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Prince of Food EP 1 : Beef Short Ribs Soup

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❈Kun Jung-Hee


Jubilee, Cluoshire


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"Jung-Hee..Jung-hee~! Hey! Kun Jung-Hee!!"


A loud and insistent voice called to me, over the clanging of pots and pans and hissing of the grills in the kitchen. My eyes lazily trail up to the face of Rachel Harris peaking over the kitchen window, the smile on her face was wide and bright which didn't bode well for me at all. Petite with a heart-shaped face with olive-colored skin. Her shoulder-length dark brown hair was pulled back into a ponytail and her dark brown eyes were trained on me. Rachel is one of the few closest people I have to a friend still left over from high school however she also has a rather nasty habit of asking for favors at the last minute.


"A little busy Rach. And didn't your shift end like an hour ago anyway?" I asked, pausing in my dishwashing only for a moment.


Rachel frowned before disappearing from the window. It didn't take long until she was next to me, washing dishes alongside me. I let out a sigh, clearly whatever she wanted wasn't going to wait.


"You remember Michael right?" She started off, emphasis the name like it was apparent.


'Yup, here we go...' I thought bitterly, scrubbing the next plate a bit too rough.


"Nope.." I responded quickly, drying off another dish.


I could practically feel her pout from next to me. Of course, I knew who she was talking about. The great Michael Wells, her boyfriend for about 2 years now. The two of them together were practically sickening with the amount of gushing they do over each other. More than once I had to physically leave or else I would go crazy, being in the same room as them. After her practically glaring at me for the last minute, I let out a sigh.


'You are weak, Kun Jung-Hee.'


"Yeah, yeah what about him?" I venomously scrubbed the next dish.


She doesn't even miss a beat, perking up immediately.


"Well I don't know if you know but it's our 2 year anniversary this Friday!" She squeaks out, jumping up a bit in cheer.


I let out a nonchalant grunt, I actually did know about their anniversary, considering she wouldn't shut up about it for the past two weeks.


"And I have a waiters shift Friday for the stupid party we having.." She trails off.


I rolled my eyes, I knew I should have never told her that I didn't have a Friday shift this week and she knows how much I hate waiters duty. The restaurant we work at, Jubilee, is known to cater only to the rich and famous. It was mostly due to Rachel that I even got a spot here. The pay is good and much needed however that didn't mean there weren't ... issues with this place.


"And I was hoping if you could take over my shift? Please Jung-Hee, it's our anniversary!!" She begs, pawing at my arm like a kid.


Stay strong, don't give in! I could practically hear my inner self cheering me on.


"This is my first free day in a long time Rach!"


"I know, I know and I feel awful about it!!" She says with a sad frown, her lip quivering ever so slightly.


Shit, she was pulling out all the stops it would seem. Full blow puppy dog eyes and quivering pout which always won me over in high school.


"And twins have been asking me to take them to see 'Despicable Me 3' for the past month.."


"And I will take them! I even take over your Monday slot!!"


"But I need the money Rach!"


"And you will get it! Just please Jung-Hee!" She begs again.


Ugh, and she further sweetens the deal...


"Ugh come on Rach, you know I'm not good at the waiter's shift." I whined, give her an annoyed look.


"What? You must be joking. All the customers love when you're on the waiter's shift!" She said give me a confused look.


Yeah, And that's a problem! I sigh deeply, scratching behind my head.


She wasn't wrong by any means, a lot of our customers did like it when I take the waiter's shift but I sure as hell didn't. You see, Jubilee as I've come to realize over the months, has very...unusual job requirements that are not readily on paper. The owner only allows those who have a certain.... appeal to be on the waiter's staff. Elegance and grace as he stated, is a bunch of bull, to be honest. Most of our waiters are generically pretty/handsome but whether or not they have a working brain is questionable, outside of Rachel of course. And as I've been told numerous times before, I'm ... on the more alluring side for a guy. Slim but muscular build with broad shoulders, long hair, and soft facial figure. A curse from my Korean bloodline, I take after my mother in more ways than I'd like and people take notice of that, and honestly, it's just irritating. To most of our customers, our waiters are just eye candy however fortunate it was a look and no-touch policy for generally all our customers. One of the very few policies I did respect about the owner.


"You do remember what happened last time, I got a waiter's duty, right? I mean honestly Rachel!" I protested.


I very rarely get the waiter's duty at my insistent request for Kitchen duty only. I am a good cook which is why the owner allows it but there are rare occasions where it's unavoidable. Waiter's duty is always a coin flip on what kind of sleaze you would get that day but also every one of them wanted an uh "sample" so to speak. Now usually the owner wouldn't allow it, however, it quickly became more apparent recently that he was willing to "bend" his policy a bit for the particularly high-paying customers. One particularly special customer who has a habit of getting handsy tested his luck, to which I kindly broke his hand. And as luck would have it, that customer was one of those special cases.


I honestly thought that was the end for me, the owner was practically spitting fire with how angry he was. But instead, I was suspended for a few days and then permanently put on Kitchen duties which fit me just fine.


"Highly doubt anyone's forgotten. But you know that guy doesn't go here anymore after the owner refused to fire you." She pointed out, drying another dish I handed to her. "Look, I know this job isn't exactly what you wanted but it pays well! So please, pleaseeee just this once!"


'Stay Strong! Don't look her in the eyes-!'


I was doomed from the start it would seem.


"..Fine.." I mumble with a deep agonizing sigh.


She almost breaks her neck at how fast she turned to me. Eyes wide with her mouth forming an 'O' in surprise.


"Really! Like really, really!?" She said bouncing on her feet.


"Yes, really." I said rolling my eyes at her antics.


"Ah!! You are the best!!!" She said, bear-hugging me tightly. "From now on you are O-ppa~!" She teased as she pulled back.


A cold shiver went up to my spine at her crudely translated Korean. Rachel knows a bit of Korean mostly through me and my family. And loves to tease me with it whenever the chance arises.


"Ugh, please don't call me that." I said, covering up my left ear since she was standing to my left.


"Why~! You're my Oppa!" She continues putting heavy emphasis on 'Oppa' as she tries to hug up on me even as I tried to bat her away.


"Am I suddenly running a playground?!"


We both instantly freeze up, the kitchen is suddenly dead quiet as everyone turns to the kitchen entrance. Samuel, the owner of the restaurant, was standing in the kitchen doorway. Samuel is tall, with an average build, pale skin, and dark green eyes. Samuel is extremely snobbish so unless you were up to his standards, you weren't worth his breath.


"Why are you still here Rachel? I don't pay overtime!" He said stiffly, crossing his arms over his chest.


"Oh um I was just on my way out, Boss!" She says with a tense smile.


If it wasn't apparent, Samuel and Rachel don't get along at all however Rachel's beauty and her work ethic is something Samuel can't deny. We both know he would like to fire her but she's much too valuable for him to lose. His eyes went to me for a few seconds then back to her.


"Don't forget this Friday, understand?" He said, about to leave.


And before I could stop her, Rachel opens her mouth.


"Actually, Jung-Hee is going to be taking my slot for that day."


Both of Sam's eyebrows went straight up at that statement before looking at me. Meanwhile, I was glaring holes into Rachel who now effectively buried me into working on Friday even if she changes her mind. Sam has been wanting me to go back to the waiter's duty, even trying to sweet my deal but even the extra money didn't make it worth it.


"Oh really? Well, then that's fine." He said, a smug smirk forming on his lips before look at me. "Be ready Friday evening for the Party then Jong-Hei, a lot of important people will be there."


And that's another thing that I can't stand about Sam is his deliberateness in never pronouncing my name or the name of anyone he doesn't like right. I could feel Rachel rubbing soothing circles into my back.


"It's Jung-Hee.." I said through gritted teeth.


"What?" He responded briskly, daring me to repeat myself.


I just smile and nod. Remember the money, Jung-Hee.


"Nothing."


"Hmm, I thought so." He said stepping into the kitchen and up to me. "Now understand Jong-Hei, as I said before, this Gala is the birthday of a very, very important person. So you will behave yourself, understood?" He said, practically hissing at me.


I.E. If rich and privileged wants to cop a feel, you will let them. God, I just want to punch him in the face, my hand clenching, and un-clenching subconsciously.


"I said, do you understand me?"


I got to open my mouth and say something I will surely regret but the sharp elbow from Rachel brings me back to my senses.


"Understood." I respond, forcing myself to keep my face utterly neutral.


He let out a small laugh before patting me on the cheek and walking out. Slowly the kitchen comes back to life as I release the death grip I had on the sink. Rachel throwing me very nervous looks all the while.


"You ok?"


"Peachy." I respond dryly.


"I know, he's a dick but-"


"I know, the job pays well."


She gives me a faint smile and pats me on the shoulder.


"Come on, your shift's over now anyway, so let's go get some ice cream, my treat." She said giving me a small nudge.


I let out a chuckle, Rachel always knows how to make my day a little bit better, no matter how shitty. So we both head out and went to our favorite ice cream parlor. A humble little family-owned shop, on the south side. We relaxed and chatted for a few hours before heading our separate ways. It was late out by the time I reach home, home being a moderate apartment complex about an hour away from work. It wasn't great by any standards but was the most affordable complex in Cluoshire. I parked my bike in the small garage attached to the building, making sure it was well secured before heading up the stairs.


"I'm home!" I called out, exhaustion setting in slowly.


"Jung-hee~~!!" I hear from down the hall.


Soon my legs were assaulted by the twins, Shin and Yu-Ri. A warm bubble settled in my stomach as I bend down and hug them both tightly. Shin and Yu-Ri were the youngest, only 7, and were always excited to see me come home. Each has an equally round-faced with dark brown eyes. The major difference between them besides gender is Yu-Ri darker hair which she gets from our father.


"Welcome home.."


I look up to see the rather bored look of my sister, Jae-Yun who 7 years younger than me. Slim face with an average build, however, her eyes are brighter in color. Her dark brown was pulled into a messy bun as she padded the short distance from the kitchen to the living room. I stumbled to the small kitchen with the twins still latched onto my legs. My mother was in front of the stove, stirring what I believe to be her famous stew from the smell. She turned and greeted me, her short dark brown hair curtaining her face lightly. Her dark brown eyes were filled with warmth at seeing me with the twins as she usually was. As I set foot on the tiled kitchen floor, the twins detach themselves and rush to the kitchen table. A small frown appeared in my mouth as I walked over to her. It is not that I don't appreciate my mom cooking, however, she is a shop-o-holic. When she sees something she likes, it's physically taxing for her to not buy it.


"Smells good mom." I started off simply, which was true, it smelled divine.


"Well thank you~" She said with a proud smile.


However, as I walked over my frown deepened at seeing that she also bought some of the high-end meat. Stuff that we honestly don't need even if the taste was definitely better than the cheap stuff we usually buy.


"Mom..." I said tensely giving her a look.


She stiffened instantly seeing that I noticed her 'extra' purchase.


"It was on sale Jung-Hee! I couldn't just not buy it~!" She whined.


Do you see what I mean? I let out a sigh and shook my head. Even though she was my mother, she still acts like a child sometimes. A fact that both can be frustrating but is very lightening for me. Before I took over, my mother was always too tired to smile, a fact that I hated. She never could relax and was working back-to-back shifts. However, it soon became apparent that it was slowly killing her when she got so sick that she needs to go to the hospital. Fortunately, I was in my final years of high school and could take over as head of the family while she rested. Currently, we are on a strict hand-to-mouth basis but we make do with it.


"Jae-Yun! Come on, food's done!" I called to her as I helped set the table.


Soon we are all seated and eating. I let out a few chuckles as the twin were rather animatedly talking about the day they had. Jae-Yun was mostly ignoring us as she was scrolling through her phone while our mother just smiles and looks among her kids. The twins were knocked out as soon as dinner was over. I quickly put them down to sleep, Jae-Yun laying on her bed on the opposite side of the room, gave me a small wave before I left the room. I stretched out, my full day was wearing on me hard. After I finished washing the dishes, I stumbled over to my 'room'. I use the term 'room' lightly since, in all honesty, it was just a medium-sized walk-in closet that branches off from the living room. However until we can afford a better apartment, I will gladly take it. I let out a grunt as I flop down on my bed. As I laid there, my thoughts began to wander to dreams of finally moving to a new and better apartment, heaven forbid a house even!


"..Heh, yeah right.." I mumbled and roll onto my side.


It would be a while before even the hopes to humor such an idea could come. The debts my father made were big and stifling however I was slowly but surely chipping away at it... But I could really use a lucky break...

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