The judges took the food into their mouths. Jo Minjoon had never felt this nervous before. He could only feel this way since he was up against Kaya and Anderson. They were originally what should have been the winner and runner up.
Most of all, the thing that made him shrink was the score: 8 points, 9 points, and 7 points. By average, it was the same as them, but he couldn’t know what the judges would like overall. But of course, it was difficult to say that getting 8 points in all of the dishes was only fairly good……
The judges returned to their places after finishing tasting, and quietly started to converse. Joseph started.
That one sentence was showing the feelings of all of the people here. Actually in cooking, even if there is an overwhelming difference, personal tastes couldn’t help but show, and picking on which was more delicious than the other was also difficult. You wouldn’t know if they could see the cooking score…… Rachel opened her mouth.
“Just looking at the composition, the Red Team was better. The vivid salmon ceviche; the anchovy cream that catches the greasy feeling of the sheep galbi; and the almond pudding. On the other side, the composition of the Blue Team is a bit lacking. Starting with crab bisque; the main beef stroganoff with fried risotto; and lastly, éclair with a lot of choux creme…….There’s no point to rest.”
“The problem is that it’s strong.”
Serguei said with a rough voice. He looked at the empty table with regretful eyes and continued speaking.
“It was so much I couldn’t feel that sourness lacked. Excluding the dessert, it was all salty, but even so it wasn’t painful for my mouth. But of course, it could be because I didn’t eat a big amount of it, but even if I ate more spoons of it there won’t be that much of a difference.”
“In the case of beef stroganoff and fried risotto, it was really well harmonized. Perhaps if they hadn’t fried the risotto and just served it, the dampness of both of the dishes would have made my mouth spoiled. But with only one process that’s frying, they saved the flavor instantaneously. Honestly, from the dishes that appeared today, it was the one that suited my mouth the most.”
“It was also like that for my mouth. Ah, this isn’t because i’m Russian. I originally don’t like beef stroganoff much. But this one was delicious.”
If something you usually didn’t like was handled by a real chef, it would transform to something delicious. And Anderson and Kaya had shown plenty of themselves being real chefs. Alan thought with a ‘hm’ and opened his mouth.
“But thinking about the dessert, it’s a bit disappointing. The cream that was inside the éclair was fine, but the damp feeling of the dough wasn’t enough.”
“It’s not only that. If it’s only the flavor, it was really fine. But it’s a bit dubious as if the fried risotto and the beef stroganoff has the weight of a main.”
“I wonder. What’s an appropriate thing for a main dish. That’s something that isn’t clear even among chefs. I think that if it’s this much, we can let it pass.”
Even at Alan’s reply, Emily still had a vague expression. Joseph opened his mouth with a calm voice.
“If there was some disappointment, that can be solved through the votes. First, let’s proceed with voting. I think that making the participants nervous this much was enough.”
The judges approached the participants. Joseph said.
“Now we will all make one vote. Let’s start from Emily. Who are you going to choose?”
“I think that the course is one story. Having an introduction, development, turn, and conclusion is the best thing. In the case of the Blue Team, the food itself was delicious, but I think that it didn’t have strong and weak points. Strong, strong, strong. Although it was a three-course meal, it didn’t give that much of a burden. The overall picture wasn’t that good. That’s why it’s the Red Team. It was the composition that had it all.”
Chloe’s corners of the mouth raised. The muscles on her face were pulling, and her two eyes were rolling everywhere as if she was anxious. She said not to be nervous, but in the end even she couldn’t resist it. Jo Minjoon glanced at Kaya and Anderson. Both of them had expressionless faces so he couldn’t know what they were thinking about.
Alan opened his mouth.
“I will vote for the Blue Team. In the case of Emily, she pointed out the composition. But I think that they have showed us outstanding skills that even cover the lack on the composition. The main was especially good. Actually, in the case of beef stroganoff, it’s no different to cooking two different things, but the quality of any side didn’t fall at all. In the case of the Red Team, it was loyal to the basics, but in overall, it gave the feeling that it wasn’t that much fun. It was like going to a tasty restaurant in a town. That’s why it’s the Blue Team.”
“I think differently than Alan. It was loyal to the basics and was still delicious. That’s quite a difficult thing because you get more restrictions. And that restriction was made for the chefs to make the customers enjoy for countless years. But of course, I think highly about the Blue Team for having that delicious dish even after slipping out of the normal guidelines….. But even so, my heart inclines to the Red Team.”
Jo Minjoon clenched his fist. Two votes. Two votes for each team. Now Serguei or Rachel had to vote for them and it was done. He thought that perhaps, they may win. It was at the moment he got that thought. Sergui said with a casual voice.
And nobody said a thing. Rachel frowned and asked.
“That’s the end?”
“It was delicious.”
To say one thing, but for it to be that… Rachel let out a sigh. Just when was he going to fix this character of his of wanting to do whatever he wanted?
“Then, only I am left. Now that I see, my choice will decide it all?”
Rachel smiled faintly as if it was fun. Jo Minjoon, Chloe, Kaya, and Anderson opened their eyes abruptly and just looked at Rachel’s lips.
Toilet. There was one person that was in the toilet bowl vomiting. It was Chloe. She vomited to the point that tears gathered in her eyes, and went to the washing stand while staggering. There was a person there.
“……..It’s that bad?”
“I think I got too nervous.”
At Kaya’s worried face, Chloe forced a smile. After washing her face like a cat, Kaya lent a towel.
“……I like you.”
It was a serious voice. And at the same time, it seemed like she said it while bringing up the courage she didn’t even have. But of course, that courage was only moving her mouth and tongue. Her eyes and head evaded Chloe and was just looking at the floor.
“I like you too.”
“……..I don’t know who to cheer for.”
Kaya said with a sad voice. She let out a sigh and sat on the washing stand, and then turned to look at her butt with a frown as if water still remained on the washing stand and had wet her pants. Chloe smirked and remembered the thing that happened just now.
Rachel gave her vote to the Blue Team. Even so, she was expecting for her to vote their team because they had used ingredients Rachel liked to make the dishes. But the result wasn’t like that.
‘Food must give admiration close to shock to people. And for me, the Blue Team was a little more shocking.’
At those words, what kind of complaint could you say? Chloe mumbled as if she was self-deprecating.
“Did I lack too much? Perhaps if Kaya, you have been together with Minjoon, you would have won right?”
“…….Don’t say such things.”
“Sorry. But I get depressed for nothing. I knew that this day was going to come someday……..”
Kaya hesitated and hugged Chloe and patted her back with awkward hand movements.
“This competition isn’t everything in our lives. Don’t be so nervous. I will always be cheering for you, and not only now. And you will be able to do well. You aren’t crooked and leaning like me.”
“Why end the comforting words with self-deprecation?”
Chloe got at the verge of crying as if it was a sad thing. Was Kaya’s low self-esteem regretting, or was she just sad at this situation? That was something even she didn’t know. Kaya bit her lips and said.
“Then, you too don’t do it. The self-deprecation. And don’t suffer. I……”
Kaya smacked her lips. I don’t want to see my friend suffering. She wanted to say those things, but she didn’t know why it didn’t get out of her mouth. Chloe slowly separated Kaya. Was it because of the vomiting, or for another reason. There were tears in the corner of her eyes.
“I will do my best.”
“Thanks. For worrying like this. Honestly, I thought that only I was acting friendly.”
Kaya didn’t reply anything. Chloe wiped off the tears with the handkerchief and looked at the mirror. Flushing face and messy hair, it wasn’t that good of a look. Kaya slightly looked and said.
“If you need some time to cry letting it all out…… Should I go out?”
“No. I still can’t cry. Let’s go out. We slowly have to prepare for the elimination mission.”
Elimination mission. Whenever she heard it, it gave her the chills, but today it was more than usual.
As they got out to the hall, Anderson and Jo Minjoon were talking about something. Chloe put a faint smile and approached them.
“What are you talking about?”
“What should we be talking about? It’s obviously about the elimination mission.”
Anderson replied with a casual voice. Kaya frowned.
“Do you always have to talk like such a jerk?”
“I don’t think that it’s something I should hear from you. And, do I have to act in a tragic way like a protagonist of a new-school drama?”
Kaya and Anderson growled and glared at each other. Chloe coughed and said.
“Guys, I have something to talk with Minjoon……. Can you give us some space?”
“Talk about what?”
“If she asks for space, she doesn’t want to tell what it is. Don’t act so tactless and come.”
“………I will be going first.”
Kaya glared at Anderson and moved her feet. After they both left, Jo Minjoon looked at Chloe’s face with a strange expression.
“Talk about what?”
“If that’s what it was about, there’s no need for you to be sorry about. Rather, I should be the one to feel sorry. You picked me, but I lacked too much. I’m sorry.”
Chloe bit her lips and lowered her head. And after that, he could only see the crown of her head and her nape. A skin that wasn’t all white maybe due to her having mixed blood. The moment Jo Minjoon slightly turned to look away, Chloe opened her mouth.
“You won’t hate me, right?”
“Why would I?”
“Even if I beat you in this elimination mission……..”
Jo Minjoon cut Chloe’s words. Chloe turned to look up with uneasy eyes. He didn’t know what to say at that moment, and let out a sigh. And after a moment of silence, he opened his mouth.
“I’m not that childish. If I get eliminated, it will be because of my skills. It’s not your fault. So don’t think about that. If I beat you, will you hate me?”
“I’m the same.”
“……..Yeah. You will.”
She did nod and show a faint smile, but on her face, it still had some darkness and sadness that couldn’t be expressed in any way. He wanted to ask her why she was like that, but he thought that at the moment he asked that, Chloe would crumble, so he couldn’t open his mouth.
But in an instant, Chloe’s expression changed. Just like she wore clothes made by gentleness, her face became soft and tender in an instant. It was the face of the Chloe he knew.
“Let’s go in. The mission, we can’t avoid it.”
“……..You aren’t overdoing yourself, right?”
“Of course I am. There’s no time where I acted without overdoing it in a mission. And today is the same. The both of us can’t win but…… At least, we may all be able to smile. So let’s work hard for that.”
If you failed, won’t it be normal to cry instead of smiling? He thought like that, but he didn’t point that out.
“Right. Let’s smile.”
The moment they got in the kitchen, only two countertops remained. It was organized in a way that they could only watch each other.
‘They are cruel.’
Thinking about that, he saw one small box on the countertop. Did it have ingredients in it? Joseph opened his mouth.
“Today, one of the two must leave Grand Chef’s house. For one of you, this will be the last mission today. And that’s why we prepared what would be the most suitable mission for you. That’s what I’m talking about.”
“And we knew that it’s not something we should be thinking about, but you have to think of it. Open the boxes.”
At Alan’s words, Chloe and Jo Minjoon opened the boxes. And at that moment, their faces showed perplexment. The thing that was inside of the box wasn’t an ingredient…
There was a mirror in it.
< The mirror recipe (1) > End
Translator’s note: Thanks for reading and for your support!
Translator : Subak
Proofreader : Saihikawa