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God of Cooking

God of Cooking

God of Cooking
Chapter 33

Chapter 33: Chapter 33: Good cooking and the final product (3)
He couldn’t sleep. Cho Min Joon closed his eyes tight but ended up opening them again. When he looked at his phone, it was already midnight. Cho Min Joon stuffed his face into his pillow before getting up. There was no point in wasting time just lying around.
The reason why he couldn’t sleep was simple. It was the low score from earlier in the day. To be more exact, what he was worried about was a little different from the scores. It was about the limit of dishes. Chloe’s potato soup was perfect. If she added something else to it, it wasn’t going to be a potato soup anymore. So why did that dish have to receive 6 points?
“… Stat window.”
[Cho Min Joon]
Cooking Level: 6
Breadmaking Level: 4
Gourmet Level: 7
Decoration Level: 5
Cho Min Joon took a look at his stat window. Aside from his decoration level having gone up 1 level, not much had changed.
“When will I reach level 7?”
Cho Min Joon mumbled to himself with a stiffened face. Since when was he so hung up about levels? It felt like he started to cook for scores, not for the enjoyment of cooking itself.
But he had no choice. He was different from Chloe and Kaya. He couldn’t help but look at the scores that were presented in front of him.
‘But the potato soup…’
He thought back on the flavor. It was bland but stable. The potato was well-cooked so that it didn’t give off any fishy smell, and the parsley scent was very strong. It wasn’t fancy, but it was delicious. He enjoyed it.
And not even Kaya, who was a level 10 in gourmet, had no problem with the potato soup. Was that the limit of the potato soup? Or was that dish supposed to be good as it was?
As a system, the cooking levels were perfect. It calculated how much imagination went into a dish, how stable the chef’s abilities were, as well as how much they considered the harmony of the ingredients.
A dish with a high score was definitely a good dish. But did a low level mean that the dish was bad? Cho Min Joon couldn’t help but wonder about that question.
Cho Min Joon sighed. His head hurt. And the way he relieved his stress was quite basic. He ate.
When he opened his room’s door, the halls looked dark. Cho Min Joon used his phone to guide his way through the hallway. He was headed to the pantry and the kitchen.
But there was someone else in the kitchen. It was Anderson. Anderson was cooking a vegetable broth when he looked over at Cho Min Joon. Cho Min Joon raised his hand with a straight face.
“Hey.”
“… What brings you here?”
“What does it look like? I’m here to cook.”
Cho Min Joon answered as if Anderson asked a stupid question. Anderson didn’t seem to like Cho Min Joon either, but the same went for Cho Min Joon. In the first episode, when they aired Cho Min Joon’s opinion on Kaya’s win, Anderson said something to Cho Min Joon, and he clearly remembered it. He said it in an indirect way, but he basically told him to speak after he had enough skill.
Of course, Cho Min Joon gave him a reason to be angry. But when it came to human emotions, it couldn’t always be so rational. Cho Min Joon wasn’t such a warm person that he would like someone who hated him.
Their conversation ended there. Cho Min Joon looked through the pantry. Rather than wanting to practice, he wanted to fill his stomach with good food. He wanted to make Kimchi stew with pork, but there was no Kimchi in the pantry.
‘Maybe I should request it.’
He had such thoughts, but he knew it was useless. Korea saw Kimchi as a main ingredient but not the rest of the world. To be more exact, only half appreciated it. Kimchi gave off a very fishy smell. In other words, it couldn’t be widely used as an ingredient here. Even if he asked for it, he probably wasn’t going to use it other than for personal meals. And it was a hindrance to ask for something that was just for himself.
After Kimchi stew, he next thought of soybean stew. The pantry contained ingredients from all over the world, so there was soybean paste. It was commercial, but it didn’t taste bad. Cho Min Joon actually preferred commercial soybean paste. He liked how it was lighter in color, and how sweet it tasted.
There was only one downfall in using commercial soybean paste for soybean stew. When you boiled it, it became more bitter. But he didn’t care about that today.
Cho Min Joon groomed the anchovies. But it was simple. All he did was take out the intestines. This part made a significant difference in how bitter the broth was going to taste. And Cho Min Joon wasn’t the type to half-ass his own meals.
After that, it was pretty basic. He added the anchovies into the water and boiled the broth. Some people made the broth by boiling meat, but Cho Min Joon didn’t particularly enjoy red meat in his soybean stew. He didn’t like how the oil from it changed the flavor of the soybean. Soybean stew was supposed to be refreshing and spicy.
Cho Min Joon took out the radish, onion, potato, zucchini, mushrooms, and tofu, and began slicing them. Anderson glanced over and asked, “What are you making?”
“Soybean stew. Do you know what that is?”
“No. But the ingredients look like they’re for Japanese miso soup. Is it good?”
“Not sure. You probably won’t like it.”
Cho Min Joon replied with a lukewarm look on his face. Koreans didn’t know this, but most foreign people found soybean stew too strong. Same with when they tried Japanese soybean soup. So it was no wonder they thought that way of Korean soybean stew. He wasn’t so sure if Anderson could properly enjoy soybean stew.
Anderson didn’t ask further. Cho Min Joon took out the anchovies and added the soybean paste and hot pepper flakes. When the broth looked right, he added the vegetables as well. After boiling it for a while, he also added hot peppers.
The soybean stew was complete. The score was 6 points. But Cho Min Joon didn’t care. He didn’t make it for the score. Since he made it using commercial soybean paste, it was impossible to get a higher score. It was impressive enough that he got 6 points.
He put the instant rice in the microwave. Anderson approached him and said, “Let’s share.”
“… What?”
“I saw you sharing with Kaya the other day. Why won’t you do it with me?”
“Well… Because you don’t like me.”
Cho Min Joon got straight to the point. Anderson shrugged.
“It’s true that I don’t like you. But that doesn’t mean I should hate your cooking. I’ve never seen that stew before. I feel like I need to try it.”
“… Okay, fine. Then share yours, too.”
Anderson smirked in response.
“Mine’s probably better. Don’t feel intimidated.”
“Try me.”
Cho Min Joon answered with a scoff. He had the right to be so pompous. Anderson’s tomato chicken achieved 6 points.
Cho Min Joon and Anderson set up the table with the food. Cho Min Joon tasted his soybean stew first. The broth tasted special. The hot pepper flakes and hot peppers made it taste spicy, and the anchovies and the broth were very refreshing.
And the tofu and zucchini made it perfect. It was much better than Kaya and Chloe’s cooking that he tasted before.
Cho Min Joon reached for the tomato chicken stew next. The broth smelled of butter, and the tomato tasted sweet. The key to making tomato chicken stew was making the sweet flavors come alive, and he did just that.
But it wasn’t good compared to the soybean stew. But Anderson probably felt the same. Anderson tasted the soybean stew and grimaced.
“It’s so stale.”
“It’s supposed to be.”
“You probably can’t use this for a mission.”
“… About that.”
Cho Min Joon opened his mouth, and Anderson flinched and waited for him to say what he had to say.
“Between dishes from gourmet restaurants made with the best technique and ingredients, and just average food, is it possible to rank them? No, let me rephrase that. Can we judge how much they’re worth?”
“What are you talking about?”
“I just thought that most people eat food that’s made without the fancy techniques and ingredients. But that doesn’t mean they’re worthless, right? I’m curious.”
Anderson didn’t answer. He just stared at Cho Min Joon. Cho Min Joon took another spoonful of the soybean stew and looked at it. And then he spoke in a quiet voice, “I’m suddenly in a rut. I don’t know if well-cooked dishes are good food… and if it’s possible to make good food without outstanding technique. I’m confused.”
Anderson fell deeply into thought. He wasn’t able to answer so easily. But when he opened his mouth, his words were profound.
“If the person eating it enjoys it, isn’t it good food?”
“… What?”
“Even the hotdogs on the streets are good food if the people enjoy it. I know that’s not what you meant. You were probably talking about quality more than the perception. But that’s what I think.”
Anderson pointed at the table in front of them. The tomato chicken stew and the soybean stew made for a very average meal.
“We’re able to make fancier foods than this. But right now, we’re eating pretty average dishes. And that probably wouldn’t change even if we were the most arrogant people. It’s possible for one person to have a seared steak at a fancy restaurant and then go home and have frozen pizza the same night.”
“… But you can’t put that frozen pizza on a table at a fancy restaurant.”
“Of course not.”
“I had Chloe’s potato soup today. It was good. But I didn’t think that belonged to a fancy restaurant. Because it wasn’t fancy enough. It was more suitable for a family. But it was good. But not for a restaurant… Isn’t’ that weird? It’s delicious, but…”
“Wait.”
Anderson cut off Cho Min Joon. Cho Min Joon looked at Anderson. Anderson spoke with a cold look on his face, “I think you’re misunderstanding something.”
“What?”
“Taste isn’t everything when it comes to cooking. It’s just one part. The look, the ingredients, the price, the chef’s reputation, the interior, and the price that customers pay are all a part of it. So if what came out was just potato soup, do you think they’d be satisfied?”
Cho Min Joon was unable to answer. Anderson continued, “At home, it has to be cooking that no one can copy. And the higher the quality of the ingredients, the better. That’s why cooking here is different from home cooking. The dishes made at home are the type that can easily be made with little practice.
“Then what do you think about the taste?”
“I think the answer is right here on the table.”
In response, Cho Min Joon stared at the soybean stew and the tomato chicken stew for a very long time.
He then smiled.
“Yeah. You’re right! Well-made food and good food are two different things!”
He suddenly remembered something. The cold noodles he ate after his college entrance exam. The pork cutlets he ate before going to the military. And the jelly that Jessie made…
He didn’t just find out. He had always known. He just didn’t think about it. He focused so much on the system’s scores that he forgot about what cooking was really about.
The cooking score was just about the technique. The more intricate the technique, the higher the score. That was why the higher the quality, the higher the score. Cho Min Joon finally realized the rules.
The situation hadn’t changed. This was the Grand Chef. It was where techniques were mastered and where higher cooking scores meant better results.
But one thing changed about Cho Min Joon’s way of thinking. Just because a dish had a lower score, it didn’t mean that it was a bad dish. Of course, a higher score meant the dish was more complicated. That was the whole purpose of technique.
But just because a dish wasn’t complicated and refined didn’t mean it was a bad dish. Just like the soybean stew that he was craving, there were times when simpler dishes were better. At times, a dish worth 5 points was going to taste better than one worth 10 points.
Cho Min Joon sprung up. He then walked over to Anderson and shook his head. Anderson looked at Cho Min Joon in surprise. Cho Min Joon spoke in a serious voice, “Thanks. Really. You were a big help.”
“W-what are you talking about?”
“I think I can finally get some sleep. Thanks a lot. I won’t forget this.”
Cho Min Joon then walked out. Anderson just watched as Cho Min Joon left the room. He then looked at the table. Anderson mumbled with a sad voice, “He should’ve at least done the dishes…”