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< One,Two,Three (2) >

“······You’re really mean these days.”

“You’re mistaken.”

Kaya turned her head sharply. Jo Minjoon was thinking while eating the piece of beef. He could see that Kaya was striving to keep her conviction. Can Minjoon say that his conviction was really a ‘conviction’? Can he say that wanting to go to a fine restaurant just to use good ingredients was a conviction? Maybe he was just being greedy.

Kaya, Anderson and Rachel was not the one to give him an answer for that. Of course they would be able to give him advice. But it was Minjoon’s job to make a decision. Chloe finished her last piece of beef and opened her mouth.

“Thinking of it, Kaya, did a celebrity come to your restaurant before?”

“Celebrity? I’m not sure. Well Hollywood is right next to us so a few celebrities did come······ But no one that famous I guess. Seeing that I can’t remember anything.”

“The only celebrity you know and remember is Arnold Schwarzenegger.”

“Isn’t that enough?”

“Be honest. Who’s hotter? Minjoon or Arnold??”

Kaya paused and couldn’t answer for a while. Her hesitation has been an answer. Jo Minjoon muttered in a sad voice.

“I should really work out.”

“You said you started last time, Are you taking a break again??”

“Well I’m really busy. But of course I can’t say that in front of Lisa.”

“Lisa?”

“Lisa has to bake bread at her bakery every morning, and then bake again at Rose Island all daylong. Now we’re just preparing so she can handle it but after we start business I’m sure she’ll be exhausted. Plus she hs to take care of Ella.”

Jo Minjoon muttered with concernment. Even though Lisa was good it wouldn’t be an easy job to take care of eveything. As the servers cleared the empty plates, Kaya murmured in a low voice.

“Thinking of Ella, that bitch, reminds me of my childhood.”

“Why?.”

“Since I’ve also grown with only my mother, and she was always busy too. I thought how Ella would feel and······ Did I tell you guys this before? When I went to the police station when I was young?”

“······Is it a scary story?”

“Not really. Cause I didn’t do anything wrong. I just got lost when I was a kid, so I went to the  police station once. But the officers were so nice to me. They made me hot chocolate, and gave me biscuits······ And that made me like that place.”

Kaya shrugged. She wasn’t really serious about this. Since she already overcame everything. There was merely a past memory that she pitied a bit.

“When my mom went to work later on, I would go to the police station alone. It took about an hour by foot to get there. And I was six. How lonely I was to walk all the way to that place. I guess I wanted to look forward to the kind officers

But, well.”

Kaya smiled and looked at Jo Minjoon.

“Since she has a very good fairy god father it would be different for Ella I guess. It’s a relief.”

“You’re really like an all grown adult today. You’ve always been cold to her.”

“Hey, that’s more like talking with her at her level, not fighting for real.”

“Well, I’m not sure about that. You seemed to be a kid too······ Ugh!”

Jo Minjoon moaned. Kaya was pinching his thigh with her fingers. She made her thumb and index finger like a pair of tongs and glared at him.

“Don’t you dare take sides with other women in front of me.”

“······Are you saying that Ella is a woman?”

“Than, is she a man?”

‘······Talking with her ‘at her level’. Ha yeah right.’

Jo Minjoon sighed quietly. The dessert that came out last was chocolate affogato ice cream. It just looks like a big lump of chocolate, but if you pour hot espresso on top of it the chocolate melts and the ice cream inside pops out of it Chloe’s eyes sparked with excitement and said,

“Wow······ It’s so pretty.”

“It’s a good idea for proposals also, you can put a ring inside.”

“Ah, not for me. You have to put on a ring that was buried in the food······ So not romantic for the most romantic moment in your life.”

Kaya shook her body as if just by thinking of it was terrible, and looked at Jo Minjoon.

“When you propose to me, don’t do events like that. It’s the worst.”

“······Why do you think it’s obvious that I’ll propose to you?”

“Are you going out with me without thinking about that? Seriously?”

“No······.”

Jo Minjoon kind of felt like he was in Kaya’s hands. Anderson sighed and opened his mouth.

“You guys can think about whatever proposal later on, what really is important now is that this dessert, it’s quite delicious. No the course itself was good. Congratulations. Kaya Lotus. You’re one step ahead. But I’m not sure if you’ll keep being on a roll.”

“If your going to give me compliments just make it simple. With no competition at the end.”

“Wouldn’t it be weird for us to purely compliment each other?”

“Okay, I admit it. You’re right. But I’ll have to straight things out. It’s not because our relationship is bad, but because you’re a jerk.”

“And you’re not bitchy?”

“Minjoon. Am I bitchy?”

Kaya unconsciously asked Jo Minjoon. Jo Minjoon smiled awkwardly and replied.

“No, you’re not.”

Well maybe a little.

“······Chef. The foam collapsed.”

Maya frowned and held out the soup. It was the foam potato soup that was presented to the 36 chefs before. To be exact, Janet made the soup and Jo Minjoon made the foam. Jo Minjoon looked at Maya and said in a calm voice.

“Of course I’ll collapse. I told you. A cream base foam collapses when it’s heated. What did I tell you to do to prevent that?”

“Ah! You said to put egg whites, starch or things like Belsa whip and agar.”

“Good. You know it, so do you know how to fix things now?”

“Yes. I’ll do it right now.”

Raphael nodded as he saw Maya going straight on to the kitchen.

“It should be hard for her to get used to this place, but she’s already growing up as a cook. Excellent Minjoon. I admire that adaptability.”

“We have to work in a team when it comes to cooking. It’s good to improve my skills but I thought that there’s no other fundamental solution than to improve my coworker’s skills. And of course this also helped me to grow and learn.”

“Molecular cooking is a cooking style that has the highest relationship between knowledge and skill. Which means you can get better even by just talking together. Well in fact in a big restaurant you have to talk together to do something. Since it’s impossible for the head chef to conduct every dish that comes out. A sushi restaurant or a noodle restaurant may put in all the effort in every dish······ But basically we’re different from them. You understand what I mean?”

“Yes. I understand.”

Jo Minjoon nodded. He understood well that one’s cooking skill and the ability to lead a kitchen was different. Raphael opened his mouth. Tomorrow was the day they started business. Even Raphael who had no worries seemed to be nervous. His voice was filled with tension.

“Tomorrow people will think that Rose Island will testify. That a legend is not just a mere illusion, and that there is such a dish in the world that can make you forget all your sadness. They’ll believe that you all can prove that. And they’ll think that where we stand is a red carpet filled with honor and cheers.”

“But the reality is that it’s a tough place, right? A rough path where you’ll fall all the way to the bottom by just a small mistake······ Are you nervous?”

“How could I not be nervous? Where in the world would there be a parent who’s not afraid when giving birth to a child. Even though they know the joy that’ll come, the pain that comes is definitely scary. At one point worrying if something might go wrong······ no they would always worry about that. I’m just the same as them. I’m scared that tomorrow will come. But at the same time I want it to come soon.”

“······I guess Rachel will be more nervous than we are now.”

Raphael didn’t say anything and just looked at the front of the Island. Rachel was watching the chefs cooking in the kitchen. There were no ease nor relief in her two eyes. Like a tightly pulled bowstring with tension and determintaion, a strong aura came out from her. Jo Minjoon slightly looked at Raphael and asked.

“I wanted to ask you this always. It’s quite a personal question though, do you mind?”

“Do as you want. I’m not a little girl to say ‘Respect my privacy’ and whatever.”

“Why are you wandering around? You were a chef at La Ghard in Arzou Hotel. I heard that you were going to be the next head chef, but how could you give all that up and start a food truck? Of course in the end it turned out to be a big success, but couldn’t know what would happen.”

“Minjoon. I didn’t expect you to ask that. You came out too, right? From Korea and from your parents. I heard that it’s a hard thing Asians to be independent from their parents..”

“I did but······ That was because me and my parents had different thoughts so there were no options. But didn’t you have the same vision with the hotel? No, I guess if not you were clear about the food truck. That’s why you came out of the hotel and started on your own. Even if it didn’t seem to work out you would have figue out something and changed it into your style.”

Jo Minjoon wanted to know about this man Raphael. Because he was quite an innovative and unique chef in the chef world. He was sure there would be no chef in the states that had such an unique mind.

But he wasn’t just innovative and unique. Raphael was an outstanding chef. The reason why he seems unique is not because he was weird of anything but because he can see things others can’t see. Jo Minjoon could understand Raphael a little bit. As he also saw things others can’t see. Of course it was a little different from Raphael.

He wanted to be close to Raphael. Jo Minjoon wanted to understand and accept Raphael’s thoughts, point of view and his whole world. Fortunately Raphael wasn’t a person who hides himself. He slowly opened his mouth.

“I think cooking is art. It always have to change and develop. Of course not everyone thinks like that. And I’m not saying that I’m right also. It’s just my values I pursue.”

“I get what your talking about. Some restaurants give warmth and satisfaction and some give a shocking experience. You would be more close to the latter, right?”

“Well, yeah it’s similar. That’s why I didn’t like the hotel. It taught me what fine cuisine was but that was it. When I became the most outstanding chef the only thing they could give me was a salary raise and the head chef position. But that’s not what I want. I became a chef because I want to cook artistic dishes, not because of the high income and stable job. That’s why I ran away from there. And started my own food truck.”

“I was really wondering about that part. You’ve made the biggest success among the food truck owners by molecular food. How could you give up all that and come here? I know you have new branches so the company will still go on even though you don’t work for yourself but······ Don’t you miss that?”

“Yeah. It’s a pity. I’m a person too. How can I not miss that.”

Raphael answered shortly and looked at his hand that was on top of the table. It wasn’t a pretty hand as there were scars and burn marks. But it was a hand he can be proud of. Raphael looked at this pride and continued talking.

“Minjoon. To have a decent life is really simple. It’s to live as people say so. To go on the path where everyone think is okay. At least you won’t starve to death on that path.”

“But······ My heart won’t let me follow that path.”

“Yes. Success is not what I want. I can’t accept myself if I live the same life everyday. For some people that might be a peaceful and happy life, but for me it’s a hell-like life.

I told you. I think of cooking as art. I’m an artist. A life with no change······ Even if I had gold and jewels that means nothing to me.”

“I understand what you mean.”

Raphael replied with a smile to Jo Minjoon and asked him.

“I’ve talked a lot about myself, but didn’t hear your story. Minjoon. What kind of dish do you want to make? What kind of chef do you want to be?”

“I······.”

Jo Minjoon paused for a while. But it didn’t take so long. Jo Minjoon answered with a soft smile. Raphael wriggled his eyebrow as though he was amazed with Jo Minjoons answer, and immediately nodded with a serious face.

“Yeah. That’s also a good dream. Your dream.”

“Thank you.”

There was silence between the two again. The sound of the pans rattling, the flaming fires, meat getting cooked and boiling water buried the sound of the clock ticking. But that doesn’t mean that the time stooped. Clearly time was going by.

Rose Island, a day till it opens.

No, 14 hours.

< One, Two, Three (2) > End

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