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Jo Minjoon was told to bid his farewell because he was going to leave Jessie very soon, but even after having received the reissuance of his card Jo Minjoon continued to stay on Lucas’s house. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to. However Lucas didn’t let Jo Minjoon go, and even Jane didn’t let him.  At first, he wanted to decline and find somewhere else, But Jane’s one sentence made Jo Minjoon stay.

“Be the bridge that let’s Jessie cross over to her father.’

How could someone keep saying that they will leave when they are told that. Jessie too, grunted as if she didn’t like the idea, it was as if she didn’t dislike having Jo Minjoon stay.

15  days passed like that. On the preliminaries morning. Lucas’s house. Jo Minjoon was in front of the cutting board and was standing still. Or at least it looked like that on the outside. However Jo Minjoon was looking on the window in front of him.

[The estimated cooking score is 5.]

It was a new  function acquired after his level went up to 6. A cooking simulation on what you wanted to make. It was a system that, when you thought of a recipe in your head, it predicted the final score of that recipe.

It had various uses. No, saying that it was useful was not enough. If he followed the recipe there would be no way to fail the cooking. To say the truth, it was a strength that could shine more brightly on a competition like master chef. There were countless participants that got disqualified on the stage you designed your dish. If there were no errors on your designing meant that the cooking success probability got higher.

‘Also I’ll be able to save ingredient fees’

If his cooking skills went up by a bit you got something like perception. While cooking, you could know the flavor of a dish even without tasting the seasoning. So when trying new dishes, the probability of failing also got lower. But it was only making it not delicious. The foremost recipe that brought out the best taste. Someone who could estimate the very best recipe at their first time wasn’t an ordinary person. People who could do that were divided in two.

Masters and geniuses.
Jo Minjoon was neither a master nor a genius. However he could borrow those skills with restrictions. Of course he didn’t posses shocking and artistic skills like them but……

‘Hard work will compensate for it.’

Jo Minjoon believed that. Talent wasn’t it all on cooking. Of course, talent could help you progress faster, but the height it could reach was similar to hard work. The rest was a difference of the individual.

While helping Jessie on making the jelly, Jo Minjoon thought about a lot of things. What Jessie prepared on the dish wasn’t simple jelly. It was filled with reproach and cheeriness for his dad. And that jelly became the most valuable thing because of those qualities.

He thought crossed over his mind. That what chefs put on the dish wasn’t simply their cooking. So what did they have to put? Hoping for eating it simply? That was just a formality.

While immersed in his thoughts, he continued thinking but no he couldn’t come up with an answer. However Jo Minjoon didn’t become restless. Just like he said to Jessie sometime, cooking was a battle with oneself.

“Let’s cook first.”

Jo Minjoon accorded with Lucas that he would be the one to prepare all of the meals instead of freelancing. To say the truth, it was consideration for each of them. For Jane it was consideration for letting Jo Minjoon into her kitchen because of his situation. As for Jo Minjoon, he could hone his cooking skills and save some money like he would.

For the past 15 days Jo Minjoon prepared the meals without missing a single one. It was mainly american dishes. From the jambalaya he ate on the plane, to Jane’s mac and cheese and hamburger steak. Also he tried things he didn’t know about and things he did.

Even if it was a korean meal, if he made it with american ingredients, the flavor changed. Even rice was like that. The rice that was eaten on Korea was of a japonica breed, so it’s stickiness and aroma was really strong. And the rice eaten on America was from the indica breed. 70% of the rice was indica’s.

And the remaining 30% was called calrose and had the characteristics of both indica and  japonica. The stickiness was moderately mixed, and the aroma too. And what Jo Minjoon handled the most these times was calrose rice.

Even calrose’s cooking method was on the middle of japonica and indica. You poured more water than indica but less than japonica. So even handling these minor ingredients had it’s own differences. The most important thing was understanding american ingredients.

Jo Minjoon was confident. For the past 15 days he came in contact with all kinds of ingredients. It wasn’t that he had mastered all of them, but the theory was mostly on his head. He believed that he would be able to overcome it somehow.

“I should at least pass the preliminaries.”

I need to stick to it. I want to stick with it. With that meaning.

“Should I make cheese risotto for breakfast.”

It will stick as it is sticky and gooey.

“………Idiot, to get an upset stomach after working hard to make it.”

Inside the car on it’s way to the preliminaries. Jessie said while looking at Jo Minjoon pathetically. Jo Minjoon let out a sigh while looking exhausted.

“Cheese doesn’t suit with me………”

It wasn’t that he hated cheese, but every time he ate it his stomach got upset. So he couldn’t help liking it. Jo Minjoon closed his eyes feeling the inside of his stomach. If he got motion sickness while looking out of the window, it was going to be really painful. Lucas that was on the driver’s seat grabbing the handle, said as if preoccupied.

“Is it hard for you? Are you able to take the test?”

“Whew…. For now, straighten your body. I’m starting to feel sorry for you.”

Jo Minjoon just laughed while looking at Lucas’s regretful face.

On the preliminaries, there were at least a thousand people. New York’s applicants, and the tests were divided by hours but still there was this much people. Of course, there were many friends and family who came to cheer, but still….

“Wow, after the preliminaries just a few are get through the next stage rightt?”
“Yeah, kinda. Each week, at most five people get chosen….”

If he put it like that, even if he passed through the preliminaries it was a great thing. Jo Minjoon got nervous while looking at his surroundings. There were many cameramen  wandering and interviewing the participants. Right. This wasn’t an ordinary cooking competition. It was Grand Chef.

Grand Chef’s procedures were really simple. First, the preliminaries were held every weekend on the US. The first theme was interviewing. That detail was a little different, but normally it was a test testing the comprehension of the food.

While they were like that, people came in and out for 5 minutes from the interviewing room. Precisely speaking, the maximum was 5 minutes. People who came out after just a minute were common and their expressions weren’t good. It looked like they were sent away after just a few exchange of words.

‘It seems like I just have to hold for 5 minutes.’

To put it with another words, he had to point out at least a little of his comprehension towards cooking while talking for 5 minutes.

“Number 591! Participant 591!”

“Go in.”

The staff sent the orders briefly. Jo Minjoon nodded and went to the interviewing room.

On the interviewing room there were three people whose faces were familiar. Only then could Jo Minjoon feel that he was on the scene from Grand Chef he watched from TV. Even before he became thirty he received a Michelin two star, and before getting on his forties he was expected to get a three star. That was Alan Craig. He was recognised as the best epicurean of all Europe, and at the same time, the heiress of the potter beer, Emily Potter. Finally, he owned various restaurants all over the world, and he didn’t have a book that didn’t receive a Michelin. That was Joseph Vincent.

From those three, the one who had the most prestige was of course Joseph. It wasn’t that the other two had miserable careers, but Joseph’s career was simply on another level. Maybe it was because of that. Jo Minjoon felt a peculiar aura emanating from Joseph. Joseph opened his mouth.

“Minjoon. Looking at your application, you came all the way here from Korea?”

“What’s the reason you bothered on coming to this faraway land?”

Evidently, he thought that it was a question that had to overcome. Jo Minjoon tried his best to speak unperturbed. However it couldn’t be helped that there was a trace of nervousness on his voice.

“Since small, I had a vague dream of becoming a chef. So right after I got admitted to college, the vague dream became more earnest. I thought that I couldn’t keep delaying. So i wanted my parents to acknowledge me as a chef….. For that, Grand Chef was the best stage available to me.”

“Let’s hope I don’t become like that.”

Jo Minjoon replied calmly. Looking at that Jo Minjoon, Joseph was secretly amused. Jo Minjoon talked slowly and had a heavy voice that could make the people listening to it, to pay even more attention. His looks were also quite charming for western people. However that could not be the case in Asia. He was viewed as someone who could become a star, at least for the exterior. Just the story that he came from Korea to become a star had quite the impression.

‘But it was only if he had the skills.’

Expecting doesn’t come late even after the interviewing test was over. Joseph sent a look to the nearby Alan and Emily. Emily opened her mouth.

“Let’s start with some basic common sense.”

“Tell the difference when cutting an onion vertically and horizontally.”

Jo Minjoon smiled brightly

< Grand Chef preliminaries, and… (1) > End

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