Los Angeles Cooking Competition
The qualifications were only for people who worked in Los Angeles restaurants. You could say that the scale was small compared to an international competition that gets contestants from around the world, but in reality, it was not that way.
Within the Western district of good cuisine, Los Angeles was said to have the most flair. California was known for being a hot pot of culture, and Los Angeles was no exception.
To exaggerate a little bit, there were no dishes you could not find in Los Angeles. It had people from all over the world and had restaurants of all cuisines. Which of course meant that there were all types of food in Los Angeles. The only place that could compare to the variety… would probably be Hong Kong, which is known as the capital of taste.
Thanks to that, although the Los Angeles Cooking competition was limited by region, the variety of food presented did not lose out to any international competitions. If you also take into consideration the fact that it was difficult for a restaurant to survive in Los Angeles due to the competition …… it was obvious that the participants had high levels of culinary skills. It was no surprise then, for Javier's face to become stiff.
"……Hoooo. I'm surprisingly very nervous."
"Don't be nervous. In fact, I'm sure other people are getting more nervous looking at us. We are the soldiers of Rose Island."
"Are we somehow the focus?"
"There is no need for somehow. Wouldn't it be odder if we did not draw attention?"
Jo Minjun responded in a casual manner. Rose Island's fame, Rachel's return, and the fame that Jo Minjun and Anderson had as well. If you put all of those together, it would be really odd for them not to draw attention. Javier looked toward Jo Minjun as if he was in awe.
"You don't seem very nervous."
"There is no need to be. We've practiced enough and our recipe is perfect. The only thing left is to trust me and all of you."
"It is that trust that is hard to do."
Javier shrugged his shoulders as he said that. Jo Minjun smiled as he tightly squeezed Javier's shoulders.
"Open up your shoulders. We are better chefs than we think we are. Not only do I trust myself, I trust all of you even more. That is why I am so calm."
"Be honest with me. Are you learning speech somewhere? You are too good with words."
"Words said with honesty are even better to hear than prose."
"That saying is pretty cool too."
Javier closed his eyes and started to mumble the things that Jo Minjun had just said. Anderson was listening in on the two of their conversation before he peeked toward Janet. She was currently praying with her eyes closed. Anderson quietly watched Janet before finally starting to speak once she opened her eyes.
"This is surprising. Are you nervous too?"
Janet did not respond right away. Her pupils slowly turned to the edge of her eyes as she looked toward Anderson. It was dark and cold as usual. She slowly started to speak. Compared to the amount of time Anderson had waited, her words were short.
"Why is it surprising?"
"I thought you would be similar to me. Full of confidence almost to the point of cockiness. Was I wrong?"
"Yes. You were wrong."
That was all Janet said. She did not try to explain why she was nervous. That was why it was Anderson who pushed a little more.
"Why was I mistaken?"
"Why do I need to explain that to you?"
"……because we are teammates?"
Even Janet could not help but pfft and let out a laugh. It was weird for someone with an expression that was colder than ice to say something so cheesy that it could be found in a children's tv show. Maybe that was why. Although she normally would not have shared her thoughts, Janet calmly let it out.
"The only thing I can do is be nervous. If I wasn't even nervous……I didn't have an incomparable culinary education like you did, nor do I have an absolute taste like Minjun. The things that are easy for the two of you are difficult for me. Because of that ……"
"It was never easy for me either."
Anderson cut Janet off and answered. Janet instantly opened her eyes widely in shock before lowering her gaze and nodding her head.
"……You're right. I'm sure. It wasn't easy for you either. Sorry. That was my mistake."
"There is no need to apologize. Don't be so serious."
Anderson answered with an embarrassed expression. The atmosphere was slightly odd. Anderson let out a fake cough before turning to look at Jo Minjun before making a grim expression.
"……Why are you looking at me like that?"
"No. It's nothing."
Jo Minjun started to snicker. It was the type that made Anderson have a bad feeling about it. Anderson looked away as he started to speak.
"You said Kaya was coming today, right?"
"I think so."
"Will she cheer you on? Or will she cheer on her own restaurant?"
Instead of responding, Jo Minjun looked up toward the audience on the second floor. He could not tell whether Kaya was there. There were too many people in the audience. Someone once said that if you really love someone, they are the only one that you can see, but …… even that can only happen if you can see the person.
The reason that Kaya's restaurant was taking part in the competition but Kaya was in the audience was simple. She was a head chef. Kaya's role in a restaurant was focusing on creating recipes and being the face of the restaurant to the customers, not cooking. As it was a restaurant promoted by the Grand Chef competition, one of the biggest anticipations people had when coming there was to see the face of Kaya Lotus, the winner of the Grand Chef competition.
Jo Minjun looked around the auditorium where the contestants were gathered. There were not many who looked like they were head chefs. According to Isaac, that started to happen once Rose Island started to win the trophy with demi chefs.
Since the demi chefs are the ones to actually cook the food, the demi chefs need to be the ones to compete as well. Rose Island's philosophy was the beginning. However, since they always won the trophy with their demi chefs, it ruined the reputation of the restaurants that also sent their sous chefs and head chef.
Of course, that did not mean that there were no head chef level individuals there. It would not be weird for a head chef to participate if they were working on the line. It was also normal if a restaurant did not have many staff members.
'To have enough influence to change the scope of the competition……'
Jo Minjun closed his eyes. He could clearly feel his heart beating loudly inside. Whether the legend remained in the last or returned was up to their hands. Once he opened his eyes again, his eyes were full of fighting spirit. It was at that moment. He made contact with that person.
'……What is going on?'
Jo Minjun hesitated for a moment as he looked at the other person. It was an Asian man who seemed to be around his age. He was a fat man with a round face; his thick eyebrows and double eyelids made him look really strong. And then, that man started to walk toward Jo Minjun.
"Anyeonghaseyo! Jo Minjun chef-nim."
Jo Minjun could not help but be surprised. First, the voice did not match the appearance, and second, he had spoken to Minjun not in English, but in Korean. Jo Minjun grabbed the man's outreached hand with a slightly nervous expression.
"Ah, yes. Anyeonghaseyo."
"I'm sorry to approach you like this out of the blue. I really wanted to meet you at least once."
Jo Minjun finally realized that the man's eyes seemed to be sparkling as if they were stars. Even the hand that was holding Jo Minjun's hand was shaking from nervousness. The man bit down on his dry lips and started to speak.
"I haven't introduced myself yet. My name is Lee Tae Hoon. I run a small Korean restaurant in Hanta."
"Jo Minjun. But Hanta…… ah, are you talking about Koreatown?"
"Yes. I enjoyed the broadcast. And I'm very thankful. Thanks to you displaying Korean cuisine a couple times on Grand Chef, I've had more profits since then. Other people in Hanta feel the same way. Everyone is thankful to Jo Minjun chef-nim."
"Ah……is that so? I'm glad I was able to help."
Jo Minjun answered with an unexpected expression. He had never expected that his broadcast would be helpful to Korean restaurants in the US. Especially since he did not get good results any time he attempted a Korean dish. Kimbap was similar to norimaki, but even that didn't get that good of a response.
"Please come visit Hanta at some point. I'm sure you'll be welcomed better than most celebrities. And I respect you. Your pioneering spirit……was very shocking to me as well."
"Thank you very much."
Lee Tae Hoon smiled brightly before returning to his spot. The other demi chefs looked toward Jo Minjun in disbelief.
"I keep forgetting that you are Korean."
"What did you talk about?"
"Nothing much. He said I was pretty popular in Koreatown."
"Makes sense. You're one of them."
Anderson nodded his head as if he understood. Jo Minjun started to talk to Anderson.
"You are from Los Angeles. Wouldn't you be pretty popular as well?"
"I don't know……"
Anderson peeked to the side. Amelia and Fabio's restaurant, Glouto's demi chefs were peeking toward Anderson before turning their gazes away once they made eye contact. Anderson shrugged his shoulders.
"It seems like my house is treating me as a traitor."
"You're still getting dumped by everyone."
Jo Minjun smirked as he responded. It was at that moment people started to whisper to each other. Jo Minjun looked to the front. There was a man and a woman walking up to the front of the auditorium. One of them was Matthew Cummings, someone famous in the entertainment world as an epicurean. As for the woman……
"I understand why Chloe Jung is called the sexiest chef……"
Javier answered with a blank expression. Jo Minjun had thought she was cute in the past and had never had considered her to be sexy …… but at least for today, he agreed with that statement. Maybe it was because she was at a formal event even if it wasn't a broadcast. She was so beautiful that you couldn't even remember her usual look. Her long flowing hair, her light yet vibrant makeup. It was to the point that people would believe that she was not a chef and actually a celebrity entertainer.
'……I guess she is an entertainer in some aspects.'
In fact, Chloe might even be making more money than Kaya. If he considered how much he was paid for appearing on the Hunger Trip…… it was definitely possible. Chloe had enough recognition now to be the MC of such a large competition like this.
The reporters here from the different news stations started to take pictures. In the midst of all of that, Matthew started to raise his voice.
"Welcome. The chefs who are responsible for the mouths of everyone in Los Angeles. This year is our 53rd annual cooking competition! My name is Matthew Cummings and I will be the MC for today's event."
"My name is Chloe Jung, chef, entertaining, and part-time mascot."
Everyone started to laugh. Chloe smiled brightly as she looked around at everyone before stopping her gaze somewhere. She could see Jo Minjun. Seeing the gentle smile on his face, it made her feel even more excited. Chloe started to speak in an even happier voice.
"There are contestants here who have participated many times, as well as contestants who are competing for the first time ever. I'm sure there are people who have held the trophy before, and I think there is even a team that is heralded as a legend."
It was clear that the last part was referring to Rose Island. Jo Minjun stared directly at Chloe. Chloe briefly made eye contact with Jo Minjun before starting to smile and continuing to speak.
"I'm sure the conclusion of today's event will be one of these two results. There will either be a new star on the rise, or the legend will live up to its name. And maybe …… we might even have both."
"Chloe. Is there a team you are rooting for?"
"Matthew. The MC can't say anything to favor certain contestants."
"Doesn't it feel great when you go against what you are told to do?"
"I'm not sure. I don't think it would be refreshing enough to pay a penalty fine."
Chloe answered with a smile. Matthew started to snicker as he looked at the contestants.
"Before we start the competition, we will have some time for each restaurant to introduce themselves. The first one ……I presume is the team that everybody is focused on today. I really wanted to be able to call their name as the MC of this event at least once."
Matthew took a deep breath.
In that instant, the auditorium was full of cheering and clapping. The audience on the 2nd floor, the reporters who were all gathered, and even the other chefs who were competing looked at them and started to clap. They could not help but do so.
The Los Angeles Cooking Competition held different meaning based on whether or not Rose Island took part. Honestly speaking, for the last 10 years while Rose Island was not active, there were many restaurants who chose to not even participate in the competition.
Jo Minjun could feel his face start to heat up. He knew that their claps were not directed at him, but were directed at the name of Rose Island ……but it still made his heart shake. Matthew started to speak.
"Rose Island. The undefeated champion of Los Angeles until Rachel Rose retired as a chef 10 years ago. I'm sure there are many people who are here today to take down that name."
"Yes. I am not from Los Angeles, however, I have heard a lot about the main branch of Rose Island. It is a name you cannot miss if you have even the slightest of interest in the culinary world. That is why I am even more excited than usual today."
"One of the items on my bucket list, since I debuted, was to stand here and judge. Unfortunately, the main branch closed as soon as I debuted …… but I guess I am finally able to fulfill my dream 10 years later like this."
It did not sound he was reading off a script. Matthew's eyes were full of anticipation and joy. Chloe and Matthew approached Rose Island's team and started to speak.
"I would think that all of you are very nervous right now. The legend of Rose Island that has been preserved until now is in all of your hands. How do you feel?"
The four of them looked toward one another at Matthew's question. There was only one person who could step up as the representative in a situation like this. Three of their gazes were directed toward one person, and in the end, Jo Minjun started to speak.
"We prepared quite a bit for this. Chef Rachel's recipe was perfect and we have practiced enough as well. That is why we have no confidence."
At that moment, Chloe and Matthew, no, not just them but everybody who heard his voice had confused expressions on their faces. Matthew asked in an anxious voice.
"The recipe is perfect and you practiced enough, so why do you have no confidence?"
Jo Minjun started to smirk.
"No confidence that we will lose."
 Koreatown in Korean is Han In Tah Oon. Hanta for short.
Translator : Miraclerifle
Proofreader : Dragneel, Illidanstormrage
If you do not follow my other series, you probably are not aware that I've had some family issues the last few weeks. Sorry for the delay but I will try to get back to regular releases again soon!
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