Chapter 6: Chapter 6: New York 92nd Street (1)
“The winner of Grand Chef Season 3… is Kaya Reuters.”
Cho Min Joon organized his thoughts in a notebook. Grand Chef was entering its third season in 2010. He didn’t watch all of the episodes, but he made sure to catch the important parts. He remembered who won and what their strengths were. And from the show, the winner of Season 3 was a cook that Cho Min Joon respected.
She was known as the most talented contestant of Grand Chef. She also became the most famous chef from the show, and it wasn’t that surprising. She was a white, 18-year-old, beautiful English woman. On top of that, the fact that she was from the slums made her into the perfect Cinderella.
As someone from the slums, her way of speaking was a little rough, but the food on her plates received lots of praise. She was so good that no one believed that she had never received proper education in cooking. Even in Korea, the name, ‘Kaya Reuters’ trended online.
‘Will I be able to surpass her?’
The background didn’t matter. Grand Chef wasn’t a show that picked actors or singers. It was a war between cooks. And the winner was decided solely based on cooking. However…
However, Kaya Reuters was more than that. It was to the point where people were sad that she competed in Season 3. She was a beast that was definitely far from being an amateur.
“My weapon is my knowledge and the system. For her, it’s her talent…”
Cho Min Joon didn’t know everything, but he remembered what kind of battles there were. He had forgotten some parts, but once he faced the real-life situation, it would all come back to him. As for tasting missions, Cho Min Joon was confident that he could figure out every single ingredient inside a dish. After all, he had a system.
If they asked him to taste something and make the same thing, he could do that as well. After all, he was able to figure out recipes for everything he ate. To be more exact, he could only figure out the dishes below his gourmet level.
And Cho Min Joon’s current level looked like this.
[Cho Min Joon]
Cooking Level: 5
Breadmaking Level: 4
Gourmet Level: 7
Decoration Level: 4
The only thing that changed was the gourmet level. That was the result of his efforts to taste every single aspect of the dish. But after that, he found more enjoyment from eating foods. He was able to better taste every ingredient, and he felt like he understood them better as well.
“I need my cooking level to go up,” Cho Min Joon mumbled in disappointment. After looking into it, Cho Min Joon learned that most of the dishes served at restaurants were around 4 to 5 points. That’s where Cho Min Joon’s abilities lied. Of course, it was impressive for an amateur, but it was still not good enough.
He wanted to win. He wanted to become a chef that was much better than the average. And Grand Chef was his first step in getting there.
He became curious. What level was Kaya Reuters?
The airport. In front of security. Lee Hye Sun sighed deeply.
“Haah. Why do you have to go to America?”
“I’m sorry I’m going alone. Let’s go together next time, Mom.”
“That’s not what I’m talking about. Actually, maybe I should scold you for going alone. That place is dangerous…”
Lee Hye Sun only knew America for their guns, gangs, and drugs. She was somewhat correct. For a developed country, the crime rate was definitely high. Cho Min Joon opened his mouth to reply.
“Since New York is a city, it won’t be that dangerous.”
“It’s not like the Korean crimes that only happen in the countryside.”
Cho Min Joon smirked in response.
“Spiderman protects New York.”
Lee Hye Sun laughed out of absurdity. Cho Min Joon hugged Lee Hye Sun just for a moment. Cho Min Joon then looked at Lee Hye Sun in the face.
“I’ll be back in no time.”
“…Call me when you get there.”
Cho Min Joon got through security and headed towards the gates. He was flying economy. He wasn’t that well-off that he could take business.
[Hello, everyone. Thank you for taking Mokdong Airlines, Flight 127…]
While the welcome announcement went on, the plane took off. It was going to take 24 hours until he arrived in New York. Direct flights only took 14 hours, but he didn’t want to spend an extra 300,000 won just to arrive 10 hours earlier. Cho Min Joon didn’t see the value in 10 hours for that much money. At least right now, that is.
“Grand Chef. I’m counting on you.”
‘I hope one day, my 10 minutes becomes worth 300,000 won.’
The time on the plane passed by slowly. Food came out once in a while, but they were only 4 to 5 points. And of course, they were made ahead of time. But if instant food came out with such points, perhaps they were quite decent. They were not half bad, but he found the quality to be poor.
And at this point, Cho Min Joon was eating his fourth and last meal on the plane.
Origin: (Too many ingredients for an accurate calculation)
Quality: High (average)
Cooking Score: 6/10
To be honest, he was satisfied. If instant plane food was this good, it must have been amazing when it was first prepared. It was probably a dish that countless cooks had worked on.
Jambalaya was a type of fried rice that was commonly enjoyed in the southern region of America. And when tomatoes were added to it, it was called Red Jambalaya. It was soft like risotto with a deep flavor. Also, the slight fried rice texture was sensational.
Cho Min Joon closed his eyes and tried to taste everything from the Jambalaya. On one side, he was seeing a recipe for the dish, but he wanted to figure it out without the help of the system. He tasted a caramel flavor from the savory sausages. In other words, it was roasted well.
Most Jambalayas begin with spraying oil on the pan and cooking meat. On top of that, onions, garlic, and celery are added. After that, mushrooms, green onions, and spices are added. The spices are the most important part. Most use Tabasco sauce, but the final flavors depend on which Tabasco sauce and herbs were used.
“I don’t know about Tabasco sauce… but what herb did they use? Is it Saffron? It’s a bit too weak for that… Is it lime?”
Cho Min Joon looked at the recipe window. He smiled. It was lime after all. The unexpected sour flavor was responsible for the sauce’s zesty taste.
The recipe was as Cho Min Joon predicted. After adding lime and Tabasco sauce, they added seafood, rice, and chicken broth. And once the rice was cooked, the dish was complete.
Cho Min Joon was surprised about the Tabasco sauce. However, he had no choice but to sigh at the message that popped up.
[You are unable to analyze the recipe due to your low gourmet level.]
Although he was able to analyze the Jambalaya recipe, he was unable to look into the Tabasco sauce. Then again, it must have been an impressive Tabasco sauce for the dish to get 6 points. It was unfortunate, but he also felt respect towards the chef.
He looked around and noticed that no one was dissatisfied by the Jambalaya. Something that delicious was bound to be delicious to everyone. As soon as he realized that, he felt excited.
After finishing his meal, Cho Min Joon arrived at the airport in New York. It was February 26. The weather in New York wasn’t too different from that of Seoul. The air was so cold, Cho Min Joon breathed out of his mouth.
“Ugh, it’s cold.”
As soon as he got out of the airport on a bus, he saw a road of small houses. Most of the houses were made out of bricks. Cho Min Joon laughed at what he rarely saw in Korea. He felt shy in a way. He didn’t know why, but he did. He felt proud that he did something for himself. Cho Min Joon got off the bus. He didn’t know what the place was called, but he looked around and thought about where to stay.
At that moment, he saw a man in shabby clothes looking lost. Cho Min Joon approached him and took out his wallet. He handed him a 5 dollar bill. The man blankly stared at Cho Min Joon. He must have been shocked by the unexpected behavior.
When Cho Min Joon opened his mouth to say something, a man ran at high speeds and bumped into him before proceeding to run away. Cho Min Joon, who landed on his bum, looked at the man as he ran away.
“What was that…?”
‘Why did he push me and not apologize? Are New Yorkers all like this?’ While he wondered as to why, Cho Min Joon’s face stiffened up. It was gone. The thing that he was holding just a second ago. It disappeared completely.