Chapter 14: Chapter 14: Grand Chef Preliminaries (4)
When he heard that, Cho Min Joon bowed. He only realized that he wasn’t in Korea after the bow, but it didn’t matter. He wanted to express his gratitude.
The judges were taken aback, but they smiled afterward. Allen then approached him and placed a chef badge on his chest.
“You’re one of the 100 chefs to participate in the finals. See you next time, Min Joon.”
Cho Min Joon smiled and turned around. Allen quietly watched on as Cho Min Joon walked away. Emily then said, “I feel like we met someone who could win the whole thing.”
“…I’m not sure. Maybe that was his best. If he doesn’t continue to grow, he won’t be able to take the trophy. This competition is fierce.”
“Oh, really? Joseph, what do you think?”
Joseph stayed silent and then slowly opened his mouth.
“The snapper was delicious.”
His words were short, but Emily and Allen knew what he meant. They were only here to evaluate food. Not the chefs, but the food. This competition was a simple one.
Most of those who passed their preliminaries celebrated in the noisiest way possible. They left the premises with their badge hidden and then took it out later to surprise everyone, and some of them even hid it in their mouths. However, Cho Min Joon didn’t like to make such a fuss.
Cho Min Joon walked out with the badge on his chest. When people saw it, they clapped and cheered. Cho Min Joon smiled and accepted the congratulations. The Dean family then approached. Lucas hugged Cho Min Joon with a smile and said, “I knew you’d pass.”
The producer, who was watching this alongside the cameraman, frowned. He wasn’t frowning because something was unpleasant, but because he had a lot to think about. Cho Min Joon was worthy of more screentime. He had already passed the preliminaries, and he was talented as well. He also had a story behind him. He knew the Dean family’s story after having an interview with them during Cho Min Joon’s exam.
‘He’s a good product.’
But the problem was a matter of character. There were currently 4 characteristics Cho Min Joon could go for. First, he was a passionate cook who crossed the ocean to participate in Grand Chef. Second, his confident and dry attitude. Third, the fact that he’s Asian. The last point was obvious, as it was his outstanding cooking skills.
The show would change depending on how they were portrayed. Of course, one contestant couldn’t change the entire show, but…
Meanwhile, Cho Min Joon and the Dean family watched the other contestants cook. There was a total of 20 cooking stations, and they were never empty. Cho Min Joon quietly looked at the contestants’ levels. Most of them were 5’s, with some 4’s in there as well. There were very little 6’s.
But then again, that was to be expected. Even if Cho Min Joon was the youngest at the restaurant, his skills were better than some of the older cooks. While he went to college, and even afterward, he cooked thousands of times. His experience transformed him from an amateur into a pro.
Even then, Cho Min Joon was a level 6. And that was after he leveled up after learning in America. If an amateur over the level of 6 appeared on a show for amateurs like Grand Chef, that would have looked strange.
The scores of their completed dishes were even worse. They were making dishes in front of unfamiliar people in an unfamiliar place. It wasn’t easy to display one’s full potential in a place like that.
The way Cho Min Joon saw it, if one was a level 6 and cooked the way they always cooked, they could get a cooking score of 6. And only with the best recipe and the freshest ingredients, could one obtain 7 points.
But since these level 5 cooks were nervous, it was no wonder that they had lower scores. One person made a 6-point dish, but it was questionable whether that dish would satisfy the judges.
At that moment, a cooking station freed up and a woman entered. After seeing her face, Cho Min Joon froze up. He knew that face. He knew it all too well.
It was her. He knew she entered the preliminaries in New York, but he didn’t know that he would run into her on the same day. The genius given birth to by Grand Chef. It was hard to believe that he could actually meet her. Before he went back in time, she was the top chef in the world. The winner of Grand Chef Season 3. She was also the winner that Cho Min Joon admired the most.
Kaya was TV material. Not only were her skills top-notch, but she also had star qualities on top of that. The strange harmony between being Caucasian and being from the slums. She had her dark hair tied back, and her smoky eye makeup accentuated her beauty.
Cho Min Joon blankly stared at her. Her blue eyes shone as a result of her dark eyeliner. It almost seemed like there was a strong aura around her. She looked like she was ready to swallow up everyone whole.
It was only after that Cho Min Joon looked at the window containing her information was he put at a loss for words. When he received this system, he thought that he had the most important skill as a cook in the palm of his hands. He was wrong. There was always something that was unexpected. And at this moment, Cho Min Joon wasn’t a cook with a special power. He was just a sort of big star near the sun.
Cho Min Joon watched her cook. The icebox on top of the cooking station hadn’t been revealed yet, but Cho Min Joon knew what was inside. Mackerel. She showed off her sauced Mackerel and mimosa salad for her preliminaries.
Kaya immediately cleaned up her mackerel. Her way of handling the knife was flawless for someone so young. She was only 19 in terms of Korean age. Such a young teenager was cleaning the mackerel like a professional.
After slicing the mackerel, Kaya sprinkled salt and wine over it. She then boiled an egg in a pot and began making the sauce in another. The ingredients were simple. Ginger, garlic, soy sauce, onions, mustard greens, and basil. After mixing them up in a mixer, she put it on the mackerel and then sprinkled lemon peel on top. They were lemon peels cooked in sugar. And while letting the mackerel sit for a while, she began preparing the mimosa salad.
A mimosa salad was a salad that was placed inside cabbage leaves that served as the bowl. Kaya began making the salad by slicing the apples, onions, and cucumbers. After that, she scrambled the cooked egg, then added some mayonnaise, mustard, and pepper. She then added some avocados, added more salt and pepper, and then put it inside the salad. On top of that was squeezed lemon, and then…
It was time to finish the mackerel.
This part was the highlight. She put the mackerel on top of the gas stove. It was a bold thing to do. When it came to grilled dishes, nothing came easy. Of course, Cho Min Joon cooked the bell peppers directly over the stove, but those were okay to burn, and it was actually preferred.
However, it was different for mackerel. Fish easily burned on top of the fire. And with sauce slathered already, it was even easier to burn. It was an easy way to burn the outside and leave the inside raw. Even more so with a stove that she was unfamiliar with using.
But Kaya didn’t hesitate. She appeared to see something that others didn’t. It was possible that she had supernatural powers. Cho Min Joon truly believed it. The way she cooked the mackerel directly over the fire was so skilled that it could be termed as a godly talent.
‘Will I be able to do that?’
He could. If he practiced for hundreds or thousands of years, he could get there. Of course, not now. At that moment, Cho Min Joon craved such talent. He didn’t want to talk this path slowly. He wanted to cook well enough to be competitive against Kaya. Not in the future, but right now.
Cooking Level: 7
Breadmaking Level: 6
Gourmet Level: 10
Decoration Level: 6