< One, Two, Three (1) >
The fall in California isn’t that cool. It’s similar to the edge of fall and summer in Korea. This warmth changed into heat in the kitchen. It wasn’t a surprise, as fire was coming out from multiple stoves at the same time.
But Kaya can’t feel the heat now. The AC in the kitchen was cool enough, but that wasn’t the only reason. Her mind was filled with the thought of the event coming up soon that it was hard to feel the heat.
“Kaya. You okay? You look nervous.”
George who was practically the head chef of this restaurant asked. Kaya shook her head.
“I’m not that okay. I’m nervous to death.”
“Sorry. It would have been great if you had more time to cook on your own.”
“I’m not going to complain about how incompetent I am. So shut up. And stop getting on my nerves.”
“……That was very harsh for a person who just said they’re not going to complain.”
Kaya didn’t reply, she just stared at the hall. After a while or more. Kaya opened her mouth nervously as she saw three people heading towards the table.
“I’ll be back.”
“Don’t worry about the kitchen and have a nice meal. I’ll take good care of this place.”
There wasn’t really anything to worry about. Since what Kaya usually did was to just meet people. But today was different. Out of all the menus from the restaurant there were four dishes that Kaya had planned and made all by herself.
Kaya went out and sat down. She smiled at the three people.
“Thank you all for coming. To my special day.”
“It’s on you so there’s no reason to say no.”
“Anderson. Thanks for coming, but don’t be an asshole. I’m starting to regret inviting you.”
Kaya frowned a bit. Jo Minjoon pressed her forehead with his finger and opened his mouth.
“Don’t frown. You’ll get wrinkles.”
“Are you worried?”
“How can I not be worried. You’re my girlfriend.”
With that Kaya smiled and kissed Jo Minjoon on the cheek. Anderson who was looking at them, and Chloe who was next to them sighed deeply at that scene. Both sighed with a different reason but they were both exhausted by Kaya and Jo Minjoon. Chole carefully started a new topic.
“Look I get that you two are love birds, now Kaya. Could you start with the menu introduction?”
“Ah, Yeah. Basically it’s a three-course menu but our customers don’t really care about that and just order what they want.”
“……they don’t care about the course?”
Anderson made a weird face as he heard something freaky. Kaya nodded.
“I guess our restaurant doesn’t really seem as a fine dining restaurant. So the customers don’t really expect a fine dining. We do have a three-course menu, but usually they order individual dishes. Since also the price different isn’t that big.”
“So what did you make?.”
“The Appetizer, Main dish, and Dessert. One each. The name of this course is the ‘Original Kaya Course’.”
As Anderson said that Kaya glared at him, and sighed. Kaya didn’t like that name either. Kaya opened her mouth as she looked at the other two.
“Anyways, for the first time I can proudly say that my dish is on the menu. I’m glad that I can share this day with you guys.”
“The pleasures mine. I can get all the treats from the head chef today.”
Chloe replied with a warm smile. As the squid ink bread was being served, Chole asked Anderson and Jo Minjoon.
“But can you guys be here like this? It’s two days before the grand opening.”
“We’re off today. We’re going to be really busy after two days, so she told us to think of today as our last day off..”
“Huh? You guys don’t have holidays at your restaurant?”
“We do rest on Sundays, but it seems like you need to practice cooking or think about new menus instead of taking a day off.”
“Well who isn’t busy here?.”
Jo Minjoon shrugged and ate some squid ink bread. It wasn’t particularly delicious. It was just a regular bread that you would say ‘Yeah. This is how a bread should be at a restaurant.’. Chole opened her mouth as she seemed to recall something.
“Thinking about it Minjoon, I saw that picture. The one with the Rose Island head chefs and Ella. But only Ella came into my eyes.”
“I know. Even the people on Starbook was all talking about Ella.”
“Maybe she’ll be the mascot of the main branch”
“That stupid bitch…….”
Kaya grumbled and frowned as though she hated it just by the thought of her. Jo Minjoon laughed softly and slightly pinched Kaya’s cheek.
“Don’t hate a child.”
“You guys are saying that because she treats you and Chloe well. She’s such a bitch to me.”
“Isn’t that because Ella likes Minjoon?”
“I don’t like that either. That child should go and like another child. How dare she thinks of my man.”
Kaya pouted and answered at Chloe’s question. It was just then. The first dish was served. It was soup. Jo Minjoon slightly took a sniff and asked Kaya.
“It’s made of pumpkin and…… some fruits. Peach? No. Pear, isn’t it?”
“Wow. Your nose is getting better and better.”
“I always practice.”
He tires not to show, but the expectations of people towards the absolute taster was a burden to Jo Minjoon. What he had wasn’t absolute taste, it was just some good system. So he had to analyze and decompose flavors obsessively. Where ever he goes people will still expect a lot from him, so it was better to train himself to be as close as an absolute taster.
The funny thing was that all the effort was worth it. The more he tried to feel the more he was able to taste, and especially his nose got sensitive. To be exact, the most distinctive sense he felt was smelling. It made sense if you think of how taste and scent are connected, but it was an unexpected development.
With one bite Jo Minjoon nodded with satisfaction. The soup was showing what kind of person the chef, what kind of person Kaya was. Rough on the outside, but soft and warm on the inside. Not showing off and only filled with thoughts of the customers. It was that kind of dish. Jo Minjoon slowly opened his mouth.
“I remember what we talked about before. Kaya, you said you wanted to make a restaurant where even the poorest gangsters can come without hesitation. I can see that you still have that dream through this dish.”
Kaya herself was the poorest gangster, so she knows how it feels like better than anyone else. Jo Minjoon put his hand on Kaya’s shoulder for a moment. Kaya touched where Jo Minjoon just put his hand and said in a clam voice.
“I didn’t want to make a dish to show off. Minjoon, you said you like a restaurant where you can use good ingredients as much as you want?”
“Well, yeah I guess so. The fact that you can’t use good ingredients because of the price…… is so sad. I want to use every ingredient that exists in the world.”
“One thing that’s certain is that you have to be very good. Since people don’t like chefs who uses expensive ingredients and make expensive ‘normal’ dishes.”
“I just need to make a 1000 dollar dish with 100 dollar ingrediets.”
“Go for it. I support you.”
Kaya smiled. The chefs who were glancing at Kaya’s table were very unfamiliar with how she was smiling. She was always harsh and cold like a porcupine in the kitchen but look at how she can smile like that in front of her boyfriend.
Of course Kaya couldn’t feel the people gazing at her. She was filled with excitement just by talking with her friends. Friends. It was natural to say this now, but even when Kaya was starting as a grand chef she had not one person to rely on.
“Excellent. Kaya. We’re the first customers to taste your dish.”
So their words and praises were precious as gold. A good day with good people at a good place talking about good things. Kaya never expected to have a day like this, so this moment had to be happy for her. Kaya slowly opened her mouth.
“It was possible because of everyone’s support. There were times I wanted to give up. Making a new recipe was harder than I though, and sometimes I felt like a child playing a chef not a real chef…… Especially Minjoon, thanks for always being there for me.”
“You don’t have to thank me for something you deserve.”
“This is all I can give to you guys. So shut up and listen. When I say thank you.”
“……wasn’t that too harsh for a person who’s thankful?”
As Jo Minjoon said that Kaya made a sexy smile and held on to his neck. Her voice tickled Jo Minjoon’s neck.
“You want something more harsh?”
“……hey. There are people in front of you. And also a lot”
Anderson said in an annoying voice. Chole was awkwardly fanning herself with her hands, and everyone around the table was looking at Jo Minjoon and Kaya. Even the chefs in the kitchen was looking at them. Kaya took her arms from Jo Minjoon and held both her hands up as though she was surrendering.
“Can’t you guys not look? You people seem to have voyeurism.”
“You two are way not conscious of others. I wondered why all these kissing and things popped up on the internet….. no wonder.”
Just then the following dish came out. Steamed beef that was steamed with wine. It was beef fillet and on the side there were fried scallion and some grape juice that was made as jelly. Chole beamed with curiosity and said.
“I guess your trying molecular cooking also Kaya. You made jelly.”
“Well jelly is more like a classic dish than a modern molecular dish. The concept of making the sauce into jelly is just quite creative. And…… molecular cooking, I get to do it every now and then. Since I sometimes cook molecular dishes at Minjoon’s house.”
“Are you still in charge of breakfast?”
“But sometimes Minjoon helps. He’s kind. Different from that disney villain jerk over there.”
“……If it’s a villain it’s just a villain. Why am I a disney villain?”
“Cause you’re too typical.”
Kaya answered sharply as though he was asking something so obvious. Anderson cut the beef with a grumpy face. ‘I’m so going to make a mess in the living room.’ He planned an evil scheme for the cleaner Kaya.
The steamed beef was delicious as well. Frankly it was hard to compare with the cuisine of Rose Island. Not the Kaya’s dish was bad or anything. But what Rose Island and Kaya was pointing to was completely different.
Rose Island emphasize the taste and harmony of each bite the dish gives. Focusing on the aesthetic aspects of enjoying the taste rather than getting full…… but Kaya’s dish was very basic. A pleasant dish that makes you full. The steamed beef itself was really big.
And Kaya put in all the elements a basic dish would have inside this steamed beef. If we were to find a similar expression, a dish like a grandmother would give to her grandchilderen? You can feel how the chef wants the customers to be full.
And the taste wasn’t just basic. Every bite the flavor of the wine wasn’t tangy but soft and tender, and when the grape jelly the sweetness dramatically got better. It was a strong dish just like Kaya. Just then. Chole murmured in a small voice.
“……I envy you.”
“Yeah. The fact that you can cook this kind of dish, makes me envy you. I guess this is the path of a chef. But me, I come on TV as a star chef but I’ve never worked at a restaurant before. So these days…… I just think a lot. Maybe I should stop this life and work at a restaurant.”
“Are you out of your mind?”
Kaya immediately answered without hesitation. Chloe looked surprise as she didn’t expect her to react so soon. Kaya spoke with a stern voice.
“When someone’s in the kitchen, someone has to be in front of the camera. Chloe. Your doing great. People love you, and you do your job well. Just because you don’t have experience in the kitchen doesn’t mean you’re incompetent.”
“Than be proud. Chloe. You’re a star. A star. And also you’re the most beautiful woman I know. Don’t listen to what others say you are. There’s no end in fulfilling people’s expectations. Just do what you need to do. You’re good enough just doing that.”
Chloe responded as she was moved by Kaya. Jo Minjoon nodded with agreement and asked Kaya.
“If you know so well why do you care about the bad comments?”
< One, Two, Three (1) > End