thinking about the things you would face in the future, it was quite a good experience.”
“It’s a wonderful reply. Minjoon?”
“The word responsibility seemed to be more scary than I expected. Of course, I knew that you made me team leader as a reward for getting first in the risotto mission, but it felt more like I was given a test.”
He hadn’t planned to grumble, but as he spoke, it became more of a nuance. Alan smirked.
“Think of it as an experience. Cooking in the seat of the leader is something impossible with your current experience.”
“Yes, I know it quite well.”
“Hugo, What about you? You have the most nervous expression among the three.”
Hugo smiled bitterly. He hesitated for a while and slowly opened his mouth.
“I’m sorry for my teammates. I had to do well as a team leader, but I had to be a team leader that lacked too much.”
“……..I wonder. I had heard that you did quite well, so I don’t think that there’s a need to lower yourself like that.”
“Rather than lowering myself……..I’m sorry. It seems like I was too nervous.”
Emily said with a gentle voice. Next was Joseph. He pointed at the clock in the wall with his finger.
“The business today will start until 4:30. And, the profits at that moment will be the standard to evaluate. The winners today were going to have a meal at the 1 star Michelin restaurant ‘Coconut Prime’……… But because of a patron, the plans were changed. The place you are going to eat today……”
At this moment, Alan looked at Jo Minjoon for a moment. Even before they could think the meaning of that sight, Alan continued speaking.
“It’s in Rose Island located in Chicago. It’s a place that got a Michelin 3 star.”
At those words, everyone’s mouths opened widely. At that moment, Jo Minjoon felt a strong desire to win. Michelin 3 star. The meaning those words had wasn’t ordinary. Perhaps…
‘………Would there be a 10 star dish?’
His heart started to beat. There was only $50 of difference with Chloe’s Team. If he worked desperately, maybe they will overturn them. Personally after his absolute sense of taste was known by everybody, thinking that the profits yesterday was higher than usual maybe they would also get good results today.
“Do the best you can. Not everybody can win, but you will all be able to satisfy your customers. I hope that you will be able to.”
At those words, Hugo’s face froze stiff. It seemed like he had pledged something inwardly. Jo Minjoon thought while calming down his greed. Yes, first came the customers. It wasn’t only selling, but making food that satisfied the customers. He couldn’t forget about that for even a moment.
Joseph said, “Go. The customers will be waiting for you.”
Now, they didn’t even take long getting the ingredients in the market. They had gotten the hang of it, but it was mostly because they had already visited Chicago’s market once.
They had decided to cook first with the rice as usual. He had already repeated this process many times, but it was the most important and difficult part. Rice was a dish that was difficult to cook well. Korean housewives cook rice everyday, but the results always varied. At times it was well-cooked, and at others it was watery.
Perhaps it was fine because they had the rice cooker that kept the quality. But if they didn’t, you wouldn’t know what the result will be. You would only get accustomed because you ate it everyday, but cooking rice wasn’t an easy thing to do.
“How many will we sell today?”
Jo Minjoon shrugged his shoulders. It was still in Chicago, but this place was 2km away from the last place. So he thought that not too many customers would come twice. And even if they did, it meant that they came to eat their norimaki again.
And he couldn’t neglect the effect of the absolute taste. At least taking into account the selling they, he thought that there won’t be a time where they didn’t have customers. The problem was them. How fast could they make the norimaki according to the demand? And today, the other teams seemed to also extend the business hour.
“The mission ends at 4:30. So should we make 1,500 until then?”
“…Just listening to it makes me feel disgusted. Do you think that it will all sell? If it doesn’t we will only be wasting ingredient fees.”
“So we will have to act according to the situation. But I think that the total amount of customers will be higher than usual. Because it’s different to having only one truck to having all three in the same place.”
Anderson nodded as if he agreed. If it was only one, the people who were hesitating about moving to get there. If there were three, then the possibility for them to lift their butts became higher.
Whether they made 1,000 or 2,000, in the end they could make 300 in one time. It was the same work as usual, but Jo Minjoon felt more comfortable. Perhaps it was because of what Hugo had told him. No, it was almost certain that it was because of that. Because he could sleep well in a long while because of that.
As he made the first round of norimakis, Jo Minjoon started to cook the rice immediately. The one that opened the door this time was Anderson. He, who got out of the back door, couldn’t help but feel shocked at the amazing crowd. Saying that the square was full would be exaggerating……. But at least, there were so many people you couldn’t see the end of them. Some hundred would be too light to say. He got back in the truck and gasped in amazement.
“…….We should really be able to sell a thousand. There are a lot of people.”
The first ones to started selling were obviously Chloe’s team, because they had to prepare the bread beforehand and put it on the grill or skewer on the kochi. There were three options the customers could choose from: bread, meat, and sauce. It was simple, but certainly this was a method which could bring many customers.
The price was around $4-$6. Taking into account that vegetables weren’t put in it separately, it wasn’t that cheap, but even so the amount made people to not complain.
It wasn’t as much as norimaki, but even so it was a dish that was fast to cook. Joanne said with an anxious voice.
“Why are they so fast? That Kaya roasts meat like an art. In that fast time, there’s not one meat that’s overcooked or raw.”
“She’s from the market, so she would have lots of experience.”
“Whew… scary. Let’s strain ourselves too.”
If Chloe’s team raised awareness that much, Hugo’s’ team was the opposite. It was one thing that their line didn’t shorten, but the size of their line was really short compared to Jo Minjoon’s and Chloe’s teams. It couldn’t be helped.
Coffee and cake. Normally, it was a menu that was more appealing to women rather than men. And right now, the people that were lined up were mostly women. It was really hard to look for a man.
Losing male customers wasn’t the only fault of their menu. First, the point that it was a dessert added to that. Of course, there wouldn’t be people that wanted to get full with only eating cake, but their cake was focused in quality rather than quantity. The price was expensive and the amount wasn’t much. The quality would be assured as long as there was Marco, but honestly, you wouldn’t know it before eating it. Because basically, when you look at the menu you would ‘ugh’ed and stepped back.
Jo Minjoon let out a sigh inwardly. It was regretful, but he didn’t have the leisure to be thinking about them. Jo Minjoon opened his mouth.
“Kaya’s team……no. There’s no need to mind Chloe’s Team much. They will feel desperate looking at us. Because they don’t have time to be resting. Oh, yes. Welcome. I will take your order.”
“Two pork barbecues and one salmon. I saw the broadcast well. Looking at you guessing at the fried tofu pocket, I felt chills down my spine.”
Honestly, he had heard that many times already. However, he could not smile back when the customer was putting a face that was having fun. He heard the same congratulations, thanked the same way, and laughed the same way. The special thing was that he didn’t hate that conversation to be repeated. Because their faces were filled with goodwill towards him, he couldn’t hate them.
After making norimaki and selling, and repeating that process, it was soon near 4:30. The comforting point was that until it became 4:30, they didn’t rest even once. The line in Hugo’s team disappeared slowly, and the selling speed of Kaya’s team decreased…….. Perhaps, they would really…
‘No. Let’s not expect already.’
However, he couldn’t help but have a smile in his face. And the cameraman was filming his face with a careful angle. Probably, that face was going to be shown as if he was having fun with the customers, and a smile of a chef.
When more customers were getting out of that place, the length of the lines could be clearly compared. The longest one was Jo Minjoon’s Team. It wasn’t simply because they wanted to eat norimaki. Most of the customers that saw the absolute taste scene felt that that broadcast made the person himself as an unique brand. Martin touched his chin and thought.
‘Aside from victory, Minjoon got wings in his back.’
Even with making normal food, the people found a flavor that wasn’t even in it and praise them. Of course, some epicureans would overdo it like always, but taking into account Jo Minjoon’s absolute taste, it wasn’t that easy to bad mouth.
Much less when Jo Minjoon’s cooking skill wasn’t bad at all. On top of that, he was only 23. Honestly speaking, you wouldn’t know how much he would grow.
When it became 4:30, there were not many norimakis remaining. Just as the word, there wasn’t much. 7. Jo Minjoon gave it all away for free to the customers. He couldn’t charge them because the business was until 4:30.
The kimbaps they made and sold were roughly 1,100. It was a really amazing number. Normally if he summed up lunch and dinner and sold all that, even if they worked for longer than usual they had really sold a lot.
‘Excluding the oil and ingredient fees……. It will be a little more than $1,000.’
If they could do business like this everyday, all the chefs would become owners of a food truck.
The participants returned to the Grand Chef’s house. They couldn’t announce the results where other people were looking. Of course, the food truck had already spoiled about the survivors, but it was an unavoidable decision because of the mission. If it wasn’t that situation, there was no need to show the progress.
Lobby. The judges were standing as usual and waiting for them. Alan opened his mouth.
“We have the total profit from each team leader. And the losers and winner have also been decided. The funny thing, is the difference between the 1st and 2nd place. How much of a difference do you think there will be? Chloe, what do you think?”
“…….I wonder? Hmm, about $10?”
“It’s half of that. That’s the difference of the 1st and 2nd place.”
At those words, everyone started to talk with surprised faces. Jo Minjoon felt his chest burning. Who would be the winner of those 5 dollars? Him? Or Chloe?
Alan opened his mouth.
“However, before announcing the 1st place, we have to first name the disqualifying team. It’s an inconvenient time, but a time we must have. I won’t talk long. The losers today have acquired a total of $5,643 of profit. Right. Hugo! It’s your team.”
Hugo was shaking with his face having turned pale. Alan didn’t want to say consoling words. He said with a blunt voice.
“Even the idea of doing a cafe truck was a miss. First, your skills of making coffee is not that good. I don’t understand why you have chosen to go that way. Second, you had to think about the size of this truck. Was making bread and coffee all you could think about after knowing that this huge truck could handle 15 people? Perhaps making a moving bakery would have been better than cake. In my opinion, you were so charmed by the idea of doing a ‘cafe truck’ that your horizons became small. Hugo, what do you think about that?”
“…….It’s my mistake. I have nothing to say.”
Marco slowly patted Hugo’s shoulder. Joseph just looked at them and opened his mouth.
“If you want to open a restaurant, you have to take into account many things. It’s not only the item or the cooking that should be good. You can’t go with just that. That’s only the basics. With that said, the other teams did really well. They figured out the location and peculiarity, and I could see from the menu that a versatile strategy was used.”
Joseph took a breath for a moment. And then said.
“The first place got $6,771 of profit. Yes, that’s right.”
Silence roamed for a moment. The moment Jo Minjoon heard $6,771 he immediately knew the result. He could see the Michelin 3 star right in front of his eyes.
“Congratulations, Minjoon. Your team won.”
< At the end of the trip (2) > End
Translator’s note: Regular chapter!
Thanks for reading and for your support!
Translator : Subak Proofreader : Saihikawa