A table was placed in front of Lee Hyeseon and Jo Ara. Although it was difficult to say that it was a traditional 5-dish table, at least, it resembled Korean cuisine.
But it wasn’t only in front of them. In front of Grace and Gemma, and Fabio and Amelia, food was placed on their respective tables. What caught their eyes were Kaya’s dishes.
All of Kaya’s dishes were simple and ignorant. The first one was a stew she put all kinds of rare and expensive ingredients in. There was also grinded lobster meat in its shell with white sauce and vegetables, and on top of that was mozarella cheese. A T-bone so big many people had to eat it to finish it. A huge prawn, and huge crab, sea mussels with sarcodon mushrooms, oil tagliatelle with paprika, and a big strawberry chiffon cake.
At first glance, you would wonder if there was anything special, but you could only laugh when you saw the ingredients. Because each and everyone was an expensive ingredient and the amount of it was really big. It could clearly be seen that she wanted to make her family expensive and delicious things a bit more. Alan forced a laugh.
“Kaya, do you think that your family will be able to eat all of this?”
Kaya evaded Alan’s sight and touched her apron as if she also noticed that she had gone too far. She didn’t have much of an opportunity to give Grace and Gemma a good dish. Kaya also tried her best, but how delicious would dishes made with cheap or bad quality ingredients be?
And because of that, she wanted to properly take this opportunity. She wanted to give her things so delicious that would forever be engraved in their memories, and give them so much to the point their bellies exploded. And fortunately, her feelings reached. Because every time Gemma grabbed tagliatelle or steak with sloppy fork movements, she put a bright smile.
Jo Minjoon didn’t see Kaya’s dishes to be excessive. Rather, he felt that he had lost. Not on the mission, but on the heart. She thinks of her family that warmly, so who would be able to say that it was excessive? On top of that, the cooking score wasn’t bad. There was nothing that was below 7 points. The tagliatelle and steak was 8 points. And in the case of lobster, she even got 9 points. Although the composition score was only 7……. He didn’t know how it would turn out because of the dishes personality.
Anderson’s cooking was the opposite. Four course. It started with a bean soup with an inky bread he baked himself, pumpkin gnocchi with salad and cheese, meatloaf made with sheep meat, and a crepe with peanut compota. It wasn’t specially huge, but when you looked at every one of it you could only think that it was high class. There wasn’t a special recipe, and he only followed on the basics, but along with Anderson’s clean skills there wasn’t nowhere to fix. Only one thing, excluding the soup it was all 8 points.
Jo Minjoon bit his lips. His dishes didn’t fall back to theirs. Although the average score was lower, that was because he had more dishes. He had accomplished getting 8 points on all three mains, and excluding the rice there was nothing that fell under 7 points. But if they asked him if he did better than Kaya or Anderson, the answer would be vague.
Jo Minjoon extended his fist. Kaya and Anderson that were next to him put confused faces, and slowly extended theirs too. When the three fists touched Jo Minjoon opened his mouth.
“Let’s win. Everyone.”
It wasn’t possible. One of the three was going to cross the door of elimination. There was no one that didn’t know that everyone could win. But why was it. At that moment, Anderson and Kaya nodded.
The word of winning didn’t mean about the mission, but was directed at another thing. It wasn’t that they had interpreted it secondarily. And even Jo Minjoon didn’t say it with that in mind. It was only the problem of the heart. The heart of wanting everyone to win, and to keep on walking with everyone. Anderson and Kaya could feel that.
“At least today…….”
Jo Minjoon opened his mouth. His voice was trembling uneasily with nervousness, fear and resolution.
“At least, I want to win today. More than anytime.”
“……..You can. Everyone can.”
Kaya talked with a really softer voice compared to usual. If it was like usual, Anderson that should have said something about her voice, was keeping his mouth shut right now.
The judges approached. It seemed like Alan’s eyes were directed to Kaya, but he turned to look at Anderson.
“I came eating your dishes. Before saying our evaluation, let’s first hear the story of the family. Fabio, Amelia. How was it?”
“Even so, he’s your child. Are you going to act that tenacious?”
“There’s one thing our child education’s we thought of when we married. We lecture what’s meant to be lectured, and praise what’s supposed to be praised. Well, the dishes were fine. And the flavor was also good.”
Amelia said with a calm voice. Different to Fabio, that had a brown hair, she had a blonde hair with blue eyes, just like Anderson. It wasn’t only the colour, but the feeling was also the same. An attitude that didn’t seem cute and was tenacious overall. Her arrogant cat-like eyes directed towards Fabio.
“How is it Fabio? Do you want to entrust our restaurant to that kid?”
“So he says.”
Alan shrugged his shoulders as if he could do nothing about them. He looked at Anderson with eyes full of compassion.
“Don’t worry too much. The evaluation of your families is only secondary. …….I really didn’t know that they would say those words. To feel anxious because you may get dispirited at your family’s words.”
Anderson said with a calm face. It wasn’t that he was saying because of consideration, but his face that really seemed accustomed to it felt more pitiful for nothing. He looked at Fabio and Amelia and said.
“If I were born as your son, I wouldn’t have thought of becoming a chef.”
Fabio and Amelia just exchanged glances instead of replying. It was a really difficult couple to handle. Joseph forced a cough.
“Anderson, with some kind of meaning, you are the person with the most advantage in this mission. Rather than making food you usually eat luxurious, making a luxurious one more luxurious is way easier. But we put that much expectation on you.”
“Do you think that you were able to act according to that expectation?”
“I think that I have never cooked something lower than that expectation.”
Jo Minjoon nodded unconsciously at those words. Although Anderson certainly didn’t have an explosive strength, he was a cook that always cooked to your expectations. And perhaps, that was a better thing. Because being able to stably cook a good quality food on a restaurant, where you have to make many dishes, that has quite a meaning by itself. Joseph said.
“……It’s a good confidence. Fortunately, we also think that your dish fits your confidence. It was a cooking without any flaws. And the designing was also fine. I thought that it would be difficult to feel the sourness on this composition, but because each and every flavor wasn’t excessive, with just the last peanut crepe, my mouth doesn’t feel burdened at all. Your experience and basic skills could be seen from it.”
“If you have people that usually makes you these kind of dishes at home, the reason to go to a restaurant lessens to half. It was a meal that made me think like that. Thank you, Anderson.”
Emily followed up. Anderson smiled faintly. With just the evaluation, he felt that he had gotten halfway out of the elimination road. After that, it was the turn of Kaya. Alan said along a bitter smile.
“Kaya. Honestly speaking, I think that the feelings for a family is most shown on your cooking. The feeling of wanting to cook a little more, more delicious and more expensive things. This meal was so sincere it made me think that rather than focusing on the mission, you put more importance on your family.”
Kaya slightly glanced at her family that was at the back side of the judges while having her mouth shut. Joseph said.
“The important thing is that it seems like you grabbed a big handful of ingredients, but that rather makes the flavor more abundant. Because the more ingredients there are, the flavor tends to become more unpredictable. Because of that, in Chinese cuisine, they fry various kind of vegetables with oil and the flavor of the sauce. Perhaps Kaya, your pasta and stew could contain some of that Chinese habit. Did you get influenced by Chloe?”
“I think that that was a good influence. Familiar meal, and that has a really hotchpotch visual, but I think that you have shown us what a really rich table meal is. I think that it’s a bit excusable to say this to you, that is still single but…….It really is like a mother’s flavor.”
At those words, Jo Minjoon frowned for a moment, and after he received the glare of Lee Hyeseon he lowered his head. After good comments kept pouring on Kaya, the judges looked at Jo Minjoon. He tried to force to stand firmly and put an imposing face. However, his heart was beating more than ever. Alan smirked and said.
“Minjoon. You used your head a lot, right?”
“……..Thanks for recognizing that.”
Jo Minjoon replied while half-laughing. There was no mission like today where he used his head that much. Alan continued saying with a calm voice.
“Actually, I didn’t expect for you to climb all the way here. I was also like that when your absolute sense of taste got exposed. Because the skills you had weren’t that impressive by itself to be on the top 3. Joseph did buy your potential highly but……Potential is only potential. Are there only one or two geniuses on the world that couldn’t bloom?”
Even if he didn’t say that, Alan’s eyes that were usually glittering was shining more clearly than ever. Jo Minjoon looked at his eyes and mouth still. He looked at the words his eyes and mouth were saying, and heard.
“It’s foreign and familiar, and at the same time it’s excellent to be able to get on our standards. The person that should have had it the hardest today must be you. The reaction of your family……”
Alan turned to look back. Lee Hyeseon and Joara were putting a satisfied smile. And also in Alan’s mouth, a smile similar to theirs appeared.
“It’s just like you see.”
“Was it fine? No……Was it good?”
Jo Minjoon couldn’t hold it back and in the end he asked. His chest was itchy, so he couldn’t do anything about it. The one that replied wasn’t Alan, but Emily.
“Yes. It was good. You must be the person that grew the most in this competition. And it was a meal that clearly showed your growth. Korean…….No, I should say Asian. A composition of Asian meals, dishes that was made with a fusion of foreign dishes. If it was a Korean fusion restaurant, even putting this table meal as a menu should have been fine.”
“The combination was also good. If you point it one by one, you can see some lacking points with the eye, but the overall combination is really well-balanced. There’s no overlapping flavor, and there’s no dish which flavor outstands and covers the other dishes. Although the flavor of the radish soup was a bit strong……It didn’t remain in my mouth for long. You did well, Minjoon.”
He received the good comments from the three judges. Now that the situation turned out like this, the judges seemed to be more troubled than ever. However, the result needed to show.
“Minjoon, can you come to the front?”
The judges called him. Jo Minjoon made some steps with an uneasy expression. Alan looked at him with an expressionless face and said.
“In your cooking……Ah, this isn’t only talking about today. If there’s something lacking on your overall cooking, what do you think it would be?”
Jo Minjoon hesitated for a moment. At first, he thought that it was the basics, but honestly speaking, the basics were as polished as it should be. If there was something he didn’t have, it must be the blurry colour. Kaya did tell her that that was his strong point but…….
“That I lack a colour…….of my own?”
“Then, what am I lacking.”
“You don’t lack anything.”
Alan replied briefly.
“Rather, the problem is that it overflows. Your thoughts, I mean.”
Jo Minjoon didn’t reply anything. Alan pointed at the half empty dishes and said.
“I have to satisfy my family, erase the foreign feeling, have to satisfy the judges. Those thoughts can only be shown on your cooking. But because of that, what needs to be inside of that should be a simple essence. I would like it if the people that ate it felt it delicious. At the past vegetarian mission, you made a Korean table meal. Back then, we told you that if it was a familiar meal, it would have been just good. And we also said that it was regrettable that there wasn’t a main.”
“In today’s dishes, there were quite many mains. It was delicious, and the composition was also good. But do you know why I am saying these things right now?”
“I will say it again. There are a lot of thoughts. It clearly shows your nervousness. Cooking for your family. But of course, we also told you to take us into account when making it. But your thoughts made this to be neither for your family, or for the mission. And of course I understand the difficulty of the situation. You may think that I wasn’t objective. However that was also a handicap you should have overcome. Everytime we pinched the fork, it shouldn’t have been nervousness, but consideration that we tasted. Do you know that difference?”
It was complex and it hit around the bush, but Jo Minjoon could seem to understand what Alan was trying to tell him. Joseph opened his mouth. With a soft, gentle but low voice.
“There are a lot of people that can make a delicious dish. There would also be quite many people in Chicago with skills such as Alan’s or mine. But there are really few people that can make a good dish. Because even for me it’s a bit difficult. Minjoon, can I believe that you will be able to become that kind of chef?”
Jo Minjoon’s face became red. There was embarrassment and also because he was about to cry. Jo Minjoon said with a voice that was mixed with phlegm.
“……..Yes. I will certainly become that kind of chef.”
“Now that you say that, I will be able to say it a bit more relaxed. Minjoon. It wasn’t because you lacked. But engrave in your heart that it was because you still weren’t perfect. And keep walking forward.”
Final destination. In every novels and movies, there is always an ending. Jo Minjoon hoped for his ending to be a Grand Chef’s ending. However.
“You have done well. Leave Grand Chef’s badge and leave.”
His final destination was here.
< Cooking style (4) > End