Everyone’s Story (5)
Jelly and candy . Minjoon was quite a bit drawn to the candy side . Enough to completely wake him up from his sleep .
His desire for sleep had completely disappeared, but just as Minjoon was about to stand up, Ella looked up to him with a saddened expression .
“Are you leaving, uncle?”
It wasn’t like she’d try to stop him . After all, she was a very smart girl for her age .
But that’s what made Minjoon hesitate even more . He looked quietly at Ella for a second . She looked like she’d get incredibly bored without him . Minjoon smiled .
“Nope, I’ll stay with you for a bit more . ”
“Really? Aren’t you tired?”
“Ella’s tired too, aren’t you? You always have to come here after preschool, you don’t have many friends, and mom’s always busy, right?”
“But Ella still likes being here . There’s you, uncle, there’s mom, and there’s really good food…”
“You’re going to get fat, you know?”
“Ella doesn’t get fat . ”
Ella spoke as if she was saying something incredibly obvious . She wasn’t exactly skinny, but… Minjoon didn’t bother talking about it . He just smiled instead . The girl rolled on the sofa a few times before closing her eyes on the sofa .
Looking at her like this just made Minjoon feel sad . Ella didn’t play, nor did she try to get a few jokes out of him . She just closed her eyes next to him . That’s what Ella wanted, and it was something that she couldn’t get . The loneliness of not having a father . She didn’t try to show it, but her loneliness came out one way or the other .
Minjoon wanted to pat Ella’s head, but he couldn’t afford to get her sick . Minjoon quietly watched Ella fall asleep .
“Ella, are you sleeping?”
There was no response . Minjoon carefully laid her head down on the sofa to stand up, and looked around . He wanted to get her a blanket of sorts, but he couldn’t find one . He covered her with his apron and exit the room . As soon as he entered the kitchen again, he was greeted with a very sweaty Maya .
“Ah, chef . Have you rested well?”
“Yeah . All thanks to you . How goes the prep?”
“Ah, right . Not much different from before . I’ve done the jellies though . Can you check them?”
“Sure… Hm, you’ve gotten better . But you cut the sea bream jelly too thick here . Since this has such a strong seafood flavor, the customers would enjoy it better if you cut it thin like actual sashimi . ”
“Ugh… And I hoped that I could master everything at least by the end of this season . ”
“You still got a few days . You can do it . ”
“Do you really think so?”
“Nothing’s impossible . It’s all just difficult . I believe in you . Don’t you…”
Believe in yourself? Minjoon couldn’t finish the sentence . It felt familiar to him somehow . He realized it was what Maya had told him a while ago . Maya looked at Minjoon with a worried expression .
“Chef? Are you alright?”
“…Ah, yeah . It’s nothing . I just thought of something . Where was I?”
“You said you trust me . ”
“Yeah . I don’t put my trust in just anyone, so work hard . ”
“You trying to pick me up or something?”
“It’s not . Go back to work . ”
“Tsk . ”
Maya licked her lips disappointedly . Minjoon looked at the clock . There wasn’t much time left . The hall was filled with customers, too . Minjoon slowly headed over to his station . Even though the cold was still overwhelming his body, his greatest love was in front of him . Cooking . With it, nothing would be too difficult for him to do .
As it turned out, he was completely mistaken in his abilities . Minjoon lay his head down on his station with a very tired face . Raphael clicked his tongue when he found Minjoon .
“You should’ve taken care of yourself . Javier, how did this guy get sick again?”
“He was kissing . ”
“Ugh… Just what I’d expect from someone in their twenties . ”
Raphael shook his head with a sigh .
“Minjoon . There’s a person who’s just begging to see you . Is that alright?”
“Ah, of course . Should I leave now?”
“Yes . Follow me . ”
He was tired, but it wasn’t like he could refuse a fan . Plus, something like this rarely ever happened . When he arrived, he was greeted by someone he didn’t quite expect to see . It wasn’t someone he knew . He’s never met a person so far who so blatantly acted rich in his life before .
The lady was wearing a golden necklace that easily looked more expensive than his yearly pay, and that nail art on her hands looked almost unreal . She even had a shawl draped over her shoulders, making her look like someone straight out of a drama .
“Oh, Chef Jo! It’s good to meet you!”
She seemed to be Chinese, at least from her accent . It was a little surprising .
“Thank you for coming to meet me, especially when I still lack so much skill . ”
“No, no . I really wanted to see you . I’ve been watching you ever since Grand Chef . I mean, you can’t even call yourself a real foodie unless you’ve had chef Minjoon’s food, after all!”
“…Hahaha . But the food today was made by the head chef, Rachel, not me . ”
Minjoon smiled awkwardly . The woman was complimenting him too much . It was honestly a little discomforting . The woman’s voice, on the other hand, was getting more excited by the second .
“But you were the one who made the jellies and the powdered sauces today, weren’t you? They were amazing . Ah, my name is Delia . Delia Wi . ”
“Ah, yes . Delia . Thank you for coming today, and thank you very much for the compliments as well . ”
“You’re going to become even better than chef Rachel, I know it!”
“Delia, you need to stop . ”
The woman next to Delia stopped her . She was a person that seemed much more reserved than Delia . The woman sighed before turning to Minjoon .
“I’m sorry . This girl just doesn’t shut her mouth when she gets excited about something . She’s not trying to hurt anyone, so please be understanding if you can . ”
“Did I say something wrong?”
“Yes, yes you did . So step back for a second . ”
“O-Ok . Thank you, Minjoon, the food was great . I’ll be back!”
“Ah… yes . Thank you . ”
Minjoon smiled a bit awkwardly . He knew the woman was just trying to be nice, but her compliments were a little annoying if anything . Right then, Janet stepped up next to him from nowhere .
“Be careful of her . ”
“Hm? You know her?”
“Yeah, she used to come to my previous restaurant . ”
“…She must be quite interesting for you to remember her till now . ”
“She was a real piece of work . She might look nice now, but… She’ll show you how bad people could really be . ”
Minjoon frowned a little . Well, whatever . It wasn’t something he had to think about now . Besides, he had to work on something at the moment . The chefs in the kitchen all made a strange face when they noticed that Minjoon was walking back to his station . Anderson spoke up with a frown .
“What are you doing?”
“Testing a recipe . ”
“Hey, it’s night . We gotta go . You’re sick, too . Kaya’s going to worry about you, you know?”
“It’s because of Kaya that I’m doing this . I want to make her a gift . If I do it at home, she’s going to notice . ”
“Even so… Can’t you do it tomorrow?”
“Never . I’ve spent the entire day thinking about this . ”
Anderson just looked at Minjoon with an annoyed face . Right then, Rachel walked into the room .
“Why are you all gathered up right here? You should all be getting ready to go home . ”
“Ah, teacher . Minjoon says he wants to make something . ”
Javier tattled on Minjoon immediately . Seeing that Rachel put a big focus on the employee’s health, he was hoping she’d say something .
But Rachel chose instead to stare at Minjoon . The man’s worked all day with his cold . But saying that he still wanted to do something despite that… It wasn’t unfamiliar to her . He almost resembled someone she knew .
Minjoon, on the other hand, just couldn’t face that stare head on . He stepped back from his station .
“Your recipe won’t leave you, Minjoon . People are the ones to leave . Don’t hurry so much . ”
“…Yes, ma’am . ”
“I’m interested, too . Just what’s got you so excited like this? We can talk about it some other time though . Understood?”
Who could say no to this? Minjoon couldn’t, at least . He loved his teacher too much to say no . He didn’t want her to feel hurt .
Plus, just like she said, even if he made the dish now, it wouldn’t even turn out perfect . After all, the recipe still wasn’t fully fleshed out in his head . No, what got him excited was something else .
[The expected recipe score is 8 points . ]
He hadn’t even made any adjustments, but it was already at an 8…
‘If I work a little more, I might actually get a 9 . ’
It wasn’t the first time he’s made a dish that was 9 points . He’d come up with one when he was back in Japan as well . But the fact that he’d be able to show his very best in front of Kaya and her family… had him excited .
Minjoon was thinking about making a dessert . A dish that would appear after the tension between the family’s disappeared a little… a food to soothe their wounded hearts .
The main ingredient would be a pomegranate . Just like the caramel apple that Ella had talked about, the dish in Minjoon’s mind would also be some sort of a candied fruit on a stick .
It would look like a normal pomegranate . But in actuality, its “skin” would be created out of a toffee made of sugar, butter, water and pomegranate juice, and the “flesh” of the fruit would be a powdered pomegranate ice cream .
When the customer breaks open the fruit, Minjoon would pour warm pomegranate jam over it . Even on the way back home, Minjoon thought of the dish constantly . The fact that he could see the expected score based on what ingredients he used helped a lot .
‘Maybe the score system was originally meant to be used like this?’
The thought crossed his mind for a brief second, but the recipe quickly took over his head once again . Tens of thousands of different combinations passed through his head on his trip, and by the time he reached the door… he came to a stop . Anderson looked back at Minjoon with a confused face . Minjoon was completely frozen in place . He couldn’t move .
[The expected recipe score is 9 points!]