Everyone’s Story (3) >
Putting their own recipe on the restaurant’s menu . This was the dream of every demi chef in the world, but it was a hard one to actualize . It wasn’t because there weren’t many chances, no . It was because it was very difficult even for an experienced chef to create something that would satisfy the head chef .
It was normal to reject even the recipes developed by sous chefs around here . There were no doubts regarding how difficult Minjoon’s task was here .
What made it even more difficult was the fact that Rachel had given this chance to all the other chefs as well . It was to be expected though . Rachel wasn’t the sort for favoritism .
“I got a really nice opportunity thanks to you . ”
“What, you thought of anything?”
“All the time . But I have no idea if it’d work . ”
Javier shrugged . Rachel often threw her own recipes away, saying that those wouldn’t work with the menu . No matter how amazing that said recipe was .
“She refused to put a recipe on the menu despite it getting ten points once, saying it didn’t really fit the menu . ”
If Minjoon was in her shoes, he’d have worked hard to try to utilize that dish one way or the other . But Rachel didn’t even blink, and threw away the recipe immediately . After all, despite the dish being something that Minjoon could never reach with his current skill, Rachel could just make another one like it in a flash .
Minjoon turned to look at the walk-in . Hundreds of windows for each and every ingredient popped up in his vision . Minjoon, looking at this massive wall of food, muttered to himself .
“I wonder what makes me and Rachel different?”
“Is that an actual question?”
“I mean, of course we’d have our differences . I was wondering what caused it . The ability to find harmony between ingredients? Creativity? The equations we use to bring out flavor? I wonder . I wonder what’d let me step closer to her level of skill… Aren’t you curious?”
“I am, but it’s not like I’d get anywhere just by thinking . You just gotta stay still and learn . ”
“Do you really think you’d make a recipe that’d satisfy her by christmas like that?”
“Well, you’re the one who wants to do that, not me . ”
“True, true . ”
Minjoon tiredly looked down at the floor . Janet gave him a glance from the back before speaking up .
“Aren’t you being too greedy?”
“You have everything . Rachel loves you, everyone has their eyes on you, and you even have talent . But you aren’t satisfied at all . Can’t you just take it easy a little?”
“…Janet, I never thought I’d hear that from you . ”
“I’m greedy, too . A little impatient at times, even . But I don’t think I’m a bad chef at all . I’ve done well . I’ve worked hard to come here . Just because there are more steps I need to take before I become a great chef, doesn’t mean the steps I’ve taken to get here mean nothing . So…”
Janet’s voice became sharper than ever .
“Stop talking as if you’ve encountered an iron wall you can’t pass through . It’s depressing . ”
“…Sorry . ”
“As long as you know . ”
Janet turned away annoyedly . She sounded like she was picking a fight, but in the end she was just giving him advice . One that really helped .
‘The steps I’ve walked, not the ones I have to walk…’
What kind of a journey had he been on, all this time?
There were a lot of times where Minjoon had to come up with a dish in a given amount of time . In the competition, he had to do it in the span of just tens of minutes . At Rose Island, he had a longer time to ponder on his own dishes, being able to create something spectacular .
Without a doubt, though, he’s never been given this much time in the past . He’s almost had a month . But this was, at the same time, the hardest job he’s ever gotten . After all, he had to create a recipe while working . He had too many things to juggle around already as is .
[Is Kaya feeling any better?]
“Yes, mom . I’m going to go back to work starting tomorrow . ”
[You’re working so hard despite being so young . Please take care of her well, too . Just like how I said before, you two are practically married if you’re living together . Think of her as family . ]
“Don’t worry, I already do . ”
[Nothing special going on recently, either?]
Minjoon hesitated for a second . He didn’t have to hide it, but he was wondering if he wanted to talk about the recipe situation to his mother . After all, the woman’s cooking skill was less than great . But he still opened his mouth to talk about it regardless .
“I got homework to do . This christmas, Kaya’s family is… Ah, I told you, didn’t I? About Kaya’s family . ”
[Right . Go on . ]
“Yeah, so they decided to come to our restaurant, and Rachel offered to put one of my recipes into the menu if I could make something that good . ”
[Oh, so is it all going to be your dishes on the menu?]
“No, I’d be lucky if I could even get one in . Well, the subject is set in stone now . We’re using crabs, squid, and oysters for seafood . For fruit, we’ll use pomegranate . It looks like this is the best we can do for California in december . We can use any kind of bird or land animal we want . ”
[Right . But I don’t think I have anything I could give you advice on for stuff like this . ]
“It’s fine . I wasn’t expecting anything . ”
Minjoon could hear a sigh coming from the other side . Hyesun muttered in a depressed voice .
[And here they say there’s no child that doesn’t appreciate their mom’s cooking…]
“Well, I guess those moms can actually cook . ”
[Shush . In any case, I just want to say one thing . Remember how I went to that competition last time with Ahra?]
“Right . I lost . ”
[How did you cook then? Did you want to win? Did you want to show us your food? Or did you want to make something we would want to eat?]
“…Who knows? It’s a bit complicated . ”
[You might not listen because I can’t cook, but I’ll just say this . You’re a pro . People are paying to eat your food . The one difference between a pro and an amateur is whether you cook what you want, or you cook what the customers want . ]
Minjoon could immediately tell what she was trying to tell him . His mouth widened in surprise .
“Make something that Kaya and her family would want… is that it?”
[That’s right . I’m glad you catch on so fast . ]
“Got it . Thanks, mom . I’ll think about it . ”
[Sure . Alright, let’s end the call here . I’m tired . ]
“Ok, I’ll call you next time . ”
Minjoon turned the phone off and turned to look at the kitchen . There wasn’t much food in the fridge, since he was in the house . There was just… Some meat, a pomegranate, and some frozen squid in the freezer . He could hear a voice coming from the back of the room .
“Were you talking to your mother just now?”
“Yeah . She was worried about you . ”
“You think I am lying, then?”
“…It’s nice . The fact that someone is worrying for me . ”
“You’re saying no one’s ever worried for you?”
“Not a lot . ”
Kaya smiled . Minjoon spoke up with a calm voice .
“Thousands of people are going to worry about you from now on . You’re that kind of person now . ”
“Being serious now, are you?
“I can’t treat you like a child forever . ”
Minjoon responded with a calm voice . He took out the ingredients from the fridge, and asked a question slowly .
“Your family doesn’t have anything they don’t eat?”
“Not my mom or Jemma . But…”
“Yeah, I suppose you wouldn’t know about your father . ”
“…Yeah . ”
Kaya spoke with a heavy tone in her voice . She put an arm around Minjoon’s chest, and put her chin on top of his shoulder . It didn’t seem to be out of love or anything . She felt more like a baby cat who needed a hug . Kaya spoke up with a hurt tone .
“It’s hilarious . I don’t know what he likes, or what he’s even like . Just because he’s related to me, I call him father . Just because he’s related to me, he takes up a big part of my life . ”
“You don’t like it?”
“I don’t know . It’s not great . No matter what kind of a person he is… He still abandoned his family for twenty years . Even if we say he had no choice… I’d still hate him . But . ”
Her arms around Minjoon got even tighter . He could feel Kaya tremble . Minjoon didn’t say anything . His silence helped bring out the true feelings in her heart .
“I’m going to forgive him . ”
“Because inside, I really do want to . Because I want a father that loves me in my life . No matter how much I hate this… There’s nothing I can do about it . ”
Minjoon slowly took Kaya’s arms off of himself . He turned around to hug her .
“It’s ok . I know you’re a really nice person despite the way you act . Some people might say you’re asking for too much, but so what?”
“…I was wondering why I liked you . It’s because you always take the parts of myself that I hate and tell me they’re good . ”
“They’re not something to be hated at all . Lots of people in the world, lots of different ways they think . But anyway, thanks . I know now what I want to do for the recipe . ”
“Recipe? What are you gonna do?”
Instead of responding, Minjoon kissed Kaya . He grinned after seeing the girl’s eyes widen .
“A dish that’s going to bring an awkward family closer together . The food with Kaya Lotus’ heart in it . I want to put the story of your family in my food . ”
The opportunity came from Minjoon himself, but the idea of being able to put up a recipe into the menu on christmas was a tempting offer even to other demi chefs . Rachel sounded like she’d give plenty more chances in the future, but it was impossible for them to present a recipe they’ve been working on for a long time . After all, the menu of the restaurant always followed what was in season .
Due to this, all the other demi chefs were busy at work with their recipes as well . They even went so far as to working in break time . They could always wait till next time, but Minjoon’s fervor made them almost feel nervous about being set back .
Javier let out a sigh . To be honest, Minjoon was the chef with the brightest future in the entire group . After all, not only was he skillful, but he also had an aura of a star about him .
It was almost as if he was born to be a star . He had a tongue that could taste just about anything, he had the title as Rachel’s disciple, and the fact that he was in the top three in Grand Chef . Unless something crazy happened, it would be nigh impossible to topple the man from his throne .
But that person was willing to take the hardest of paths all the time . That could only make people like Javier excited themselves . It was the same for Janet and Anderson . Anderson was a chef grown up to be an elite . His skill was among the best among all the chefs, and… Janet’s perseverance was almost disgusting to look at .
Among people like those, even Javier couldn’t help but be motivated himself . He took his crab cake topped with pomegranate salsa, and walked over to Minjoon . Minjoon was taking his time getting rid of all the suction cups on the squid legs . Javier carefully opened his mouth .
“Minjoon, sorry for interrupting you . But could you try this real quick?”
“Ah, yeah… Crab cake…”
He didn’t have much strength in his voice . His face seemed dead tired as well . His eyes were a little swollen, and his cheeks were getting red as well . He looked incredibly sick and tired .
“Are you alright? You look sick . I told you to be careful in winter . ”
“Winter here’s just like spring back in korea… I thought it’d be nothing . Plus, I didn’t get it from the weather . ”
“How’d you get it?”
Minjoon shrugged .
“From a kiss . ”