Published at 14th of November 2020 11:30:08 AM
Ara continued, “You may be more popular here than in America . We Koreans like those Koreans who have succeeded abroad . ”
Min-joon could understand what she was trying to say . He stopped cooking and took out his smartphone for a moment . Then he checked the comment he posted . His point was simple and clear . After hearing that the restaurant had a 45-year tradition of serving Pyongyang cold noodles, he visited the restaurant then accidentally met a middle school alumni, the owner, and enjoyed the great noodles that made him appreciate the authentic taste of Pyongyang noodles .
But that simple comment of his was enough to draw people’s attention . Citing the fact that the owner was Min-joon’s middle school alumni, some of them criticized that Min-joon was trying to advertise the restaurant . But that kind of criticism was not very well received because of Min-joon’s integrity as well as his sincere passion for cooking . In other words, Min-joon was not the type of chef who would try to manipulate something like that by using his celebrity status . Most of the people visiting the community had a strong belief in it .
It was natural that they trusted Min-joon . They knew he even released the Cho Reggiano recipe to the public for free, which he developed hard . He was regarded as a pure genius who devoted everything to cooking that he loved, not influenced by any material success . That was the people’s general perception of him .
Ara asked gently, “Did you enjoy the noodles so much?”
“If it doesn’t taste good, how can I recommend that restaurant? Do you think I’ll do it?”
“Well, what I mean is you might have posted the comment because you wanted to help out your alumni’s failing business . ”
“It’s true that I wanted to help him . I didn’t know they would show such a tremendous reaction like this, but if I didn’t enjoy the noodles, I would not think of helping him at all . You know if you serve food that doesn’t taste good, you are not qualified to run a restaurant . ”
“Man, that’s scary . You are so critical!”
“My point is the noodles there are so delicious . So, if you want to eat noodles with your friends later, just stop by that restaurant . ”
“Well, I have never wanted to try Pyongyang cold noodles…” Ara replied with a sullen voice .
Min-joon sighed at her reaction . He was troubled by the fact that lots of people might feel the same way as her .
Kaya said in a calm voice, “A delicious dish deserves respect, let alone the chef who cooks it . ”
“Of course . I think so too . ”
“I hope the business of the Pyongyang cold noodle restaurant can thrive again,” Kaya said calmly .
Noticing Kaya’s point, Min-joon cast a meaningful glance at Ara, suggesting she should take a cue from Kaya . But Ara turned away from him with a sullen expression .
Kaya continued in a calm voice, “Talking time is over . Come and help me, Min-joon . ”
“Oh, can I help you, too?” Ara asked .
“Nope . If an amateur like you gives me a hand, it will increase my workload . ”
Kaya firmly declined her offer to help . Ara calmly watched them cooking . Clearly, she was impressed by their skillful cooking . A skilled chef was often called an artisan or master chef . She was aware that her brother Min-joon and Kaya were professional chefs with their names and cooking skills well received in the cuisine world .
But she had never imagined that she would be overwhelmed by the way they cooked so masterfully, whose aura filled the kitchen at the moment . Min-joon was her elder brother, and Kaya was her brother’s girlfriend . So, it was natural that she came to think of them as someone close to her rather than famous chefs .
Was it because she thought so? Every time people talked about Min-joon and Kaya, Ara felt out of place a bit . She even wondered why they were so crazy about the two chefs or if they were really great chefs . They were just her brother and her brother’s girlfriend .
And now, she was changing her existing perception while watching them cooking passionately .
“Awesome . ”
Ara muttered blankly before she knew it and looked at them . She just felt so thrilled to see them up close . When she was watching a TV cuisine show, it was when the chef was cutting ingredients with a knife that she got most excited . But when she watched them right before her eyes, it was not just when she saw their chops that she appreciated their cooking skills . Everything they did was perfect . Not to mention their chops, the way they snapped their wrists to turn over the frying pan was perfect . Each time they turned over the frying pan, they didn’t let a single strand of japchae come out of the fan, and at the same time, the noodles did not stick to the fan . And it was the same for them grilling fish .
Ara looked at her mother Hye-sun, who turned her gaze in embarrassment .
“Mom, don’t you think you have to improve your cooking skills?”
“What the heck?”
“Look at them . Even if they are working so hard like that, I don’t see any plates that need washing . In your case, Mom, you don’t cook much, but there are so many plates after you’re done . Besides, you want me to wash them, complaining you are tired . Now that you are a full-time housewife, can’t you try to be better at cooking?”
“Ara, I think I’ve given you too much pocket money these days . What an eloquent speaker! Why don’t you do part-time work for me?”
“Oh my God! My point is let me cook for you . You are tired all the time, right, Mom?”
“Yeah . As you know I’m tired, I am so grateful to you, honey . ”
Overhearing their conversation, Min-joon burst into laughter .
Kaya glanced at him and asked, “What? Did you come up with anything interesting?”
“No, it’s nothing . How about cauliflower and onion puree?”
“It’s perfect . Don’t worry . ”
Kaya wrapped japchae in rice paper soaked in olive oil, tied the noodles with green onions, then fried them in oil . After taking out the rice paper that hardened like dumplings in an instant, she needed to move it to a bowl of puree .
Kaya looked at him, wiping off the sweat on her forehead with a handkerchief .
“When are the others coming?”
“My father will be here soon . I think your family members will also arrive here shortly . ”
Before he could finish what he was saying, Min-joon heard the sound of somebody entering the password at the front door . When he turned his head to see if his father, Soo-yop, came home, it wasn’t just his father at the door . Grace, Bruce, and Zemma walked after him .
With the apron on, he went out and smiled at them .
“Come on . Dad, it’s been a while . ”
“Yeah, how have you been?”
“Well, I feel a bit awkward to say I’m okay because I collapsed once, but I’m fine now . ”
“Come here . I want to hug you . ”
Soo-yop put down his briefcase and opened his arms . Min-joon was held in his arms with a slightly awkward expression . Soo-yop gently patted his back and said, “Good job!”
“You, too, Dad . ”
“Let’s go in . ”
As father and son, they didn’t need to talk long . Soo-yop smiled brightly after looking at the dinner table in the living room .
“What a sumptuous feast! You didn’t prepare this, right, honey?”
“Come on, how can you ask me like that?”
“Well, there is no chance I can see this great feast if you have done it . Oh, this lady here is…”
Hesitating a moment, Soo-yop looked at Kaya . During the Grand Chef competition, he couldn’t fly to America because of his business schedule, so this was his first meeting with Kaya . Although he saw her face on a video call, it was the first time he met her like this .
Was it because he saw a great daughter-in-law candidate? He had a lot of mixed feelings on his face . He reached out with a gentle smile . His English had a pretty Korean accent, but it wasn’t hard for her to understand him .
“It’s nice to meet you, Kaya . Let me introduce myself formally . I’m Min-joon’s father, Soo-yop . ”
“Oh, nice to meet you, Soo-yop . I’m Kaya Reuters . ”
“It’s rather awkward for us to say hello again when we do know each other’s face . ”
Kaya smiled awkwardly at his remarks . Hye-sun and Ara made an awkward expression, looking at Bruce for the first time .
Watching them, Kaya opened her mouth hesitantly and spoke in plain English with Hye-sun in mind .
“It’s my first time seeing you here . This is my father . ”
“This is Bruce Croft . Nice to meet you . ”
Bruce greeted them with a slightly nervous expression . And he lowered his head a bit as if he was conscious of the Korean etiquette .
Looking at them with a smile, Min-joon said, “Please have a seat everybody . Dishes are getting cold . ”
“Oh, sure . ”
So, the members of the two families started to have a modest but fine meal together .
Soo-yup looked around the dining table in admiration . Bulgogi grilled directly on the grill, deep-fried japchae seasoned with various types of puree and sauce, and steamed short ribs and grilled croakers with broccoli puree .
‘Min-joon has made all this?’ Soo-yop exclaimed deep down .
To put it more exactly, it was Min-joon and Kaya’s dish . Soo-yop Cho let out a sigh quietly .
He ate Min-joon’s dish last year . It was definitely a good dish back then . But he felt quite different now . He looked at others enjoying the food . They were so absorbed into enjoying the dishes that they even forgot to converse with each other .
‘So, my son is a chef everybody notices around the world?’
The Korean media also often made a big fuss over Min-joon . They praised him, commenting he was a genius who, nurtured deeply in the Korean gastronomic environment, promoted the national prestige of Korea abroad . But he had some doubts that his son was such a great chef . But he thought about his son differently now . He realized that people’s perception of his son was real, not a bubble . His dishes were so delicious that he could hardly name any dish that was more delicious during his life than what his son made today .
It wasn’t just the taste of the dishes . How could he wrap japchae in rice paper and fry it then mix it with puree? He was amazed at how he could develop such an original recipe that was completely new to him . His son was too different from the one that he used to know until now .
Soo-yop opened his mouth, “Do you remember I told you to be a teacher . ”
“Yes, you did . ”
“I’m sorry . Little did I know that you had this kind of great cooking talent . ”
If Min-joon hadn’t had an adventure or if he could not have proven his talent by attending the Grand Chef competition, Soo-yop might have opposed his decision to be a chef .
‘If I had opposed, I might have become the worst parent . ’
He was smiling bitterly when Hye-sun, who was next to him, quietly put her hand on his thigh . He held her hand and whispered, “Unexpectedly, my son is awesome . He’s really great . I just feel ashamed when I think of my original ambitions for him, compared with his success as a chef now . ”
Hye-sun smiled calmly and said, “But you do feel pleasant, right?”
Soo-yop looked at the dishes in front of him blankly .
A little later, he smiled lightly and nodded .
“How fortunate my original ambitions for him are so shabby…”