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Suddenly, Min-joon remembered the dish Deborah asked him to try. The dish with ice cream and a grilled pork belly was fresh, but not tempting at all. At that time, her cooking was different from it now. Currently, her dish was a mix of everything intended to appeal to gourmets only.
But she succeeded in connecting the two factors, finally. In other words, she wanted to satisfy everybody by putting as many ingredients as possible in her dish, and at the same time, she didn’t want to be hated by everybody by not including many ingredients. After all, what she wanted was the same.
The main dish that came out next did not lessen Min-joon’s regret. Filet mignon made with Japanese Wagyu beef. It was a dish in which homemade Hollandaise Sauce was sprinkled on the rim and fried onions with roasted vegetables on top of the meat. Likewise, it wasn’t tasteless, but it was still hard to say that it had any distinctive taste. It was delicious, but it was rather ambiguous to explain why it was delicious.
Min-joon felt it was a complicated dish, which reflected Deborah’s complex thoughts. Although it might not be visible to the general public, her anxiety was clearly visible to a chef like him.
As soon as she ate the dessert, Rachel stood up without even enjoying the afterglow of the taste. She opened her mouth, looking back at the other demi-chefs and cooks.
They didn’t have to ask where she was heading for now. She went straight into the kitchen. Deborah stared at her with her face turning white. Watching Deborah so tense and nervous, Min-joon felt sorry for her.
Rachel opened her mouth with a firm voice.
“Deborah, from now on, tell me all the recipes you have.”
“Yes. All the recipes from A to Z, everything.”
Deborah hesitated for a moment, but shortly afterward, she opened his mouth and began to mention all the recipes one by one. Min-joon listened to the recipes carefully. The more he listened, the more frustrated he was. He now came to find out what was the big problem with Debora’s kitchen.
‘The dish a little while ago was 8 points, but the expected cooking score is 9 points.’
This meant that the chefs in the kitchen didn’t bring out the taste befitting the expected cooking score of 9. It was clear there was a big problem here, although he was not sure if it was because of Deborah’s wrong instruction or because the cooks were not gelling with the demi chefs.
‘Man, this place is a real mess.’
Min-joon glanced at the kitchen staff. As if embarrassed by the abrupt situation, they were looking at Rachel and others in a wary manner. Min-joon understood them. Even though they worked under the same roof of Rose Island, they had never met with each other before, so they were almost strangers to each other. Then, Rachel and her chefs were now occupying Deborah’s kitchen all of a sudden, which was enough to embarrass them.
When Min-joon looked back at Rachel, she was pointing out each of Deborah’s recipes. She pointed out not only Deborah’s obsession with the cooking score, but also the time it took to make the dish, blank time or subtle errors bound to take place due to the special nature of the restaurant kitchen, and various ways to make garnishes.
After giving her such a lecture, Rachel instructed the real testing.
She opened her mouth, looking at the demi chefs of the Rose Island main restaurant.
“Today, you guys, keep pace with the demi chefs here.”
“Yeah. You guys are very familiar with what I want and what I ask you to do, so you can help them well. As for the cooks, sorry, but you guys have to take a break today.”
Rachel said she was sorry, but the expressions of the cooks showed they didn’t think her decision was regrettable.
Barely holding back the urge to burst into laughter, Maya said with a nod, “Got it, teacher.”
Then Rachel started to control them in the kitchen. She kept the prototype of all the recipes Deborah presented but attempted new ways that Deborah had never tried. It seemed that the dishes hidden in the flat black and white TV were revived in a colored TV age. While Deborah was watching them blankly, her demi-chefs were confused and embarrassed.
‘Who the hell are these demi chefs? Are they qualified?’
In fact, they have lived until now as the demi chefs of Rose Island despite their affiliation with its Las Vegas branch. As demi chefs of Rose Island, they could work as sous chefs at other restaurants. If the restaurants were really small, they could even work as head chefs.
However, Min-joon, Anderson, Havier, and Janet were one cut above them in cooking skills.
They helped the demi chefs here so well that they even wondered how these guys with the Rose Island main restaurant could be content with their current status as demi chefs.
“Foie gras is perfect for searing. I also crushed the almonds that Chef Rachel ordered additionally. What’s going on with the puree?”
“Gaibasira is not ready for pochi yet, so I put them back in the water. It will take another 30 seconds. Let’s make Mousseline in that time.”
They never took a break and made no mistakes. As if they thought they were a sophisticated supercomputer, they immediately figured out what to do and how to help them without any hesitation or concern. Watching them, the demi chefs at the Las Vegas branch felt like they didn’t want to show their business cards to anybody.
‘Is that the way they work at the main restaurant of Rose Island?’
Deborah’s demi-chefs clasped their hands. They felt their pride was broken in an instant, and at the same time, they felt a strong sense of fresh resolve. They were filled with the desire to be like these guys.
Watching them interact with her demi chefs, Deborah just kept silent without saying anything. She felt like she would fall, so impressed with a total change in the atmosphere of the kitchen.
At that moment, Rachel turned to Deborah and shouted, “Deborah, what are you doing without checking the cooking? Can’t you check how the roasting is going and if the viscosity of puree sauce is right? It’s your job as sous chef right now to check it even before I came here!”
When Rachel shouted again, Deborah raised her head, startled. When was the last time that Deborah got so tense by her voice? Deborah bit her lips, raised her head, and stepped forward. Then she uttered in a strong voice, which she felt she couldn’t, “Got it, Chef!”
She replied like herself in a good, not bad, sense. She was a veteran chef who had decades of cooking career. In fact, her cooking certainly had both depth and quality, unlike a simple veteran chef.
Min-joon easily discovered that her cooking skills were not gone, but were just hidden.
That was especially the case when she sometimes helped her demi chefs with the main dish. Her technique clearly showed how she could land a job as the head chef of the Las Vegas branch of Rose Island.
‘Cooking level 9 is not something any chef can achieve.’
Although Min-joon had recently achieved cooking level 8 very quickly, it did not mean that the cooking level itself showed everything about the chef. For example, Alan served as a judge for the Grand Chef competition even when he was at cooking level 8. At the same time, he won a two-star in ‘Olive Island,’ gaining world fame.
When he came to think about Alan, he found something interesting. Deborah, with cooking level 9, was struggling to maintain even a Michelin one-star, but Alan had already received attention because he had earned two stars, and soon, he is expected to earn three stars with his cooking level 8.
‘What makes such a difference? It’s not because the Michelin Guide Inspectors’ evaluation is strange.’
Of course, their evaluation was inevitably subjective because Michelin was criticized a lot for its overly European-centered attitude, especially based on French gastronomy. The number of stars was also one of the factors that had been consistently criticized until now. Food was, after all, a matter of individual preference, but there were few gourmets who gave a proper answer to the question of how to rank the tastes of dishes.
These days, some people have begun to say that Min-joon could be an absolute standard because they believed that he had a perfect palate. However, Min-joon knew what was going on in the cuisine world, so he was aware that their expectations would never come true.
‘Although there is a cooking score, it’s not the same as the score for the dish.’
In fact, that was Deborah’s case. Her cooking score wasn’t bad, but compared to it, her dish wasn’t that good. Considering her cooking level, the score for her dish was not so high.
“Min-joon, could you finish the vegetable symphony? I don’t have time to put vegetables in onions right now.”
He did not answer long because it’s best not to say much in the kitchen. The moment a chef said long, he or she could focus more on talking, which might distract their attention and make their dish less perfect. Some might argue it was overly perfect, but cuisine had to be perfect because no customer wanted a dish made with imperfect cooking.
Though Deborah’s demi chefs pretended not to pay attention, they watched the way Min-joon used his hands cooking the dishes and admired his nimble hands. Stuffing vegetables on a round onion. It was never easy to build it like a tower, not simply stuffing it, for it was difficult to keep it in balance.
In fact, it took a long time for them to get used to it. But Min-joon skillfully stuffed the ingredients as if he had long experiences with doing it. And it was natural he could do so, given Rachel’s unusual food decoration.
Min-joon wasn’t just good at decorating the food. He showed dexterity in handling the frying pan or checking the searing of shellfish and fish or figuring out when to turn it over, a clear indication that he was a master in this field.
‘Definitely, he hasn’t gained fame by sheer luck,’ Deborah thought to herself.
She admired his wonderful skills. Honestly, many chefs felt the same thing about him.
Of course, there were genius chefs who overcame all the difficulties to claim the top position, but in the real world, these demi chefs and head chefs like Deborah knew well how hard cooking was. It was hard to deny that talent was needed in cooking, but at the same time, talent could not surpass one’s efforts to make the best dish.
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