< The Courtship of 36 People (5)>

“Then it appears Minjoon is in a much difficult situation than thought.”

“Although I am not sure if he understands it…. In fact, there is no need to understand it.  Ultimately, what he needs to do is to continue his own path, rather than trying to meet our expectations.

There is no need to be adding new burden to him.”

“But he will realize it in the end.  Once this interview makes public, there is no way that Minjoon won’t know.”

“Even though there is no need to inform him, it isn’t something that he will go on not knowing it indefinitely.”

Dave responded in a nonchalant voice.  If that much pressure cannot be tolerated, it probably wasn’t worth for them to be waiting for it in the first place.  However, Jo Minjoon wasn’t thought to be such a weak person.  Dave was about to be lost in his thoughts.  There came Phillip’s voice.

“Dave.  Sit down.  They said dining will begin shortly.”

“Ah.  Got it.  I am leaving now.”

“Yes.  Thank you for the interview.”

Pabo watched Dave as he left with a big smile.  Although he showed rather a calm attitude, it wasn’t yet certain whether the other chefs were like minded or not.  After all, they were people too.  Can they accept the fact that someone newer can stand over them in a higher position?

Of course, it would be too obvious to throw that question to them.  The possibility of hurting their egos was very high after all.  Pabo looked on Dave from a distance.  Sitting at the table, he appeared very serious as if he was in a deep thought.  Finally, his countenance led Debra, who was sitting next to him, to say something.

“Why are you looking so serious?”

“…Uh?  Ah.  I’m just thinking.  This place is our memory and our starting point.  When Ms. Rachel retired, no one thought that this place would be revived like this… I’m stunned.”

“Who knows?  She may just retire again like when she had done at that time without even telling us.”

“She holds onto a hope right now.  Perhaps, on Jo Minjoon, that man right there.  Although not sure if that hope is the right one or not as of yet…. At least, she should be thankful to him.

Deborah.  The pillar has returned.  The pillar of support that will hold us steady is here again.

Just for that… I feel like I can go give him a kiss.”

“I don’t think he would want your kiss.”

“That’s a relief.  For me, and for him too.”

Dave laughed out loud.  Then, the servers approached and gave them the menus.  Although they may not have had a lot of time to practice, the speed, at which the menus were distributed to them, were the same.  Perhaps, it was due to the fact that they all have years of experience.  Dave picked up the menu.

“Hm.  There are ten courses.  The possibilities of being able to select look to be limited to pasta, main and desert… Snapper makes up almost all appetizers.  Snapper enjoys a long season.  Should be able to use it for a long time.”

“Is a la carte available?”

“No.  Sir, I’m sorry.  Our restaurant does not provide a la carte.”

“Well, of course.  My intention wasn’t to order a la carte.  Please don’t worry.”

A la carte.  It refers to ordering each dish to configure a meal.  On the surface, it appears to be fun to order in such a way, but in reality, it really wasn’t as far as a la carte goes.  First of all, one must have deep cooking knowledge in basic dish preparation.  Also, one must have a good understanding of what taste a dish may have at the pertinent restaurant.

But, although minor, Rose Island changes their menu every 15 days.  On top of that, it wasn’t easy to dine here often as reserving a table didn’t come easy.  Although it was possible to be notified should there be a cancelled reservation… But, reservation cancellations were very rare compared to other places.

That’s reasonable.  People did not reserve a table at Rose Island just so that they can get a delicious meal.  People from all over the world would fly into LA in order to visit Rose Island.  In a desire to make a life time memory, those reservations are made, so unless something major catastrophe occurs, it was tough to find someone cancelling a reservation.

For that reason, it made no sense to offer a la carte at Rose Island.  The course meal isn’t something that someone has hastily put together.  The chef’s consideration, intuition and dignity as they configure each dish are reflected in the course meal.  Unless one wanted to have a different experience by having the same course meal many times, but it wasn’t likely that one will have the same course meal at Rose Island in the first place… Not having an a la carte option made sense.

“I will have the spaghetti for pasta.  How one prepares the most basic dish is the funnest part in the first place.”

“Then I’ll have the fusilli.”

“Fusilli?  That could be a difficult one to make it tasty.”

“Since she makes difficult ones tasty, our instructor is the best.”

“Someone was complaining about confit earlier.  Sauce simmering was all wrong, I think.  Are you sure?”

“What are you asking right now?  At that time, Chef Rachel asked us to critic the bulk chefs.  Besides, Chef Rachel is in the kitchen, not in the hall.  Even if you had preschoolers as chefs, as long as Chef Rachel was around, anything prepared will taste much better than earlier.”

Such compliment demonstrated how much trust was given to Rachel.  Dave opened up his shoulders.

“There wasn’t any objection even though the expression seemed severe.  Ah, I will have the steamed beef.  Is it OK to choose desert after finishing the main dish?  Wait.  It may be a bit late.  I will order when I start on the pasta.  Is that OK?”

“Definitely.  Also, we have basic mineral water, carbonated drinks and mineral water with lime juice.  Which one would you like?”

“I will have the carbonated drink.  No.  I think lime juice would be good.  I’ll order that one.  Thank you.”

“Yes, of course.”

The server gave a big smile and slowly turned back after taking the order.  Everyone there was slender and handsome.  In fact, there was no position, where the appearance was as important as in being a server.  It was especially true for an upscale restaurant like Rose Island.  By having a model like person to take orders, whenever possible, would certainly help improve the guests’ moods as well.

It was after when the server returned to place carbonated drink and mineral water with lime juice and left.  Deborah opened her mouth as she was observing the bubbles in the carbonated drink.

“When I went to a restaurant in New York last time, they charged me $30 each for carbonated drink and mineral water.  Of course, it was served in a very expensive looking bottle… In fact, if I was asked to assess their values, I am not sure that I can say that they were worth $30 each even now.”

“Did you get upset?”

“I did get upset.  Not as a guest, but as a cook.  And as a friend.  I couldn’t accept it.  To charge the guests for something basic like that.  He wasn’t like that.  In fact, he certainly loved cooking and was elated to be able to have his own restaurant….”

“Owner chef?”

“Yup.  Maybe because of that.  He probably saw either the weakening financial situation of the restaurant or profits piling up.  He got greedy I suppose.  I can understand it.  It’s possible to be swayed.  But, even if one gets shaken, he shouldn’t fall down.”

Then, the servers came with smiles and placed yellowish ciabatta and accompanying sauces on the table.  There were three kinds of sauces.  Then a server spoke.

“From the right, there is butter, flavored with dried clove buds, tapenade mixed with feta cheese and foie gras paste.  Spread them liberally on the bread.  But for the first bite, I recommend trying it plain, so that you can savor the taste of the bread itself.”

Deborah paused momentarily, tore a piece of the bread and placed it in her mouth.  Unconsciously, she nodded her head.

“Patissiere was old Jack’s daughter, right?”

“Oh, yeah?”

“Taste this.  It is just like it.  It preserved the chewiness of flour and grain flavor.  It’s a perfect ciabatta.”

“Someone without the right knowledge may even think that butter was added to it upon tasting it.”

“Anyway, where did I stop?”

Deborah was about to speak after coming out of a deep thought.  Upon approaching, the servers placed spoons.  A small round ball shaped fried dish was placed on top of powdered green sauce.  One of the servers began to speak.

“This is pork and shrimp shaped into a dumpling, battered and deep fried and served over powdered green mustard sauce.  Please try the whole piece in one bite.”

Deborah stopped talking.  Then upon taking in the aroma of the dish, she ate the whole thing at once. The condensed aroma coming from the taste of oil around the batter and powdered mustard and the deliciousness from the unique chewiness of mixed pork and shrimp have worked up her appetite.  And strange expression, showing both frustration and happiness, came on her face.

“…Ah, frustrating.  Tasting this gives me the feeling of relief from being angry.  It’s something that I should say with a sense of anger.”

“What is certain is that the tasty shrimp has made me very hungry.  No matter what you say to me, I feel that I won’t be able to hear you.”

“Still, listen to me.  Do you think that it is OK for a chef to stimulate the vanity of the rich in order to skim money from them?”

“It does not appear to be quite proper, but… what can you do.  That how he wants to sell and the customers accept it.  Some people prefer restaurants for the purpose of showing off their wealth than seek out the taste.  I, on the other hand, prefer to offer and have guests to enjoy the taste over such thing, but….”

“The bastard’s restaurant is not without taste.  Their food is rather on the good side.  So, I get even angrier.  It is because of the fact that he has good cooking skills, yet he fell in to the trap of such lame sales tactic.”

“It depends on the situation.  There is a cook for the art and a cook for the business.  He probably falls in to the latter.”

Rather than replying, Deborah licked up the remaining powder on the spoon.  Dave giggled.

“It must be really tasty.  To see you eat like that.”

“Can’t let it go to waste.  Think about the time and money spent on coming here.”

“It didn’t cost anything.  Remember, Chef Rachel bought the tickets.”

“Anyhow.  How often do we get to eat at the main restaurant to be leaving anything?  It is possible at those pretentiously dignified and elegant type of restaurants, where you cross your legs while sitting, but have flat tastes.  Elegance, when the food is really good?  No such thing.”

The food certainly tasted different now than when it was prepared by the bulk chefs.  If it was an imitation of making the best food, perhaps, I should say this is the ultimate taste this time.  Deborah murmured sullenly.

“Unreal.  It has already been ten years.  Chef Rachel rested, but I worked.  So, I thought that I had caught up to close the distance…..”

“Instead, it feels like the distance has grown.  I know that feeling.  I am also feeling it too.”

“I’m getting sadder, coming from a three star chef like you.  The road of cooking, it seems so far.”

“If it wasn’t, do you think you’d have liked it?”

“No.  Probably not.”

Dave spoke in a quiet voice.  No one will put any value on a mountain if anyone can climb to the summit in five minutes.  It will just be thought of as a small hill in the neighborhood.  The reason for giving respect to those who climb the Himalayas is because not everyone can climb it.   Cooking was like Himalaya to them.  The summit hasn’t been reached yet, but…. The moment of reaching the top will certainly arrive.

The next dish came out.  The new dish was a potato soup with bacon bubble sauce, topped with bacon foam.  Just a moment after taking a spoonful, Deborah opened her eyes widely and gazed at the soup.  She felt an enormous sensation from the dish for the first time in a long while.

“Wow, Damn.  I feel like swearing.  This is bacon foam.  How can the taste be so rich?  I just thought that the whole bacon was in the dish.”

“I feel the same.  Not sure if it’s the power of Raphael Yoon, or Chef Rachel’s but…. The basics of the molecular cuisine are perfectly expressed.  That is, to extract the taste itself.  The previous fried dish was just simply delicious but… this soup was the best tasting dish I have had this year, I mean the best in my life time….”

Instantaneously, both Deborah and Dave, no, not only Deborah and Dave, but everyone that had tasted the bacon foam topping in the potato soup had the same feeling.  According to the menus that they saw, molecular cooking method was applied at least little bit to almost all course dishes. Some of them were prepared by using only the molecular cooking.

In conclusion, molecular cooking had its hand in every course whether little bit or in significant amount.  Also the bulk chef that was in charge was no other than Jo Minjoon.  The molecular cooking section has become the position that requires the perfect understanding of the overall flow of the cooking led by Rachel.

Could it really be a coincidence?

< The Courtship of 36 People (5)>   The End

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