Translator: Ensj Editor: Arocks141
Minjoon believed that hard work always paid off . At least, in his experience it did . His grades got better when he studied, his body improved when he worked out, and his skills got better the more he cooked .
Of course, not all these changes were always visible . Sometimes, it felt like he was just running in place . Sometimes, it almost felt like he was walking backwards . But in the end, he’s always gotten better in the end .
Even now, with the help of the system, Minjoon had his doubts . Am I really doing well? Am I just wasting time here? Thankfully, he knew he wasn’t going backwards because none of his skills moved backwards, but… He could only believe that he was improving .
But Javier didn’t have the help of the system . It was no wonder the man was feeling horrible . Of course, the man didn’t think all his troubles would end after coming to Rose Island, but he’d probably never have expected to fall behind .
He couldn’t fail here . He had to win . These feelings choked Javier . This was the reason why he ran away from his family and friends during the holiday season into the kitchens .
Morning came . Javier frowned as he woke from his sleep in the break room . His neck hurt . Why didn’t he realize sleeping on a sofa with his arm as a pillow was going to make his neck hurt?
Javier looked around a bit, and let out a small smile . He could see Minjoon sleeping with the same posture as him .
“Your neck’s gonna hurt like hell . ”
The smile on his face faded . The one who made the man stay the night was Javier . Minjoon said he would easily do such a thing for a friend . While that made Javier thankful, it also made a different thought creep up in his head .
‘Am I going to keep hurting my friends for my sake?’
He felt bad about making Minjoon go through all this . Two thoughts clashed in his mind . He could either do this all by himself, or… He could just accept help .
He had to accept it . He had to accept the fact that he was a little lacking compared to the other three . At least, when it came to creating recipes . Perhaps it would be better if he just thought of them as teachers of sorts .
Minjoon woke up in the meantime .
“Ugh… Where am I?”
“It’s the break room . Wake up . ”
“Sorry . So tired… Ah, it’s January 1st today, isn’t it? I’ve aged one more year with this . ”
“Eh? Wasn’t your birthday in December?”
“Ah, it’s a traditional thing in Korea . We say you age a year every new year . ”
“What? So you age twice a year?”
“No, you just say you don’t age on your birthday… Anyway, you’re going to cook?”
Minjoon asked as he rubbed his belly . It’s been a while since he didn’t feel hungry waking up . He ended up having so much food at dawn… Javier shook his head .
“Nope, I won’t . ”
“Good . I was about to have to stuff food into my nostrils because I was getting too full . ”
“Wouldn’t the food still end up in your stomach?”
“Come on man… Just a figure of speech . Don’t make me have to imagine all that . ”
“… But you said it first . ”
Javier looked at Minjoon incredulously . Minjoon just hit back with a playful voice .
“Hey, hey . Come on man . I had to eat your food all day . Can’t I just say something silly once?”
“Oh, so now you’re playing the victim card?”
Javier laughed . He continued with a quiet tone .
“I thought a bit . Ah… I want to make something that looks cool, but it’s difficult . Please help . ”
“I’m helping already, though . ”
“No, not like that… Making the recipe itself . I need your help . ”
Javier expected Minjoon to be surprised . But quite the contrary happened . Minjoon casually nodded at his request .
“Sure . That’s good . ”
“I half expected you to worry or tell me not to do it . ”
“You thought a lot about this, didn’t you? Who am I to stop you? Stand up, we need to go . ”
Minjoon flicked a finger at him .
“We’re going on a date . ”
“… Never say that again . Especially in front of your girlfriend . ”
“It’s just a joke, man . Come on . ”
“Well I mean, you’ve always acted almost disgustingly kind to people is the thing…”
“Oh, so being kind is a sin, now?”
Javier could only sigh .
“So you go to places like this with Kaya?”
“What, is it surprising?”
“I mean, it fits . You two are both chefs, after all . ”
Minjoon had dragged Javier into a grocery store . The two casually walked over to the seafood section . Javier was in charge of the appetizer today . And there was no better ingredient fit to be an appetizer than seafood .
“Do you have anything in mind?”
“You must have a few ideas for the dish you couldn’t tell me, no? I’d like to hear about them . ”
“Well… Really, I can only say that your dishes are way too western . Most your dishes are Italian or French . ”
“…Is that bad?”
“Take a look at the scene today . Why do you think people are going so deep into molecular gastronomy? We’ve milked western food for literally all it’s worth . We can’t get much more out of it anymore . ”
“I did hear that my dishes aren’t that creative… What then?”
“We need to try something new . Not a different flavored sauce, but something else entirely . ”
“That sounds… difficult . ”
“But we’re two people now . Did you forget how quickly me, Andrew and Janet came up with a recipe together?”
Javier nodded . Four days . It took the three four days to make a dish . A dish good enough to make Rachel nod . Javier wasn’t able to make Rachel do that, ever .
“…Do you think I can do it?”
“Come on man, have some confidence! Oh, hey, look at this . ”
Minjoon pointed at a fish with sparkling eyes .
“That’s a kingfish, isn’t it?”
“Yeah . ”
“I had it near the restaurant once . Pretty tasty . Should we go with this?”
“…This massive thing?”
The kingfish was the size of a small child . Minjoon thought for a moment before opening his mouth .
“We can serve it as sashimi with soup . ”
“That’s too simple . Maybe we can add something to it… Caviar? That’d help with the flavor . ”
“For sure . But that might kill the fish’s flavor . The soup… Ah, whatever . We can think about that later . ”
Minjoon bought the fish on the spot . He flinched a little after hearing the price, but like any addict in front of their fix, Minjoon took out his card from the wallet in one smooth movement . The shopkeeper smiled .
“I didn’t think you’d come today, Minjoon . Which one do you want? This one?”
“But that one’s scales are all broken . I don’t want it . ”
“That’s just from the net . It should taste fine . ”
“It’s not all that fresh either . Just look at that eye . Give me that one instead . ”
“Hah, you’re quite stubborn about stuff like this, aren’t you?”
“I’m a chef, you know?”
“Gotcha, gotcha . Here, take it . ”
Javier was surprised . He knew how to choose fresh fish, of course . But he couldn’t do it at the speed of Minjoon . Actually, he’s never seen anyone as fast as Minjoon with choosing fish .
“…You’re really fast about everything, aren’t you?”
“What, did you think that because of the fish?”
“Yeah . How did you do it?
“Well… I don’t really have one . ”
Minjoon scratched his head . Getting compliments thanks to the system always made him feel guilty .
The first thing the two did after coming back was dismantling the fish . There were countless parts to the fish, but the parts they could realistically use were only the belly, back, and hip .
Like any other fish, the part of the fish that tasted strongest was the belly, which was the closest to the innards . The hip had better texture but less flavor, while the back was incredibly chewy with little to no flavor .
Javier looked at the fish for a moment .
“I’ll boil the head first . To make some stock . ”
“Ah, wait a bit . I have an idea . ”
Minjoon took something out of the fridge, which confused Javier .
“Dried anchovies? Why?”
“Let’s make some stock with the anchovies before using the head . I feel like the head won’t bring out the saltiness enough . ”
“We can just use salt . ”
“But it’s more fun to bring out the salt from the fish . ”
Fun . Javier realized that his view on cooking was very different compared to Minjoon . Javier took the straightforward route, while Minjoon always tried to find new and novel ways of cooking things .
‘Is this what I need to learn?’
It was new . Rachel’s creativity felt so foreign to Javier, but Minjoon’s creativity excited him .
Minjoon made the stock, and took out the sashimi . He put a bowl of yellow liquid next to the red meat, and dressed it all with caviar and cilantro . Javier smiled after just a single bite .
“Whoa, this is really good . ”
“Yeah, it is . But it doesn’t have that wow factor . ”
“That feeling you get when you have something really tasty . That feeling that makes your spine go bzzt . We need that in the dish . Hm, what are we missing?”
Javier looked at Minjoon . He thought Minjoon was a genius . With that tongue, and that skill… What else would Minjoon be? But Javier realized that he was wrong . What made Minjoon amazing wasn’t something like talent .
“You don’t rest, do you?”
Minjoon didn’t respond . The man was clearly lost in his thoughts . Minjoon was no genius . Well, maybe that’s the wrong way to put it . What made Minjoon amazing wasn’t something as shallow as ‘talent’ .
Minjoon’s gears never stopped turning . The man never stopped thinking . It was quite something to behold . Something that outshined his talent entirely . Javier balled up his hands .
‘You’re . . amazing . ’
Javier wished to be like Minjoon .