Chapter 5: Chapter 5: 7 years earlier (4)
He only got 5 points for his cooking. But the lemon soufflé, which only got 6 points, was already good enough to sell at a shop. So he figured that 5 points was already decent. Along with slight disappointment in his score, Cho Min Joon poured the spicy pork noodles into some bowls.
“Oh yeah, Dad needs to eat some too.”
While Cho Ah Ra mumbled in sadness, Cho Soo Yeop came home. As soon as he entered the house, he flared his nostrils and opened his mouth.
“What’s this smell? Did you order spicy seafood noodles?”
“No, Min Joon made it. Dad, come here.”
Cho Ah Ra pulled Cho Soo Yeop in proudly as if she was the one who made it. Once Cho Soo Yeop saw the spicy pork noodles on the table, he laughed.
“Min Joon made this?”
“I just tried it out. I was bored,” Cho Min Joon replied as he set up the chopsticks. Cho Soo Yeop sat down with a confused look on his face. He didn’t believe that the spicy pork noodles in front of him was made by Cho Min Joon.
Lee Hye Sun approached the table and opened her mouth.
“This afternoon, he even made a cake. What do you call it? Sou…”
“Soufflé. A lemon soufflé.”
“Yeah, that. I left some for you too, Honey. But it’s too little. Tell Min Joon to make you more next time.”
“You’re making me curious.”
Cho Min Joon clapped to get everyone’s attention.
“Please try it. The noodles are going to get soggy.”
Cho Soo Yeop put his hands together and closed his eyes. Their family was Christian, so praying before meals was a routine. Cho Min Joon also put his hands together and prayed.
‘I hope this is a delicious meal.’
No matter how hard he tried, it only received 5 points. But the happiness of a cook depended on the compliments he received from his customers.
Everyone lifted up their chopsticks and tasted it at the same time. The rice noodles had a slight transparency to them. It almost looked like a pasta linguine. Spicy noodle pasta. At that thought, Cho Min Joon smirked. There was a time when such a ridiculous combination was trending.
As soon as he put it into his mouth, he tasted chili oil. And after that, it was salty, then sweet, along with the savory smell of pork. It was very delicious. It was as good as the spicy seafood noodles they ordered from their neighborhood.
And as soon as Cho Min Joon looked at his family members, he realized that he wasn’t the only one with those thoughts. They ate without a break, and Cho Soo Yeop even drank all of the broth. There was no reason to look at them, to begin with. In front of Cho Min Joon’s eyes was a notification.
[Your customers enjoyed your spicy pork noodles!]
Customers? It was a random thing to call them, but he was still happy. Cho Min Joon smiled and asked, “It’s delicious, right?”
“…Seriously, it’s delicious. Wow, we don’t have to order it anymore.”
“But the flavor is a little different. There’s no seafood, and it lacks that smoky flavor.”
The smoky flavor was no big deal. They even sold sauces that tasted smoky these days. Hence, there was no reason to use real fire and go through all that trouble. And even if he didn’t have the sauce or fire, there were other ways. If he cooked it well in salt and vegetable oil, that also created a smoky flavor. That was probably cheating if one thought about it, but there were tons of ways to create flavors.
Then again, spicy seafood noodles took a lot of work. It wasn’t a dish with large margins compared to the original price, and rather than slaving away in the kitchen, it was better to just order in. For that reason, Cho Min Joon was inconfident. Cho Soo Yeob smacked his lips.
“Is there any more? I’m finished.”
“There’s more. One second.”
Cho Min Joon brought over the wok and spooned him more. Cho Soo Yeob smiled and said, “Our Min Joon might just be a better cook than you, Honey.”
“…Not that again. I thought you said my cooking is the best.”
“Come on… Let’s be real. Your cooking is either salty or too bland. There’s no in-between.”
Cho Soo Yeop smirked and teased her. Lee Hye Sun was angry, but she didn’t know what to say. She didn’t enjoy cooking, and she wasn’t good at it either. So she couldn’t say he was wrong. Instead, Lee Hye Sun tapped Cho Ah Ra.
“Ah Ra, stop eating. You’ll gain weight.”
“What? No. I’m going to be a senior in high school soon. I’m allowed to be chubby right now!”
“It’s not like you study anyway. Stop eating. Spicy seafood noodles make you fat.”
“No. I don’t gain that much weight anyway. Worry about yourself, you’ve been pretty bloated these days.”
Cho Min Joon quietly sighed.
“The preliminaries are in March…”
Cho Min Joon looked at his screen. It was the announcement for the Grand Chef preliminary exam. Since the dates overlapped, he couldn’t return for the 1st semester. So there was no particular reason why he couldn’t go in March.
Cho Min Joon completed the application and sent it by mail. If only Americans could apply, he wouldn’t have qualified, but that was not the case. The problem was the cost. The flight and living expenses. He could probably survive for a month. But if he actually passed…
“If I get picked as one of the 100 chefs, will they pay for me?”
Come to think of it, when people from all over America gathered, there was no way they couldn’t provide flights and accommodation. But of course, for preliminaries, the expenses were probably up to them.
Once he saw hope for affording the trip, he felt relieved.
‘I just have to tell them I’m going on a vacation.’
He felt uncomfortable about lying, but it wasn’t a complete lie. It was a vacation. The only difference was that the goal was a little different from what his parents thought.
He felt bad, but he had no choice. Cho Min Joon looked at the screen with sharp eyes.
“Even if I don’t win…”
“I have to win.”
He could no longer deem defeat as something that was a given. Cho Min Joon’s eyes sparkled with determination.