Chapter 545: Unexpected Twist (13)
He led a very inefficient life as a chef. He just lived, thinking he had to change all the time but didn’t translate his resolution into action. To compare it to cooking, he was always done preparing all the ingredients, but he didn’t heat and cook them. This meant he was idle during that time, so it was fair to say he just wasted his time.
‘Man, I’ve wasted my time here, too.’
Nathan smiled emptily. Cameramen were busy clicking the shutter to capture his mysterious smile, and those watching him looked puzzled.
“Was it my last chance?” Nathan asked in a quiet voice.
He didn’t necessarily explain what the chance was because he thought he wouldn’t have to. Rachel didn’t answer. She just looked at him quietly.
Nathan said in a frustrated voice, “I wanted to do well. I wanted to be the best, but actually, I realized that I wasn’t the best. I couldn’t do better than June or Dave. I knew it because I knew who would win. I thought it wouldn’t be meaningless if I cooked just as usual in this contest. And it was true. I would definitely lose if I cooked as usual here. So, I had to do something else.”
Rachel replied, “It’s natural that you have the determination to do something. And I have no complaints about it. But what did you do to achieve what you were determined to do? Rely on Min-joon’s advice? So, you mixed the dishes recklessly like this without thinking about them on your own?”
“What can I do?! That’s my limit!”
“I don’t think so. That’s why I’m mad now!” she shouted in a harsh voice. Many people frowned when she scolded him at the top of her voice.
With them frowning in the cold atmosphere, she continued, “You didn’t show your limit yet! Aside from your limit, you didn’t even show the best of your skills! Did you say it would be meaningless to cook as usual? That means you are so weak-minded that you can’t compete with others in a fair manner!”
He just shut up at her words. It wasn’t because he took her words at face value. Deep down he asked her if it wasn’t okay to be weak-minded. He wanted to argue with her about it. But he knew that it was his fault, after all.
“Then what should I do? What should I do if I don’t want to be weak-minded?”
“Just cook your own way,” she replied in a low voice.
“It’s secondary whether your dish is better or worse than others. Don’t try to rely on good luck! Just make your dish itself worth something that n.o.body can surpa.s.s. Do it just like that!”
Min-joon nodded silently at her words. He thought her advice was the correct answer. A chef can make at least one dish that’s far beyond his or her cooking level, but it’s impossible to expect the chef to cook all the dishes way beyond his or her cooking skills.
After all, the only way to show off a chef’s best dishes was to cultivate his or her cooking skills best. If the chef starts to turn away from that simple reality, everything will eventually collapse just like Nathan.
“Let me wrap up the evaluation of your cooking…”
The judges’ evaluation of Nathan’s dishes brought about more repercussions than Deborah’s, which were even more visible among the chefs. It was amazing that Deborah improved a lot, but they just took it for granted, given her strenuous efforts to improve. Besides, it wasn’t unusual for an inspired chef to improve rapidly in a short period of time.
However, the fact that a competent chef like Nathan failed without overcoming the pressure made the other head chefs reflect on themselves because there was no guarantee that they would not face the same fate as Nathan’s.
“Well, the judges are tougher than I think,” Deborah said as if she was surprised.
Was it because she didn’t get criticized by the judges the previous day? It seemed that she thought the judges would evaluate other compet.i.tors in an amicable atmosphere. She didn’t realize until then that her dishes stood out, compared with Nathan’s.
June said with a smile, “I’m sorry for Nathan, but it’s good for him. One of the questions people had about him disappeared anyway. You know it’s true that some people had suspicions that our judges would evaluate their former students generously.”
“How cold-hearted of you! How can you say that when Nathan was humiliated like that? I just feel sorry for him.”
“Well, I think he will feel more sorry for those who feel sorry for him.”
“He won’t like a woman like you who thinks his failure is good for him.”
“Good for him. I don’t want to be liked by Nathan, either.”
After all, it was hard for anybody to be more eloquent than June. As if she didn’t want to talk with June anymore, Deborah turned her head, with her lips trembling.
Dave, standing next to them, said, “But it was surprising. I know Rachel can criticize us comfortably because she is close to us, but Min-joon was even more critical of Nathan than her. I thought he would just say something nice.”
“Saying something nice?” she asked, surprised.
“No?” Dave asked.
“Hey, it looks like you have never been criticized by him at all!”
Deborah thought that after trying Dave’s dishes, Min-joon didn’t probably say anything bad to him.
Most likely he heaped all kinds of praise on Dave in admiration. If that’s Dave’s impression of him, it was not unreasonable for Dave to misunderstand him as a man who was polite, meek, and kind. They were hugely mistaken, but June didn’t tell Dave on purpose because he would naturally find out as the compet.i.tion went on. Probably there would be more chefs that would face Min-joon’s harsh criticism.
Watching June quietly, Dave asked, “When are you going to get their evaluation? I thought you would do so in the beginning, but you didn’t.”
“Well, the atmosphere here isn’t ripe yet. I don’t want to step forward at this point. I’m going to do it when people pay more attention to me.”
“Is their attention important to you? In the end, it’s all decided by Min-joon and Rachel. People’s attention has no effect on the results.”
“The results don’t matter because I’m going to win anyway. So, I would like to win dramatically.”
“Are you confident of winning? Well, that’s a little different from what I know.”
“Because what you know is always false,” she said casually as if to tease him.
Dave looked at June with an empty smile.
Then he said quietly, “Remember what I said. If I win this time, you have to give up your stubbornness.”
“I don’t think I have to remember it because I will win.”
“If you think you can win, promise me you will stop being stubborn.”
When he demanded, she slowly turned her head. She still looked into his eyes that were as pure as a child’s, though he was old. Why does this man like her so much? What makes this man still keep her pure affection for her?
She knows she is no longer what she was before. Her pure heart has been replaced by her shrewdness for a long time, and she has cultivated bigger ambitions rather than pursuing her old dream. But why does this man’s heart stay the same as before?
“What If I give up my stubbornness?”
“Well, you will go back to the right way that you should have.”
Deborah was watching them chat, with her eyes twinkling, but they didn’t care.
“If you really do, let’s date again.”
At that moment Deborah turned her head sharply and looked at June. She clearly signaled to June with her glance that she should say ‘Okay!.’ But June was thinking for a moment, hesitating to answer how. She could not think it straight. She was so eloquent when she was dealing with various people in social circles, but it looked like her tongue was frozen for a moment.
“You can’t beat me in this compet.i.tion.”
In the end, it was such childish words that she spat out to him.
But Dave said with a smile, “Then, swear on your honor that you will give up your stubbornness.”
“Hey, this is unfair. How can I bet on myself? If I win, what will you give me?”
“Well, I’ll give up my stubbornness, too, then,” he said in a serious voice.
She now realized his point, then spoke to him, looking into his eyes.
“Sure, I’ll be your woman then.”
Rumors that Dave and June began to mend their fences and date again spread among the chefs quickly. Even if they promised to restore their relations.h.i.+p as lovers in Deborah’s presence, such rumors were supposed to spread anyway because they felt strange whenever they noticed the two’s unusual interaction during the compet.i.tion.
That’s why June was quite displeased with Min-joon when he cast a strange glance at her.
After all, she stared into his eyes and asked, “Why are you looking at me like that?”
“Oh, I thought it’s good for you.”
“I don’t know what you mean.”
“I know something.”
She let out a sigh at his words. She blamed it all for Dave. She wondered if he really mentioned such things to her in Deborah’s presence. He hadn’t contacted her for a long time. Why was he so impatient to get close to her now?
Maybe Dave was more hopeful now than ever. He might have thought that he seized the right chance to restore his broken relations.h.i.+p with her, which had been dragging on until now.
Come to think of it, their relations.h.i.+p was really weird. They liked each other. Then and now she was sure of that. It wasn’t something like an intense feeling that forced her to miss him everyday. But when she thought of somebody that she wanted to have around her when her life was stabilized, she could not think of any other man than Dave.
He was her first love. Although he was not the first man she dated, she was certain that he was the first and last man she loved. While she was chasing only her desires, Dave was somebody that even her desires could not ignore.