God of Cooking - Chapter 417
Three days were a bigger burden on Min-joon and Kaya than they thought. In particular, Kaya had no choice but to feel less confident than Min-joon this time. Although she worked at a Grand Chef restaurant in Los Angeles, it was hard to say she was a full-time employee at the restaurant.
What Kaya really did there was to make new recipes. But she had never tried her hand at the type of recipe that would take her several days to make. It was partly because she had an impatient temper, and partly because she was repulsed by cooking for a long time as a woman who had been raised in a rough working environment, namely in the market.
And that was natural, given her living environment since childhood. As a woman cooking in the market, she couldn’t mature ingredients over a few days that she had to sell everyday. Besides, the expenses of the equipment required for aging ingredients made her lose money. If she had the money to buy them, she would open a restaurant instead of a market stall.
“Do you have any ideas?”
“Well, the topic is too broad, so I can’t sort it out.”
Kaya sighed with a confused expression.
Min-joon looked at the clock and opened his mouth.
“We have five and a half hours left to think about the recipe and course composition. We have to finish it before that.”
“Do we really need to finish that early? We’ve got 3 days anyway. I don’t think there’s any problem even if we’re devising it during that time.”
“Kaya, do you think they gave us three days to cook, generously taking into account the participants’ position?
“No?” Kaya looked confused.
Min-joon tapped Kaya’s forehead gently and said, “Remember the time when we had to make the escargot in the previous round. What did the judges say while praising us at that time?”
“Uh… I guess they said we didn’t use our time perfectly.”
“Yeah. But this time, they gave us three days.”
“So, we have to make the best use of these three days, right?”
“Yeah. And the best cuisine for three days of cooking is aging ingredients, sous vide, or broth.”
It wasn’t unusual that he recalled Korean rice and soup restaurants the moment he made broth. In fact, when it came to slow food, Korea could be called the best country with a long tradition of slow food. For example, all kinds of traditional seasonings in Korea were made on long fermentation over a period of time.
“You coach me, please. If I think of one recipe, there’s no problem, but I get confused if I have to grasp the whole picture,” Kaya said with a sigh.
She often came up with a recipe for an individual dish, but she rarely had to figure out the course itself like this. Of course, that wasn’t much different for Min-joon, too, but he was always talented in making plans in this way.
‘And I can rely on the system anyway.’
The fact that he could know whether his composition score was good or bad helped him make up for his lack of experience, for the most difficult thing when devising the course was to see how much harmony the dishes before and after the appetizer could bring out. If they were in a situation where they were in a restaurant, not a contest like this, they would be able to go through trial and error to get the best method. But they were in a contest now. Actually, other participants thought that it would be hard for Min-joon and Kaya to accomplish this mission properly.
‘Because they were only demi-chefs, they might not be used to how to grasp the entire course of the restaurant.’
Actually, that kind of perception was right. No matter how different Rose Island was from other restaurants, Min-joon and other demi-chefs couldn’t learn more than what the typical demi-chefs could learn because, after all, the chef’s skills were the most developed when they actually worked in the kitchen.
And Kaya was right, too. Had it not been for the power of the system, Min-joon would have instinctively felt he would be eliminated the moment he encountered today’s mission. But he had not only the system but also Kaya. Borrowing Kaya’s intuition and sense of cooking, there was a real possibility that he could win the semi-finals, too.
“Let’s include a sous vide dish in our menu, no matter what. And let’s boil the meat for 3 days to make broth. I want to use some ingredients that need aging, too. For example, something like ceviche.”
“Okay. It’s not that difficult to use them all. But how many courses are you going to make?”
“Well, this is always a cause for a headache. Given 3 days, it won’t be that hard. But it will be quite difficult to balance the course dishes and devise the recipes…”
“How about making an Asian dinner at all?”
At that moment, Min-joon opened his eyes wide because he had never thought about it. He never expected she would even mention it. It was not that she didn’t enjoy Asian cuisine, but he had never seen her fascinated by it.
She continued, “I mean a full Asian dinner. Hearty and delicious Asian dish.”
“Why did you suddenly think of the Asian menu?”
“Wouldn’t it feel a little different from western food? I don’t think anybody here will make Asian dishes.”
“It looks like you don’t feel up to it.”
Kaya put out a feeler about his preferences. Actually, she was aware that Min-joon was not very confident in making Asian cuisine because it was sort of a jinx on him. More precisely, he didn’t jinx on Asian cuisine itself. But whenever he made a full Asian course, the customers’ feedback was not good most of the time
So, when he encountered this kind of situation, Min-joon usually got cold feet first.
‘Can I really offer Asian cuisine? What if I can’t satisfy the taste of Western people? Isn’t it me being greed if I am trying to treat them with Asian food when I don’t know much about it?’ He was occupied by that kind of thought.
And the situation where he was in now made him think twice about making Asian food.
As an Asian living in America, he had no choice but to check American customers’ feelings. So, when they rejected Asian food, he felt he himself was rejected by them. So, he could not help but act passively. But Kaya just didn’t like it.
She said, “Hey. We didn’t come here to be evaluated. We’re here to enjoy the contest and prove our abilities.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Because you’re so scared. Don’t even think about how the judges will grade our dishes. We have to challenge ourselves. Are you going to end up cooking European dishes here in this contest? I don’t want to get stuck like that. Whether they accept or curse our dish, I think we have to make what we want to cook to the end. Eventually, judges with a discerning eye will recognize our dish anyway.”
Min-joon looked at her face, which blushed so much that he could hardly find her freckles on it. ‘Yeah, I like her angry look.’
Suddenly chuckling at her, he nodded at her.
After all, that was the best of her grit. To be honest, there was no reason for Kaya to insist on Asian cooking. It was good for her to have an open mindset, but she was in the contest now. No matter how much she didn’t care about the judges’ opinions, neither she nor he was very knowledgeable about Asian food. They could not use this place to practice their Asian cooking.
Nevertheless, the reason why Kaya bothered to make Asian food was simple, namely for the sake of Min-joon. If he kept avoiding Asian food at every competition, he would continue to do so even after the contest.
She wanted to stop it because in her mind, he was brave enough to take the road others had not trodden. Whatever it was, she didn’t want him to fear anything as far as cooking was concerned.
“Okay, then let’s try making Asian dishes,” he agreed, after all.
“I’m not talking about making a Western full course out of an Asian full course. I’m talking about making a full Asian meal on the table. Got it?”
“Yeah. But there is a problem. I’m not saying this because I’m afraid of trying Asian food. What about the taste of the Frenchmen?”
“You mean they don’t like too much food on one table?”
Kaya immediately pointed out the problem he was thinking of. He nodded.
Although most of the judges here were open-minded, they might still find it hard to shake off their prejudices. Besides, it was also not polite to leave food.
In that respect, it was obvious that they might not like a full Asian meal on one table, which they inevitably would leave on plates. So, Kaya and Min-joon had to think of something simple and frugal rather than something luxurious. Instead of a royal table with hearty and delicious food, a simple table with three or five dishes would be enough.
Min-joon thought of the Asian restaurants in Los Angeles. Considering what kind of Asian restaurant was the most popular, he could easily figure out. They liked the kind of dishes on one plate that they could empty, such as fried rice, curry, or rice with meat side dishes.
Of course, Frenchmen had a totally different taste from that of Asians. So, it was best to make the dishes simple to make them familiar with something unfamiliar.
Kaya asked, “What are you going to do with base carbohydrates? Isn’t it funny to put bread on the table full of Asian dishes? How about fried rice? Or just brown rice? No, Americans like brown rice, not Frenchmen. Do Koreans and Japanese eat Calrose?”
“Medium grain rice like Calrose isn’t too bad, but Japonica rice is the best.”
“But Japonica rice is not very good for fried rice.”
“I have something in mind.”
Min-joon briefly explained the recipe for the rice to Kaya.
She nodded in admiration and said, “It’s perfect. If you do that, it’s simple, but it looks luxurious at the same time. The judges will definitely like it.”
“As for the side dishes, we don’t have to look for Asian dishes only. Westerners tend to express the Asian style as one, but just as Italian and French cuisine are clearly different from each other, Korean, Chinese, and Japanese dishes are different from each other. If we’re going to find and combine the right recipes among them, it doesn’t make much difference even if it looks like Western.”
Min-joon never imagined that he would challenge the Asian menu in France. He put his hand on his heart. To exaggerate it, his heart was pounding so fast that he felt like his hand might bounce off, for this was a much bigger challenge to him than it seemed. If he had good results today, his world would be totally different from now on.
When he made up his mind, he was no longer afraid of Asian food. All he had to do now was to break the judges’ prejudices about Asian food and hooray for his dishes.
‘Alright. I have accepted your mission until now. Now it’s your turn to accept us.’