Of course, there was no chance of Anderson understanding the reason behind Jo Minjoon saying congratulations. Looking at Anderson's confused face in front of him, Jo Minjoon was actually surprised. He really meant it when he said congratulations. Although there was a feeling of envy, it was not to the level of being called jealousy.
Why was this the case? It's probably not because his friendship with Anderson was getting closer. Even when Kaya reached level 8, Jo Minjoon was jealous of her.
'I wonder if I have changed.'
It wasn't that the strings of tension had loosened. The excitement was still there. However, unlike before, a feeling of helplessness never came over him.
Maybe this had something to do with the fact that he was not so focused on the score of a dish anymore. Rather than being pushed around by the score, he was now treating it as more of a guide. The impact of that change was not small at all.
Morning. As the staff watched on, the six members sat together happily around the table. Maybe it was because it was their last meal in Japan and the last meal of the journey, but nobody could easily lift their utensils. They were all feeling a sense of loss. Emily spoke up in a somewhat complicated voice.
"When I work, there have been many times i had to go eat on my own. It's been a long time since I ate like this with other people. Thank you, everyone."
"Food is always better when you are eating together. Especially when you are eating Eastern food."
Jo Minjoon smiled lightly as he spoke. They started to eat. Sera burst into admiration every time she put her chopsticks into her mouth. She started to speak in a quiet voice.
"It's amazing. Even though it's home-style cooking, it still feels very elegant."
"At some point, the perception of home-style cooking changed to be considered cheap and lacking, but that's not the case. For example, I still can't forget the taste of the galbi-jjim I ate at my grandparents' house at New Year's day when I was younger."
When he thought about it, that was one of the tastiest home-style meals he had ever eaten, and it was Korean food. As Jo Minjoon was reminiscing about the taste in his mind, Anderson stared at him with an unfamiliar gaze. Jo Minjoon was not like this in the past. Maybe it was because of his mom's bad cooking, but Jo Minjoon did not have much affection or faith in home-style cooking. He had always shown a focus and respect for fancy dishes.
'He changed. Quite a bit.'
It would be fine to say that he improved. It was like he had stepped outside of the fence that was holding him in.
Was it more sentimental because it was their last breakfast? They were more talkative than usual, speaking a lot and having deep conversations, talking about the delicacies they've eaten in their lives, and past that, talking even about life. They even said some compliments about each other as well (TL: Makes it sound like they normally put each other down or something).
Of course, as warm as the atmosphere was, it was also a bit embarrassing. But the feeling was a good one. Even as he was eating, Jo Minjoon suddenly thought about that. 'If I could just create a restaurant where all customers could have a meal like this.'
However, that kind of restaurant was impossible unless it was called 'home.' You wouldn't be able to read into the hearts of each and every customer. This became even harder the larger the restaurant got.
"So, Martin. Are you planning on making Season 2?"
"That'll depend on the number of viewers. If it is over a million, then the chances are pretty high."
"Huuuuu, I'm not sure if it'll be possible."
"Since we inherited Grand Chef's broadcast time slot, we may get a better result than expected."
It was possible that the viewers felt like this was a spinoff of Grand Chef. Jo Minjoon and Anderson. Two of the most popular chefs from Grand Chef were appearing on this show afterall."
"So, if there is a Season 2, do you have any desires to participate again?"
Emily, Sera, and Jeremy nodded their heads. As epicureans, they had no reason to reject participating in a show like this. However, Jo Minjoon and Anderson looked towards Rachel, and Rachel shook her head.
"I think it will be difficult. Now, I have to go and restart my restaurant, and these children will have to be with me."
"You know…….it feels like you are stealing my participants. I'm getting a bit jealous."
It was funny because Martin's sad expression had eyes like a teenage girl. Rachel smiled softly before speaking.
"If you come to our restaurant, I will treat you to a delicious meal whether it is for a broadcast or not."
"That's a pretty fabulous offer. Can I come even without a reservation?"
"If there is no room, we will even put a table in the hallway for you."
"That…….. I don't know if that's VIP treatment or a street cat treatment."
"I'm just joking."
Rachel smiled softly. Martin looked at Rachel smiling like that and spoke as if he was surprised.
"Did you know that the atmosphere around you has changed quite a bit since you first showed up during the filming of Grand Chef?"
"How was I when I first got there?"
"Hmm…….I'm sorry to be saying this, but you looked kind of tired. Your shoulders were heavy and your smile was absent. But now……you are shining. Your eyes, your smile."
Jeremy shivered and flexed his hands as if it sounded too cheesy for him. Rachel glared at Jeremy for a bit before looking at Martin again and smiling.
"Back then, a lot of things were still covered by the fog. But now, many things are clear. I even have these two handsome disciples. Minjoon, and …….our Duksam."
Anderson, whose smile was starting to form at being called her handsome disciple, quickly turned red and looked at Rachel with hurt eyes. Jo Minjoon laughed and spoke.
"Don't you remember? You said it last time. That you'll continue to use the name Duksam."
"I said that so you could feel how much damage a joke you made could have on a person's life!"
"Yes, I'm feeling it pretty well right now. It's amusing. I guess I'm even feeling a bit remorseful deep down in my conscience?"
Jo Minjoon laughed while he answered. Anderson did not respond. Anderson lifted his chopsticks. The pointy chopsticks dug into the sea bream's meat like two sharp spears.
[The plane will take off shortly. All passengers should fasten their seatbelts.]
"…….I get a weird feeling everytime I get on a plane."
Sera, who was sitting next to him, opened her mouth. Maybe she had something to discuss with him; she pushed Anderson aside as he tried to sit next to Minjoon and took the seat for herself. The plane slowly began to lift its head towards the sky. The ticklish feeling of your organs being pulled was pleasant but unfamiliar.
"It must be nice for you Sera. The life of an epicurean must be like this all the time right?"
"Why? Are you envious?"
"Definitely. Of course, that doesn't mean that I want to be an epicurean."
"I heard Emily tried to make you into an epicurean."
"She did. I turned her down. I enjoy cooking more than eating."
Even if the whole world changed, it was one belief that would not change. The airplane slowly started to stabilize itself in the air. Jo Minjoon looked outside the windows at the cotton-like clouds that filled the sky. Sera looked at his face before slowly opening her lips.
"……Have I done anything that deserves a thanks from you, Sera?"
"Yes, yes you did. You gave me a stimulus."
Jo Minjoon silently looked at Sera's face. 'The world's sexiest epicurean.' A title fitting a third-rate magazine. However, what Jo Minjoon saw wasn't the allure of her sexy lips, but the determination flowing through her eyes. It was an expression only those people who have made an important decision could show. It was clearly visible on her face."
"Your relationship with Anderson. The passion for cooking. Your natural talent and unwavering spirit. All of those came as big shocks to me. It made me look back at how I came into this field in the first place."
"……Sera, how did you end up becoming an epicurean?"
Normally, wouldn't you expect someone to say 'because I liked food?' However, the answer Sera gave was definitely not normal.
"It was because of Emily."
"I looked up to Emily ever since I was young. She was an unni I liked. Well, to be specific, she was an unni I looked up to and respected. She's cool. Emily. Ever since I was young, I wanted to be like her……and once Emily became an epicurean, I decided I needed to be one too."
It was such an unexpected answer that Jo Minjoon was speechless. Whether she was short in thought, childish, or if not that, the maybe just pure, he couldn't tell. Sera laughed, as if his thoughts were visible on his face.
"I know. It was a very thoughtless decision. That's why I still have such childish concerns."
"……The trigger is definitely unique. However, Sera, I don't think it is a childish concern. It's a concern that everybody has. No matter how sure you are about your path, motivation alone is not enough for you to be confident that you picked the right path. Plus, Sera, regardless of your motivation……you still worked hard."
"How do you know? For epicureans, rather than feeling the taste of a dish, it's more about how well you can express your feelings. It's also focused on your looks or personality to see if you have what it takes to be a star. There are many people who claim that I made it as an epicurean only because of my looks. Minjoon, have you never thought that?"
He was not just saying it to be respectful. If he did, it would be difficult to look directly into her eyes as he answered. That's why Sera could not help but wonder. She couldn't understand the faith Jo Minjoon had about her abilities. (TL: He just has a magic tool that lets him know you've worked very hard Sera!)
However, she did not ask for the reason. Regardless of the reason, it felt nice to be trusted. Sera smiled brightly as she opened her mouth.
"It feels nice hearing you say that. Also, there's no reason to have such a look of concern on your face. I will not be shaken anymore. Rather, I am just greedy. Just like how you and Anderson have accepted each other, and everybody else has also accepted the two of you as rivals, one day, I will also get there."
Sera turned her head. At the end of her gaze was Emily, who was chatting with Anderson. Jo Minjoon smiled and started to speak.
"If you have a desire not to lose, you're already rivals."
LAX. Los Angeles Airport. Jo Minjoon slowly took a step forward.
'Once again…… USA.'
His chest was tickling. On this foreign land, thinking about how he would be cooking for strange foreigners…..just thinking about the future already filled him with sorrows and happiness, and he felt like the fruits of his labor were already in his hands.
"I guess this is goodbye."
"Hmm. I'm sure we will see each other again someday."
Jeremy answered in a distinctly casual but subtly disappointed voice. Of course they didn't have many reasons to see each other again. They were all busy people, and unless they were participating together on a show like this, to even coincidentally run into each other, the US…….no, the world was too big.
"Everybody, thank you for everything. The next time we meet, I will make you even tastier dishes."
"I'm looking forward to it. And I'm thankful as well. When Minjoon opens a restaurant in the future, I will make sure to visit."
"Maybe you'll end up having your wedding at my restaurant, Emily."
"Oh, please, stop teasing me like that."
Emily's face turned red. In the midst of everyone giggling, Martin slowly walked over. He put a smile on his face.
"Everyone, thank you for following along without causing any issues. Well, not that we didn't have ANY issues at all…"
Martin's eyes quickly headed towards Jo Minjoon. Jo Minjoon turned his head away with a guilty look on his face. Martin started to laugh as he spoke.
"Anderson. Minjoon. I've already spent over half a year with the two of you. I hope this relationship can remain beautiful in the future."
"There's no reason it can't remain like this."
Jo Minjoon suddenly felt a strange sensation. Martin was just the program's PD, however, it felt like Martin was a benefactor who gave him a great opportunity. Maybe it was because he was responsible for Grand Chef, the program that changed his life. Jo Minjoon put forth his hand.
"Thank you for everything, Martin."
Martin stared at Minjoon's hand before slowly shaking it and smiling so widely that he had wrinkles on his face.
The conversation continued a little longer, but as with all things, it could not continue forever. The broadcast was over, and the traveling was done. It would be nice if the path in front of them was wide enough for them to all walk together, however, a person's path was full of many forks in the road.
Rachel opened her mouth.
Neither Anderson nor Jo Minjoon asked where they were going. For now, they were just following after Rachel's footsteps. Her path. They were sailing with her as her sailors.
Translator : Miraclerifle
Proofreader : Miraclerifle