Chapter 25: Chapter 25: 3 plates and one cooking (3)
“Time’s up. Take your hands off of your plates!”
Allen called with a sharp voice. Cho Min Joon calmly watched Allen. Allen looked around all of the 9 contestants and then spoke in a low voice, “We’ll evaluate each team separately. Chloe, Min Joon, and Marco, bring your dishes.”
Cho Min Joon walked out with his fried soft tofu. The three dishes were placed next to each other. When Emily saw the plates, she said, “Japanese fried tofu, Chinese Guanzi, and biscuit… You’re mixing all different cultures. Will it go together?”
“I think so. We’re all different races, but we all form a harmony.”
“I hope you’re right.”
Emily proceeded to cut the fried soft tofu. The fried portion was stuck to the tofu, making it impossible for it to peel off while cutting it. Emily was impressed by that. Just by the fried soft tofu alone.
Soy sauce was poured on the spoon along with the fried soft tofu. Emily then put it into her mouth.
As soon as Emily tasted the tofu, she knew it was very well made. She didn’t taste any oil from the tofu water. The soy sauce was refreshing due to the lime juice and eating the fried tofu almost felt like eating a salad.
It was an impressive appetizer. It was impressive coming from amateurs. Emily appreciated the tofu’s flavors. It could be argued at any tofu tasted good. But making those flavors come to life wasn’t that easy.
In that sense, Cho Min Joon’s Agedashi tofu was flawless. It wasn’t all that special, but the flavors were loyal. That was Emily’s evaluation.
And Joseph and Allen agreed. There was some anxiousness about adding lime juice, but just the right amount was added, making the sauce taste even better.
Joseph thought the same thing he had thought before. Cho Min Joon was a genius when it came to creating recipes. They weren’t that original. But when recipes were changed from the original, there were both pros and cons. However, Cho Min Joon’s recipes kept the basic flavors while adding only the good things.
‘Does he already understand the structure of flavors at his young age?’
It wasn’t surprising that Joseph thought this way. Joseph asked, “Min Joon, whose idea was it to add the lime juice?”
“I came up with it.”
“Have you tried it before?”
“… Yes. Is that weird?”
Joseph didn’t answer. It didn’t seem like Cho Min Joon was lying. That meant he really came up with it. Even the other things he had made before.
In order to understand flavors so deeply, he must have made many dishes. But was that possible? He was only in his early 20s. Even if he grew up in a kitchen, it was hard to make that many dishes.
Joseph didn’t know that he was being helped by a system, so he was thoroughly confused. But he couldn’t dwell on it forever. The food was getting cold, and Emily and Allen were already tasting the Guanzi.
When he put the Guanzi in his mouth, it was delicious. It had basic flavors, but the clean soy sauce made it taste even cleaner. His sensitive tongue sensed the pepper oil and oyster sauce at a higher intensity, and the soft texture of the Guanzi made the inside of his mouth feel like it was being kissed.
It was a beautiful flavor and combination. Joseph was touched as he tasted it. Although he was a top chef in the world, he still had a little bit of innocence left in his heart. The heart that made him want to become a chef, eat delicious food and make it as well.
So Joseph was naturally touched by the Guanzi. And the same went for Allen and Emily. Of course, it was not at the same intensity, but they looked pleased.
The last course was the mocha biscuit. The square mocha biscuit had a plain yogurt on top of it. They tasted it. The crispy texture, and the subtle coffee scent, as well as the sour flavor of the yogurt, relieved their taste buds.
It was made with a full understanding of the dessert’s role. The judges tried to keep their straight faces, but they couldn’t hide their smiles. Delicious food made people smile.
And Cho Min Joon saw the smiles on their faces. He felt relieved. Marco’s mocha biscuit was a 7. Considering the fact that Marco’s baking level was 7, it wasn’t a failure, but he still felt anxious. Beyond their scores, he didn’t know if their combination was sound.
The tasting continued. The judges proceeded to taste Kaya’s team’s dishes. Kaya made the appetizer. She made a salad that included grilled salmon. Cho Min Joon knitted his brows.
[Salmon Tataki Salad]
Origin: (Too many ingredients for an accurate calculation)
Quality: High (Average)
Cooking Score: 8/10
8 points. Kaya made another spectacular dish. However, Cho Min Joon didn’t feel happy as he watched. How could he?
“… Is this the appetizer?”
“It’s almost like an entrée though. It’s too heavy. Just looking at it feels too heavy.”
Allen was saying what was on Cho Min Joon’s mind. To be more specific, everyone there felt the same way. If she had made a raw fish dish out of the salmon, that would have been better. But she made a grilled tataki. That was too heavy for an appetizer.
Kaya looked at Allen without a word. In the end, Anderson jumped in.
“I’m sorry. The truth is…”
“Forget it. I heard from the producers that you fought over the main dish. It’s okay to fight. But you made it affect your final product.”
Allen was looking at Anderson, but he was actually talking to Kaya. Kaya glared at Allen. She then spoke in a husky and scary voice, “Try it anyway. It’s good.”
When Cho Min Joon heard Kaya’s temperamental voice, he then remembered this situation. When Anderson and Kaya worked on a team, the result was a mess. And the reason was simple. The dessert was done by another team member, but Kaya and Anderson fought over who would make the main dish.
And in the end, Anderson got the main dish. However, Kaya’s cooking became a problem. She made salmon tataki just like now. But he didn’t know if she didn’t know much about appetizers or if she wanted to get back at Anderson for not yielding.
But the result was the same as he remembered.
“I can’t eat this dish. And I’m sure the other judges feel the same way.” Allen said that as he looked back at Joseph and Emily. They both nodded. Joseph spoke with a sad voice, “Kaya, why did you make this? You know how to cook, and you should understand the enjoyment of eating food. And this… is definitely not complete. I can’t taste it or evaluate it. I’m disappointed. Why…”
Joseph trailed off and sighed. Cho Min Joon watched quietly. They were very negative about a dish that was worth 8 points, but Cho Min Joon understood. This dish didn’t suit the topic. The dish didn’t contain any sincerity or consideration for those who were eating it. All it contained was overconfidence and the rage of not being able to make the main dish.
And that was when Cho Min Joon understood. Kaya was a genius, but she was just an 18-year-old girl. She was a sensitive teenager.
Everyone grew quiet. Cho Min Joon stared at Kaya’s salmon tataki salad. 8 points. He still wanted to give it a chance. But no one could touch it.