“I have been waiting for you.”
Emily said that and smiled brightly. Jo Minjoon looked at her with a puzzled expression. It was the first time he had a conversation in private with Emily, no, with a judge. It couldn’t be helped. Because they were busy people. They only appeared when they had to broadcast, and aside for that, they were each doing what they had to do. They were in a really different situation than the participants.
“Why were you……?”
Jo Minjoon replied briefly. The smile that was on Emily’s face became lighter. She put on a more serious look and opened her mouth.
“Have you ever thought of becoming an epicurean?”
At the sudden question, Jo Minjoon’s brows twitched. Emily raised both of her palms as if she understood him and continued saying.
“I know. That it’s too sudden and that it will puzzle you. But I couldn’t be still after what you have showed me.”
“The tasting mission?”
At Jo Minjoon’s question, Emily nodded. She said.
“Your tasting. If you become an epicurean then you will become one of the best in the world. Cooking? Of course, tasting is important. However, tasting is just one factor required to cook. But when you evaluate a dish, it’s the most valuable ability.”
He could vaguely understand what Emily was trying to say. However, Jo Minjoon’s was rigid. He replied in a low voice.
“I’m a chef. I like to cook.”
“I understand. I won’t urge you to immediately become an epicurean. However, you can come to me whenever you want to become one. Because I will raise you…..”
Emily gave him her business card. Jo Minjoon stared at the business card for a while, and finally let out a sigh and accepted it. Emily smiled faintly as if she was feeling sorry.
“To propose something like this to someone that dreams to become a chef, maybe I only got your head messier. I’m really sorry about that.”
“I also hope so. Because people who enjoy good flavor, can give it. Probably, if you keep walking straight, you will become an excellent chef. That will be a good thing by itself.”
Emily stopped talking and looked at her watch in her left wrist. And she put a surprised expression and clasped her hands.
“Wow! It’s almost time for the plane. I will have to go. Don’t be bothered too much about it. Because I have only teased you once.”
“Then, it’s a relief. Whew, I will really miss the plane like this. I’ll see you at the next mission. Ah! And you were really cool today.”
Jo Minjoon didn’t reply and let out a troubled laugh. Emily waved her hands and left. Listening to the steps that her high heels made, another accustomed voice sounded from behind.
“Emily loves epicureans.”
Jo Minjoon got surprised and looked back. And then, let out a sigh. For one problem to appear after another. It was a judge after another. Alan was seated in a sofa that was close to the hallway’s wall. Alan turned over the page of the magazine he had in his hands and opened his mouth.
“And you will become quite a good epicurean.”
“Well, don’t you know the reason yourself? Minjoon.”
Alan closed the magazine. Even so, he wanted to tell him something, but it all seemed too made up. Jo Minjoon looked at Alan. Alan’s dark brown eyes were as difficult to see through as ever.
“What do you think about Emily’s proposal?”
“If you are talking about me becoming an epicurean, then I think that I won’t even have to think twice about it”
Jo Minjoon didn’t even hesitate and replied. And he thought that Alan was going to like that answer. However, there couldn’t be seen any changes in Alan’s expression. Alan said in a low voice.
“It’s a good proposal.”
Because it was way too unexpected, Jo Minjoon’s voice flowed trembling. Alan said calmly.
“Being a chef is a hard and arduous job. You have to work when others eat, and even if you don’t smoke, there are many cases where you end up with lung cancer because of the repeated use of oil. You have to be in front of fire in summer, and in winter, you have to put your hands in ice water.”
“… … …”
Jo Minjoon didn’t say a word and just listened to him. He believed that Alan wasn’t really telling him to become an epicurean. He wanted to believe so. Alan continued talking.
“An epicurean is different than being a food critic. It’s not suited to you. You have talent in cooking. But it’s not as much as tasting food. I think that you will be more successful as an epicurean than a chef. However.”
Alan got up from the sofa. He threw the magazine he had in his hands to the bookshelf and opened his mouth.
“I hope that you won’t give up the road to becoming a chef. Even if you are threatened by lung cancer, accidents, heat or cold, I hope you become a chef. The reason why I’m standing here right now is because of that. Because it was obvious that you would get seduced by that woman, Emily.”
“No. It is charming. Even if you don’t feel it like that right now, the day that you feel it as such will come. It’s something that you can’t help it if you are human. The people who saw the dishes will imagine through them the good life of the chefs, but what really is in the kitchen is reality and pain. Cooking in your house and in a restaurant is different.”
Jo Minjoon didn’t reply back. He couldn’t say that in the past, no, in the future he had worked as the youngest chef in a restaurant. But it was also a funny thing if he said that he understood all of the hardship with just that experience. Alan said in a low voice. The voice seemed to be coming from a teacher teaching his young student. That voice was the same he had when he used to teach, so Jo Minjoon could feel Alan’s goodwill. That’s why he didn’t say a thing.
“It’s not that I’m disregarding your passion for cooking. I’m just saying these things to let you know that it’s really difficult”
“Yes. Tell me.”
“Why are you treating me this well?”
For Jo Minjoon, he could only be curious. Just now, he had said with his own mouth that he was more talented in tasting than cooking. Then why?
“You can’t make something you don’t know. It’s the same for flavor. If you do know the flavor, then you can also bring it out. And I’m curious as to what kind of dish you will make when you grow. Perhaps….”
Alan seemed to want to say something, but in the end he closed his mouth. Jo Minjoon let out a sigh and said.
“I understand why you are acting like this. I thank you for your interest, and worry. But I want to say that you are worrying in vain. My skills are still lacking and I don’t have much experience. However……”
Jo Minjoon paused for a moment. And then, looked at Alan’s dark eyes. A world class master chef. Even with that overwhelming difference, he didn’t back down.
“I also know the happiness of cooking. The satisfaction when I cook a delicious dish, and looking at the people eating it getting happier. Cooking is the most precious gift life has given me, so how can I let it go?”
‘………Absolute sense of taste.’
He was going back to his room and started to think. If you know the flavor then a good dish comes out? Honestly, those words didn’t make him much happier. It wasn’t that he knew the flavor, but had the system’s strength. The absolute taste Alan was thinking about would be more suitable for Kaya than for him.
Thinking about that, he started to think that he wanted to get that absolute taste. Would the system provide him that? He couldn’t know. In the first place, he didn’t even know if the levels went up when his skills improved, or if his skills improved when he leveled up.
However, his thoughts didn’t last long. When he was getting up to the fourth floor where his room was, the participants that were gathered on the lobby looked at him. Even at first glance, there were at least 10 pair of eyes looking at him. Jo Minjoon said nervously.
“……I’m a little busy.”
“How weird. The schedule for the participants is all the same, but for some participants to be busier than others.”
Kaya, that was seated in the sofa’s arm, laughed while mumbling. Her smoky makeup seemed more grumpy today. Chloe tapped an empty space of the sofa and said.
“Aren’t you tired? Come here.”
“I’m not particularly tired.”
Jo Minjoon grumbled and sat on the sofa. A ginger haired young white man opened his mouth. Was it Jacob? His voice was clear and had a big body. He wasn’t really close to Jo Minjoon.
“What was that from before? Do you really have an absolute sense of taste?”
“Well, it couldn’t be described with other words.”
“To deny it in this situation was a funny thing to do. Jo Minjoon turned his head. Chloe was looking at him with eyes so sparkling that it bothered him. She opened her mouth.
“I’m really curious about how an absolute taste feels. How is it? Do you feel happier when you eat something delicious?”
“You are right….. Then what about pickiness?”
“I thought that I knew, but I didn’t know that you had such a sensitive tongue. Isn’t it really not tasty but you are just not showing it?”
“How could I? It was a good dish.”
As Jo Minjoon replied like that, Chloe let out air as a whew as if she was relieved. It was at that moment that he thought that her face seemed like a squirrel, or like a turtle, but she was really cute. A husky voice was heard as if it was making fun of him.
“You would be happy. Having an absolute taste and all.”
Jo Minjoon let out a laugh as if he found it ridiculous. If other people asked him that, he would understand them. But the one that said that was none other than Kaya Lotus. She didn’t have a fake tongue like him, but a real cursed tongue. Jo Minjoon thought that she did have an absolute taste.
The reason he thought that was because of her tasting level. Kaya’s tasting level was 10. Of course, he didn’t know if that meant that she had an absolute taste or not. In the first place, the videos Jo Minjoon saw about Kaya didn’t mention her having an absolute taste. But he thought that it would be weird if she was level 10 in tasting and didn’t have an absolute sense of taste.
‘Well, the important thing right now is not that.’
Somehow, he had to get out of that swamp surrounded by gazes. However, it didn’t seem that easy.
“How did you guess the part from that small piece?”
“Can you differentiate the ratio of a dough through flavor?”
There were many questions being poured at him, so he couldn’t answer any of them. It was at that moment when the questions seemed to be ending. Kaya sat on the arm chair of the sofa that Jo Minjoon was seating, and brought her finger to his mouth. Actually, it was a dumpling she had given to him.
Jo Minjoon closed his lips and looked at Kaya with big, round eyes. Kaya put on a malicious smile and whispered.
“I made them. Eat. Why don’t you guess what’s in it?”
“No, I…… cough.”
When he was about to say something, Kaya put another dumpling in Jo Minjoon’s mouth and pushed. Jo Minjoon could only chew them. And after chewing for a bit, he covered his nose. A strong smell flowed through his nose and seemed to pierce his brain. Kaya smiled.
“Do you know what it is?”
Jo Minjoon still covered his nose and didn’t reply. He couldn’t reply. Jo Minjoon looked resentfully at Kaya. And in front of his eyes, a window appeared as always.
Origins: (Too many ingredients to know)
Cooking score: 4/10
< Absolute tasting (3) > End