Drama Recaps
Gourmet: Episode 22
by | September 21, 2008 | 23 Comments



Not as much foodie talk today, as you can see. Or, I should say, there’s not as much literal cooking going on, although food is still our main source of concern, what with Oonamjeong’s fate hanging in the balance.

Also, is it me, or are Kim Rae-won‘s shirts suddenly a lot tighter? Not that I’m complaining. (I’m just sayin’.)

SONG OF THE DAY

Gourmet OST – “늘 푸른 풍경처럼” (Green scenery like always) by Taru [ Download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 
EPISODE 22 RECAP

The mood at Oonamjeong is pretty dire, with rumors swirling of corporate shakeup, all of their clientele canceling reservations, and Min-woo’s faction stirring things up and conspiring with the Japanese restaurant mogul Matsumoto. The latter is done in secret, though, and remains unknown to Chef Oh and Bong-joo, who can only hope to ride out this rough patch. But they both know that the results of the upcoming board meeting, where a vote will be taken to determine Bong-joo’s continued stewardship of the restaurant, may very well be against him.

As for Matsumoto, he turns down Jin-soo’s request for an interview via his junior executive (the Japanese visitor to Oonamjeong — in the previous episode I had assumed the young guy was Matsumoto, but it turns out he’s Matsumoto’s representative, Kimura. Matsumoto himself is played by a Korean actor affecting a weird Japanese-ish accent). After Jin-soo is turned away, however, Matsumoto flips through an issue of Point Magazine and sees a profile of Sung-chan. Noting that Jin-soo’s name is on the article, he instructs Kimura to arrange a meeting with her.

Jin-soo hears about the Oonamjeong rumors and rushes to Sung-chan. The stress is wearing on him, and she can tell from his reaction that the rumors are true.

With their machinations falling into place, Director Yoon and Min-woo await the final blow: stripping Bong-joo of his managerial position at the upcoming meeting. Min-woo: “Do you think Bong-joo will just step aside?” Yoon: “If he doesn’t step aside, what can he do? He’s finished now.”

In the meantime, Sung-chan and Bong-joo both (separately) do their best to talk to the other investors one-on-one to persuade them to vote for Bong-joo, but everybody has already been effectively swayed by a higher power. Even CEO Jang refuses to help. Both Sung-chan and Bong-joo feel that these movements — like shutting down all of Oonamjeong’s overseas prospects — are too large in scope for the Oonamjeong board alone. They believe a more powerful mastermind must be behind these actions, but are unable to locate the source.

Rendered helpless, Bong-joo finally puts his pride aside and kneels before Yoon, supplicating for help. Yoon remains unmoved, and Bong-joo is left out to dry. Despite the way Joo-hee’s relationship with him collapsed, she feels this is too much and pleads with her father, but he doesn’t listen to her.

When Matsumoto meets with Jin-soo, he asks her about Sung-chan and requests a meeting. He doesn’t state his reasons, leaving her puzzled as to his intentions. Knowing how preoccupied Sung-chan is, she’s reluctant to bring up the subject, but she words her request nicely enough to convince him to agree to the meeting (she points out that Matsumoto, being a successful businessman, might be a good person to have on his side if he wants some advice on how to pick Oonamjeong up out of its troubles).

At the meeting, both are surprised when Matsumoto asks a favor of Sung-chan: to prepare a particular traditional Korean dish using a particular, rare type of freshwater shrimp. He makes the request politely, but Sung-chan is taken aback (it’s an oddly personal request to make of a complete stranger). Although he’s quite busy now, Sung-chan promises to cook for the man sometime before he returns to Japan. As they leave the meeting, Jin-soo apologizes to Sung-chan, not having anticipated this kind of meeting.

Up in the hotel suite, Matsumoto gazes down at a photograph of him and Chef Oh standing in front of Oonamjeong — clearly there is more to his story than meets the eye.

At the board meeting, Bong-joo is voted out. Afterward, he asks Min-woo, “Why you too? Did I treat you that badly?” Min-woo smirks: “That’s your problem — you realize important things too late.” Touché.

Sung-chan asks Bong-joo, “You’re not going to give up Oonamjeong, are you?” He can’t give up, not like this. But Bong-joo, numb with shock, answers that there’s nothing more he can do.

Chef Oh, already ill, grows worse still. Yet his concern is more for Bong-joo than his own, and you know you’re in a bad spot when your dying father pities you. (Chef Oh: “I feel so sorry for Bong-joo, what do we do?”)

With his father ill and his brother pushed out, Sung-chan steps back into the kitchen to positive reception — Joo-hee and Chef Oh approve, and even Jong-gu finds his return to be a welcome source of motivation for their sluggish, downspirited team. Sung-chan chides the sous chef(s) for thinking pessimistically that they have nothing to do now that their clientele has dropped off. Sung-chan rallies them into action by reminding them their jobs as chefs remains the same whether they have one customer or many.

Jin-soo’s been bothered by the Matsumoto situation, and her editor confirms her suspicions by telling her that Matsumoto’s taking over Oonamjeong. She remembers seeing Min-woo’s group at the hotel, and puts the pieces together. She rushes to Sung-chan to inform him that Matsumoto (working with Min-woo and Oonamjeong insiders) is the mastermind behind Oonamjeong’s troubles, and they head over to see him.

Meanwhile, the backstabbing trifecta — Min-woo, Yoon and Yong — eagerly anticipate the shakeup to come. They aren’t sure what Matsumoto will do when he takes over, but they seem to think it will be good — for the restaurant, yes, but more importantly, for themselves.

As they’re exiting Matsumoto’s suite, they come face to face with Sung-chan, who takes one look at their guilty faces and clocks Min-woo in the face. He accuses them of selling out Oonamjeong, to which they defend their actions by saying this was their way of pulling it out of crisis. Sung-chan hardly thinks selling it off to Matsumoto is an effective crisis management tactic.

Now that he knows the full story, Sung-chan confronts Matsumoto (who had called him for a meeting) about his intentions to take over. He accuses Matsumoto — successful owner of 50-plus gourmet Japanese restaurants worldwide — of co-opting Korean cuisine, passing it off as Japanese, and adding to his own wealth. Matsumoto corrects him, saying he only wants to show genuine Korean food to the world, and that’s a goal that need not be disdained merely because he’s not Korean. Thus, in his desire to showcase true, genuine Korean cooking, he needs Sung-chan. He wants him — Oonamjeong’s heir — to take over.

Sung-chan flatly refuses. Then, on his way out, he receives a call telling him his father has taken a turn for the worst.

With one son by his deathbed, Chef Oh calls out for his other son. Joo-hee rushes out to find Bong-joo and bring him back to his father’s side as soon as possible.

She finds him a bit ragged and still brooding, and tells him of his father’s failing condition. Instantly, Bong-joo is overwhelmed with panic and grief, all his other emotions replaced by a feeling of guilt.

Thus his first rushed words when arriving back home are a torrent of apologies: “I’m truly sorry, Father, I was wrong…” Chef Oh tells his son, “I’m sorry for making things difficult for you,” to which Bong-joo immediately bursts out with more regrets: “No, Father, I’m sorry…” Talk about a rude awakening. It’s enough to make you pity Bong-joo (almost).

Struggling to impart some important last messages, Chef Oh tells his sons it’s their job to preserve Oonamjeong’s taste and legacy. He also assures him — probably something he’d been trying to tell them this whole series long — “If you combine your hearts and your purpose, Oonamjeong’s path will open.”

That night, Sung-chan sleeps by his father’s side, dreaming all the times he’d spent with his father. Chef Oh awakens and smiles to see Sung-chan seemingly enjoying his sleep, and when Sung-chan wakes a moment later, Chef Oh asks what happy dreams he’d had. Sung-chan answers that he was remembering their fishing trip, and suggests that on their next trip, they ought to bring Bong-joo along.

Chef Oh answers, “Yes,” closing his eyes on a smile. Sung-chan muses that Bong-joo has always been good at fishing, and asks if his father had taught him. When he receives no response, Sung-chan looks over — and the smile oh-so-slowly fades from his face. He asks in a trembling voice, “Father? Are you sleeping?” but the truth dawns on him.

He bursts out in loud cries for his father to wake up, which brings Bong-joo to the door.

Bong-joo rushes to his father’s side — Sung-chan’s already realized that he’s dead and sobs in loud bursts — and Bong-joo’s words spill out in a flood of sorrow: “Father, I’m sorry, I was wrong, I’m sorry…”

 
FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Matsumoto’s master plan: here’s where I’m not sure I agree with Gourmet (at least, not entirely). The thing is, I’m not convinced that what he’s doing is so wrong. Matsumoto’s vision isn’t terribly off from Bong-joo’s, only he may have the wherewithal to accomplish the task even more successfully.

I understand the reason for opposition. Part of Chef Oh and Sung-chan’s opposition is an extension of their resistance to Bong-joo’s franchising plans. Oonamjeong, which has a storied history of operating independently, has built itself on its premium food and its repetition, and farming that out to franchises is risky.

And yet, this turn seems to be so much worse because it’s an outside buyer taking over, and worse still because it’s a Japanese magnate. While I understand their horror in losing control of the restaurant, I don’t see why Matsumoto’s Japanese-ness should matter. Like he said, does it matter that the person attempting this venture isn’t Korean? Shouldn’t his desire to spread real Korean cuisine to the world be a noble enough goal? After all, the initial concern that they would be passing off watered-down Korean food as Japanese turns out to be false — hence Matsumoto’s desire to bring in Sung-chan to assure a high standard of quality. This isn’t really co-opting; it’s not like he’s proposing to remake Korean food to appeal to Western palates, or to change the recipes to be more marketable, or to use cheaper ingredients. He just wants to take the essence of Oonamjeong — the true, genuine, tradition-based Oonamjeong — and find a way to make it accessible to an international audience. That in itself is not such an evil thing.

Matsumoto’s takeover is kind of like your favorite indie operation being bought out by Wal-Mart, mass-produced on a massive scale, and slapped with a blanket assurance that “Don’t worry, we’re still the same quality that we always were!” That’s a valid concern, and I understand the point being made — the argument just shouldn’t have anything to do with the Japanese-ness of the buyer. So while I see the point, I chafe at the nationalistic undertones of the explanation.

 
OTHER COMMENTS

This last scene was particularly well-done, especially Kim Rae-won’s reaction to his father’s death. In the moments before Sung-chan realizes what’s happened, the camera stays on Kim Rae-won’s face for such an extended moment that you think the screen has paused — but it’s not the frame that has frozen, it’s his face, his expression. Seconds pass — long, frozen moments pregnant with dread — and slowly you see the fear enter his face as he asks, “A-are you sleeping?”

He fights to hold back the gut instinct telling him that his father is dead, and reaches over to beg him to wake up — and when he understands that that will not happen, his face crumples.

You can see the stages of grief transpire in these short moments (i.e., denial, anger, bargaining…), but he conveys them so naturally that you don’t necessarily notice; but when you break it down you can see that they’re there, forming the framework of his reaction. That long, long, long moment on his face is wonderful and awful, and really made this episode for me.

 
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23 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. coco

    I just LOVE KRW! Could watch him all day. The tight shirts are an added bonus!

  2. bree

    Yup, his shirt is tight. Not complaining though. And that’s a sad ending scene. The way he acts is so natural. He’s such a great actor. It’s hard not to like or praise him. Thanks for the recaps Javabeans.

  3. ktbrods

    I agree with you 100%. Fantastic camera moment and great acting from Kim Raewon….

  4. Sue

    ever since the aigoo links disappeared for gourmet (even on the new site) i’ve had no way of downloading the last few episodes of this series T__T can anyone help out?

    crap! i just read some of the last of this recap and read a spoiler T__________T

  5. Sevenses

    Thanks for the recap! For the last bit, I was sobbing right along with the actors, lack of kleenex notwithstanding. Very moving.

    As for Matsumoto’s motives – I thought he wanted credibility for his ‘new’ franchise and thus having the heir to Oonamjeong on his side would make sense. But anyway, I find their treatment of Matsumoto as a character kind of ambivalent (you’ll see when you get to the end). It’s almost like the writers didn’t know what to make of him once they’d introduced him to the plot. :D

  6. Philippa

    Thanks!

  7. Monziii

    Those two last pictures…that’s a kind of sorrow I never want to experience again.

  8. coco

    Sue, you can view it on youtube but there are no subs. Try typing in TBC-EP-22
    Due to copyright issues it has to be under a hidden title!

  9. choram

    My god…that last scene was a tear-jerker.

  10. 10 Heejae

    Kim Rae Won in this episode was terrific, especially the scene with his father. Did you notice that after he woke up from his dream with his father next to him, and he answers Chef Oh; it sounds like he really was asleep.
    He did a really good job at the death scene.

    Thanks for the review~

  11. 11 marz

    i have to say KRW’s acting is really good in gourmet.
    i like the storyline here of matsumoto it brings an interesting side
    of the restaurant business.

    cause personally, ive seen good restaurants
    that when they did franchise it.
    the branches arent always able to maintain that.
    though im all for the idea of spreading the authentic, real taste
    but it isnt always are successful
    sometimes u need to preserve it..

  12. 12 docmitasha

    KRW’s acting really has the ability to make me just cry unabashedly, or laugh, or just feel for him…he’s just such a tremendous actor with so much more potential.
    Thanks!

  13. 13 bethany

    i missed recaps written by you ms javabeans! i dont know what it is about your style or tone or voice or … what it is… but theyre just pleasant and poignant and wonderful =D

  14. 14 syl

    That was indeed a lovely, moving scene at the end with KRW. His acting is so sincere and natural; there’s nothing that seems studied about it. With KRW, it often doesn’t feel like acting, which is why I love him so much…

    His reaction in that last scene was one of those moments that remind me how talented he is. For me, it was reminiscent of that wonderfully poignant scene toward the end of the drama, Snowman, when after years and years of waiting for Gong Hyo Jin’s character to reciprocate his love, he finally lets her go. A lot of actors would have probably gone all Angsty in such a scene, but KRW smiles. A quiet, wistful smile that imo crystallized all the emotions in one moment better than any :drama: :sob: could have done. Anyone else remember this scene? ^^

    Anyway, Snowman was the first time I really saw his potential as an actor. KRW may not blow you away with his technique like some of the more seasoned actors, but his response to a scene, to a dialogue, to the other actors shows such honesty always. He made Gourmet worth watching for me.

  15. 15 Angela

    Thank you so much for the summary! I even got teary eyed reading it towards the end! I know it was hinted at throughout most of the series, but I sill can’t believe their dad died… =(

    I also agree with you… I have a hard time seeing Matsumoto as the “bad” guy. At least he cares about maintaining their quality and reputation. Something that Bong-Joo seemed less and less concerned about as time went by.

  16. 16 teokong

    Thanks for the recap.
    Last scene really hits me in the heart. Cried along with Sung Chan and Bong Joo. Miss my dad.
    Talented actor, KRW.

  17. 17 lavy

    @ Sue: if you want, you can go to nhatkyviet.com and search for Gourmet. Just that he only uploads the hard-subbed version from B.O.N :)

  18. 18 Jessica

    I was almost crying just reading your recap and looking at the screencaps. That expression is so emotional.

    I also agree how talented KRW is. He really makes you believe in the character. Like in Attic Cat at first I absolutely hated him. He was so obnoxious and arrogant. But then gradually I started to call for him :) Really, really talented.

    Oh, and for those of you who want to see some “more” of him, you should check out the movie Plum Blossom. Not my type of movie, but it was… very…revealing…

    @ Sue

    Try here:
    http://co2r.wordpress.com/2008/06/17/mbc2008gourmet/

    It only has Chinese hard-subs but you can still use the English subs with it. Use The KM Player and use the subtitle delay feature.

  19. 19 Sue

    that scene you mentioned was so uncomfortable, but in a good way.

  20. 20 Hkanchi

    Loved KRW last scene. Hats off to his acting.

  21. 21 Dee

    @ Jessica, thanks for the link, where can I find the eng subs for ep. 22 that you mentioned.

  22. 22 rainbow

    nam sang mi is so cute, adorable, i love her so much. She’s so suitble to this character. i’ve just seen the 1st episode of the drama, but i feel it’s awesome

  23. 23 Violet

    I definitely & absolutely 100% agree with Javabeans and the rest about KRW fantastic acting skill and talent! I’ve become too addicted to him ever since Attic Cat which I think is among his best performance among his other great series. I think he’s simply a terrific and gifted actor. He never fails to deliver all kind of emotions, reactions and lines, and on top of all he always able to create amazing chemistry with all his co-stars.

    I caught a glimpse at his former movie titled Sunflower, and the movie seems great. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any with english sub, and I’m dying to see him as an ex-convict and ex-gangster. A totally different kind of character from him, and I bet he’s great at that too!

    Anyway, I hope his latest movie Insadong Scandal available online soon. He’s looking devastatingly maskulin and genius here. And the song he sang for the movie is not bad at all!

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