Chapter 377: Taste of Blank (1)
“So, did you satisfy the taste of the French chef?”
“Well, if I may say, I made the dish delicious rather than satisfying his taste. I think it was a pretty good dish.”
“It looks like you have gained lots of confidence since the last time I saw you. Good change!”
Min-joon smiled lightly while talking to Mangil Hong over the phone.
Whenever people saw him, they said he changed a lot from what he was before or he gained lots of confidence. And he felt good about it because their reaction showed he changed.
At the same time, he felt more frustrated with what kind of person he really was in the past.
He wished he had been more a.s.sertive and proud. Of course, he knew the reason. But he felt so frustrated with his situation back then.
‘When I was 30, I didn’t have a stable job or a clear future. Besides, I didn’t have any talent or ability. How could I gain confidence in such a situation?’
He didn’t want to be foolish enough to show anybody that he tried to be pretentious.
The reason he could confidently give himself away was because he gained some confidence.
He had the confidence that he achieved something valuable enough for other chefs to covet.
He said to Mangil, “I don’t want to spend time just hanging out in France. I wish I could feel that I’ve achieved something.”
“A foreign chef has received the most attention in the cooking contest in France? I think you have already achieved a lot by now.”
“That’s what it means as a topic.”
“That might be meaningful as a topic, but I want to get their recognition for my dish.”
“Good, I like your greed like that. People are not satisfied with what they have right now. Mostly they are just happy about being complacent. Why? Because it’s tiring if they pursue more.”
When Mangil said that, Min-joon recalled some of the chefs that he knew. When he counted the number of those chefs who slept in to a complacent comfort-zone. There weren’t many more than he thought. And he was surprised to discover it because it meant that among those numerous chefs, there were a lot of chefs around him who devoted themselves to self-development instead of being complacent.
‘I want to get at least one condition for increasing my cooking level.’
What he knew for sure was that one of the conditions for upgrading to cooking level 9 had to do with his leaders.h.i.+p of the kitchen staff. He needed to meet at least three conditions, but aside from meeting them, he didn’t know what these conditions were.
“I’m sorry anyway. As for the recipes that you have told me recently, I can’t give you any feedback now because I’m here in France,” he replied in a regrettable tone.
In fact, Mangil had been constantly seeking feedback from him whenever he came up with a recipe even after he left Korea some time ago.
While he was in America, Min-joon could experiment with Mangil’s recipe because there was a Korean market where he could get the ingredients. But it was impossible to get them here. There were not many Korean towns in foreign countries including France just like the Korean towns in Los Angeles.
‘In fact, if I rely on the power of the system, I can give him feedback easily.’
However, he didn’t want to help Mangil that way because Mangil missed the essence of food by focusing on the cooking score and formalities without even seeing the system. So, he felt he had to give Mangil a piece of advice that came from his own cooking philosophy and ideas, not through the system.
In the past, Min-joon wondered how helpful his feedback would be because his cooking level was below Mangil’s, and he was also lacking a lot in non-cooking areas, compared with Mangil.
But Min-joon changed that kind of thinking a lot. He decided to believe in his own worth now. People around him value him highly. Come to think of it, it wasn’t just the power of the system that made him prove his cooking skills.
‘In some respects, I couldn’t believe in myself because of the system.’
Whenever he relied on the system, he sometimes felt he was cheating or solving the problems with an answer sheet. But just because everyone knew how to do it, it didn’t mean they could find the answer in reality.
But Min-joon made it. By using the system, he did not disappoint people’s expectations and attention, and it wasn’t the system that made him achieve it, but his dexterity and inspiration. He could create Cho Reggiano with his own ability.
Mangil said, “Don’t say sorry. I’m rather sorry that I asked you a favor. Since you’re there for the contest, I hope you can win.”
“I’ll do my best.”
He hung up the phone. He looked at the screen of the phone that he temporarily turned off. In Korea, Mangil was the chef that not only those his age but those with decades of experiences wanted to see for his advice, but Min-joon was now talking with him on an equal footing. To put it precisely, it was Mangil who sought advice from him. Mangil took the trouble of calling him in Paris.
If any Korean chef saw Mangil calling this junior chef for advice, they would be shocked.
Min-joon was grateful that Mangil recognized him.
‘Yeah, let me meet his expectations.’
With such a goal in mind, he almost realized people’s expectations for him with a perfect palate. So, he thought he could do the same in this contest. Many people thought that even if he was from the Rose Island main restaurant, it was not realistic for him to win the trophy in the compet.i.tion.
But it wasn’t that unrealistic. The fact was it was just unusual. And Min-joon was already accustomed to living an unusual life.
Min-joon put his phone back in his pocket then left the employee break room and headed for the hall himself. There were several chefs chatting in groups of twos and threes when he got there, where many chefs would normally have been quite busy preparing for the opening.
The reason was simple. Min-joon sneaked up to Janet and opened his mouth.
“How’s the interview going?”
“Well, it’s going on very well.”
“It’s nothing new. I’ve seen you guys flirting with each other so many times,” Janet replied casually.
Min-joon smiled awkwardly and turned his gaze at Angela Eve, the reporter who covered him and Kaya lots of times.
She was interviewing Kaya with a cheerful smile at the moment. It wasn’t Kaya alone that she was interviewing. Anderson and Havier, who were next to her, also commented sometimes when needed.
“Then, what has motivated you to partic.i.p.ate in this Paris compet.i.tion?”
“Because I’m bored.”
“How come your reason is so simple?”
“Oh, it’s nothing complicated. I didn’t have a job, and Min-joon said he would fly to Paris and stay there for this compet.i.tion for a few weeks. Besides, he hadn’t yet decided on his partner. So, he asked me to go with him. And he cooks best when he’s with me.”
Kaya looked at Min-joon, turning up the corner of his mouth as if she felt satisfied. In fact, she felt good all the time when she suggested that he cooked best when he was with her, though she never expressed it openly. She really felt she and he had some special bond when it came to cooking together.
Meanwhile, Angela had no choice but to realize that what Kaya just said was beyond what an ordinary person like her could understand. Crossing the continent and competing in a famous compet.i.tion like this was far from easy for an ordinary chef, but she made the decision to come here for that simple reason.
What was interesting was that the two became the eyes of a typhoon on the journey they made to the Paris contest with a light heart. Currently, the French media always mentioned the names of Min-joon and Kaya while touching about the Paris International Cooking Compet.i.tion. The reason for such a wide publicity of their activities was complex. Even in France, Rose Island had a very good name. Besides, they were from its main restaurant in Los Angeles. Enzo’s reappearance in the contest also raised media attention.
“Now all the newspapers in Paris are trying to treat Chef Min-joon and Chef Enzo’s son, Chef Theo, as a rival. What do you think?”
“They are not rivals.”
It was Anderson who answered that. He looked at Angela with his arms folded.
When Angela’s eyes turned to him, he said in a quiet voice, “Why do they think the two are rivals when they have seen each other only once? And I don’t think they are also in compet.i.tion for cooking now.”
“Well, their rivalry is possible when you think about Theo’s father. Chef Enzo suffered a painful loss to Chef Daniel in the past. And he wants to take revenge by having his son beat Min-joon in this compet.i.tion. This kind of story is quite attractive. So, it’s not unusual at all that the reporters are all anxious to dig into this.”
“Anyway, they are not rivals,” Anderson said firmly.
She just smiled rather than refuting his simple but firm anything without any explanation.
Anderson was avoiding her smiles, suggesting as if she already understood why he replied like that. At that moment, Min-joon opened his mouth.
“Angela, it’s good you are doing an interview through conversation, but we’re chefs. Aren’t you more interested in our cooking?”
“If I’m curious, will you make the dish for me?”
“I’ve never refused anyone’s request until now,” he said with a broad smile.
After all, Angela nodded, full of antic.i.p.ation, and he headed straight to the kitchen counter.
Then other chefs from the Rose Island main restaurant also moved the kitchen tables and started holding the pan. They didn’t want to sit idle when he was cooking now.
In a way, it was kind of their inferiority complex. They didn’t want to show they sat idle when Min-joon, who was the most reputable among them and who achieved the best results, got down to cooking without any break. They would feel ashamed if they did.
Anyway, it was good for Angela because she could see several chefs cooking for her. Besides, she could go and take pictures.
She asked, looking at Kaya, “Kaya, you are not cooking?”
“Nope. I don’t have any recipe that comes to my mind right now.”
“You look like an artist. If they don’t have inspiration, they don’t work, like you.”
“But he cooks even without inspiration,” Kaya said, pointing to Min-joon.
Min-joon was now boiling water parsley in chicken broth. Then he put it in the Thermomix, along with gelatin gum as if he wanted to cook it chewy.