Chapter 1:

The End of the Line that leads to a New Beginning (Part 1)

I was once a chef, but due to the circumstances, I am left with no choice but to be a Fighter

[Year, 2x19. X-City, 8:15PM]

A man who appears to be in his late twenties put down the cutleries set in his hand down on the table as his face showed annoyance. His jaw kept on moving as he continued his chewing motion. In front of him lay a plate of Filet Mignon, with a small piece of it had already cut off. After much struggle of chewing the piece of meat inside his mouth, he finally managed to swallow it.

After that, he quickly reached out for the glass of water that was already prepared for him. Taking several mouthfuls of water, he then put the almost empty glass down before he reached for the handkerchief inside his chest pocket. He quickly wiped the juicy stains left on his lips by the dish, his eyes staring straight at the nervous contestant that stood before the judges table. He then unceremoniously threw his handkerchief on top of the plate, covering the rest of the untouched Filet Mignon as if he did not wish to see it any longer.

“Joseph Brown,” the man called out, his eyes never leaving the contestant in front of him.

The contestant is one of the young cooks who took part in the show called [Junior Chef Cooking Story]. Based on his appearance alone, he seems to still be in his mid-teens, 18 at most. Faced with one of the judge’s intense gaze, the young cook fidgeted.

“If I remember correctly, at the beginning of the show, you said that meat dishes were your forte?” asked the man who is one of the three judges.

“Yes… Sir,” the young cook, Joseph, answered in a timid voice.

“For this round, the contestants are the one responsible for preparing all their ingredients?” Another question left the judge’s lips, but this time, he aimed it at the show’s host instead.

The host showed a surprised expression, as he was not prepared to be asked so suddenly. But fortunately, he was still a professional host with years of experience under his belt. “Yes. That’s right. This time, we gave them five days to prepare their ingredients.”

By now, the judge’s face had already turned ugly as he turned back to look at Joseph. The other two judges sensed that their fellow judge would once again scold someone with no care of the world. They remembered what happened during the last round and it was not pretty at all. Not wanting another repeat of the last experience, the two judges decide to intervene.

“Well, the meat was a bit hard to chew, but it was not inedible,” one of the two judges said.

“That’s right,” the other quickly chirped in. “The meat was also a bit overdone but you can still tell that the meat was of excellent quality. Mr. Masashige, you don’t have to be so stiff. This is after all, an entertainment show. It’s not a contest held by the World Chef Association.”

“Rowanda is right,” the judge from before agreed. “So just hold back, okay? Don’t make the media point their camera at us again…” he added in a soft whisper.

The man, now known as Mr. Masashige, only frowned when he heard what was being said. “Are you two done?” he asked. “Then let me speak! First, you!” he pointed at the first judge who cut him off from saying his piece.

“What do you mean by, ‘A bit hard to chew’?!” he asked. “That was the toughest and the most chewiest meat that I have ever tasted in my entire life! Not even a beginner can achieve that kind of meat toughness!”

Then, he turned at the other judge, Rowanda. “And you! You said you can still tell the meat’s quality when it was clearly overdone?! You might as well say that you can lift up a mountain!”

The two judges who was scolded by Masashige could feel their face turning hot from embarrassment. The host saw that the situation was not right so he quickly signalled for the camera director to stop the broadcast and run the commercial break for the viewers.

Meanwhile, Masashige was still not done. His next target was the young cook, Joseph. “And finally, you! You have five days to prepare and this is what you serve me? Outrageous! You might as well not cook anything for me!” he said as he slammed on the table.

The loud sound of the hand hitting the table made Joseph flinch. He casts his gaze downwards, staring at the tip of his shoes. His jaw tense and he had to bit down on his lower lip to keep himself from being too emotional.

Masashige felt he had enough, so he quickly stood up and walked away angrily.

Everyone in the room watched as he walked towards the door and only once his figure disappeared behind the closed door did they let out a collective sigh of relief.

The host then glanced over at Joseph, who didn’t move away from his position. Thinking that the young man’s self-esteem has been shattered to pieces, he felt that it is his job, as a host, to try to cheer Joseph up.

He slowly approached Joseph and placed his hand on his shoulder. “Don’t pay it any mind,” he said in a gentle voice as he tried to coax Joseph. “Though he doesn’t like it, the two other judges have given you their positive review. It’s still not the end of the journey for you.”

“No…” Joseph replied as he shook his head. “You don’t understand. I don’t care what the others think. I only wanted to impress him with the Fillet Mignon.”

Just based on Joseph’s tone, they could hear clearly his disappointment. But of course, if you had just been told off by someone you look up to, it would upset anyone. Joseph is no different.

“Well, he had praised you before. I’m sure you already impressed him,” the host said again, still not giving up in trying to cheer Joseph up.

“But that’s not the same,” Joseph said before letting out a heavy sigh. He then turned away and walked towards the exit.

“Hey! Wait! The show is not over yet!” the host cried out when he saw Joseph wanting to leave. Unfortunately, his voice fell on Joseph’s deaf ear.

Outside the room, Joseph stood in front of the door for a while before he raised his hand and rubbed his face. He adjusted his mood for a while before finally moving. As he walked through the hallway, he accidentally bumped onto another contestant.

“Oh, sorry,” he said, but the contestant didn’t seem to hear him. In fact, the other contestant simply hurried away without even registering Joseph’s presence.

Joseph continued to stare at the contestant’s disappearing figure and after a while, he finally remembered something. “Wait… wasn’t he that contestant that got disqualified in the last round because he was actually a professionally trained chef?”

There was an inkling of suspicion rising inside Joseph, but he couldn’t really figure out what it was. In the end, he merely shrugged and continued on his original path.

Today, he felt that something was wrong with his kitchen area provided by the show. He had only found out about it when it was already too late, so he tried his best to save the Fillet Mignon he was working on. Unfortunately, it was not enough.

When he entered the kitchen workshop area, he turned on the light as usual but to his surprise; he saw someone lying down on their stomach on the floor. The outfit was very familiar to Joseph. After all, he had just seen this person getting angry not too long ago.

“Mr. Masashige?” he called out. But there was no response. Beside where Masashige lay, there was a table and on top of it was an empty plate. Suddenly, Joseph was alarmed.

He rushed over to Masashige’s body and turned the body around. Masashige’s face was purple and he appears to be having trouble breathing. “Mr. Masashige!!”

Upon hearing his name being called out in a loud voice, Masashige forced himself to open his eyes. He knew that his body is slowly failing him and right now, Joseph was his last lifeline.

“Fu… gu…” he managed to let a word out. It was already hard enough for him to even breath so to try and speak, it was a struggle of a lifetime. Then, he could feel his consciousness slipping and by the time he wakes up, he found himself on a hospital bed.