Published at 16th of December 2020 05:33:27 PM
It wasn’t because other dishes with 10 cooking points were not as impressive as the crab stew that they didn’t taste better than that . The more they ate, the more the shortcomings of the dishes stood out .
“It tastes too flat…” Kaya muttered in a low voice .
It wasn’t because there was a problem with the dish because she already ate other dishes enough . Aside from sinsonro, she could still feel the aftertaste of the dishes like steamed short ribs and crab stew . With such an aftertaste still stimulating her tongue, she could not enjoy the real taste of the 10-point dishes that ignored the harmony of the ingredients .
To put it exactly, that was how only Kaya and Min-joon felt . Others were enjoying the dishes without any critical tasting . It seemed that they just enjoyed eating all kinds of dishes one after another
Watching them, Min-joon could understand Man-gil’s feelings more clearly .
“Anyway, ordinary people won’t even be able to feel this kind of flat taste properly . If they didn’t feel it, Man-gil might want to please them with more dishes . I don’t think he is wrong…”
“Don’t you think it’s better to make a dish that everybody, not some, can enjoy?”
“Well, I think he wanted a dish that could appeal to some, not everybody . In the same vein, any restaurant in any country tries to serve dishes that please the local people . ”
“If you say that, you have nothing to respond to . ”
Although she stopped talking as if he agreed, Kaya was still examining the dishes on the table with a ferocious look . Min-joon stood up from his seat because he was frustrated for no reason . Just enjoying the dishes alone made him frustrated . Naturally, the chef who made all these dishes might feel more frustrated .
“Where are you going?”
“To get some fresh air outside for a minute . I just feel bloated . ”
“So do I . Let me go with you . ”
She stood up from her seat . It was when they walked through the corridor where nobody was seen and went out to the garden . Min-joon noticed a man wearing a uniform . He wasn’t Man-gil . Looking at him briefly, he walked away when the man suddenly looked back, startled .
“Ah, you must be Chef Min-joon and Chef Kaya, right?”
When he looked at Kaya and asked, he was speaking English fluently . He looked five years older than Min-joon .
Min-joon asked in a calm voice, “Oh, yes . Hello, are you a chef here?”
“I don’t know if I can be called a chef… I’m a student of Master Chef . My name is Jungsoo Lee . ”
Min-joon didn’t have to ask him who his master was . When Jung-soo was about to put the cigarette in his hand to his mouth carelessly, he smiled awkwardly, looking at them . Then he moved to a spot where the wind was blowing, seeing which way the cigarette smoke was scattering
“I’m sorry . You don’t smell it anymore, right?”
“Oh, no . ”
“I know I shouldn’t smoke, but these days, I’ve got a lot on my mind, so I smoke this again like this . ”
Kaya asked, looking at Min-joon, “What did he say?”
“He says he has come to smoke again because he has a lot of things on his mind these days . ”
“Well, that’s the standard reply that those addicted to drugs are spitting out . ”
Kaya muttered inadvertently then looked back at Lee Jung-soo . Given that he spoke to her in fluent English a little while ago, she was worried he might have understood what she just muttered . Her ominous hunch was right .
Jung-soo soon spoke in English as fluently as they did .
“I haven’t tried marijuana because I heard my taste might change . ”
“How come you speak English so well?”
“Oh, I worked at a French restaurant in Florida for about 5 years . I couldn’t speak English at first, but as I got along with them, my English got better . My French also got better, my cooking got better, and even this one, too . ”
Jung-soo shook the cigarette in his finger with a smile . Min-joon wanted to ask why he stopped working in Florida and suddenly came to a Korean restaurant .
This time, Kaya opened her mouth in a cold voice .
“If you keep smoking, your tongue will go bad even if you don’t smoke marijuana . ”
“Thank you for your concern . I know I have to quit . But is there any smoker who doesn’t know they have to quit smoking? How about a meal? Did you enjoy it?”
“It’s delicious, but I felt a bit annoyed . ”
“I think you did . ”
When she spoke her mind bluntly, he nodded as if he understood her feelings . He was also a chef, so he knew well what was wrong with Man-Gil Hong’s dishes .
Turning to Min-joon, he opened his mouth .
“I heard that you decided to help my teacher . Thank you . ”
“Well, I wouldn’t say I decided to help him, but I would try to give him my opinion as best as I can . I don’t have much time left before I go back to America, and I’m not that skilled in cooking enough to advise him . ”
“I understand you don’t have much time here in Korea, but there aren’t that many people in the world who can say Chef Min-joon is not skilled in cooking . ”
“At least Master chef Man-gil can tell me I still have a long way to go . ”
Having said that, Min-joon looked askance at Jung-soo . His cooking skills were Level 8 . He was quite a competent chef . Min-joon could not understand why he stayed with Man-gil at this closed restaurant with such a high cooking level . He wondered if Jung-soo had any special reason to do so .
‘Hummm… That’s none of my business . ’
It was the moment when Min-joon was about to turn and say goodbye when Jung-soo hurriedly caught up with him .
“I want to ask you a favor . ”
“Yes, go ahead . ”
“It’s a difficult but simple favor . ”
Min-joon narrowed his eyebrows slowly, a bit surprised . Facing him up close, Jung-soo continued in a subdued voice, “Please blast Master Man-gil’s hopes . ”
“I want to complete Korean food . ”
Man-gil spoke when he sat down face to face with Min-joon after the meal .
But without responding, Min-joon listened silently to what he said . Who said there was no better friendlier dialogue partner than silence? When Min-joon remained silent, he continued in a much more relaxed mood, “People talk a lot about the globalization of Korean food . But for more globalization of Korean food, we have to know first what kind of Korean food we are going to show to the world . But even I still don’t really understand what authentic Korean food is . I understand it . From the Japanese occupation until the Korean War, there were many incidents that made us forget the records and customs of Korean food . ”
“I guess it’s rather difficult to pinpoint it clearly when it comes to the origin of Korean food . Actually, most of what we think of as traditional Korean dishes have appeared since the Korean War . ”
“So I’m going to put all of them together and compile them . That’s my dream . ”
“Can I ask you one question?”
“I think I know what you want to ask and why . ”
“Your dishes on the table were good . Each one was perfect . But I felt somewhat disappointed in their combination . I understand why you made it like that, but why did you bother to choose that path?”
Honestly, if Min-joon were in Man-gil’s shoes, it seemed that he would not be happy at the dishes . Of course, customers might be satisfied with the abundance of the dishes and smile at the fact they are treated well . But when he looked at a mountain of food waste thrown away every day, how would he feel?
Man-gil opened his mouth, a bit embarrassed, “It was my greed . ”
“A desire to show my customers at least one more dish that I have made . A restaurant that boasts of a luxurious table that no other restaurant can imitate in Korea . When famous people from all walks of life tell me that there is no more luxurious restaurant than this place, I just regarded their compliments as praise . So, I pursued my ambition, not a dream, and I craved for more revenue, not my own recipe . That’s why you are served the kind of dishes you enjoyed here today . ”
Min-joon was at a loss for words when he honestly confided like that .
Man-gil said with a bitter smile, “I could have given you some standard Korean dishes . If I did so, you might think I was trying to pretend anything . I can’t ask for the answer without showing you the problem . Now, it’s your turn . Do you want to say anything to me?”
“Compared with you, sir, I’m still a kid . My insight is short and my judgment is shallow . But I think I can tell you one thing for sure . ”
Min-joon didn’t feel real while he was talking to Man-gil . It was unthinkable that he was not talking with the great Korean food master on an equal footing . He would not have even imagined it in the past . So, he felt like he would be crushed by what he had to tell Man-gil now .
But time passed, and he found it hard to open his mouth . He looked into Man-gil’s deep and dark eyes .
“You still haven’t let go of your greed,” Min-joon said finally .
“Ah, greed… My greed . ”
When he said that, Man-gil kept reciting the word ‘greed’ in a low voice several times .
Min-joon continued calmly, “Given what you said a little while ago, you don’t seem to be satisfied with the results obtained by being greedy as a human, not as a chef . ”
“That’s right . ”
“If that’s the case, don’t you feel you have to first ask whether your greed right now is that of a chef or that of a human being?”
“I am old . ”
Man-gil’s reply seemed rather irrelevant to Min-joon’s question . When he showed a perplexed expression, Man-gil slowly said, “I’m not a philosopher, so I don’t have enough time left to spend my time thinking and thinking . The best thing I can do right now is to devote more time to making even a little more perfect dishes and combine them in a way that everybody in the world can help but think my dishes have a good combination . ”
“To be honest, I found it was hard to think that you made the dishes while paying attention to their combination . ”
“Haha, this is why I like people like you who learned cooking abroad . You guys just honestly speak your mind without trying to check my expression . ”
Man-gil smiled brightly and said calmly, “You’re right . I wouldn’t say the dishes had a good combination . And that’s as far as I can go . ”