Chapter 15: Chapter 15: Grand Chef Preliminaries (5)
The smell of savory eel tickled his nostrils. Those who were watching Kaya cook started to salivate. As they watched, no one could look upon it with cold eyes. It was just that kind of dish. It was a dish that made anyone with a nose and a tongue gulp.
Kaya chopped up the eel and then placed the mimosa salad on top. Cho Min Joon was able to imagine how it would taste. The lemon peel, which replaced the sugar, would probably highlight the charred flavor even more. It would probably make it taste fresh and refreshing at the same time, and the white wine, which was added in the beginning, would stand out even more.
But combining with the mimosa salad was hard to imagine. ‘Could egg, mayonnaise, and mustard go well with the eel?’ If it went wrong, the egg would make the eel fishier than usual. However, she was probably Kaya Reuters because she was able to handle that. Cho Min Joon eliminated the fishy flavor from his imagined flavors.
Aside from that, it was perfection. The savory flavor of the egg, as well as the deep flavors of the eel. The flavors were probably so deep that it tasted like fish and beef combined. The onions and cucumbers probably made it more refreshing, and the cabbage probably added the much-needed texture. It was a well-balanced dish. At least, for the eel and mimosa salad, the combination was perfect. And the system showed just that result.
[Mimosa salad and roasted eel]
Origin: (Too many ingredients for an accurate calculation)
Quality: High (Average)
Cooking Score: 8/10
Cho Min Joon looked at her results with a dropped jaw. 8 points. This was definitely a scam. It was probably Kaya’s own doing, but 8 points… she could definitely start a restaurant right now.
‘She’s too good for Grand Chef.’
Cho Min Joon let out a laugh. As he laughed, there was a camera watching him at that moment. That camera captured Cho Min Joon as he had his eyes fixed on Kaya. Plus, the person holding that camera wasn’t a cameraman. It was a producer.
‘A man’s pure love can become a great product.’
The producer smirked as he zoomed in on Cho Min Joon’s face. Regardless of what he was actually thinking, the camera was capturing a man in a daze. It was up to the viewers as to how that was to be perceived. But that perception could be easily manipulated by a few captions on the screen.
Kaya took her eel and brought it to the judges. The audience simply watched as she left the room. However, they didn’t have to wait long. Kaya came back out not long afterward.
And of course, there was a badge on her chest.
“I saw you staring at Kaya earlier.”
During their interviews, he received that comment out of the blue. Cho Min Joon opened his eyes wide and stared back at the producer. His name was Martin Austin. This young man, who introduced himself as someone who was 30 years old, smiled in a way that would draw anyone’s interest.
“You’re 21, right? What a great age. I’ve been in a few one-sided crushes myself.”
He was 21 in terms of international age since Cho Min Joon’s birthday hadn’t passed yet. Cho Min Joon then answered in a bitter voice, “I think you’re misunderstanding something.”
“Really? That’s what it looked like.”
‘Was he just testing me?’ Cho Min Joon sighed.
“Her cooking skills stood out to me. I was just impressed.”
“By that, do you mean she’s better than you?” Martin asked in a joking tone. Cho Min Joon pondered for a bit. His inner thoughts were clear. He was definitely not as good as Kaya. And that difference wasn’t going to become smaller over time. However, it was insulting to say that out loud. Hence, Cho Min Joon tried to beat around the bush.
“She was the best out of all the contestants today. Better than anyone I’ve seen. And I just think she might be the best in this competition.”
When Cho Min Joon thought he gave a good answer, Martin thought up of another joke. ‘What if I edit the ‘she was the best’ part and broadcast it?’ But then, that would be crossing the line. Martin changed his mind and continued, “By that, do you mean you think she’ll win this competition?”
“Unless anything extraordinary happens, yes. But I aim to be that extraordinary something.”
Min Joon’s answer was very classy. His mother tongue wasn’t even English, but his use of vocabulary was better than most native speakers. Then again, that was inevitable. Korea’s education system tended to teach students difficult English words. Most Koreans knew difficult business vocabulary but still couldn’t engage in everyday conversation.
But just knowing big vocabulary didn’t make for a classy conversation. The reason why Cho Min Joon sounded that way was that he thought of what he was going to say before he spoke. That had to do with the fact that English wasn’t his native language, but it was also because he didn’t want to turn anybody off by saying anything by accident.
“That’s a good answer. I hope you win, Min Joon.”
“…I feel like you say that to everyone.”
“You caught me.”
Martin smiled. He then continued, “I heard something from a friend you came here with. You went through quite the trouble after coming to America.”
“I don’t want to talk about that.”
“Min Joon, good stories yield good results. Of course, this program is more about cooking, but what if all the food tasted the same? If so, it all depends on what kind of story you come here with. That’s how it is with people.”
“…Then I’d rather be disqualified. I don’t want to win this competition just by selling my story.”
“You said you wanted this program to become your stage. Of course, you should be prepared for this, Min Joon.”
Cho Min Joon glared at what Martin said. ‘Prepared? Prepared for what? Preparation for making the Dean family’s matters into a gossip story?’ He then spoke with a sharp tone. He was almost growling like a dog.
“All I prepared for was making delicious food.”
Martin stared at Cho Min Joon without a word. Of course, Cho Min Joon didn’t avoid his gaze. Martin then continued with a disappointed look on his face.
“You’re a good person. A good cook.”
He meant it. In his career as a chef producer, Martin spoke to all sorts of people. Although it was just a cooking program, there was something else that touched viewers more than the dishes. The viewers asked for any kind of sad story behind the contestants, so some of them even made up fake stories.
The reason why they did that was simple. That was how they got people to watch. They just wanted pity votes. They wanted tears and touched emotions to make up for their lack of cooking skills.
And it was undoubtedly effective. When most contestants were on the same level, the producers asked for an interesting story and gave points to those with star-like qualities. Of course, the judges didn’t particularly like this method, but they were also troubled when most of the chefs produced similar results. When that happened, they had no choice but to follow the producers’ desires. They didn’t consciously make that decision, but it had an influence.
And the man in front of him right now tried to give up on that story. Cho Min Joon’s story wasn’t bad. He had passion as a cook, and he was a college student who crossed the ocean to fulfill his dreams. However, there wasn’t much more to touch viewers with.
“…You might regret this, Min Joon. Your story with the Dean family in New York could become a good weapon for you, I guarantee it. Are you still going to keep quiet about it?”
“Yes, I am.”
Martin closed his mouth for a moment. And when he opened it again, his lips showed a smile.
“Okay, Min Joon. I believe in your spunk. After all, this program is where contestants win with cooking abilities. It should be that way.”
“…Thank you for understanding.” Cho Min Joon then answered with a more relaxed face. Martin saw this and responded with a serious voice.
“I hope you win.”
He was hearing this for the second time. But this had a different meaning from the first time. Cho Min Joon smirked.
“It sounds like I have a new loyal fan.”