Published at 7th of January 2021 04:10:06 PM
Stealing France was different from being stolen by France . If stealing France was taking away their common sense, faith, and love, being stolen by France was cooking to their taste and conforming to their cooking style .
And no one of the six wanted to choose to be stolen by France . That way they couldn’t win in this contest . They didn’t stay in France for long, so how much could they accept France even if they want to? They could not stand out in this contest by approaching the judges with French cuisine .
So, Min-joon had a lot of different thoughts in his head .
With the blanket over him, he asked Kaya, “Are the dishes we are making here American?”
“It’s very ambiguous to say that it’s American . If you compare the dishes in Los Angeles and New York, you can’t say the dishes have the same American taste, right?”
“That’s right . But French chefs here are different . Of course, each chef has their own traits, but I can see that their basic cooking style is based on French tradition . What about you? What kind of cooking framework do you have?”
It was quite a heavy topic for the two to talk about after a long, hard day . However, Kaya did not express that she hated it . In fact, she didn’t hate this kind of conversation .
People around her seemed to think she didn’t like intelligent conversation like this because she only graduated from an elementary school and grew up rough in the back alley .
The words she selected were rough in daily conversation, and the way she acted was rough .
Besides, as people tended to think a chef’s job was something smart people were doing, there were lots of people who implicitly regarded her as ignorant .
But she was never stupid . If she hadn’t been smart, she could not have analyzed and understood all the subtle tastes, no matter how excellent her sense of taste was .
Min-joon knew it better than anybody else . So he didn’t hesitate to ask her anything . And he was almost the only one who trusted her more than anybody else even before she had been duly recognized by people .
Maybe Min-joon didn’t know how much she appreciated each of his questions, and how much she agonized to give him a smart answer while pretending to answer casually .
‘You don’t need to know it for the rest of your life . ’
She hoped that he would continue to think of her as smart . She hoped that even if she answered casually, he would think that she gave her the smart answer because she wished there was at least one in the world who could recognize her . And if that person was Min-joon, she didn’t want to ask for more .
“We have a cooking style without a style,” she said .
“A cooking style without a style?”
Her answer seemed simple, but it was actually very vague and complex . But he understood it, after all, because he felt the same way . Actually, he just couldn’t find how to express it .
The country called America was like that . People there pretend to be free from everything, but they were not . That was about the same case with cooking . America was a country of immigrants . Los Angeles among other cities had more immigrants . As a result, cuisines in Los Angeles were mixed ones with vague national characteristics, so there was no standard taste of cuisine there . What was interesting was that people there often mistook their ‘arbitrary taste’ for something like ‘liberal taste . ’
So, he muttered, “Is it good? I mean the gastronomic world in LA . ”
“If it’s good, it’s good, if it’s bad, it’s bad . In a way, they are in the process of evolving, I think . ”
“Yeah, what you describe as “evolution” makes sense . Of course, I don’t know when the evolution will end . ”
“Why are you asking me about this suddenly?”
“Well, I thought about it . As you know, we’re avoiding challenging them with dishes with a French feel because we can’t beat French chefs who can make their dishes more French, so we’re trying to come up with dishes with our own characteristics . ”
“But I just wonder what that ‘American feel’ is in our dishes . To be honest with you, there aren’t many luxurious ones among American dishes . Besides, Rose Island is not a restaurant .
Kaya fell silent for a moment at his remarks . When she kept silent longer than he thought, he turned off the lamp by the bed and opened his mouth, “Looks like it’s not a useful topic . ”
“No . I don’t think so . I was thinking about what kind of American feel was in your dish . But I wondered if I had to find it at all . You are a chef bound in America . Your roots are in Korea, but, your main specialty is not Korean food . Even if you are in America, American cuisine doesn’t really have much to do with you . If I have to find something here, it’s just you, or the world . ”
“You are making almost all dishes in the world, right? You and other chefs of Rose Island are doing that . If that’s the case, don’t you think you are a global chef, not a Korean or American chef?”
“Well, that’s too grand!”
“You’re such a cook . Quiet, but a grand chef . ”
She whispered to him in the dark bedroom .
“So, we can win in this competition . ”
As the number of participants drastically decreased in the contest, Min-joon felt like the contest venue was much more spacious even when he was in the same place . He looked around while standing in front of the kitchen counter . When other chefs stood in front of the kitchen counters, which were more sparsely arranged, they looked askance at him and made awkward expressions or turned their eyes when they made eye contact with him .
“Man, we are attracting great attention . ”
“It’s because we are the best . ”
“Hey, don’t make such comments even if we’re alone here . ”
“Don’t you like this kind of comment more than me?”
“You are in another country now . ”
“That’s why we should be more aggressive here . Lots of guys here are anxious to break our spirits . ”
Kaya looked around with her eyes glaring . At that moment, an Asian chef began to walk toward them . When Kaya looked at him with wary eyes, he approached Min-joon and spoke to him in English .
“Hello, Chef Min-joon! Chef Kaya! I’m Paulo . ”
“Well, I was looking for a chance to speak to you, but couldn’t . Only now can I talk with you like this . ”
“Yes, you’re famous . And you’re from the same country as me . ”
“Yes, but I can’t speak Korean . I was adopted when I was young . ”
When he said that, Min-joon just nodded . He thought Paolo spoke to him in English in consideration for Kaya, but it seemed that he didn’t speak English just for that reason .
By the time the two ended their conversation, Paulo quickly added, “I’m running a restaurant named ‘Han’ with my friend in France . Please come to my restaurant later . I’m mainly making Asian cuisine . If you can come and try my dishes, it will be quite meaningful to me . ”
“Oh, your invitation is always welcome . Thank you, Mr . Paulo . ”
Min-joon nodded, smiling brightly at him . Only then did Paulo go back to his place as if he was relieved .
Shrugging, Min-joon looked at Kaya and said, “It’s amazing to see someone who I haven’t met before coming to me and saying hello . ”
“Well, it’s cooking, not talking, to judge if you’re a chef or not . The dishes you’ve been making up to now are pretty good, and he knows that . Of course, 51% of them are my dishes .
“I’m faster than you, with my hands, right? Since I touched the ingredients more than you, I should be ahead of you by 1% . ”
“If you’re 51%, I’m 49% . In that case, you are not ahead of me by 1%, but by 2%… Oops . ”
He suddenly stopped talking . She held his lips tightly with cooking tongs and opened her mouth in a sullen manner . “Do you want to pick a fight over trifling things? Are you sure?”
“Let me pass this time . So, be nice to me, okay?”
During that brief moment, the two drew lots of attention from the spectators in the venue . Watching the two, they wondered if chef couples had a quarrel, using kitchen tools . Noticing their intense gaze, Kaya fanned her face without any reason . She should not have attended this contest if she had felt so shy about their hot attention .
But the audience’s gaze didn’t stay on them for long . The reason was simple . The judges were coming up on the podium before the scene they just saw got fixated in their minds . It was Norris who came out first on the podium . He checked the microphone on his collar and slowly opened his mouth .
“Thank you for coming today, spectators and chefs in this venue . ”
Clearing his throat, he glanced at the paper he had in his hand . Then he folded the paper and put it in his inner pocket . He opened his mouth in a firm voice .
“Sorry to the man who took pains to write a script for me, but let me put this formality aside . Today’s cooking topic is reinterpretation . Our judges have spent several days coming up with this topic . And when we decided on the topic, we also pondered over what criteria we should take when judging your dishes . Now, let me give you a quick summary of what you need to keep in mind when making the dishes . First, you should make a dish that is not very strange to us . And at the same time, you have to make an original dish altogether . You may be wondering what the heck I’m talking about, but this kind of reinterpreting the existing dish depends on how you reinterpret . ”
At that moment, Min-joon felt Norris was announcing the original script while pretending to improvise it, but when he found the other judges behind his back were surprised, he felt Norris was sincere . Checking the other judges’ surprised expressions, he smiled cheerfully then continued, “Of course, your dishes have to be delicious and creative enough to surprise us . It goes without saying that the beauty of plating will be part of the overall score . Then, from now on, please discuss with your pair how to make your own dish . We look forward to seeing how perfectly you can best express your creativity in your dishes . ”
Min-joon looked at Kaya . Reinterpretation? It was a topic he had never thought of . What kind of dish could he reinterpret? At that moment, he suddenly hit upon an idea .
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