Chapter 21: Chapter 21: Understanding Broadcasts (2)
[Jessie]: I heard that the broadcast is starting today.
[Cho Ah Ra]: Oppa, call me. Send me photos.
[Lucas]: I’m sure you’ll do well in the finals. Good luck.
Cho Min Joon smirked at the messages he received. He was going to reply to them, till one man sat next to him. He had dark skin, as well as chubby arms and legs. It was Marco Denver from New York. As soon as Cho Min Joon looked over, Marco smiled awkwardly. He spoke in a husky yet high-pitched voice, “We’re both from New York, so I thought we’d get along.”
“To be more exact, I’m not from New York. I was just visiting.”
“But that’s where we first met, right?” Marco asked with a cautious tone. It was fascinating to see such a tall and big man show such a timid attitude. Cho Min Joon nodded. It was true that they had met before. After Amanda and Kaya’s fight, things got a little awkward, but still. Marco then continued.
“What did they say to you during your interview?”
“They asked if I was confident I could win, stuff like that.”
There was no need to tell him that they asked him if he liked Kaya. Marco then asked, “Who do you think will win?”
Cho Min Joon didn’t hesitate to answer. Marco nodded in understanding.
“If you saw her cooking in New York, it’s no wonder you think that way.”
“Who else do you think has a chance?”
“I’m not sure. I haven’t talked to that many people yet. It’s too early to tell anyway.”
Cho Min Joon nodded, but he felt differently. Beyond knowing the future, Cho Min Joon saw the levels of the contestants through his eyes. And what Cho Min Joon saw was that there were only three contestants who hit level 7 with their cooking. Kaya Reuters, Anderson Russo, and Chloe Chung.
Chloe was half white and half Asian, but she was influenced by her Chinese American mom, so she showed off all sorts of interesting dishes. Unfortunately, from what Cho Min Joon remembered, she got disqualified pretty early on. She probably made a rookie mistake. There was no other reason why he didn’t remember her.
Besides them, they were all level 6’s. It could have been a coincidence that there wasn’t a single level 5 that made it to this round.
But for breadmaking, the levels were a little different. Most were either 5, 6, or even lower. Besides Anderson, there was only one other person who was a level 7. And that person was…
“What are you looking at?”
Marco. Cho Min Joon stared at the black man. He figured that nothing bad would come out of getting closer to him. Considering Grand Chef’s upcoming team mission, it was good to get closer to other contestants.
And beyond all that, Cho Min Joon liked those who could cook. Breadmaking and cooking were two different things, but they both involved producing delicious flavors.
“I’d like to try your bread sometime.”
“…How did you know I make bread?”
“It was just a guess. You look like you’d be good at it.”
Marco began thinking what that meant. Cho Min Joon got up from his seat. Marco then stared at Cho Min Joon with a blank face. Cho Min Joon then looked back and said, “Let’s go to the hall. Everyone else is probably there already.”
Marco continued to show a blank look on his face. Cho Min Joon patiently elaborated.
“It’s time for the broadcast.”
The contestants were gathered around the TV in the hall. Even some of the staff brought chairs to sit on. Cho Min Joon sat next to Marco. A few commercials came on before Grand Chef began. The contestants could not help but cheer.
The show started with the judges’ introductions. They talked about the value of Grand Chef and the faces of all the contestants quickly flashed by. Among them was Cho MIN Joon. Marco shook Cho Min Joon’s shoulder as if he was fascinated.
“Did you see that, Min Joon?”
Cho Min Joon pretended to be calm, but he felt his heart flutter. This was his first time on TV. He couldn’t help but be excited.
Cho Min Joon quietly focused on the screen. Not even half of the contestants were going to get any screen time. They had to have great skill or interesting stories to appear on TV. If not, they had to be ridiculously bad. The first person on TV was Chloe Chung. She appeared in a white Chinese dress and made sweet and sour pork.
The pork was covered in sweet and sticky sauce, and it could be seen that the sauce was deeply ingrained into the pork because she fried it together. Emily put the sweet and sour pork into her mouth and hastily breathed in and out due to its heat.
The sound of its crispiness wasn’t properly conveyed, but the sound of the fresh onions being sliced was enjoyable to listen to. Not a single person could take their eyes off of the screen.
And as expected, she passed through. After seeing Chloe hugging her mother, Cho Min Joon felt jealous. He would have liked his parents to be there as well, but that was useless to think about. It was understandable that his parents wanted stability for him. It was no wonder that they worried about his dedication for a profession like cooking.
Cho Min Joon sighed out of frustration. Some of the contestants whispered to each other and stared at Chloe. Cho Min Joon clicked his tongue and stared at them. It was useless either way. Whether someone was good or not, whether someone passed or went home, that all depended on their cooking. There was no point in talking behind their back…
A young contestant, who wasn’t even here, appeared on TV. A very young Caucasian girl cooked a steak. And she was disqualified. At that moment, the narrator spoke.
-There are many young contestants this season. Look at this one. Cho Min Joon. He crossed the ocean from Asia in order to follow his dreams of being on Grand Chef.
Cho Min Joon lifted his head.
The screen showed Cho Min Joon. To be more exact, it was Cho Min Joon’s snapper. A short snippet showed him making pepper sauce, and then the camera did a close-up on Cho Min Joon’s face before his voice could be heard.
-There’s only one reason why I came here from Korea. I wanted to confirm if I’m qualified to cook.
That was what he said in an interview. The screen switched back to his snapper smothered in bell pepper sauce and Cho Min Joon’s voice played again.
-Grand Chef is an attractive competition. I’d like to show my full potential on it.
After that was the evaluation. Cho Min Joon felt shy after seeing himself watch the judges taste his food. He saw how hard he was trying to make himself look calm, but that just made him feel frustrated. When he saw some of the contestants marveling at his snapper, he felt even more embarrassed.
The judges expressed their opinions, just as Cho Min Joon heard it. The not so bad evaluations gave Cho Min Joon a weird feeling. Why did they show a clip that wasn’t all that special? Is it because he came from Asia?
He then sensed people looking his way. The contestants were whispering about him this time. Cho Min Jon could not help but hold back his sigh. He was about to get a lot of attention, even though he wasn’t that great of a chef.
Then again, it was desirable to be shown on TV. That meant that the producers decided to give them the spotlight. Unless he made any mistakes, Cho Min Joon’s chances of surviving on the show got a little higher. But…
“Min Joon! You got so much screen time! I’m jealous…”
Marco looked at Cho Min Joon with jealous eyes. When he saw that, he felt all of his complicated feelings disappear. Cho Min Joon smirked and said, “I always wanted to be on TV. I got my wish.”
“Ugh… I hope I get some screen time!”
Marco smiled with determination. At that moment, Cho Min Joon met eyes with Anderson. He knitted his brows. Anderson’s gaze didn’t look so friendly, but it didn’t look hostile either. But something about it bothered Cho Min Joon.
‘…Is it a victim mentality?’
Since they had never spoken before, Anderson had no reason to hate him. Nonetheless, he didn’t like the way he just looked at him. Cho Min Joon then glared. With that, Anderson looked back at the TV. It wasn’t right to start anything over a single glare, so Cho Min Joon also turned back to the TV.
At that moment, Cho Min Joon grew more focused on the show. Kaya Reuters was on the screen. The show showed Kaya helping her mother at the market and then switched over to her cooking. It was eel.
The sight of the oily eel getting cooked in soy sauce was beautiful. Cho Min Joon thought that that eel was even more beautiful than Niagara Falls. Of course, the other contestants thought the same way.
Everyone stared at her cooking, with every single having their own opinions on the cooking. They were able to imagine the flavors just from watching the process as they caught on to Kaya’s skills. Without natural-born talent, it was impossible to cook it so perfectly.
Another vibe swept over the contestants. They were keeping Kaya in check. She was really talented, but at the same time, they also felt a sense of lassitude. How could she cook so well at just 18 years of age? She never went under any special training either…
They were jealous of her abilities. They never had her talent before, but they felt a sense of emptiness. Cho Min Joon understood them. When he first saw Kaya’s videos, he also felt jealous.
When Cho Min Joon looked over at Marco, he smiled at his reaction. Marco didn’t seem interested in Kaya’s abilities. He was just licking his lips as if he wanted to eat her eel. He seemed timid, but he was definitely not a normal person. Cho Min Joon didn’t hate Marco.
“Do you want to eat it?”
“Do you want to eat that eel?”
“Of course. If I could leave delicious food alone, I wouldn’t be this big.”
Marco tapped on his belly. Cho Min Joon then answered, “I’m sure we can cook like that one day. I’m sure of it.”
“Maybe we already have the abilities within us.”
In response to Marco’s answer, Cho Min Joon blankly stared back. When Marco felt Cho Min Joon’s gaze, he flinched and spoke in an inconfident voice.
“W-well… that’s what I heard on TV last time. They said that sense is something that comes alive from within rather than something that just appears out of nowhere. They also said skill is all about sleeping senses coming back to life… Jeez, what am I saying? Forget it.”
“…No, you’re right.”
Cho Min Joon answered and looked back to the screen. The judges were commending Kaya’s cooking.
-This is surprising. The best dish we’ve had in New York. No, the best this entire season.
-I can’t believe you cooked eel like this when you’re only a teenager. You definitely have a gift.
They showered her with praise. The contestants quietly watched. Cho Min Joon looked back at Kaya. She was staring at the TV with an unknown look on her face. She was almost glaring. At this point, it almost seemed like a habit. Kaya looked back at Cho Min Joon. She always caught on to his gazes like a psychic. Kaya mouthed, ‘What are you looking at?’
Cho Min Joon also mouthed something, but it was unreadable. Kaya was probably getting a headache trying to figure it out. He considered that his revenge for being mean and looked back at the screen. The screen showed Cho Min Joon again. His face was a little crinkled. Why did he show up during Kaya’s portion? The mystery didn’t last for long. Cho Min Joon on TV spoke.
-She was the best out of all the contestants. She’s probably the best in this entire competition.
-By that, do you mean you think she’ll win?
In response to Producer Martin’s question, Cho Min Joon answered.
-Unless there’s a miracle, yes.