#Rose Island Main Branch wakes up from its 10 year long slumber.
Memory is something that feels like it is within your grasp but is actually just outside the range. I'm sure at the time it was difficult and painful, but just the fact that time has passed makes it possible to fondly reflect upon that time with nostalgia…memories really are that are beyond our control.
Because of that, when I heard that the main branch of Rose Island was preparing to resurface, I was happy but concerned at the same time. Was this main branch really perfect and flawless like in my memories? Is it possible that my mind erased the bad and preserved only the positives of Rose Island?
Thankfully, I was able to wash away most of that concern. The 53rd LA Cooking Competition. There was quite a lot of talk about this year's competition because of the rumor that Rose Island would be taking part. The people who lack confidence gave up long before the competition began, and the industry giants who would normally not care about this competition showed up to face off against Rose Island. Maybe they were thinking that they could catch a toothless Rose Island.
But the results were an overwhelming victory for Rose Island. The judges unanimously voted Rose Island as the winning team. This does not just mean that they cooked well. Not only did they cook well, they put an overbearing charm on the plate to seduce everyone.
One more amazing fact is that the genre Rose Island used to capture that charm was none other than molecular gastronomy. Rachel Rose seems to have sent a message through the competition. Her cooking is not stuck in the past; it is walking in the present along with the other chefs. Through this I……
"Is it the news?"
"No. Blog. Seems to be a fan of Teacher Rachel. Of course there are no old epicureans who are not fans of Teacher Rachel."
"……I'm kind of jealous. I want to learn under someone like that too."
"Try knocking on our door once Grand Chef is over."
"There needs to be an availability."
"Who knows? Something might appear. We might expand the shop or something."
Kaya did not respond to that. Night time. The two of them had come out to the beach for a walk once again. Sitting on the sandy ground breathing in the ocean air. Kaya slowly started to speak.
"Are your parents well?"
"Same as usual. I do call them everyday, but they still seem to be worried. They don't listen even when I tell them there is no reason to worry. What about your mom?"
"She's worried. What else can parents do but worry for their children. I think she'll slowly move to LA. She said she took care of the market already."
Kaya hesitated at that question. No matter how much she understood and forgave him, there was no way for that pain to easily be washed away. They did talk on the phone from time to time, but Kaya had to suppress her emotions each time. She needed to hold back her anger that kept trying to come back up.
Kaya just quietly sat there hugging her knees. Jo Minjun put a hand on Kaya's knee with a sad expression. Kaya rubbed her cheek on his hand as she gently looked toward Jo Minjun.
"I'm doing the right thing, right?"
"Of course. You are ……. Protecting your family."
"Mom didn't seem too happy that I met with dad."
"Makes sense. I understand what Mrs. Grace is feeling. She raised you all by herself and he wants to act like a dad now that you are successful. I'm sure she's angry about that."
"I don't want my mom to be hurt."
She had a disappointed voice. Jo Minjun caressed Kaya's knee. The breeze was cold. He was worried that her bare legs were cold, but there was nothing he could do for her other than to talk."
"Everybody has that type of thought. Parents whli looking at their child suffering from a cold, children watching their parents get older. In my case, seeing your face look so sad like that……. I wish you wont be hurting. However, Kaya. There is no injury that heals without pain. Since the injury is already there, we should not be praying for it to not hurt. We need to put medicine on the injury that is already there."
"……Medicine. Do you think I have any?"
"People who have never been hurt do not prepare any medicine. Kaya, you have already been hurt way too much. That is why your pockets probably have all sorts of medicine in them. Now ……let's use some for your mom as well."
Kaya did not say anything for a bit before crawling into Minjun's arms like a little kid. She then closed her eyes and slowly started to speak.
"I think you must be the person who is putting the medicine on me. You said it earlier. People who have never been hurt do not have any medicine. So then do you……have that many injuries as well?"
It was an unexpected question. Jo Minjun rolled his eyes. To be honest, his injuries were not from now, but from before he came back to the past. Living a life he did not want. The concern of his parents. The bleak future. The kitchen experience that was not going the way he wanted it to go. It was a broken life. The thing that put some medicine on that terrible life was the life of someone named Kaya Lotus. Jo Minjun started to speak. He whispered in her ear thanking her in a way she would not understand.
"There is someone who……already put some medicine on my injuries. So don't worry."
"Someone really cool. I hope that one day, you become like that person. No, you will become like that person. I believe it will happen."
Kaya started to glare at Jo Minjun with a suspicious glare. She then asked in a somewhat nervous voice.
"Is it a woman?"
"Is she prettier than me?"
"That is a really difficult question."
"……Are you trying to say there is someone prettier than your girlfriend? Just who is it. That bit……. I mean that woman?"
"Are you going to go pull her hair out if you know?"
"No, I can't do that. No matter what, she was the person who healed your injuries. This is what I would say if I saw her."
She started to speak n a rough voice.
"Thank you for taking care of my private property. But he is mine now. So even if you are jealous, don't even think about it. What do you think? Am I a pretty cool girlfriend?"
"I don't know whether you are cool or not ……but I do know one thing. THat question earlier. I will answer it now. Obviously, you are ……"
Jo Minjun smiled.
"Much prettier than that woman."
After the competition ended, the Rose Island kitchen became much more active. It was normal. Until now, the only thing that confirmed they were part of the legendary Rose Island was the building and Rachel's existence. However, the competition helped them really experience where they were and who they were with.
Of course the bakers felt it to a lesser degree, but it was difference for these people who were always helping the demi chefs from the side. They were smiling all day long and full of bright energy even while doing the difficult tasks. They seemed to be really proud.
That was why Maya could not understand. She asked in a cautious voice.
"Chef Minjun. Can I ask you something?"
"You won at the tasting and you won the competition as well. So why is it that you don't seem to be happy these days?"
"Do I seem that way?"
Jo Minjun looked toward Maya in surprise. Maya nodded her head. She had no choice but to feel that way. Ever since the competition ended, Jo Minjun seemed to be crazily engaged in cooking. Not only did he do the molecular gastronomy homework that Rafael assigned him, he even made traditional dishes as well.
He had no choice but to do so. If he only focused on molecular gastronomy and his hands stiffened toward traditional cooking, it would be so sad. Rafael didn't say anything to Jo Minjun's effort either. He also understood the need to do so.
The reason Maya thought it was weird was that Jo Minjun did not seem to be happy about something even though he was putting in so much effort. It wasn't like his output was not good compared to the effort. His dishes were always tasty and fresh. But he still seemed like he wasn't satisfied……Maya could only think things like 'does a genius feel something different than us?'
But the reason Jo Minjun was frustrated was slightly different than what Maya was thinking.
To be more specific, it was not his cooking level but his tasting level. He felt like his cooking level will naturally go up as his skills go up, but the tasting level was something that needed like an accidental opportunity to rise. The problem wasn't that he wanted the level to go up. Rather than the level going up, he needed his tasting skills to rise to the point that the level would go up.
Say what you know and cook what you know. That is what Jo Minjun thought. How could someone who doesn't know about taste cook a delicious dish? That was why Jo Minjun thought it was more imperative for him to raise his tasting skills than his cooking skills.
"The first requirement was resolved so I just need to meet the next requirement……"
"What? What requirement?"
"Ah. Nothing. And thank you for caring. It is not that there is a problem. I just hit a wall like chefs tend to do from time to time. I'm sure I'll get past it soon."
"When you say a wall, what kind of wall are you talking about?"
It was an unexpected voice. Jo Minjun quickly turned around in shock and noticed Rachel curiously staring at him. Jo Minjun hesitated for a moment before slowly starting to speak.
"I can feel that my tasting skills as a gourmet has not reached its potential, but I can't figure out what I need to fix."
"What? Chef Minjun has absolute taste. But your tasting skill is not complete?"
"Tasting skills and tongue sensitivity are two different issues. That is experience and thought."
Maya seemed to be really confused by Minjun's answer. But getting her to understand wasn't important right now. Jo Minjun asked Rachel.
"Teacher. Is there any problem you can see in me?"
"What do you think your problem is?"
"I'm not sure. Could it be the things I like? I like things that have very clear tastes. Rather than wanting something using just one ingredient, I want each and every ingredient to come alive if they are being used in the dish. At the same time, they should not get in each other's way and create a good balance and harmony. But of course there aren't many dishes like that…… with that being the case, I tend to enjoy dishes that only use one or two ingredients. Could this be a problem?"
"Taste is based on personal preference. Personal preference cannot become a problem. In fact, that will end up being the thing that makes you stand out. Of course it would be a problem if you only eat that and cannot enjoy any other food……but I don't think that is the case with you, is it?"
He nodded his head. Rachel crossed her arms as if she was deep in thought before slowly starting to speak.
"You mentioned your mom was a bad cook. You said that was the reason you haven't been able to have a good tasting experience since you were young."
"……I am a bit sorry to my mom but yes. Ah, do you think that is the problem? Is it because I didn't get to eat good dishes growing up?"
Jo Minjun's expression became serious. If that was the case, that was not something he could overcome. Rachel did not agree or disagree with that statement. She then slowly started to speak once more.
"Since it was hard for you to eat a tasty dish, you probably had a lot of admiration for really good dishes. But of the things you could eat, there probably were not many proper dishes. At most, it would be a decent restaurant in the neighborhood. But even that probably wowed you. Later on, you probably stopped being satisfied with that and started to cook your own food.
"……It was pretty similar."
"That was why even though you spent the majority of your life in your home country, you haven't been able to properly enjoy Korean dishes. Even though your roots have always been in one place, those roots were not buried very deep. Do you get what I am saying?"
A sudden shock went through Jo Minjun's brain. The thing he had always pushed off as not being important was being focused by Rachel right now. Living in Korea for 20 years, no, really 30 years……he had never had a good Korean meals.
Jo Minjun was used to cooking Western dishes and not Korean dishes. But just because you can cook Western dishes does not mean that you can cook Korean dishes. Of course the story would be different if he grew up eating Western dishes, but no matter what, he was a Korean person through and through. Even if he was speaking English, the foundation of his language skills would be in Korean…similarly, the first steps of his tasting abilities were created through Korean dishes. He could not leave his roots scattered in a mess like this.
"Do I need to go visit Korea?"
It was realistically impossible. The open was only a few months away. There was no way he could leave right now. But Rachel started to smile as she shook her head.
"Is there a reason to do that? Did you already forget what is 30 mins away from here?"
Jo Minjun let out a gasp. Rachel continued in a confident voice.
"Why do you need to get on a plane? There is already a Korea inside LA."
Translator : Miraclerifle
Proofreader : Dragneel, Illidanstormrage
Both Dragneel and Illidan have RL things so let me know if you spot errors!
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