Published at 11th of January 2021 03:45:06 PM
“Do you think we have made it well?” Kaya asked, looking at Min-joon .
One of his strong merits that she recognized was that he could find out the cooking score of a dish even without tasting it properly . Of course, most of the chefs knew how to check the results of the dishes they made, but Min-joon was so fast in checking it, compared with other chefs, because he relied on the system window . As a result, he could immediately check whether he made a mistake in his cooking .
When she asked, he didn’t answer for a moment . But she found the answer in his shut mouth .
The corner of his mouth turned up slightly, his subtly narrowed brow, and his slightly raised bags under his eyes . Depending on who saw it, his expression could be interpreted differently, but she could feel that he was so amazed at the fine quality of her cooking as to make him look even embarrassed .
“So, you like it so much?” she asked .
“I think we’re going to be the star again today . ”
“Don’t you remember what Janet said? She said we should not be gallant . ”
“Do you care about what she said?”
He looked at her as if he didn’t expect her reaction like that . As far as he knew, she was very conscious of what others thought about her, but at the same time, she did freely what she wanted to do .
She responded with a mischievous smile, “I don’t care . But I do care . ”
“What the heck are you talking about?”
“Well, my thoughts are confused now . Didn’t you tell me there’s nothing more complicated than the human mind?”
“Anyway, I said we’re going to be the star today,” he said in a confident voice .
Sometimes she became curious when she saw him saying that . How come he was so confident? She didn’t understand how he was so confident of the good results even without tasting the dish .
‘Can any chef do it like him?’
She often wondered about it, but she couldn’t get the answer even if she asked it . Even if other chefs said they could not do it, that was fine with her because that meant Min-joon had some talent of his own . And she felt good about it because there were many who could not understand her unusual sense of taste . For example, he was amazed to see how she was so good at dealing with the heat on the kitchen stove . She was amazed at his extraordinary sense of checking the cooking score while he was impressed with her extraordinary senses . And she didn’t hate this kind of relationship with him . She even felt it was romantic .
He examined the dishes made by the other fifteen pairs . As for what he could not identify by just checking their looks, he could confirm it after checking its brief description in the system . window . As for the detailed ingredients of a dish, he could check them only by tasting them, but he could confirm the core ingredients by the title of the dish .
‘I think our concept is the best . ’
He also thought so . Of course, he didn’t make the judgment after checking their cooking score . When he looked at the concept of cooking only, he honestly thought that the dish he and Kaya made had the most unusual and exquisite balance because she actively helped him with her cooking skills this time .
“You really seem to be the best chef that I know who knows how to deal with the heat . ”
“You’re the best chef I know who deals with recipes . ”
“Well, I feel embarrassed if we flatter each other like this . ”
“I’m not flattering you . I really think so . ”
“I do really think so, too . ”
After they said that, they were silent for a moment, feeling awkward . They didn’t know why they felt awkward at the moment, given that they made friends and lived together for long .
At that moment, the judges descended from the platform and approached the participants’ countertops and began to examine everything . The first to get their attention was the Asian chef Han’s pair .
Bastien asked, “Oxtail ragu, potato croquette, and this…”
“It’s black cod . After grilling the black cod, I mashed the vegetables and meat of oxtail ragu and used it as a sauce . I put cheese and thyme pesto inside the potato croquettes to add flavor . You will find it tastes fresh in your mouth if you eat these potato croquettes . ”
“I personally thought that you would express something close to Asian cuisine by taking advantage of the characteristics of your Han restaurant, but I don’t know what to say about this . ”
“I wanted to get rid of your prejudice like that . Many people think that they won’t be able to feel the French sentiment in our dishes . Although I was not born in France, I have lots of old memories of France . I’m a French man and I have a French soul . So, it’s not strange to me at all to express the French sentiment . ”
After seeing Paulo’s eyes, the judges nodded for a moment . Adopted children and those who were adopted from foreign countries were inevitably subject to some sort of discriminatory perception . Even though they might not think that it was discrimination, it could be completely different from Paulo’s point of view .
“Then let us try your dish . ”
The judges cut the flesh of the cods . The combination of fish and meat . Honestly, it was one of the most difficult tasks because the smell of fish and that of meat were difficult to match . Maybe that was why the Han pair chose cod because there was hardly any characteristic smell from cod even though it was a fish with white flesh .
Norris put it in his mouth with plenty of ragu sauce . The fluffy texture of the potato and the tender beef was nicely balanced with the well-cooked cod . And the scent of ragu sauce on it was very fresh . When they ate it with croquettes, they had a different taste . The outer surface, which was moderately deep-fried, did not show any signs of getting moist even with plenty of ragu sauce .
‘Well, this kind of cooking can look shabby…’
When even it was plated according to the shape of the bowl and the arrangement of cod, the dish looked like a luxurious dish rather than a common dish . All the judges seemed to have been impressed by the Han pair’s dish .
“Since there are so many great chefs coming to this competition, I think it’s worthwhile for me to be a judge here,” Norris said in a calm voice . And he didn’t say empty words . That was one of the things the judges always talked about . Of course, it might be a different story if they include the participants of the preliminary rounds until now, but the skills of the chefs who advanced to the final round made it difficult for them to stay relaxed because of their excellent cooking skills . Now, they were evaluating the dishes of the top 16 pairs among those skilled . As such, they didn’t need any further explanation about these finalists’ competence in cooking and their dishes .
However, Paulo wasn’t excited about Norris’s praise . He knew that Norris’ compliment was genuine, but his rivals who had to compete with him were too strong for him to be excited by his compliment .
‘I thought this would be a tough fight when I heard that Enzo and Theo would take part in this contest…’
Min-joon and Kaya’s cooking at the last tournament and the judges’ evaluation of their dish gave him a wake-up call . In the case of the Enzo and Theo pair, and especially in the case of Enzo with decades of experience, he didn’t think it strange at all when the judges extolled their dish . But Min-joon and Kaya were chefs younger than him . One of them was only a demi-chef, and the other wasn’t even working in the kitchen .
To be honest, it was surprising to Paulo that Min-joon and Kaya showed such fantastic skills in this contest . That was why when he first recognized them, he couldn’t even dare to speak to them .
He reflected on himself, ‘What the heck did I do at their age when they are showing such excellent skills?’ Because of that frustration, he didn’t feel like speaking to them .
‘I can’t hurt my pride as a French chef . ’
After all, he was French . So, he didn’t want to see this cooking contest being outshone by the chefs who came here from America with a light heart .
But after the judges talked with the pair, the average score they gave him was 9 out of 10 . The judges said they never imagined that the harmony of fish and meat could be brought out so exquisitely . Their feedback was very good, but when he thought about the last tournament, he was rather in doubt whether that score was high enough for the pair to overwhelm other chefs in this round .
What was interesting was that the Min-joon and Kaya pair was up for their evaluation right after Paulo’s pair . When the judges approached their kitchen counter countertop, Paulo saw them already having great expectations for their dish . Was their dish so great? He was very envious of the judges who could try their dish, and at the same time, he coveted their competence and talent that drew the judges’ expectations like that .
“Wow, you stacked the foie gras like a sandwich . ”
“Yes, that’s right . What’s on the bottom is chicken skin, foie gras on top, then a patty made of chicken thighs on top of it”
“What are these jelly and air on top?”
“Well, I made air from tangerines with high sugar content, and as for this jelly, I scraped the fat of foie gras with red wine, then boiled it with sugar before making it into jelly . I think the sour taste from the red wine and tangerine itself will make you feel it more pungent . ”
“To get rid of the fatty taste of foie gras, it would have been better if you had used a tangerine or lemon with a high acidity rather than a high sugar content . Why did you use one with a high sugar content?”
“I didn’t want to deviate from its authentic taste . The fatty taste of foie gras is not just fatty itself, but it’s the unique taste of that fat . So, I thought that even if its unique taste is excessive, a chef should be able to express the excess itself attractively rather than cover it . Me and Kaya see eye to eye on that point . ”
Norris nodded at his remarks . As a chef himself, Noris was somewhat sympathetic to what he said . At that moment, Sophie next to him asked, “I think you’re well aware that making foie gras part of a dish isn’t the preferred way in the gastronomic world these days . ”
“If you knowingly made foie gras like this, you might have some reason . Can you explain?”
“Well, I used a very large bowl . ”