Chapter 550: Unexpected Twist (18)
Min-joon said, “There’s nothing I can find fault with your dishes. At first, I thought about pointing out your plating that looked so typical, but now that I’ve confirmed the taste of your dishes, I feel even this typical plating is beautiful. Chef Dave, you are smart. Your dishes are not ordinary because you can’t make them colorful, but you want to create something by making them ordinary. I think the two are quite different.”
Pica.s.so’s drawings and children’s scribbles look quite similar in some ways, but no one says they are equally valuable. That’s the “ordinariness” nature of dishes that Dave made. If somebody has a nice figure, even simple clothes such as a white T-s.h.i.+rt and jeans make him or her look great. In that respect, the ordinariness of Dave’s dishes had something extraordinary enough to overwhelm their ordinariness.
“Honestly, I was afraid that I thought I would keep looking for the traces of the dishes you showed me,” Min-joon added.
“It sounds like you are saying that I am considered a strong winner of this compet.i.tion,” asked Dave with a smile.
Surprised by his nonchalant att.i.tude, Min-joon nodded.
“Yeah, you will win, as things stand now.”
The hemp in the pipe burned red. Nathan sucked the smoke from the pipe and then exhaled it. And he started coughing hard as if he wasn’t used to it.
It didn’t take long for him to show a reaction. When he felt his senses became rather dull, he got up from his seat. Then he went to the kitchen. There was somebody there, but he didn’t care. June asked, wiggling her eyebrows.
“I thought you stopped smoking. No?”
“None of your business!”
“It smells so bad that it bothers me!”
She didn’t say anything about him smoking marijuana. Smoking marijuana in this country was not a big deal anyway. But was it okay for a chef to smoke marijuana?’
“Think about your career in the long run,” she said briefly.
She felt he must have gotten her point. It wasn’t uncommon for chefs to rely on marijuana to come up with new recipes. In the long run, however, cannabis eventually dulls the taste of smokers, but at least during the state of awakening through hemp, they could feel the taste more vividly than anyone else.
At that moment, their taste might be better than Min-joon or Kaya’s perfect palate, for their tongues as well as every cell of their body were antic.i.p.ating the emerging taste based on marijuana.
Nathan was knocked down by the judges as well as his colleagues’ criticism. Even Dave, who he wanted to regard as his rival and colleague, won ridiculous praise from them. Because of that, Nathan might have wanted to achieve something by relying on cannabis. Of course, it wasn’t as easy as he wished.
He drank milk. He felt its flavor spreading through his mouth. Why couldn’t he express its flavor when he tried to bring it out in cooking? But Dave’s cooking was different from his. Dave wasn’t on drugs, but his cooking made Nathan taste something he wouldn’t feel in his dishes as a rule. Dave’s cooking even activated his tongue sense to the limit. In other words, he could not even bring out the taste of Dave’s dish.
“How did all this happen to me?”
Nathan looked at his hand holding the knife with a blank expression. Perhaps thanks to the drugs, he could feel every blood vessel beating even on his fingertip. But he didn’t feel like he was alive.
“I thought I wanted to be the best chef, but I didn’t know what being the best was.”
He felt it again while trying Dave’s dishes. He realized that he was so amateurish as to think of Dave as his rival when he actually didn’t know about cooking properly.
Nathan looked back at June. He wondered how she thought about him. He put his hand in his pocket.
While touching the pipe in his pocket, he asked her in a soft voice, “Maybe it’s you who wants to smoke marijuana more than me right now. Would you like some?”
“No, thanks. I don’t want to have a fake victory by selling my future.”
“Fake victory? Haha…” he laughed sadly.
He felt so miserable at the fact that he could not deny what she just said. He couldn’t understand this woman named June anymore. Even he, who was far from winning the compet.i.tion from the beginning, was struggling so much now, but how could she keep so calm? Or was she pretending to be calm?
“Are you confident of winning?” he asked bluntly.
She slowly looked back at him. He couldn’t read her expression. He couldn’t even figure out what kind of thought, soul, and heart were in her calm eyes. In hindsight, she had always been like that. He could not know her deeply. Even though he was in the same place as her, he felt like he was in a different place from her just like Dave. The two were geniuses in different ways, but even if their cooking methods were different, they were in a different world from him.
“I fight only on two principles. I fight when I can win unconditionally, or I fight when I expect no loss even if I get defeated.”
“Well, I don’t think you would not lose anything if you get defeated. Do you think you can win unconditionally this time?”
“Well, my principles don’t apply to this compet.i.tion. So, I’m just fighting. Even if you suffer a loss because I get defeated, I can’t give in. Nathan, don’t feel sorry even if you lost in this kind of compet.i.tion.”
“But I’ve suffered a loss.”
“Yeah. It hurts. It’s painful. But it won’t change anything even if you burn marijuana just because it hurts. Maybe a momentary inspiration can save you, but it’s only a short salvation. You won’t get inspiration with anything but marijuana. You have already seen lots of guys ruining their lives like that, right?”
When she pointed it out, he didn’t respond. She didn’t say that she was confident of winning because she also witnessed and tried Dave’s dishes today. Perhaps that was why she was in distress right now right here like him.
But why? Nathan suddenly thought there was a big difference between her agonies and his. Maybe that was why he wanted to put out feelers about her state of mind.
So he asked, “Can you win?”
She let out a sigh. Since his question was meaningless, her answer would be just as meaningless no matter what it was. She suddenly recalled Min-joon at that moment.
How would he answer in this situation? Maybe he would reply with an oily smile.
So she replied subtly, imitating Min-joon.
“Well, I don’t know how.”
The problem was that she didn’t know how to beat Dave.
She made a cynical smile at that moment. Of course, it was at herself, not Nathan, that she smiled coldly. She spent so much time and days on cooking only, but she felt she still lagged far behind Dave.
She stopped talking with him. And the two started making their own dishes. To be precise, it was she alone who was cooking now because he, who was on drugs at the moment, was out of his mind. For a long time, he just stared into the air as if thinking nothing, then he suddenly started cooking. After that, he came up with some dishes in a good or bad sense.
‘If he started to rely on drugs, he won’t be able to stop it.’
In fact, the addictiveness of cannabis was not as strong as alcohol or tobacco. So, it was not common to see a cannabis addict. But it was a different story if the person’s job relied on creativity like a chef. For the moment, they were drunk on cannabis, they could borrow the sense of a genius. The less talented they were, the more elated they felt at the moment.
In the end, the reason why they were addicted to cannabis was because of their aspirations rather than addiction, namely their aspirations for better talent and more refined cooking senses. They wanted to take a peek into that scary and beautiful world where instinct and reason, consciousness and unconsciousness were mixed. They wanted to fall into that turbid cleanliness.
So, June understood that Nathan turned to hemp. To be honest, because of her weakness, she said the same thing as Nathan. She was asking herself if she could borrow some talent from that smoke of marijuana.
But she regarded her possible reliance on drugs as a failure. Even if she beat Dave by relying on the power of that stinky smoke, she didn’t feel she could feel proud of it. Comparing it to an athlete was probably a pretty good example. For example, a martial artist would feel a big difference in satisfaction when he beat his opponent in a sober state of mind and defeated his opponent after having drugs.
Not everyone was like June, but in the end, she was living day by day for her own self-satisfaction. So, she didn’t want to ruin the cause of her life up to now because of her weakness. Even if she was dissatisfied with the final results of the compet.i.tion, she thought that her moments of satisfaction should be whole and clean, above all.
What she was making right now was the course she would serve for the judges’ evaluation. More precisely, she was preparing the ingredients for the sauces for the main dishes. The first thing she made was red cabbage gazpacho. She was planning to serve this gazpacho with formal grain mustard ice cream.