Published at 26th of December 2020 02:25:05 PM
Chloe smiled proudly, hearing them praising Min-joon, but Min-joon looked ahead .
He could see Dobby behind his back .
He muttered to himself, “Thank you, Dobby . ”
Thanks to him, he could widen his horizon . To put it precisely, he had a strong motivation .
He could refresh his determination to challenge a new cooking method . Maybe it could be pretty risky for him to try it in the contest, but he thought he could not obtain treasure without taking the risk .
Right at that moment, the door opened, and a man, who looked like an emcee or a judge, came in . Min-joon could find out that he was a judge with cooking level 9 that any emcee could not surpass .
The man raised the microphone .
“Everyone, welcome to the 72nd Paris International Cooking Competition . ”
The curtain has risen . Min-joon could feel instinctively at that moment that this competition would be his main stage, and that he would use it as an occasion to make his name known around the world .
‘I can also make use of this contest to grow my potential . ’
He looked at the judge’s mouth, clenching his fists . As if she thought he was nervous, Kaya hesitated for a while and then grabbed his hand gently .
“Don’t be scared . We’ll win . ”
“I haven’t gotten cold feet . ”
“Don’t pretend to be relaxed . I know you are nervous now”
She smiled and patted him on the back with her fist . Touching his back, he looked at her mischievously . He wasn’t relaxed at all . This was only a qualifying round . He might not win in the final round, but he was confident he was qualified enough not to be dropped from the qualifying round .
“Let’s show the guys here what our LA cooking style is . ”
“I don’t even know LA style yet . ”
“Okay, then American style . ”
Min-joon replied with a dejected voice . In the meantime, the judge was saying something at the top of his voice . He spoke in French first then in English . There was no interpreter . It was a little difficult for him to understand the judge because of his accent peculiar to the French, but he could understand in one way or another .
The judge said, “A lot of people came here today . Among you are the chefs who just started their careers or master chefs who handled the heat in the kitchen for decades . Anyway, you have come to this competition, so I think you have recognized the value of this competition . Let me introduce myself . My name is Bastien . I have a small restaurant . ”
When he said that, some of them giggled because they knew that Bastien’s restaurant was one of the most famous restaurants in France that maintained three Michelin stars for decades .
faces of French madames who had been defending the Michelin Three stars for decades .
“The reason all of you are here is to compete in the qualifying round . Probably not one out of ten among you who are here won’t be able to come here again . ”
That would be a big disgrace for those who really were not qualified . Min-joon looked around . There were at least one hundred participants here, simply too many for the kitchen tables in the place . Because of this, they were supposed to take part in the contest according to their assigned cooking schedule .
He felt somewhat bitter when he thought lots of them here would be disqualified at the end of the day . And at the same time, he felt strange . All of those people were serious chefs . But he was confident that he would be selected as one of the top ten finalists .
When had he grown as what he was today? Obviously, he was no more than a mere cook who could not proudly tell anybody he was a chef six years ago or even a year ago .
Now, Kaya, who he had been content with just looking at, was with him now .
She was here as his girlfriend as well as almost a family member, not as one of her acquaintances or friends . He always dreamed of cooking with her, which was not the everyday reality . He almost achieved all of what he wanted .
‘So, let me achieve my goal again . ’
He had many goals . He wanted to make a change while working with Rachel . He wanted to make himself a perfect chef and help her complete her goal . He also wanted to make the kitchen she wanted . He wanted to make the shadow she missed come true in the real world .
To achieve that goal, winning this competition was a threshold he had to cross .
If he could not achieve a meaningful result in this competition, his goal would end up being an echo just like the unrealistic dream of an elementary school kid .
“First of all, let me say something about this contest and cooking . Right now, this is an international culinary competition, so they recommend chefs to take part in it . But I think you agree that this is a French competition held in Paris, France . So, you will feel the very strong French taste in the first mission . It is of course up to you how to recreate it in your own way . It can be very difficult, of course,” the judge said in a calm voice .
Then he paused for a moment and continued, “The first theme of cooking is bread . Whether you make the bread itself or a dish that comes with bread, you have to cook something related to the bread!”
“Oh my God! Why do they want to start with bread from the beginning? Anyway, these French guys are so insidious!” Kaya grumbled .
She was really annoyed because assigning the participants to the bread mission from the start was like giving an advantage to the French chefs or those who learned French cuisine .
Of course, this was understandable, given that the competition was held in France, but Kaya agonized over how to make a bread-related dish right now .
“So, what are you going to do? Fortunately, other guys say we don’t need to make the bread . You agree, right?”
“I think that’s good enough, given the condition of the bread . It’s not as good as the one in your shop, but this is okay . ”
They were given one hour . It was almost impossible to bake bread in one hour . Even if they could, it would not taste better than the bread they were holding right now . Of course, the warm and fluffy taste peculiar to freshly made bread might taste better than that of the pre-made bread, but the opportunity cost was not right for making such bread now .
She said to Min-joon, “How about making bread butter pudding?”
“I know what you’re thinking about . How are you going to add some change to it?”
“Let me use the raisins basically, then I think jam would be okay . ”
“Jam, it should match raisins and butter . How about apricots?”
“Good . Let’s think about a recipe for a minute?”
Min-joon and Kaya quickly sorted out the recipe . In the meantime, Min-joon tried not to forget the taste that Dobby brought out . Putting a lot of stuff would raise the quality of food on the assumption that all the ingredients were used properly .
However, if anybody could bring out such taste even without using many ingredients, he or she was the one with real ability . That was what Min-joon thought at the moment .
Was it because of that?
When the two were done organizing the recipe, they didn’t use many ingredients . Their cooking score was really good in that respect .
‘8 out of 10…’
Normally, he would have tried to improve the recipe because the score wasn’t 9 . But he looked at the score for a long time . He thought not all dishes were worthwhile when their cooking score was 9 . Likewise, not all the dishes that use lots of ingredients and involve a luxurious cooking process were necessarily worthwhile . He had personally experienced it again and again but forgotten it repeatedly .
The beauty of simple food .
He muttered that word in his mouth again .
Then he looked at Kaya and asked, “What do you think?”
“There’s nothing more we can do . I think we can bring out a fresh taste with this . It’s pretty similar to what you’re cooking these days . ”
“What is that?”
“You don’t really like to cook something complicated these days . It’s been a few weeks since you started it . In the past, you liked to use lots of ingredients and several cooking methods, and you tried to spend a little more time trimming the ingredients . I don’t see that kind of obsession anymore these days . You know that, right?”
When Kaya pointed it out, Min-joon also seemed to have understood what she meant . In fact, the reason he was shocked after tasting Dobby’s dish was not because he didn’t know how to cook simply but because the way Dobby cooked was more detailed and delicate .
“Okay, let’s finish talking about the recipe here . ”
Having said that, he smiled with a relaxed expression .
Kaya muttered, leaning her head on his shoulder, “I’m hungry . ”
“Can they blame us for making some French toast with the ingredients here?”
“I think so . Shall we try?”
“No . Let’s put up with it . What if we are disqualified here? It would be so unfair . Wait a minute . I’ve got some protein bars . ”
He rummaged through his bag . He took out a sausage and handed it to her .
Chewing it, she said, “Something to drink . ”
“No . Drink tap water . ”
She picked up a paper cup . She filled it with tap water and drank it at once .
He also took out a sausage and put it in his mouth . Others didn’t notice it, but they were the only couple now eating on the spot . They were so nervous as to forget they were hungry .
Some of them noticed Kaya and Min-joon eating something, but the two didn’t care .
With laughter escaping his mouth, judge Bastieng approached them .
“How are you?” he said .
Min-joon and Kaya couldn’t answer right away because they were chewing sausages .
Min-joon first swallowed the sausage and opened his mouth .
“Oh, how are you?”
“Other participants seemed to be pretty nervous because they had to come up with recipe ideas, but you guys look relaxed . Where are you from?”
“I’m from Rose Island’s main restaurant . It’s in Los Angeles . ”
“Ah… Then you must be Min-joon . ”
Min-joon was not surprised that somebody in a faraway place like this knew his name, for he was now an international celebrity in the cuisine world .
Bastieng opened his mouth with a smile, “So, are you done coming up with the recipe?”
“Yes, I’m going to make a simple bread pudding . ”
“Bread pudding… Okay, I’m looking forward to it . ”
Smiling at him, Min-joon began to chew the sausage again .
When the judge left, thinking that the two were weirder than he thought, Min-joon and Kaya were drinking mint tea to rinse their tongues . Havier was blushing at a distance as if he was more embarrassed, and Janet was almost done coming up with the recipe while making up her mind that she would not reveal her identity as a demi chef of Rose Island .
“Everyone, please bring your ingredients here now . ”