Published at 1st of January 2021 04:55:05 PM
Chapter 383: Scene Stealer (1)
When the judges were done rating their dish, the average score Min-joon and Kaya received was 9 . 25 out of 10 . In terms of the average points, they didn’t surpass the Enzo and Theo pair .
Given Norris’s evaluation, however, it was safe to say that the two were better than Enzo and his son because he didn’t tell the latter he would give 10 .
Watching them, Talis murmured with a surprised look, “Why are these demi chefs at the Rose Island main store so good?”
“What the hell is in the main store that makes a difference?”
“As you know, it’s very competitive to get hired at the main store . I heard that dozens of very competent chefs applied for the audition of the main store . These guys are the best of such applicants, so I think they are completely different from typical chefs . Even if they are demi chefs, they are not the same in their capabilities . ”
“Then, are they getting better or worse than others after they join the main store? Or is the master chef so good at teaching them?”
“If Chef Brandon hears that, you’re going to get his cursing for just one day, but you will hear it for the rest of your life . He will argue with you what he has not done for you . ”
When Adrian pointed it out, Talis, feeling nervous, glanced at Brandon sitting in the stands . He was glaring at them with grimy expressions, as always .
Talis opened her mouth in a tense voice .
“Look at Chef Brandon’s glaring eyes . It looks like he is going to get us if we don’t advance . ”
“I doubt it . We are the best pair among our Paris branch guys . And he said he would get us if we failed to pass the qualifying round, not this final round . ”
In fact, Adrian had a point . They were just ordinary demi-chefs . Chef Brandon could be satisfied with the fact that they succeeded to advance into the final round because it was very unrealistic for him to demand that they beat those participants with decades of cooking experience in this contest .
‘Does this make a difference?’
Talis bit her lips when she suddenly thought of it . She looked back at Min-joon and Kaya, and Anderson and Chloe . Come to think of it, they grew in the same environment, after all . Except for Anderson, they were all younger than her . She felt ashamed of herself after finding herself justifying her falling behind them with the poor excuses that she could not beat them because of a different environment from theirs .
Until now, she had never seen the chefs at the main store complaining they could not help it when they were not satisfied with the results . She had seen them saying it was natural they could not win in the contest . Of course, they could have thought so deep down, but she thought that it had a big difference between keeping it to themselves and saying it to others .
In other words, being realistic meant making a lot of calculations . Such calculations were not even properly made . The trauma of failure to get good results in the past contest forced her to make distorted calculations . Now, she found herself blaming it for her bad outcomes while justifying herself that her failure was only natural . She used to justify herself like that .
“I really don’t want to go back to the shop today . ”
Adrian turned to her when she murmured to herself like that then whispered, “I don’t, either . ”
But the judges’ announcement of the score was around the corner . Watching the judges scanning the plates before them once more, Talis swallowed in a tense mood . What they were looking at now was the plates, but she felt like they were examining her whole body . She even felt like they were reading her mind .
When she shuddered with that thought, Sophie asked, “Are you nervous?”
“Absolutely . ”
“Are you uncomfortable with this atmosphere itself? Or do you think your dish is not good enough?”
Talis looked down at her dish . The judges now probably approached other participants with great anticipation . The demi chefs from Rose Island, who the judges already finished evaluating, showed excellent dishes without any exception . That was why she got all the more nervous and even burdensome . The judges’ target for comparison was not ordinary participants, but the Rose Island demi chefs who got the most attention from them in this contest .
In fact, she was satisfied that she made it well enough until she conceived the recipe and tried her dish . But when she looked at it again, she found her dish on the plate so shabby .
Deep-fried oysters in oyster shells, sweet and sour vegetables seasoned with white wine and white wine vinegar, citrus mayonnaise mixed with mandarin orange and lemon zest on top . All this looked so plain . She felt even more so because she knew she made lots of effort to bring out something special from that plain taste .
She was about to lower her head without replying properly when her pair—Adrian—said, “Every chef is nervous when the customer stands before his or her dish . Even if they are confident in their cooking, they can’t help it . So, please understand her . ”
Talis turned to Adrian . The judges watched Adrian quietly then smiled .
“Sure, we understand . Then, is it okay for us to try your dish?”
“Yes, please go ahead . ”
Each of the judges started putting fried oysters with vegetables . Adrian clenched his fists as if he was quite tense when he watched them trying it with serious expressions .
And there was no surprise . The judges didn’t praise or criticize more than what he expected .
One of them said, “It was definitely a dish that made me feel it’s made by skilled chefs, and your cooking was very good . I think you will have no problem carrying out your role as a demi chef . But…”
As always, it was this comment ‘But…’ that made the pair nervous .
“But I can’t find your culinary philosophy and identity clearly in your dish . I just get the impression that you want to make the fried oysters delicious with vegetables . ”
Another judge said, “The combination of ingredients is fresh, but I don’t feel something new . ”
After all, their average score was 7 . It wasn’t a bad score for a demi chef, but it was not good, compared with other pairs of the Rose Island main store . And probably, they would not be able to advance into the octofinals because there were more than ten pairs who got better scores than them .
With Talis smiling bitterly, the judges headed for the next pair .
Funny enough, the next pair were Havier and Janet .
Looking at them, the judges said with a smile, “You are the Rose Island pair again . ”
“So, how do you feel? Are you confident?”
“Well, we have managed to survive among terrific chefs until now,” Havier replied with a pleasant voice .
“I don’t think we’re going down here,” Janet said .
“I like your confidence . So, what did you make?”
“I made powder with pine oil and put it under the plate then put a tortellini with cheese, egg yolk, and gelatinous stuffing . Finally, I put barley powder and ground truffle on top . ”
It was a very simple dish on the surface . In fact, Janet didn’t like that idea very much because they were now in the competition . But Havier persuaded Janet to accept his idea because every part of it had a bit of Rachel’s recipe . Making stuffing with egg yolk, cheese, and gelatin, or seasoning it with powder made with pine oil or barley . Although the way he cooked it was different, it was what he learned from Rachel .
And that was what Havier chose to do in this contest . If he could not catch up with the geniuses’ senses, he could make their outcomes his own by imitating them . Maybe he would be walking behind them by half a step, but it was much better than lagging far behind them . And he believed that if he kept catching up like this step by step, he could hope to walk side by side with them .
In that respect, the response of the judges now was more important to him than ever .
Whether they responded to his dish favorably would be determining if he could be accepted in the cooking world or not .
Finally, Norris opened his mouth .
Havier watched him closely because he knew other judges implicitly showed that they valued Norris’s feedback the most . So, he was pricking his ears for Norris’s comment that he thought were the most important .
“It looks like you’ve sweated a lot to make this dish,” Norris said .
“Don’t worry, my sweat is edible, hahaha . ”
Havier cracked a joke leisurely as if he was relaxed . Janet signaled to him not to be overly excited, but he was not . Rather, he was extremely tense . So much so that he could even hear Norris’s breathing .
Fortunately, Norris smiled lightly, but even his feeble smile looked bright and clear to Havier like sunshine .
“You’ve worked a lot . The effort you’ve put in here is the most visible in this competition . I think you have been very careful in everything ranging from the selection of ingredients to the combination . ”
“Thank you . ”
“I watched you cooking here . You were cooking, taking care of each scale, and that kind of delicate approach has made your dish stand out . It seems you roughly sprinkled powder, but it’s not that much, and so is the amount of truffle . And the size of this tortellini was the most exquisite because it’s the size that brought the best taste of cheese . Just keep cooking like this . Thank you . I enjoyed it a lot . ”
Norris was done evaluating . But at that moment, Havier felt like he was deeply choked with tears . He was finally recognized . But he was more glad that Norris looked into his dish than he recognized his dish . He was glad that Norris finally appreciated his efforts to get above the ordinary and banal . His recognition meant that Havier’s efforts up to now were worthwhile, not wasteful .
Havier felt he got a big load off his chest . But he clenched his fists more with a strong determination . He raised one heel and slowly scratched the end of the ground with it .
Other judges kept rating his dish, and their evaluation wasn’t very different from Norris’s .
They smiled, praised him, and gave generous marks . His average score was 9 .
People around him shook their heads and muttered, “As expected, the name of Rose Island is so valuable . ” Until now they mainly talked about Min-joon or Anderson, but they began to pay attention to him and Janet, too .
Havier looked at Min-joon, who, in turn, was looking at him with a bright smile .
Havier was grateful for his smile and envied it, too . He also wanted to stand there and smile at somebody like that . He wanted to be someone who could smile like that . He wanted to become a chef like Min-joon, make a dish like him, and stand by his side .
‘Oh…’ Only then did Havier realize something . ‘I really respect Min-joon . ’