How To Draw The Eye of a Dragon (3)
Minjoon’s lips curled up into a smile, and he began to glance at the kitchen frantically . Seeing his thumb twiddle on his knees made it almost painfully obvious that he wanted to cook . Chloe smiled bitterly .
“Go . ”
“You want to cook, don’t you? You look like you’re going to get sick if I don’t let you go now . Go cook . ”
“…Is it that obvious?”
“You’re really bad at hiding things, you know?”
Though it was a little annoying that he couldn’t even say white lies at times . As Chloe swallowed her own words, Minjoon stood up . He looked at Chloe apologetically .
“So sorry about this . I’d love to talk more, but I have to do this . I suppose we can talk a little later . I’ll make something a bit more perfect . How are you on time?”
“It’s not like I’m free all day, but… I can’t stop you when you’re so inspired . Go, I’ll wait . ”
Martin smiled . Waiting wasn’t that difficult, especially when he was waiting for Minjoon of all people . Minjoon had given him a lot of things during the time he knew him . Of course, he himself had given Minjoon a lot, but calculating all that was meaningless .
“I suppose one thing hasn’t changed since the first time I met you, Minjoon . Your love for cooking . ”
Anderson shrugged . He wanted to say that Martin would change his mind when he saw Minjoon with Kaya back home, but he didn’t want to say it in front of Chloe . Chloe smiled softly .
“You know, I think people look their best when they’re doing something they love . Don’t you agree?”
“Man, Chloe, you’ve really gotten soaked in that Hollywood air . You’re saying all sorts of stuff now . ”
“Stop teasing . I’m just trying to look cool . ”
“Just saying, just saying . ”
Martin grinned . Anderson looked over Chloe for a second .
“How’s the TV life for you?”
“What do you mean?”
“You talked about it when we met at the Grand Chef restaurant last time . ”
Chloe smiled awkwardly . She poked at the dessert in front of her, lost a little in her own thoughts . Her head tilted downwards, making her hair wave a little bit . Her eyes drifted over to a corner of the table .
“I’m managing to scrape it together, one way or the other . Kaya was right back then . There are people who like me, and love me . Plus, I don’t hate my job . I actually kind of like it . I don’t think it’d be right for me to give up my current job just to take up cooking . ”
“…This is the first time I’ve heard of something like this . You must’ve thought of it quite a lot?”
Martin spoke seriously . Chloe almost felt that this only made things more awkward . She tried to smile calmly .
“Everyone has their own problems . It’s just that to the person herself, the problem feels almost deadly to them . I just had one of my own . Don’t worry about it . ”
“You just said, though . It feels deadly to the person herself . It’s called a problem for a reason, you know . ”
“I really don’t have anything to say when you tell me that . But it’s fine . I reached an answer one way or the other, and I’ve grown more confident as a result . I’ve a lot of great friends next to me who succeeded, so there’s no reason for me to be down all by myself . ”
“I’m thankful that you’re telling us this, but out of all of us, you’d be the most successful, you know?”
Chloe’s number of fans had actually grown to match Kaya’s now . Seeing how her number of fans by the end of the competition was rather pitiful compared to Kaya, her growth was pretty good .
Well, pretty good was an understatement . Many people on the internet were actually starting to call Chloe the hidden winner of the competition .
‘Even though it’s not success as a chef . ’
This thought alone had bothered Chloe quite a bit in the past, but she didn’t want to think of that now . After all, like Kaya said, some chefs belong in the kitchen, and others belong in the television .
Kaya, her precious friend, was the person to tell her this . As long as her friends, Kaya, Anderson, and Minjoon acknowledged her… Chloe felt like she could have pride in her work .
“Anyway, there’s no problem now, so it’s all good . Thanks for worrying about me, Anderson . ”
Anderson didn’t speak . He felt his lips curl up into a smile, so he turned away to cough it away instead . Right then, Chloe noticed that someone from the kitchen was looking at her . Janet, was it?
When the two’s eyes met, Janet turned away immediately . As Chloe sat there trying to remember, Janet decided to begin talking to Minjoon .
“Hey . ”
“Does Anderson smile when he’s with you guys?”
“He’s not a robot, you know? The man can smile . Why do you ask?”
“Well, I think I saw him smile just now is all . Thought it was neat . ”
“Let me ask you, then . Do you smile? I’ve never actually seen you smile . ”
“Like you said, I’m not a robot either . ”
Janet hit back with a bored voice . Since the two of them weren’t very loud at all, whenever they spoke together, the scene almost looked like a serious noir movie . Minjoon shot Janet a question .
“Why don’t you smile, then?”
“There’s no time . The kitchen is a battlefield . I’m going to get killed if I lose it . I… Don’t want to die . ”
Minjoon didn’t know what to say . After all, he didn’t know her past . He could only talk about himself as a result .
“I’m happy here . I can’t say I’m relaxed in this space, but I can find love even in the urgency of the kitchen . ”
Minjoon loved to stand in the kitchen . He was even thankful of his painful shoulders and hips . there had been a time when he was just washing dishes in the kitchen . There had been a time when he was sitting in a classroom, telling kids to dream when he himself was unable to achieve his very own .
‘Now, things are different . ’
Minjoon smiled . He had a knife in one hand, and a pen in the other . The heat of the kitchen was with him, and he had his chef’s clothes on him . It might be a daily fact of life for some, but Minjoon was thankful that he could live a life that he did more than any other chef .
And this showed all too clearly in his work as well . No matter how hard things got, Minjoon was happy to work as a chef . It might be the basic of the basics for a chef, but Janet could tell that Minjoon lived a very happy, fulfilling life .
“Yeah . I’m jealous of you sometimes because of that . That honesty, that work ethic, and…”
That talent . The last bit ended up getting stuck in her throat . Acknowledging other people’s talent was a difficult thing . Especially acknowledging that of a work partner . Janet took her plate .
“I wasted your time, didn’t I? Go back to work . I’ll get this checked by Rachel real quick . ”
“I’m sure it’ll pass . Good luck . ”
“How would you know? You haven’t even tasted it . Can you taste it with your eyes for something?”
Janet laughed and turned away . Minjoon watched her walk away before turning back to his own station . Maya was in the corner making the pomegranate jam .
There were four solutions to the problem Chloe had unearthed . The first was to simply reduce the amount of food on the plate . Making it just about two bites would be perfect . But this solution was too simple . Almost one dimensional .
The second solution was to add candied pomegranate to the party . But that wasn’t a very good solution either . Adding whole pomegranate seeds would mean the guests would have to spit out the seeds as they ate, which wasn’t great for a high class meal . But taking the flesh out of the seeds would only end up creating something closer to a jam .
Third… He’d have to give up making something with just pomegranate . After all, that single flavor might’ve been just the thing that made the dish boring . He could add something like almond flour or red beans, but… It didn’t taste very good when paired with the jam . The system almost lowered the overall score of the dish .
Lastly, the fourth option . The option of bringing something new to the table, while staying true to the single flavor of the dish . Minjoon could only think of one way of adding this element to the dish .
‘…People might actually think I’m addicted to jelly at this point . ’
Pomegranate jelly . He was thinking of creating a jelly with agar agar after bringing out the sweetness of the juice a little . With agar, he could create something that had the texture of the pomegranate fruit .
The jelly wasn’t the only thing that was different . The jam Maya was making was different as well .
‘Making an English jam instead of an American one would be better as well . ’
The difference between an English jam and an American jam was that while the American variant focused on sweetness, the English variant focused on the flavor of the fruit . The sweetness would still be there, thanks to the ice cream, toffee, and the candy . While the sweetness might get lost due to the jam, the wow factor would increase greatly with the fruit flavor .
It would be normal to let the jam rest for at least a day, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to serve it immediately after cooking, either . Since Chloe and Martin wouldn’t return tomorrow either, he didn’t even have time to let it age . Minjoon spoke to Maya with an apologetic tone .
“Sorry about this, Maya . You aren’t even able to rest because of me . ”
“No, no . This is how I learn . I’m happy that I can learn from you . ”
“Yeah, you’re real happy about losing that rock paper scissors game now, huh?”
“…Can we not?”
“Fine, fine . ”
Minjoon raised his hands in mock defeat . He watched the juice mixed with agar agar harden for a little while before putting it straight in the blast chiller . As he created the pomegranate toffee again, Maya opened her mouth as she put the finished jam in the container .
“You’re quite something as well . How could you just leave a guest behind because of a dish?”
“How can I not? My heart was just beating with anticipation . ”
“…Oh god, the cringe . ”
Minjoon smiled silently . He took two pieces of the toffee, cut the jelly, and scooped the ice cream . It was time to serve . Minjoon quickly walked over to Chloe’s table .
“It’ll be different this time . You might get tired of eating the same dish twice, but try this . ”
“Alright, what’s that?”
“Ah, this is for Rachel . Could you just wait three minutes?”
“I don’t have the power to stop you . Go on . ”
“Thanks, Martin . ”
Minjoon moved over to the office with a grin . Rachel looked at Minjoon with a rather surprised face, but this soon changed into a warm smile .
“So you found the answer?”
“Yes . I think I did . ”
The system still gave the dish 9 points . But a dish couldn’t be judged purely through its score . Not all dishes with 9 points were the same . He was confident that this dish was better than the one he showed Rachel last time .
“The jam and the jelly couldn’t be aged . Is that ok with you?”
“You’re coming up with a recipe here, not trying to serve me . This is fine . Don’t worry . I’ll still be able to see how good this dish would be . ”
Minjoon smiled, and tapped the pomegranate toffee . The shell broke to reveal the flesh inside . Rachel let out an exclamation of surprise . She could tell that this dish was made with care . After all, each and every piece of jelly inside looked like a piece of pomegranate . The dish really did look like a pomegranate now .
When Minjoon poured the hot jam inside, the powdered ice cream melted to mix and meld with the toffee and the jelly . Rachel took her spoon, and took a bite of the dish . She closed her eyes to fully take in the flavor .
It was definitely different from before . The jam brought out the flavor of the dish perfectly, and the ice cream helped tone the flavor of the jam as well . As Rachel chewed, she could tell that the main star of the show this time wasn’t the ice cream or the jam, but the jelly .
It was quite nice anticipating the next chew every time the flavor of the jelly came out . This would definitely make the dish quite interesting indeed .
Rachel looked at Minjoon with a proud smile .
“So you realized what a dish of this restaurant needs . ”
“Yes . I wouldn’t have been able to tell this by myself . I think, like you said… a chef can only grow by letting others taste their dish . ”
“It was a lovely dish . It was probably only possible because it was you making it . Minjoon, are you happy?“
“Yes, I really am . I’m happy that I have people like you that can teach me, and that there are customers who can enjoy my dish . ”
Minjoon put on an almost childlike smile on his face . One that was pure and full of passion . Rachel nodded .
“Right . As I say all the time, a dish of a chef carries the chef’s feelings in it as well . This dish can only make people happy . ”
Minjoon looked at Rachel excitedly . Rachel couldn’t help but laugh looking at his eyes .
“Right . I suppose we’ll need quite a bit of pomegranate come Christmas . ”