Published at 16th of December 2020 05:34:05 PM
“You have been into it for several days, Min-joon . How long are you going to do it?”
Kaya shook her head as if she was sick and tired of what Min-joon was doing at the moment . She felt even strange when he spread clay instead of food on the plate and kneaded it .
She put her arm around his neck and reached out her hand over the clay .
“Do you get the feel simply by fondling the clay?”
“If you use real ingredients, it costs too much . I should save money . ”
“Ask that person to support you . Who is that person? Jeff?”
“Jefferson . His nickname is probably Jeff . But don’t call him Jeff . ”
“I don’t like you calling somebody by his nickname . ”
Kaya smiled at that and pinched his cheek .
As if it was fun, she snorted and opened her mouth .
“Man, you still have the smell of a baby . ”
“Stop it . How would you plate it up?”
“Don’t you mind if I help you?”
“When I see my limit, it’s best to hold onto someone else’s hand . ”
“Didn’t you tell me that it’s meaningful only when I broke the wall myself?”
“Well, it depends on the situation . ”
She tickled his ribs at his shameless reply . At that moment, he twisted, and the plate fell .
With a sharp sound, the plate hit the marble floor and shattered .
He looked at Kaya with a weary expression . She took off her arms around his neck and avoided his gaze, standing at attention . But she couldn’t keep turning away from his eyes .
She quickly glanced at him only to find him staring at her .
She said, with her shoulders drooping, “My mistake . Sorry . ”
“That’s fine . ”
“Let me clear it up . ”
“Just bring me a plastic bag and gloves . ”
“Okay . ”
She could not retort anymore, so she hastily brought a plastic bag and gloves, but she realized that something was strange . He was looking at the shattered plate intensely . She carefully peeked over his shoulder .
“What’s up? What are you doing now?”
“Oh, it’s just nothing . ”
He hit upon something the moment the plate was shattered to pieces, but even before he could figure it out, it disappeared from his mind . He picked up the broken pieces of plate, feeling rather uncomfortable as if he had to stop in the middle of sneezing . And he was consumed with such feelings for several days, so much so that Ella, who was lying on his lap, stood up and gave him her jelly .
“Uncle, try this . ”
“Why are you giving it to me all of a sudden?”
“Because you look hungry, uncle . No?”
“I’m not really hungry…”
“Eat anyway . I want to give it to you . ”
“Oh, thank you . ”
Min-joon smiled and held out his hand to grab the jelly on her palm . The jelly on her small, plump palm looked so pretty . At that moment, he stopped putting his hand on it .
She tilted her head with a puzzled expression, “What’s the problem?”
“Ella, can you keep holding it like this for a minute?”
“My arm hurts…”
“Let me support it from below . ”
He placed his hand under her elbow and looked at her hand silently . Does that jelly have a plate or not? Although she supported it with her hand, could it be called a plate?
But that jelly didn’t have a plate the size of her hand . When it was put on that hand, the jelly looked the prettiest and most delicious . He slowly picked up the jelly . Then he put it in his mouth and chewed it . The sweet taste of blueberry-flavored jelly slowly stimulated his tongue .
She asked him with anticipation, “Does it taste delicious?”
“Yes, it’s so delicious . ”
“Would you like another one?”
“No thanks . It’s yours, Ella . ”
“You gave me a lot of snacks, too . ”
“So, you want to give me more like this, Ella?”
Yes, my mother told me I should give anybody back as much as I received from them . ”
“How kind it is of you to do what your mother said!”
Min-joon pinched her cheek a bit . She nodded, smiling brightly .
He said in a calm voice, “Ella, you just gave me something bigger than you think . So, you don’t have to think you should give me anything . ”
“What did I give to you?”
“Your hand . ”
“What? You shouldn’t eat my hand . ”
“Of course not!” Min-joon replied quickly with a smile, when she responded, a bit scared .
What he just realized wasn’t something unusual . It was the importance of the bowl . He realized that putting the same dish on a different plate could make people feel different about the food, depending on which plate he should put it .
‘Then, which plate should I use?’
Now it was time for him to ponder over the matter . He was about to think about it deeply when he heard the sound of a car engine in the parking lot . Someone opened the door and came in . He stood up from his seat in surprise when he saw that person .
“Ah, Min-joon . It’s been a while since we last met . ”
“What business brought you here? How about your restaurant?”
“It was burned, and I went bankrupt . ”
Min-joon suddenly got serious when she made a shocking confession .
But she immediately smiled and shook her hand .
She said, “Oh, I was kidding . Don’t look at me like that . My kitchen was a bit old, so I’m renovating it right now . Besides, I’m also changing its interior . Where is Master Rachel? Is she in the office right now?”
“No, my noodle maker got sick, so she went out to see him . Didn’t you contact her before coming here?”
“No, I just stopped by here to surprise her . In fact, even if she saw me, she would react casually, saying something like ‘What’s up?’ Oh, dear! Hi, Ella? You are eating something delicious!”
Deborah kindly spoke to Ella . Thanks to her, Min-joon was freed from Ella for a moment . He headed to the kitchen then took out all the bowls in the kitchen . He stared at them seriously . Maya asked him with a puzzled look, “Chef, what are all these?”
“Remember the Cassoulet dish I made last time? I want to see if there is any plate on which I can express it sensibly . ”
“Do you really have to make it? It’s too complicated . ”
“I told you you didn’t have to worry because we are not going to make it anyway . ”
“Oh, you’re right . But when we make a sample dish, we have to make it anyway, right? Can’t we make another dish?”
He did not answer . It was the moment Maya let down her shoulders with a sigh .
Deborah’s voice was heard from behind his back .
“Are you agonizing over the plate?”
“Oh, yes . If I put Cassoulet on the menu, I want a plate that can make our customers admire its great plating . ”
“Ah, got it . Hmmm… Min-joon, were you good at drawing a picture as a student?”
“Well, sort of . I think I got an A grade sometimes . ”
“Then it won’t be a big problem . Don’t worry . You’ll be able to solve it quite soon . It means you have a sense of plating . ”
“Do you mean I’m good with my hands?”
“No, what I mean is your ability to distinguish between pretty and not pretty . ”
Deborah quietly looked into the plates then said in a calm voice, “I think I told you I did my best to get a Michelin Two Star, but I didn’t . ”
“Yeah, I remember . ”
“I don’t think I didn’t get it because my dish didn’t taste good . If the food served at a Michelin one-star restaurant doesn’t taste delicious, it’s weird . But all the criteria they evaluate is not necessarily related to taste . Honestly, it’s hard for them to be subjective about it . So they’re looking into the fun and old fashion of the interior, as well as the serving level of the servers, and even the geographic location of the target restaurant . Of course, they do pay attention to the plating of your dish . Min-joon, are you the first generation who immigrated to America?”
“Nope . I’ve lived only in South Korea for decades . ”
“There’s a difference between the East and the West . They put the greatest value on taste in the East . The interior of the restaurant and its service is no more than additional options . But they are different in the West . They are a bit tricky . They look into not only the plate but also the joy and pleasure that comes along with the restaurant they visit . So, the answer to your agony is one of the two . One option is just to make your dish overwhelmingly delicious, so your customers can forget about the shortcomings of your dish . The other option is to make up for your shortcomings gradually, so your customers won’t find fault with you . Which option would you prefer?”
Min-joon pondered over it for a moment . She was asking him which he wanted to focus on, namely taste or plating .
He opened his mouth slowly .
“I was asked about the same thing before . I don’t remember what I said at that time, but this is what I think right now . ”
He said in a serious voice, which made her nervous .
“Can’t I do both?”
“Wow, you are greedy!”
She clicked her tongue as if she was dumbfounded .
With an embarrassed expression, he scratched the back of his head .
“Don’t you think so? Do you mean I have to give up one thing to get another?”
“I’m not saying you have to give up . What I mean is you have to focus on one thing . ”
It looked like she was punning, but he understood what she was trying to say because giving up was different from focusing on one skill .
Suddenly, Min-joon thought of Rachel . Maybe she might have experienced the same thing, which complicated his thoughts all of a sudden .
“Which cooking area do you think you are most talented, Min-joon? You must have one . For example, Soup, pasta, molecular cooking, plating, cutting, cooking with fire . ”
“Hmm… I don’t think I’m good at plating . ”
“Well, I think your biggest merit in cooking is plating . ”
He looked at her with an absurd expression . His decoration level was 6 . Although decoration was a field that required extreme delicacy, he could not afford to claim a high score at this point . But Deborah just said he had great strength in plating .
Obviously, she didn’t crack a joke .
When he looked at her inquisitively, she said calmly, “What do you think of plating or decoration in cooking?”
“Well, I don’t know…”