Chapter 438: Weight of Choice (1)
“Alright, good job.”
June put her phone on her desk with its speakerphone on. Compared to his usual style, the voice of the man over the phone was far from playful and self-confident.
“I’m sorry, Chef June. I wanted to get good results by all means…”
“You don’t have to feel sorry, Dobby. No one would say that runner-up is a bad result.”
Having said that, June felt strange as if she had been expecting that he would tell her so from the beginning. She had never thought the probability of him winning in the Paris cooking contest was low. And she would still feel so. In fact, when considering the winning rate itself, Dobby and Eva’s chance of winning was overwhelming, given their long experiences.
But their results missed her expectations. But she wasn’t surprised by the results.
Why? If she had predicted that Min-joon and Kaya would win, she might not have been surprised, but she didn’t think so. She wondered why.
‘Was I expecting they would win?’
Maybe she might have felt unconsciously or instinctively that she should not judge Min-joon and Kaya in terms of probability.
June asked Dobby in a quiet voice, “Are you angry?”
Dobby didn’t answer for long. June turned her chair halfway. The dazzling lights of New York were pouring into her eyes through the glass wall right behind her—the taxi lights on the streets, OPEN-shaped neon signs in front of pizza stores, vehicle headlights, fluorescent lights in offices, and the smartphone screens of people walking on the street.
And she could hear Dobby’s voice through the lights. When she heard his answer, she smiled for a moment because she never expected she would hear it from Dobby.
“Oh, I see.”
Min-joon and Kaya changed Dobby. They made her immature and pompous student mature. Suddenly she wondered if her competition with Min-joon was just meaningless just like checking the probability of winning between Dobby and Min-joon was meaningless. She was worried and even scared to think of that.
But soon, June’s eyes sparkled sharply. Even if her competition with him turned out to be meaningless later, she could not give it up. In fact, her calculated actions until now were her best weapon of survival. Predicting, adjusting, and bringing out the situation in her favor was decisive in making her achieve her status as it was now. Thanks to her constant calculations and thinking, she could enjoy such a fantastic night view of New York on her back.
Dobby said, “I’m sorry. I feel like I’ve made you feel defeated because I lost in this contest.”
“Dobby, I always told you it didn’t matter how many goals you conceded. As long as you are confident of scoring a goal, I’m confident. Don’t you think so?”
“To be honest, I thought about myself quite a lot this time. I wondered if what I called confidence was nothing but my bluffing. I feel like I’m arrogant if I tell you I’m confident.”
“If you come to lose your confidence, you should be rather arrogant,” she said sharply in a low voice.
Dobby was at a loss, not knowing how to respond.
But she slowly continued, “When nobody recognizes your worth, you are done if you doubt it yourself. It’s different between having even one person who recognizes you and you not recognizing yourself. It’s okay even if you have groundless pride. If anybody tells you, “Oh, you have a long way to go,” or something like that nonsense, remember his or her face as well as what they say. Then, get even with them.”
“But Chef June, isn’t it too hard for you to live like that?” he asked anxiously.
The reason why he asked her like that was not because it was hard for him to accept such a life. He was aware that she went through such a life, and she would continue to do so.
Of course, she noticed why he asked such a question, so she replied more firmly, “Do you think there is something more difficult or terrible than living as an ordinary chef?”
“Remember this. The moment you don’t believe you are the best, others will start believing you really aren’t the best. As long as you can’t convince yourself you’re the best chef, you can’t be one. And I’m going to work with only the best chef. If you want to be my person, stop worrying about whether you think you are too complacent. I don’t want to share your pathetic worries.”
“Got it, Chef June.”
“I’ll hang up the phone now. Come to the restaurant as soon as you arrive in New York. Let’s talk about other things later.”
“Sure. I’ll see you soon, Chef.”
She hung up the phone and leaned against the chair, watching the New York landscape in silence. She always used to feel strange when she looked down from her restaurant on the top floor of the building. People walking on the street looked so small that it was impossible to tell whether they were men or women. If these people were leading lives with their own thoughts, dreams, and goals, and if she was also one of them? She suddenly felt she was bursting into a rage. If she achieved everything she wanted, could she subdue her anger? Could she rise to the top then?
She smiled bitterly for a moment. She remembered what she had told Dobby. She said if he didn’t regard himself as the best chef, nobody would think so.
“Yeah, that’s why I haven’t become the best in my field, Dobby.”
She made a secret confession to herself like that.
Min-joon and Kaya’s win in the Paris International Cooking Contest generated quite a bit more repercussions than they thought. Not only they produced documentaries to publicize the Paris contest, but they also did lots of interviews with the two in the process.
There were lots of Frenchmen who spoke to them walking on the street, and when they stopped by a restaurant, the chef came out to say hello to them without any exception.
But today, they were going to depart Paris after wrapping up all their contest schedules.
At the airport, Min-joon held Brandon’s hand and said with a smile, “Thank you, Brandon.”
“You’re welcome. I only let you use my kitchen.”
“Well, I know you might have felt uncomfortable about having us for so long. Thanks for your consideration.”
“Stop saying that. Anyway, thanks to you guys, we’ve seen a sharp increase in our reservations.”
“Thank you for saying so.”
“Don’t thank me, man.”
As if he was embarrassed, Brandon shook his head.
Then he said with a heavy voice, “Now you’ll have to think carefully when you return.”
“What do you mean?”
“You know what I mean.”
“Are you talking about the sous chef position at Rose Island?”
Brandon nodded at that. But Min-joon just scratched his head with a sigh. To be honest, he could not figure out what was the right answer.
Brandon said in an unusually calm voice, “You had better make sure what you really want when you return. If you stay at the main store of Rose Island and keep working with her, you could be a successor, as many head chefs think.”
“Do you think I’m with Chef Rachel because I want to be her successor?”
“Of course you might have a different goal. I know how you feel. Rachel is great. Even if you don’t make a lot of money, you might feel like cooking with her everyday is a reward. But let’s be honest. You don’t hate being her successor, right? If so, you don’t have to feel it’s unfair if other chefs say they covet your position.”
Min-joon sighed silently. He wanted to deny it, but he also felt what Brandon said was not totally wrong.
Brandon asked, “Just choose the path that’s best for you. Chefs like June are so anxious to take the position of the general manager of Rose Island, but there are also chefs like me who don’t care about it. They think such a title is just annoying. Which side are you ?”
“You must have learned all you could from Rachel. Of course, you might learn some other stuff from her, but at this point, it might be better for you to work for another chef or to open your own restaurant. You started cooking with another chef, but you started your professional career with Chef Rachel. But if you continue to stay with her until the moment you become almost perfect as a chef…”
“Maybe he might end up being another Rachel, not Min-joon himself?”
It was Kaya, not Min-joon, who said that. Min-joon looked at her.
Brandon nodded and said, “It’s funny to say something like this when you have learned from her for only one year. But you’ve absorbed a lot of Chef Rachel’s cooking skills during one year. That’s why I’m telling you now you should think about your future well.” Don’t take my words too seriously, of course. It’s just my advice.”
“Man, you are taking my words lightly again,” Brandon grunted, with a dissatisfied expression. Min-joon replied with a smile, “I know you might have felt uncomfortable about bringing it up with me. I’m not going to say thank you because you don’t like it. See you next time.”
Getting on the plane, Kaya quietly asked Min-joon, “So, have you thought about your next move?”
“To be honest, I don’t want to leave Rose Island, but I don’t know. I just want to follow what Chef Rachel will decide, but if I don’t tell her what I think, she won’t let me go.”
“Man, are you too confident or are you relying on her too much?”
“Both. What do you want me to do?”
“Whatever you do, it would be nice if you don’t part with her. Given the choice, I want you to work with me in the same restaurant. That seems a hard choice for you for now.”
“Well, I don’t know when, but I want to do it with you.”
“What do you mean? Working with me at the same restaurant?”
“Yeah, it’s my dream to work with you in the same restaurant.”
“When did you have your dream?” she asked as if she was dumbfounded.
Min-joon smiled gently. If he said that he had that dream from the moment he first saw her on TV, could she believe it?
During their trip to Los Angeles, they kept talking about the same topic, namely which restaurant they would want to work at. But they could not find the answer until the moment they arrived in Los Angeles.
Min-joon saw Rachel, his lovely teacher who came to the airport to greet him.
Rachel was smiling at him, but he couldn’t.
He thought he would feel relaxed the moment he saw her, but he didn’t. He could hardly take his step, with lots of concern sitting heavily on his mind.