“Did you pass?”
Janet asked nervously as soon as Minjoon exit the office . Minjoon decided to respond with a smile . Janet sighed .
“So you did . ”
“Work hard . I really thought you’d pass a while ago . ”
“…I’m going to get an ‘ok’ out of her soon myself . ”
Janet still had fire in her eyes after being sent back for the fifth time already .
“Hopefully you do . In second place . ”
“Shut it . ”
Janet headed for her station with a fierce glare . Minjoon smirked a little before turning to Chloe and Martin’s table . Anderson looked at Minjoon with his eyebrows raised .
“So you passed, huh?”
“Yeah, I did . ”
“Wow, congrats! So your dish is going to be on the menu now?
Chloe asked with almost shining eyes . Minjoon smiled .
“It’ll be up there this Christmas . Maybe even one more season after . ”
“Amazing . To think you’d make a dish on the menu already… On a three star restaurant at that . ”
“Rachel gave you a great opportunity . Thank goodness it worked out well . Anderson, are you preparing as well?”
Martin looked towards Anderson curiously . Anderson, shocked by the sudden question, turned away with a nervous cough .
“Er, slowly, yes . ”
“So you finally ended up losing to Minjoon, huh?”
“You call this a loss? Speed isn’t everything in this game . ”
Anderson shot back sharply, making Martin smile even more .
“Just a joke, just a joke . ”
“…Why don’t you tell us what you came here for anyway?”
“Tsk tsk, do you really think I’m the type that would never come here without official business? So cruel . ”
“Well, who knows? So do you have one or not?”
Minjoon looked at Martin quietly . There was only one thing Martin would want from them . Martin rubbed his fingers with a troubled look .
“Well, there is one, actually . ”
[Good to hear that things have been going well for you, Minjoon . ]
“I’d love to invite you over some time . If only the factory wasn’t so busy all the time… Ah, that’s a good thing, huh . ”
[Haha, being busy during these times is a blessing, really . ]
“Is your family doing fine?”
[We drifted apart a bit in the past, but… We’re good now . They might just be acting fine because they’re worried for me, but… We’ll continue to do better . ]
“You’ll do well . You’re a good man . Jessie and Jane are good people, too . ”
[Thanks . ]
Minjoon could almost feel Lucas smiling bitterly from the other side . Minjoon could feel himself smiling as well .
“Lucas, did I tell you? I’ve just been stuck making jellies here for weeks . ”
[Fantastic . How do you like it?]
“It was a little tiring at first, but I could tell how deep the world of jellies is once I really got into it . ”
[You’ve been learning a lot, I see . You see, jellies…]
Lucas continued to talk about jellies for quite some more time . Most of it wasn’t very useful, but some of the information was actually quite useful . By the time the call finished, Ella poked her head out from Lisa’s back .
“Uncle, who’s that?”
“It’s just uncle’s friend . ”
“Jessie’s uncle’s friend?”
“Nope, that’s his daughter… You were listening to all that?”
Instead of responding, Ella decided to hide behind Lisa’s head . Minjoon let out a small laugh as he stared at the tiny hands poking out of Lisa’s shoulder . Looking at those hands massage the shoulders with as much strength as it could muster was almost adorable .
“Lisa, does it feel good?”
“Of course it does . Ella’s doing it all for me . ”
Despite the response, Lisa looked more tired than happy . Though he supposed that she borrowed her daughter’s hands because she was just that tired to begin with . Minjoon looked at her worriedly .
“You should at least leave the kneading to your assistants . Doing all that must be incredibly tiring . ”
“A baker’s hands matter quite a bit in the bakery . We could do it using a machine, but I think my hands can always do better . ”
“I do respect that mindset quite a bit . But you’re going to end up hurting yourself . ”
“She’ll be fine with Ella’s help . Don’t worry, uncle . ”
Ella spoke up with a smile on her face . She was a beautiful kid . That might’ve been what made Minjoon even more worried . Lisa smiled as she put her hands over Ella’s .
“I’m thankful for your concern regarding me, Minjoon . But you really shouldn’t be worried . Mothers are strong, you know?”
Minjoon almost wanted to say that rather than being strong, mothers had to be so . That the title of a mother wasn’t something that gave strength, but responsibility . That it was something that forced a person to walk a rocky path with bare feet…
‘…Who am I to judge?’
Minjoon was just a coworker . Of course, Ella treated him like a real uncle, but that didn’t give him the right to poke into Lisa’s business like that . Especially in front of Ella . After all, parents had to look perfect in front of their children .
“Yeah . You really are strong, Lisa . But is there any way I could help you, still?”
“Help… I don’t know . Like I said, a baker’s hands matter quite a bit . It’d be nice if you introduced me to a really good baker, one that I could entrust with kneading the dough . But since most skilled people are already employed somewhere…”
“Yeah . I did think of someone, but that person’s probably running their own bakery by now . ”
“Well, it’ll work out . ”
“Mom, want me to do it? I’m good at making bread . ”
Ella poked her head out next to Lisa . Lisa grabbed Ella’s cheek playfully .
“I’m good . Ella just needs to listen to mommy, ok?”
“Ok . ”
“Here, you must be tired . Come lie down on mommy’s lap . ”
Ella quickly jumped down and put her head down on Lisa’s lap . She then tried to wave Minjoon over as well .
“Do you want to lie down too, uncle?”
“…That’d be really bad if I did . ”
Minjoon laughed awkwardly as he shook his head . He wanted to poke Ella’s pouting cheeks, but stopped himself .
“I’ll be off to the kitchen . Lots of people have been asking me for help . Rest well . ”
“Ah, yes . I’ll sleep here for a bit . Have fun teaching . ”
Lisa smiled . Teaching . That word wasn’t directed towards the assistant chefs . They were instead directed at the demi chefs . Minjoon had been tasked with teaching them . As soon as Minjoon entered the kitchen, he could hear someone speak annoyedly .
“Hey, Minjoon, what took you so long?”
“Something other than a phone call . How’s your work been? The powdered sauce doing well?”
“Well, I can make it now, but… It doesn’t taste great . ”
“Javier’s no good when it comes to molecular gastronomy . Here, look at mine instead . This is apricot jelly . I want to put it on top of turkey . What do you think?”
Janet handed him a dish . It was the same thing as before . Shrimp cannelloni, braised beef, and turkey . The only thing that changed was the apricot jelly .
Janet and Javier, who had both been pretty stuck-up about traditional cooking, ended up turning their heads towards molecular gastronomy . They had been wondering if that was the missing part in their dishes .
Rachel didn’t tell them exactly what was wrong with their dishes, and the only hint they could get was from Minjoon . The biggest difference between Minjoon’s dish and theirs was the use of molecular gastronomy .
One could ask why they were seeking advice from Minjoon instead of Raphael, but the answer was quite obvious . Minjoon was just good at teaching . Besides, Raphael was quite the weirdo .
‘…And Rachel’s really hard to read as well . ’
But after making the dessert, Minjoon could understand how Rachel felt about food . Minjoon, thanks to her, was able to gain something about cooking . The understanding of location, and the customers .
Just like how eating a cold dish in a cold place wouldn’t at all be tasty, Janet and Javier needed to understand what kind of a restaurant they were cooking in . They also needed an understanding of what would come before, and after their dish in the meal .
But he couldn’t tell them outright . He knew that Rachel would want them to learn this by themselves . If he just told them outright, they wouldn’t learn much at all .
“I didn’t think molecular gastronomy would be so critical . ”
Javier let out a complaint . Most restaurants used foams nowadays as well, but not many places went all out with it like Rose Island did . A few restaurants that were sensitive to the times, maybe? Minjoon let out a smile as he looked at Javier suffer .
“What, you want to switch roles with me?”
“…No, not really . Your work seems really boring . ”
“It’s pretty fun, you know . You just need to get used to it . ”
“It’s only fun when you succeed . My powdered sauces always fail, but yours don’t at all . What’s your secret?”
“Who knows . Concentration?”
“Ugh, again with that concentration talk . ”
Javier shook his head . He was sick of Minjoon’s concentration talk already . After all, the man responded with “concentration” even when asked a question about his palate . Minjoon smiled as he looked at Janet and Javier .
“I mean, what need is there for you two to try to get help from me, anyway? You two are both great at cooking . I honestly thought you two were better than me back at the audition . The only reason why Rachel’s sending you back isn’t because of molecular gastronomy . Molecular gastronomy is… Well, I actually don’t know . Maybe she thinks it’s important because that’s the new trend . But . ”
Minjoon pointed at Anderson . The man was busy at his station making something .
“Just look at Anderson . He’s pushing through without asking anyone for help . He’s probably gone to Rachel the most out of us? But he’s never asked me to teach him . Maybe you two just need that stubbornness?”
Anderson had focused on the traditional method of cooking all this time . It wasn’t like he didn’t like molecular gastronomy . It might’ve been because he didn’t want to be compared with Minjoon . In any case, what was important was that Anderson was walking his own solitary path .
But right then, Janet and Javier’s eyes drifted over behind Minjoon . That is, towards where Anderson was a moment ago . Minjoon looked back nervously . Anderson was standing right behind him with a bowl full of foam .
“I was thinking of making parmesan foam, but… It keeps family . Help . ”
Minjoon sighed .
“Anderson, even you…”