“………Why are you looking at me like that?”
At Kaya’s voice, his consciousness slowly returned. Jo Minjoon looked away with an unnatural face. Why could that be? He knew that Kaya was a genius, and how much she could grow, but the moment her cooking level raised, a corner of his heart hurt.
‘…….Was it jealousy?’
Even if that was the case, there would be nothing wrong because he was also a person. Even if they were close, looking that she was getting farther away, he could only feel bad. To feel jealous at a kid, and at someone he had once admired when he was already a grown up.
And the 9 points didn’t appear only once. Although not every dish turned out to be 9 points continuously, the number slowly started to increase. Could she have climbed a wall? In Jo Minjoon’s experience, the level didn’t increase when you accumulated more experience. When you had enough skills, that skill was shown in the levels. He thought that perhaps, Kaya was in the boundaries of the level 7 and 8, and was only waiting to surpass it.
Jo Minjoon stopped thinking. He couldn’t put in jealousy and fidgets in a dish he was going to serve to the customers. Jo Minjoon’s eyes got fixed on the dishes.
His injury hurt.
Alan’s eyes became filled with suspicion. The atmosphere between the people that were in the hall got a little softer. It was a difficult thing to happen. The people that went to a restaurant can be divided in two: those that simply want to enjoy that time, and the ones that want to evaluate it.
That ratio varied depending on the restaurant. In the case it was a restaurant that certainly got recognized, there would be more of the former case. But for a restaurant like On the Lake that had just opened, the latter part could be more unavoidable. Much more when it was a situation where it was announced that the participants of Grand Chef would be the ones cooking instead of the normal chefs. There would be some expectation, but the doubt could only be as big as the expectation.
The people seemed to be thinking like that when they were eating. ‘Let’s see how well can you cook.’ That colour was clearly shown in their attitudes. In their knives, in the shape of their mouths chewing the fish, and in their eyes. Their attitude was like that even before they ate the food, so the satisfaction when they ate it could only be less than usual. Because the feeling you got when you ate something with expectation would be completely different. Even if it was the same dish, it could get a completely different score.
That’s why while customers were eating, no particular reactions could be seen. It’s fine, it was that much. However at one time, that feeling got eased up. And the line for that was only one. It was whether you ate Kaya’s and Jo Minjoon’s main dish or not.
But it wasn’t that it was like that from the start. The change happened only after 10 tables got empty. However, the after effects of that change was really clear. The smile in their faces became denser and more laughter could be heard. At times, even exclamations could be heard.
‘We will know how the evaluation will turn out.’
“Hmhm, wouldn’t it be good for us to slowly start eating too?”
Emily, that was looking at the reaction of the customers gulped and said. Alan laughed bitterly. When she was at the table, she became a really easy girl.
The judges sat on the table. Emily turned over the menu and opened her mouth.
“Are we all going to order the same thing?”
“Doesn’t it matter whatever it is?”
“It’s better to order many things and share.”
“……..I respect your tastes, but I don’t like to share food with others. It’s unhygienic and I can’t focus on the flavor.”
“Acting so hard. Joseph, what about you?”
“I’m sorry, but I think the same as Alan.”
“Whew, only I became the boorish one.”
Emily pouted her lips regrettably. Alan looked at Emily hesitatingly and after he let out a sigh, opened his mouth.
“Before I place the food in my mouth, I will serve you some. That much I can do it.”
“I’m not the kind of person to lie with this kind of things.”
At Alan’s blunt voice, Emily’s face bloomed like a flower. Alan coughed and looked away.
The dishes were quite fine. The saffron sea mussel soup made by Chloe and Ivanna, and the codfish mousse didn’t have that much of a difference compared to the ones that was made by the chefs before. But of course, as they were following the recipe and doing as they were taught, there wouldn’t be much of a difference, but even following it was quite an amazing thing.
And of course, the highlight was the main dish. Looking at the order and quality, Alan exclaimed after putting the fried sea bass in his mouth without hesitating. It was one of the most delicious things he ate in Grand Chef that could be counted in his hand. It was so delicious that you could say that it was the most delicious thing Kaya had made until now. The deepness of the flavor, the stimulation, the softness, and……….
“……..It’s the best until now?”
For an epicurean, it was quite a weak flavor expression, but Alan didn’t particularly point that out. Best. It was a dish that was enough to express it with only that word. His sea bass and Emily’s salmon steak…
“Customers can only help but laugh.”
The amazing point was that they weren’t only presenting this quality for only one dish. They wouldn’t just present a better made dish just because they were judges. In the first place, you wouldn’t even be able to know who ordered what. If all the other normal customers were eating this kind of dish, in case they didn’t have a perverted like sense of taste, they could only get satisfied. Joseph smiled faintly and said.
“If it’s this much, I can even entrust the main section……..No, there wouldn’t even be a problem if I entrusted being the sous chef. Haha……. For the day when the level of the participants raised this much. I don’t know if we would be able to get satisfied in the upcoming seasons.”
“More feisty judges would have to come.”
Alan smirked and replied.
The meal of the customers ended. Alan, that saw the postscript, nodded as if he understood. If the flavor of what they ate and the dishes of the customers wasn’t different, getting this result was extremely obvious.
Even talking with results, there were almost no complaints in front of Kaya and Jo Minjoon. Their dishes had a flavor beyond the original one and got good comments, and at the same time it got the less amount of indications. And the indications came mostly from the people when Kaya couldn’t get completely accustomed in the beginning.
Between the kitchen and the hall, in the bar shaped lobby, the judges called all of the participants. Most of them seemed nervous. Even Kaya, who showed surprising growth, was like that. She could’nt know that her cooking had improved one step more because she hadn’t even tasted the flavor. Only, she felt that her dishes were completed better than usual.
“How did you feel today?”
Nobody replied at that question. Joseph, that was slowly looking at everyone, stopped his sight in Jo Minjoon. Precisely speaking, it was on his injury. He slowly opened his mouth.
“There are things like this in the restaurant. Normally, in a situation where you should go to the hospital, you can’t even cry of the pain. Cases where you have to keep working while only putting on a gauze, there are much more than you think. Because whether you get hurt or not, it doesn’t change that customers are waiting in the hall. That is the meaning of responsibility.”
Kaya gritted her teeth. There was no day that the word responsibility hit her as much as today. Joseph slowly looked at Kaya and then, clapped his hands and brightened the mood.
“It’s also time to slowly announce the results. It’s of course, but not all of you were able to get good comments. Perhaps, it would be comments that are worse compared to what you have made. However, that’s something you should be able to carry out.”
Joseph closed his mouth and Alan continued speaking.
“Getting good comments in this mission is more difficult than what you think. In the tongue of the customers, expectation, wariness and suspicion coats it. On top of that, that feeling would have been deeper because it wasn’t the chefs of this restaurant cooking, but yourselves. But regardless of that situation, there was a team that became able to get good comments. At the same time, it’s the team that will get exempted from the eliminating mission. The other teams will do the elimination mission, and one person per team will get eliminated.”
Silence flowed for a moment. Ivanna held Chloe’s hands tightly. She couldn’t lose. She didn’t want to. Her eyes, that was reflecting that ardent wish, directed to Alan’s mouth.
“Kaya, Minjoon. Congratulations.”
But there were no miracles.
“It will hurt.”
The big and long needle got sucked in the arm without mercy. It would be funny for someone that wasn’t even a kid to be afraid of it, but even so, you couldn’t help something that scared you. The nurse smiled and said.
“Ease yourself. If your muscles are this tensed up, it will hurt more.”
Jo Minjoon replied while laughing awkwardly. While the other four were doing the eliminating mission, Jo Minjoon had to move around the hospital under the doctor’s judgement. And of course, Kaya had to look at the eliminating mission. Originally, Jo Minjoon should also have……. But there was no one that pointed that out.
Because they didn’t know that he would be taken to a hospital room for only a burn.
Jo Minjoon looked at the clock. He didn’t know what the theme of the mission would be, but by now it should already have concluded. He thought about messaging Kaya, but he didn’t. He didn’t know why, but he didn’t feel that comfortable right now. Was it because he would have to part ways with at least one person? Or if even that wasn’t it……
He didn’t tell his parents that he got an injury. Even so, they would get to know of it when they watched the broadcast, but by then in would have healed quite a bit. Then, he would be able to tell them not to worry with more confident words.
His head hurt. Was it because of the medicine? As he slowly closed his eyes at the sleepiness, he opened them again. But it was strange. The lights of the hospital room were turned off.
‘Did I doze off?’
He felt something strange in his right hand. It was at that moment when he turned his head while slowly blinking. He saw hair. A long, curly black hair. It was Kaya’s hair. Under her hair that seemed to have gotten a static, Kaya was sleeping under the bed. Her hand was also holding Jo Minjoon’s.
He didn’t want to wake her up. Jo Minjoon placed his hand in Kaya’s hair for a moment, and grabbed his phone. Some messages were blinking.
[ Chloe : Is your body okay?]
[ Chloe : Two members got eliminated. Ivanna and Sasha. It doesn’t feel right to explain the contents of the mission and the methods right now, right? ]
[ Chloe : I wanted to be next to you, but I’m sorry. And I couldn’t even say something because you were sleeping. They said that only one person could be next to you at night. Even so, you would like…… Kaya being next to you than me, right? ]
It was a message that didn’t seem to have quite a good vibe. Because for it to be Chloe, she was really dispirited. However, he thought that it may be because she got separated with Ivanna and Sasha. Because if it was Chloe, she would feel hurt even with the elimination of others. Jo Minjoon tapped on another message.
[ Kaya : I’m going right now.]
“Right. You came.”
Jo Minjoon smirked and looked down at Kaya. What kind of dream was she dreaming that every time she mumbled she said ‘immigration…… immigrate.’
‘Looking at her like this, her face is really small.’
Not only her face was small, but her head was also small. On some of the comments was written ‘How would she be able to think properly with that small head of hers?’. But it was so much he could understand those words.
Because originally, it was a face he would have only been able to see through a screen. Originally, he shouldn’t be able to see her like this. Sensing the aroma of well ripened fruits on her body, her hands being rough but her palms being soft, and inside her made-up pride, there was nervousness and anxiousness. Originally, he shouldn’t have known all of that.
He should be happy with just that, but why couldn’t his heart be like that? Why did he turn to look at the window that popped next to Kaya’s face? No, it wasn’t the problem of the window. Even if he dismissed it, and turned to look away. In his head, he was still thinking of her level. And at the same tame, his.
Jo Minjoon just looked at her face. Because of the darkness, he couldn’t even see half the outline of her face, but her nose, lips and chin was shining faintly. Although she was no different of being a rash little girl, she will soon become a lady. And she will become a chef. A chef that can’t be compared to no one.
‘Will I be able to reach her?’
Jo Minjoon gripped her hand hardly. Kaya rustled and let out a groan. By then, it was already after he had let go of her hand. Jo Minjoon looked outside the window. The night was deep, however, he didn’t get sleepy.
< The weight of a restaurant (5) > End
Translator’s note: Thanks for reading and for your support!
Translator : Subak
Proofreader : Saihikawa