If Jo Minjoon had heard this, he would feel both happy and sad at the same time. The ability he had was different to the absolute sense of taste. Fortunately, there was no way he would hear this. He didn’t have the leisure to concentrate on other things that wasn’t designing the recipe with Chloe.
“You want to make pudding for dessert?”
“Yes. Chestnut or almond pudding is fine. Vivid mango pudding will also be good.”
“How good must you make it to win with only a pudding? But I think that the harmony with the other dishes is fine.”
“Good. Then salmon trout ceviche, sheep galbi, and pudding. …….Thinking about it, we can garnish the almond pudding with fruits. How about simmering the fruits in honey water? Mango, orange, and peaches would be fine.”
“Peach is good. Ah, right. Avocado. We mix avocado and lime and make it as a sorbet.”
“Sorbet and ceviche…… Good. Then, let’s organize the roles.”
While Jo Minjoon was rolling his head, Chloe took a bite on an apple that was in the box. And laughed.
“I’m really hungry. I couldn’t eat anything after exercising.”
“The judges are laughing.”
“What about it? It’s the virtue of a chef to at least fill your belly more than usual.”
“It’s too funny to be a virtue.”
Chloe didn’t say anything back and just took one more bite. Smelling the faint aroma of the apple, Jo Minjoon opened his mouth.
“For now, there are three paths. To separate it by cooking, separate the roles of fire and knife, or if that’s also not it, we act depending on the flow of the situation. If we can just do it, the last one would be the best.”
“Then let’s do it like that.”
“To go with the flow?”
“Yeah. In the end, we just have to coordinate ourselves. We did a team mission before. I think that we will also be able to do it well this time.”
“Then, we separated it by dishes…….”
He had cooked twice with Chloe. However, they couldn’t know how their coordination was with only that. In the end, Jo Minjoon nodded. Just like Chloe respected his opinion, he also wanted to respect hers. Chloe lent the apple.
“Want to eat?”
“………Only a bite.”
Jo Minjoon took a bite on the apple. The refreshing feeling that spread in his mouth made his tired mind lighter. Chloe said while biting on the apple while seating on the countertop.
“How about it? Doesn’t energy flow out?”
“It’s not up to there. But well, I got somewhat refreshed.”
“Where’s there? Now, think again. Still not confident?”
“This isn’t a magical apple.”
At his words, Chloe pouted her lips.
“You know that. The placebo effect. If you do believe, it really becomes like that. You too think like that. That we will really be able to coordinate. If you think like that, it will turn out well.”
“……Fine, I will believe. Instead, if in the middle of it we don’t think we are coordinating that well, we would divide the roles immediately: one on the fire and the other one handling the ingredients.”
“For now, I will check the ratio of the sauce or the pudding.”
“Good for me. For an absolute sense of taste to give me a feedback and all.”
An awkward smile appeared on Jo Minjoon’s mouth. Chloe got weird thoughts. She thought that Jo Minjoon got uncomfortable when someone talked about his the absolute taste. If he was embarrassed to have that good ability, it was understandable. But thinking more deeply about it, she thought that the attention he got because of it would be bothersome. Chloe quickly said.
“It’s a good thing for a chef to get a feedback.”
“It’s not up to a feedback. And……..”
“It’s time! Everybody start cooking!”
“Turn the fire for now! I will bring the ingredients.”
Jo Minjoon quickly brought the ingredients he needed from the pantry and the box. Meanwhile, Chloe turned on the fire. Jo Minjoon was overwhelmingly fast in choosing the ingredients among the participants. It was logical to divide them like this.
Chloe quickly fried the almonds on the fire. Two hours. Honestly, it was enough to make a three course. It also meant that they weren’t planning on pressing them with time. Only, it meant that they would have to progress on cooking without any mistakes.
And for that, they had to correctly do the order. If there was limited time, it was obvious that they would have to first make dessert. People that didn’t know would think that the order of cooking it would be appetizer, main dish, dessert…… But there were many cases that dessert took most of the time. There was nothing to say about cake and cookies, and it was also hard to make pudding, jelly, ice cream, etc in a short time.
But of course, in the case of Chinese-style fried fruit, it didn’t take much. But at least, the almond pudding they were making right now, even if they made it quickly it could only last more than one hour.
They didn’t need to talk for long. Jo Minjoon quickly lent a bowl and received the almonds from the frying pan. Now, they had to grind it in the mixer and make it as a powder. Compared to the one that was sold in the markets, it would have some grains left, but they thought that it would be more charming that way.
Chloe put rice powder and milk in the bowl; mixed it; put almond powder, milk, and sugar in a saucepan; and started to boil it. Later, she had to mix the both things together, and had to move it again to the pan and boil it. They needed to keep stirring it for 30 minutes, so someone needed to keep being in front of the bowl.
“Minjoon. Anchovy cream.”
“Okay. You can do the sugar water to use in the ceviche sorbet at the same time, right?”
“Yes. Do the other ingredients yourself.”
They didn’t need to talk for long. The coordination of Jo Minjoon and Chloe was surprisingly perfect. Actually, making one three-course meal wasn’t that difficult, and the roles didn’t get that mixed up……. But finding their own roles every time was quite a natural thing. On top of that, this was the first time they had properly coordinated in a mission.
Jo Minjoon peeled off the anchovies, and put it in olive oil and slowly started to heat it. When it started to melt, Jo Minjoon turned off the fire and seasoned it with salt and pepper. After pouring lemon juice, he removed the fishy smell. After that, putting it in the freezer was the end. He had to ferment it this way for a bit longer to deepen the flavor. If that was possible, making it one day before would have been better, but in this situation, they couldn’t make everything perfect.
As he slightly looked at Chloe, she was putting the sugar water for the avocado sorbet in the freezer while stirring at times, and stirring the lemon juice, lime juice, and avocado that was in the bowl, sloppily with her left hand. Jo Minjoon received that bowl and said.
“I will do it.”
There were sweat drops on Chloe’s forehead. Jo Minjoon took out a towel from his apron and wiped off the sweat. He remembered the past, no, perhaps it should be the future. The time he worked as the youngest in the restaurant, he had to wipe off the sweat of his sunbaes countless times.
“Don’t force yourself. We aren’t in such a hurry. Do it more relaxed.”
“……It’s because I don’t want to be a bother to you.”
“You are doing it plentily well.”
The eyes of the judges that were looking at the two of them could only be satisfied. Precisely speaking, only Sergei was an exception. He said with a voice as if it was boring.
“Not funny bastards. You have to clash, fight, and yell for it to be a kitchen.”
“Please, stop the bluffs Sergei. People that listen to you get more tired.”
“You see this as a bluff?”
“Yeah. A bluff more pure than rock salt.”
At Rachel’s words, Sergei grumbled and rolled his eyes. For an old man that had the aura of a general, it was quite a frivolous expression. Rachel looked at Jo Minjoon and Chloe for a moment, and then looked at the other team. The reason Sergei talked well about Kaya Lotus. Only then did the start to see the points she couldn’t.
She was looking for the reason Sergei talked well about Kaya Lotus.
‘Her senses are frightening.’
At first glance, it may seem that she was just cooking roughly, but the timing of doing the seasoning or moving the pan was really close to art. Normal people would just see this as fast knife skills, or be amazed by the fire that surged up through the frying pan, but Rachel was a pro. Precise cooking at the exact moment. She knew better than anyone that that was the key point of cooking.
Kaya was showing that point really sophisticatedly. Anderson, who was next to her, was also the sophisticated type, but Kaya gave the feeling that she didn’t have anything to point out even compared to Anderson that had received elite education. For her to not have learnt anything, and just looked at how the amateurs cooked in the market, it was a really outstanding ability. There was a limit as to what she could learn from amateurs. In the end, that meant that she had grown on her own.
“By the way, those two are unexpectedly quiet. I thought that I would hear some yells.”
“Yeah. I’m also surprised right now.”
Unexpectedly, Kaya and Anderson didn’t make any discord. Although the temperament of the two was like fire, there was a reason they had to endure it right now. Although they have clashed a bit in the designing of the recipe, that was unavoidable. Because the philosophy of chefs couldn’t always be the same.
The fortunate thing was that Anderson had bent his stubbornness a bit. Was it because he didn’t want to show a petty side in front of Rachel? Alan opened his mouth.
“The Red Team must be in danger. It seems like one of the weak point the Blue Team had has disappeared.”
“Yes. Honestly speaking, Anderson and Kaya are the best among the remaining ones. It’s like that looking at their abilities. Although Chloe too is fine, I feel that there is a bit of uncertainness in her cooking. And I also acknowledge Minjoon’s potential, only that there’s still a long way until it’s completion.”
“So what’s the weak point?”
“Their character and the relation between the two of them. Honestly, the only ones that can receive Kaya’s temperament softly are only Minjoon and Chloe. If she teams up with one of the two you wouldn’t know, but if she doesn’t, Kaya isn’t a person many would want in their team. And nothing to say about if she teams up with someone like Anderson.”
“In the end, it was obvious that they would fight, so that was the weak point. Is that what you meant?”
“Yes. However, I don’t know why but it seems that they are died down their temperament. Anderson gives the feeling that he is calmer than usual…… Perhaps, it is because he is in front of victory that he has gotten more serious.”
After Alan finished his guess, the judges looked at the participants with interesting eyes. Who may be the one that presents a more excellent dish? Their expectation and heart beat could be heard.
The time was almost ending. The dishes Jo Minjoon and Chloe prepared were almost being completed. Sorbet made by mixing lemon and lime juice, lime zest, and avocado. Below that was meat portions of salmon trout the size of a dice that was simmered in a sauce made by mixing coriander, shallot, chili, rape seeds oil, lime juice, salt, sugar, and black pepper. Some leaves were placed between the pink-coloured salmon trout as decoration, and on top of that, the avocado sorbet that was placed was showing its unshapely, yet cute form.
The judges looked at that and gulped. Even if they ate a bite of that, how softly would it melt, and how delicious and sweet would that be. They couldn’t help but to expect that. Rather than a splendid plating, it seemed that they had exemplified ‘delicious-looking’ to the utmost.
They couldn’t help but feel excited about taking a bite of that, how softly would it melt and how delicious and sweet would that be.
The almond pudding was boasting a clean shape. Chloe put the almond pudding in a triangular-shaped wine cup, but the white and slippery pudding could be seen even through the glass. The only thing that was placed on top of the pudding was a few pine nuts, but even with only that, it gave a luxurious feeling.
The sheep galbi that was the main, rather gave a weaker feeling compared to the other two. The sheep galbi, that was dressed with roasted vegetables, anchovy cream, and wine dressing, was charming, but comparatively it wasn’t that strong. Chloe placed the last dish, the sheep galbi, on the tray. It was the end. Chloe put a faint smile and turned to look at Jo Minjoon. Soon, they will get evaluated. Before that, she wanted to enjoy some leisure.
“You have done well. Chloe.”
“………It’s because of you.”
“I didn’t do much“
“No, you have done much more than you think. For me. So thank you.”
Chloe extended her fist. Jo Minjoon looked at her fist for a moment and matched his. A warm feeling was felt the moment they touched each other. However, that heat couldn’t melt down Jo Minjoon’s nervousness, because he could see the score with his eyes.
He wanted a miracle, but at the end of their short battle, all of the dishes turned out to be 8 points. The cooking score isn’t everything. He had always thought like that, but there was no time when the cooking score turned over the results.
That’s why when he looked at Kaya’s and Anderson’s dishes, he didn’t get courage. He was scared. The score 8 was a really good score, but he got the fear of being able to beat their opponents with just that.
That fear made him ignore their score, but at the same time it also made him curious. Perhaps, if it wasn’t that good of a score compared to his fear, this nervousness would disappear. In the end of his struggling, Jo Minjoon turned his sight as if he got urged by someone. But, just like the results generated by that feebleness…… It was the same.
Chloe looked at Jo Minjoon. Was he so nervous and terrified that he couldn’t even make a smile. And that’s why when she looked at his face, she felt regret. She wanted to be his strength just like he heard all of her worries when she was troubled. She also wanted to become his enduring step.
Chloe extended her hand. Her small, slender, and warm hands rode on Jo Minjoon’s shoulder.
“Don’t tremble. I can accept the results whatever it is. We have done our best. We did well.”
The tasting began.
< Four people, four dreams (5) > End
Translator’s note: Thanks for reading and for your support!
PR: A wild cougar has appeared. What will Minjoon do?
Translator : Subak
Proofreader : Saihikawa