Chapter 586: Each Team (5)
The judges looked at each other slowly. They needed to discuss which team’s dishes to sample first. Min-joon asked first, “Joseph, which team are you curious about?”
“Well, I’m curious about Michael’s team. I think there was a bit of disagreement among them, but it looks like they came up with a fine dish.”
“I’m curious about the Gwen team. Her team seemed the most insecure team, but they reassured me later. And the dishes they tried are also pretty fresh.”
“I’d like to check the Gwen team first, too, because I share his view,” said Kaya.
“Then our first choice has been decided,” said Joseph.
Joseph replied with a curious smile as if it was funny to see Kaya and Min-joon seeing eye to eye on the first team to check out. He thought it was so fresh and cute to see the duo sharing the same opinion about the Gwen team.
Of course, the two looked a little puzzled at Joseph’s smile.
“Gwen, Merlyn, Peter, bring your food!”
As soon as Min-joon announced, each of them came up with their own plate with nervous expressions. Seeing Merlyn with a serious expression on her chubby face made him almost burst into a laugh.
Min-joon opened his mouth with a smile.
“Merlyn. You made the appetizer, didn’t you?”
“Yeah, that’s right.”
“Could you please explain?”
“Well, I added some poached eggs. I also had some black truffle powder, so I added a little bit of it. With onion compote… Oh, yes. Green onion, then pata nuga”
“You mean pata negra?”
“Yeah, yeah! That’s it! It’s an appetizer I made with it. Pata negra adds a bit of salty taste and the yolk in the poached egg mixes with other ingredients to make it more delicious. It’s fun!”
Min-joon smiled brightly. The judges did not try the dish in the order of their choice because they knew from the moment the poached eggs burst, the taste would start to change slowly. At about the same time they held out their forks and dipped the yolks with onions, truffles, and pata negra and took them to their mouths.
Kaya opened her mouth first.
“You put some vanilla essence here, right?”
“Oh, that’s right! I did. How did you know?”
“Because it tastes good.”
When she came up with such an obvious answer, Merlyn looked at Kaya with her eyes twinkling. Recently, there had been rumors that Kaya also had as good taste as Min-joon, but she now became convinced of that rumor because Kaya checked out the ingredients for cooking so easily.
In the meantime, Min-joon was checking her cooking point on the system.
In fact, his personal score of her dish was also 6 points. It was a good dish. It wasn’t a terribly great dish, but it was really good for a dish that a little kid like Merlyn made because it had all the taste of an appetizer. He felt he couldn’t stand it any longer because he was anxious to try it.
Min-joon called Peter this time. Peter opened his mouth calmly while hiding a sense of tension.
Peter said, “This dish is based on fish and chips. Pea puree, pipe-shaped french fries, topped with crispy champagne batter and fried sea bream. Topped with fried sea bream, this is the sauce made with the salmon roes marinated in wine and sugar.”
Min-joon said, “It’s a good try. It could have been boring, but you made it pretty fresh with your own idea. I’m especially looking forward to that sauce.”
“Good job, Peter,” said Kaya pleasantly, then she immediately picked up the fries.
The French fries were hollow because they were made in the shape of a pipe. When he dipped the fries in pea puree and the puree soaked in the peas mixed with the fries, he found the taste so sophisticated that he could not believe it was made by an amateur chef.
“Man, Peter has grown tremendously!”
Deep down, Joseph marveled at his growth. Since he remembered how poor Peter was as a chef, he couldn’t help but feel very happy about Peter’s enormous change.
And at that moment, Min-joon was admiring his dish for a completely different reason.
‘Cooking score is 8 points.’
This was a score that he had never expected from Peter before. But it wasn’t just his score that was impressive. When it came to the same 8 points, it was different, depending on whether the dish was fun or not. But there were various kinds of fun in Peter’s dish that he couldn’t even imagine. French fries soaked in pea puree, battered fries with a faint smell of champagne, deep-fried sea bream, and the juicy salmon roe sauce that wetted his mouth when the battered fries crumbled.
His dish was good. It was more artistic than any other dishes that Grand Chef’s participants had ever shown.
“You’ve changed a lot, Peter,” Kaya said in a low voice.
At that moment, Peter trembled before he knew it. What she said wasn’t a big deal to somebody, but Peter took her words as recognizing his cooking skills. In other words, her statement meant she recognized him as a chef.
Right after that, Min-joon said, “Man, it seems you have come to like cooking very much. Looking good, Peter. It was also delicious!”
Seeing his smile, Peter made a blank expression. Min-joon said he came to like cooking, but he knew he didn’t like cooking. In fact, cooking was the only sanctuary where he could escape. It was like the only mouse hole where he could find any hope amid the people’s hatred of him and his ruined hope.
‘Do you like to cook? Is he serious?’
Peter wanted to say, ‘No, I don’t like cooking.’ But he couldn’t spit it out. At that moment, something deep inside was holding him tightly, so he could not spit out such words.
His heart was throbbing. He knew from his throbbing heart that her wounded heart, his anger, his frustration, and his suffering were being washed away now by what Min-joon said.
Min-joon looked at Peter’s expression silently.
Peter didn’t want to cry again. However, Min-joon could fully understand how much sadness was hidden in his closed mouth even though he didn’t shed tears.
Of course, this was the perfect moment when Peter could vent his pent-up emotions. And if Min-joon patted him on the shoulder, comforting him with some sweet words, Peter would like it very much. But Min-joon didn’t go to the trouble of doing it.
‘Well, he can’t be left alone as the main character of the tragedy anymore.’
People like a tragedy at first because they always sympathize with the protagonist of the tragedy. Until he became the protagonist of the tragedy, Peter wasn’t the main character, but just a villain. He was a villain who only tried to torment and harm the main characters of Kaya and Min-joon.
Now he could break free from the image of the villain gradually. But he couldn’t always give people the impression like ‘Well, that guy isn’t that bad. He is living a very hard life.’
Now Peter needed to cultivate a different image. He didn’t have to end up getting out of the mire of life. That was why Min-joon didn’t give Peter his feedback just as someone who sympathized with him. Min-joon didn’t speak to him as someone who cheered for him. Min-joon just evaluated him as a chef.
He said, “Peter, you didn’t cook like this in the past. To be honest, your cuisine at that time was lacking in many ways. Apart from the freshness of the idea, you didn’t even have the basics of cooking technique.”
“Yeah, I know. That’s why I’ve made lots of efforts.”
“Yeah, I’m saying it because I can notice it in your dish. Your culinary skills are flawless. And I love the freshness of your recipe. To be honest, when I saw your tandoori mackerel, I thought your cooking skills must have improved a lot, but I didn’t have much expectations of your creativity because tandoori mackerel itself is a very common dish. But this dish completely exceeded my expectations!”
He continued, “You are a professional chef today, not a participant in this competition.”
“Are you serious?”
“Perhaps anyone who tries this dish will recognize that you’re a better chef than most chefs.”
Peter muttered this strange word in his mouth. He didn’t think much of becoming a chef.
More precisely, he had no hopes or expectations for the future because he was scared about it. Even though he participated in the Grand Chef with great hope and expectation in the past, he had to go back empty-handed, in despair and frustration.
At that time, the only lesson he learned was that he had better give up early on if he couldn’t get something he wanted. And that was how he learned to live his life.
But Min-joon and other judges kept trying to put some hope in his mind.
‘Can I really entertain a hope once again?’
He would have smiled brightly at Min-joon’s consideration and kindness in the past, but he suddenly got scared. He just felt it childish to look forward to his future with hope. Perhaps his wrong and distorted view of the world that hope was there to betray somebody made him feel that way. Nonetheless, he wanted to hold Min-joon’s hand, who gave him such hope.