In general, the tasks for an apprentice who has just recently entered the kitchen is simple. Prep the ingredients, clean the kitchen, and do whatever tasks the chefs or prep cooks tell them to do. Since the majority of an apprentice's tasks were chores, there were many people who thought that it was a waste of time. But that wasn't the case.
First, it helps them figure out how to differentiate the different ingredients. The ingredients' condition, how to prep it, how to store it. On top of that, since they needed to use their knives to prep the ingredients, their dexterity had to get better as well.
Plus, watching the other chefs and following the orders they bark at them also helps the apprentice understand the flow of a kitchen and the timing that is required to get things done.
Of course, that was the case for a kitchen that was in operation. Rose Island was still prepping for its reopening, so the kitchen was not busy. However, they weren't just sitting back and relaxing. Although they weren't being chased by time because of customers, each of them had a lot of things to do. Rachel was busy trying to rekindle relationships with suppliers she had not talked to for ten years, and the demi chefs and prep cooks were busy getting familiar with the recipes Rachel shared with them.
Because of that, Justin, the apprentice, the person who should be the busiest in the kitchen, ended up becoming the most free person. It had to be that way. Since there wasn't much cooking going on, there wasn't much need to give him ingredient related tasks, and his hands weren't busy either. All Justin could do was clean everything in the kitchen which he had already cleaned to the point they were shining, and observe the environment of the kitchen. There was actually something Justin could confirm with certainty through that.
'……Minjoon. Did something happen recently?'
Jo Minjoon was calm and gentle, but because he was polite and straight-forward like a scholar, he could come off as stiff sometimes. At times, he even seemed like a food tasting robot, since he could correctly guess anything that went into his mouth. But lately, he hadn't been that way. Maybe something good happened, but he seemed extremely happy and would even start to smile for no reason.
Justin must not have been the only one with that question. At lunch that day, Rachel started to speak.
"Minjoon, you seem so happy these days. Is it because you're finally realizing that you are a new chef?"
"Do I seem really happy?"
"Yes. Extremely. People might even think you won the lottery or something."
At Lisa's response, Jo Minjoon just quietly stroked the right part of his neck. He could feel the weird feeling of the burn mark that was hidden underneath the collar of his chef uniform. Normally, people would feel sad about such an injury, but that wasn't the case for Jo Minjoon. For him, it felt like the string of fate connecting him and Kaya. Anderson clicked his tongue as he spoke.
"Apparently he is seeing Kaya today."
"Kaya…… THAT KAYA?!"
Lisa was not the one to respond to Anderson. Justin, who had been quietly listening to the conversation raised his voice with an excited expression. Jo Minjoon nodded his head with a bright expression.
"I'm meeting her today. She said she'll be in LA quite often for the next few months."
"……I don't like that panda lady."
At Minjoon's answer, Ella grumbled in a sulky voice. Jo Minjoon had to think for a second. Panda lady? He wondered if she was saying that because of the smoky makeup on Kaya's eyes. While Lisa was staring at Ella with a stern expression, Jo Minjoon consoled Ella with a gentle voice.
"Kaya will like you. She really likes cute children like you."
"What is cute about me? Nothing is cute about me. I am all grown up." (TL: Everything you just said my dear. That is what makes you cute.)
Even though she was talking like she didn't like it, she soon started to laugh. Javier then asked Minjoon a question.
"Minjoon, can I ask you a somewhat personal question?"
"……Don't people usually ask what the question is first?"
"It's pretty obvious what you are going to ask."
Jo Minjoon answered with an expression that seemed to be saying that I know what you are thinking. Javier might have felt guilty, as he raised both of his hands and started to speak.
"Then I will ask you a different question. That'll be okay right?"
"Fine. Whatever. Ask away."
"Are you two dating?"
Jo Minjoon looked at Javier with a cooled off expression. Javier answered with a calm expression.
"Why? I was originally going to ask something like who you think the sous chef will be."
"Why is that a personal question?"
"Since I was asking for your personal opinion, it was a personal question."
It was an excuse, but it was pretty convincing. Jo Minjoon placed his thumb on the burn mark for a bit before answering calmly.
"We are not dating."
It wasn't wrong. It was true that there was quite a lovely atmosphere between the two of them, but they never had the opportunity to be in that type of relationship. Javier did not doubt him and nodded his head.
"You still have a lot of events that need to happen. I'm sure it'll be enjoyable."
"Let's just talk about the sous chef. Who do you think it will be?"
It was very clear Minjoon was trying to change the topic of discussion. At this point, it was okay to give him a way out. Javier smiled brightly as he answered.
"Rather than who will come, the question is, how many will come."
"Since she said she will not be getting a second chef, the sous chef will need to take the second chef's role as well……if you think about that ……will it be around two people?"
"I'm not sure ……. Janet."
Javier called out to Janet. Janet stopped eating the fruit pudding Lisa had made for her and turned her head. Javier asked in a mischievous tone.
"What about a bet? On how many sous chefs will come."
"I don't have money to bet."
"We can bet something other than money. Appetizer. We can determine who will be in charge of the section with this bet."
"……I'm fine not getting the station because my skills are lacking, but I don't like losing it because of chance. Please make a bet with someone else."
It was quite a cold statement, but Jo Minjoon was impressed. That short sentence showed her personality as a chef. Only skill. The type to want to determine everything by their skills alone. Maybe it was the ideal personality for a chef. However, at the same time, it was a personality that never let you relax. Jo Minjoon whispered to Anderson and asked.
"It must be hard. Right?"
"Janet. To live with tension like that every day. I think it'll be really difficult."
"I can hear everything you are saying."
Janet was still looking at her plate while speaking in a quiet voice. Jo Minjoon was completely surprised and looked towards her. He made sure to talk quietly. He answered back in an awkward voice.
"……Your ears are very bright."
"The weaker you are, the more you tend to perk up your ears. Like a rabbit."
"Janet, why are you weak?"
"I don't know. To say it myself is a bit embarrassing."
Janet stopped there and continued to eat. She was pretty calm, as if saying she didn't hear anything out of the ordinary. Maybe she was used to it because she used to hear things like this often in the restaurant she used to work at.
"……I feel weird even though I didn't say anything bad about her."
Jo Minjoon grumbled as he put the ravioli in his mouth. Janet had made it. Fresh ravioli made from scratch. It was a ravioli that had a higher absorption rate than ravioli made from pre-made pasta. The sauce made of sage and butter made the pasta seem much softer, and the shrimp and lamb inside went down easily without feeling greasy because of the onion and herbs mixed with them. Jo Minjoon quickly forgot about what just happened and started to smile.
"Janet. This ravioli is really good."
"There's nothing better than that ravioli for an appetizer."
Javier quickly interjected.
"Oo, I'm so full. One bite and I'm already full. It's so filling that it would be better as a main than as an appetizer."
That evening, Jo Minjoon got on the road to the airport. Even though it was the airport, it was pretty much next door. It took about 20 minutes to get there. Anderson was driving the car while grumbling.
"You should have brought an international license. What the heck is this? I am not your driver."
"Even if I had an international license, once my work visa comes out, I can't use it. That's what the law says. Immigrants need to get a new license."
"It's not like the person changes when they switch from tourist to immigrant. What kind of useless law is that?"
"Why. You can see Kaya with me."
"I don't want to get death glares by getting between the two of you."
"I don't think you'd be getting death glares. At least not from me."
"Hmph. Sure you won't."
Although Anderson was grumbling, he still started to accelerate. Jo Minjoon asked in a worried voice.
"I didn't tell her I was going to meet her at the airport. What if we show up and she says she doesn't even have time to talk to me?"
"Then tell her right now. Oh, I guess she doesn't have internet since she's on a plane." (TL: Back then, no wifi on planes. Just snakes…)
"Well, if she really can't, then I'll just have to come back after seeing her face."
"Ha. To go on a forty minute round trip just to see her face. For a woman who isn't even your girlfriend."
"Even you are being like this? Plus, even if you were the one who was coming, I would definitely have shown up to welcome you."
Anderson couldn't decide how he should feel. Should he feel goosebumps at the cheesiness or warm at the thought. He couldn't figure it out.
"……Just focus on wooing Kaya. You don't need to do it to me too."
He sounded like a boy who could not be honest. Jo Minjoon just smiled quietly.
When they arrived at the airport, it was still about 30 minutes until Kaya's arrival time.
"I'm not going to come back to get you. ……No. Are you even coming back tonight? Maybe like that time in Florence……"
"Stop making fun of me. Anyways, thanks for bringing me here. Is there anything you want me to say to Kaya? I'll tell her for you."
"Tell her to lose some weight."
"……That might be a little difficult."
Anderson laughed and shifted gears as he drove away. Inside the airport, there were many people pushing carriers as well as many people holding up signs. Jo Minjoon took out his smartphone.
[Me: Let me know when you land.]
[Kaya: I just landed. Why?]
[Me: You landed?]
[Kaya: Yes. I'm at the airport. But why are you asking.]
[Me: I'm also at the airport right now.]
After that text, there was no reply even after a few minutes. It was almost as if her wifi got disconnected. Maybe she was surprised. It was the moment he was about to text her again. A call came through. It was Kaya. Jo Minjoon put his smartphone to his ear and grumbled.
"Why did you suddenly stop talking? I thought something happened to you."
[Who are you. Why did you suddenly appear.]
"I was trying to surprise you. Were you surprised?"
[If you're going to surprise someone, show your face at least.]
"How am I supposed to know where you are when there are so many people."
[My family had no problem finding me in a crowded market with hundreds of people.]
There was a sudden silence on the other side. He couldn't see it, but he could imagine how sharp her gaze was right now. Jo Minjoon chuckled as he spoke.
"So where are you? Can you meet right now? Do you have anything to do?"
[It's night time. What would a chef have to do at night? Well, I guess I do need to go unpack at the hotel ……but I can leave that to my agent. Since my agent pushes me around so much, shouldn't I make him at least do things like this?]
"So where are you?"
"……I'm pretty sure there are at least a couple thousand people here right now." (TL: In the LA airport in the evening? Probably at least ten thousand.)
[Come towards the info desk. I'm wearing a white hoodie with jeans. Along with a mask and sunglasses.]
Jo Minjoon frowned. He wondered what kind of fashion that was. As he headed to the desk and saw it for himself, he could truly see how weird she was dressed. Jo Minjoon ended the call. Kaya must not have seen him yet as she still had the phone at her ear.
"Hello. Hello? Huh, he hung up?"
"……Ah. You came."
Kaya lowered her sunglasses a bit to verify it was Jo Minjoon and nodded her head. Her voice was quite coarse. On the phone, he thought it might be reception issues, but her voice was cracking severely compared to normal. Jo Minjoon started to rattle off questions with a worried expression.
"Why are you dressed like that? No. The clothes are fine. But what is up with the mask and sunglasses? You're not a celebrity or anything. Plus, why is your voice like that? Are you sick? Is it a cold? Are you wearing the mask because of the cold? Have you taken any medicine?"
"Ah, so much nagging. Stop there. For meeting after such a long time, shouldn't there be a better mood?"
Hearing that, Jo Minjoon slowly turned his head and looked around him. Among the people that passed by, there were many people who seemed to recognize them. Of course it was a mystery as to whether they recognized Kaya as well, but …… there were many people who were taking pictures on their phones as well.
However, he couldn't always pay attention to such things. Jo Minjoon reached out his hand. The fingers that had been caressing Kaya's palm slowly intertwined with her fingers. Kaya looked at Jo Minjoon. Since she was wearing dark sunglasses and the mask was covering her face, Jo Minjoon had to imagine her expression. What kind of face was she making? Would she be frowning, smiling, or was she surprised? Kaya's mask started to expand. (TL: Ooh la la.)
"……Don't blame me if you catch the cold."
Jo Minjoon answered.
"If that happens, then you can take care of me."
Translator : Miraclerifle
Proofreader : Miraclerifle
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