Hello, Skimmy here! I will be taking over the Pasta recaps along with Andromytta (who is also recapping Hero). I’ve been a long-time follower/admirer of Javabeans and her blog, so it’s an honor and a pleasure to come on board. Without further ado, on with the show!
Lee Seon-kyun is really just too cute.
EPISODE 5 RECAP
When we last left off, our hapless heroine, Seo Yoo-kyung, was getting chewed out by President Seol for making fruit salad instead of pickles. Apparently, the whole point of offering pickles as a free side dish is that cucumbers are cheap. In the midst of this, walks in chef Choi Hyun-wook. Yoo-kyung musters a weak “chef” when Hyun-wook pulls her towards him in what looks like a hug. Close to her ear, he asks, “the eggs – you’re in charge of them, right? Do you have anything you want to tell me?”
Yoo-kyung concedes that she received 10,000,000 won ($8,550) from the egg vendor, but insists that despite appearances, she’s innocent. Hyun-wook storms off while President Seol stands there looking mighty suspicious. Yoo-kyung chases after Hyun-wook into the garage. She states that she has something to show him. He yanks her into the car and they drive off, leaving the puzzled staff behind. Team Korea and Team Italy are left to wonder about the 10,000,000 won, the hug, and where the heck Yoo-kyung and Hyun-wook are headed at this hour.
As it turns out, Hyun-wook drives Yoo-kyung back to the marketplace to confront the egg vendor, Kang. Yoo-kyung continues to protest her innocence and shows him her bank book that shows a measly balance of 36,500 won ($31). Hyun-wook asks if she’s trying to justify accepting the bribe because she’s so poor.
Dragging her to the egg vendor, Hyun-wook confronts the two of him. Yoo-kyung says that she returned the money to Chef Totti immediately after she received the money. She believes that Totti would have then returned to Vendor Kang. Vendor Kang denies this and then he and Yoo-kyung begin to bicker amongst themselves. Watching from the sidelines, Hyun-wook applauds the show they’re putting on.
Hyun-wook turns to leave (not before smashing a tray of eggs), when Yoo-kyung stops him. He gets a thoughtful look on his face when she mentions President Seol’s involvement. Vendor Kang and Yoo-kyung both deny ever mentioning the bribe to Seol.
Back in his office, President Seol is going through his nightly histrionics after reviewing the daily profit figures. He texts the figures to Kim San, who is with his sister and Oh Se-young. After San reviews the text, he mumbles worriedly to himself that the revenues keep falling at La Sfera. Se-young asks whether he receives updates daily. Kang says that she’s heading out and slyly suggests that the two of them sleep together.
Meanwhile, Hyun-wook and Yoo-kyung are trudging back to his car with him snarking about her guilt and her sniveling about her innocence. They’re interrupted by good-hearted extras . . . urm . . . cucumber vendors who wave Yoo-kyung over to partake in some late-night ramen.
She invites Hyun-wook to stay, but he grumpily tells her he’s going home. When he returns moments later, he tells Yoo-kyung that his car is missing. He left his bag in the car, so he now has no car and no money for a cab. Yoo-kyung, with only $31 dollars to her name, is of no help as her plan was to gorge on ramen and hitch a ride on the back of the good-hearted cucumber vendors’ truck. Left with no other alternative, he sullenly sits down to join her as the two continue to snip at each other about him not believing her.
As they eat, Hyun-wook asks the vendors if they have any kimchi. The wife says that she has something better and brings out . . . PICKLES! Yoo-kyung made them for the couple, but these are different from the ones at the restaurant. The husband is diabetic, so she made them without any sugar. After she tastes one, she notices that it’s special and forces Hyun-wook to try one. Both of them are surprised at how tasty they are despite the lack of sugar.
Later, in the frigid night air, they make their way back home on the back of the cucumber vendors’ truck. Hyun-wook yells at Yoo-kyung for not accepting the couple’s offer to pay for a taxi. She says that she won’t accept even 1,000 won (85 cents) from anyone for free (point taken, you’re innocent!).
At the apartment complex, San walks Se-Young out. Se-young notes that San is an entirely different person when he’s talking about business, which makes him so scary.
As Hyun-wook and Yoo-kyung return to the building, the two couples conveniently run into each other. Dramatic music ensues.
San asks Yoo-kyung if she’s sick, as she shivers from the cold, while Hyun-wook stalks off. Yoo-kyung runs after him and San grumbles aloud that Hyun-wook is keeping her out far too late and is working her to death.
As he continues to walk her out, San notices the pained expression on Se-Young’s face as she stares after Hyun-wook, and asks her why she wants to live in the building – does it have something to do with her past? She laughs it off and wonders at the propriety of a landlord asking such questions of a potential tenant. He hands her the rental agreement and says there’s a condition attached. She has to live with an existing employee. Guess who?
The next morning at La Sfera, the staff is gathered for their morning run-down. When Yoo-kyung makes her entrance, Team Korea gives her a hard time about the egg bribe. Seok-ho pointedly asks her where she went with the chef last night. Ho-nam tells her that a cook’s hands should be clean, but money dirties them. Seung-jae walks over to her to sniff her hands (blech) when Hyun-wook walks in and smacks him upside the head (I love the expression on Lee Seon-kyun’s face in this picture).
Hyun-wook announces that the Italian Consul General will be at the restaurant for dinner. Everyone should be on their toes for this special event. Seok-ho then asks whether Yoo-kyung has the right to remain in the kitchen. Hyun-wook turns to look at President Seol and repeats the question to him.
Seol deflects and responds by saying that Yoo-kyung is not the only questionable person in the kitchen. He raises his clipboard with his nifty graph of sales between last year and this year. This year’s sales have dropped drastically and do you know what accounts for this decline? Pickles! It’s all because of the PICKLES!
Seol announces that starting tomorrow, he’s going start posting grade reports and ranks on the sales of the various menu items and cooks. Looking fairly unhappy about the whole business, Hyun-wook claps his hands and walks off.
Later, President Seol and Seok-ho have moved to his office to discuss the future of the La Sfera. Seol notes that once a few upstarts are out of the way, Seok-ho will be named head chef.
We then see Se-young happily arriving at the apartment complex with her enormous moving truck. Cut to San and his sister at an art gallery, where Kang scolds San for not helping Se-young with the move. He tells Kang that Se-young didn’t want him there, and his sister exasperatedly says, “when a woman says no, do you really think it means no?” (um, yes creepy lady, that’s exactly what it means). Kang then insists that they two of them will have lunch at La Sfera tomorrow.
Now we arrive at the first of many awkward and unintentionally hilarious scenes in this episode where people try to speak Italian. In his office, Hyun-wook attempts to track down Chef Totti (to discuss the egg money).
Team Italy arrives to confronts Hyun-wook and urge him to fire Yoo-kyung. They note that he’s behaving totally out of character and giving President Seol more leverage to use against him. Hyun-wook tells them to focus on their jobs and walks out.
Yoo-kyung, in the meantime, has spent the day being harrassed by her co-workers about the egg money. She runs into Hyun-wook in the dining hall and he follows her into the empty kitchen. He reminds her of the Consul’s ensuing visit and tells her to make sure they have all the necessary ingredients on hand. Yoo-kyung says that she knows what Consul will order – Vongole (linguine/spaghetti with clams). Hyun-wook gives her a skeptical look and asks how she could know that.
Yoo-kyung: Just do.
Hyun-wook: Just do?
Yoo-kyung: I’m pretty sure . . .
Hyun-wook: Pretty sure, my ass.
Yoo-kyung replies that the Consul has never ordered the same pasta twice, and that of the 30 types of pasta on the menu, there is only one dish that he hasn’t ordered yet – Vongole. Not convinced by her reasoning, Hyun-wook grabs the oversized cooking chopsticks and corners her over the sink. Telling her not to speculate, but instead be prepared for anything, Hyun-wook pulls her close to give her a forehead bump. It’s at this precise moment, the rest of the kitchen staff decide to show up.
That evening, the Italian Consul General arrives with his entourage, which includes Se-young. They are welcomed to the restaurant by Hyun-wook, President Seol, and the dining hall staff. Hyun-wook is none too pleased to see Se-young.
In the kitchen, the staff are busily running around preparing the evening’s orders. A server lets them know the Consul and his party have arrived. We cut to Hyun-wook taking the table’s orders. He returns to the kitchen with the rest of the party’s orders and notes that the Consul’s order will be forthcoming. The kitchen staff hustle on the other orders, which leads to a well-deserved food porn interlude.
As the cooks are working on the other dishes, in comes the Consul’s order. As anticipated by Yoo-kyung, it’s Vongole. The various members of Team Italy offer to make the dish, but Hyun-wook insists that Yoo-kyung will prepare it.
The members of both Team Italy and Team Korea are taken aback by his decision.
Adding to the awkwardness in the room, Hyun-wook hands Yoo-kyung his personal bottle of wine to make the pasta sauce.
We return to the Consul’s table at the close of their meal. He tells Se-young that the food at the restaurant tastes much more like authentic Italian cuisine and wonders if it’s because of the new chef. He requests to see both the head chef and the cook who prepared the Vongole. When Hyun-wook and Yoo-kyung arrive at the table, the Consul compliments her on the Vongole.
As a token of his appreciation, he presents the restaurant with some expensive Italian wine, Barolo. Judging from the uncomfortable looks on both Hyun-wook and Se-young’s faces, this wine has some deep hidden meaning (to be revealed in about five minutes).
They take a group photo, where Se-young nudges closer to Hyun-wook, who looks like he smells boiling cabbage.
The Consul leaves satisfied and Yoo-kyung returns to the kitchen buoyant. Her exuberance fades when she notices the chilly atmosphere in the kitchen and the pointed looks the other kitchen staff are giving her. Being a teacher’s pet sucks.
And at last we get to the tragic past of Hyun-wook and Se-young. Man, is it depressing.
Flashback to 2005: Hyun-wook and Se-young are living an idyllic life as culinary students. We know they’re students because she’s wearing flannel.
Se-young has been under the weather and Hyun-wook cooks her samgyetang (a traditional Korean soup with a whole chicken, ginseng, dates, and rice). She marvels that he was able to find ginseng for the soup. This leads them to the topic of their upcoming competition. Hyun-wook reveals that he is going to use ginseng in his pasta. When Se-young worries that it’s too bitter, Hyun-wook shows her the bottle of Barolo wine that will temper the bitterness.
At the competition, however, she turns out to be right as the judges disdainfully reject his yucky ginseng pasta.
Se-young is instead crowned the winner (Random aside: if I could give out an award for best bad Italian scene, this is it – the little guy in the glasses acted badly and spoke Italian badly, but he did it with gusto).
Hyun-wook wonders what could have gone wrong (maybe because you decided to use ginseng in pasta, buddy). He tastes his pasta and then the wine and realizes that Se-young sabotaged him. And then we see precisely what Se-young did – she ruined his wine by dropping it in a boiling pot of water. In a voice-over, she says that she wants to go to Rome, but no matter how hard she tries, she always comes in second to him. Apparently, trying harder wasn’t a viable option.
As she basks in the accolades and flowers (I wonder if this scene felt familiar to Honey Lee), Hyun-wook slams the bottle of wine on the counter, glares sorrowfully at her, and storms off.
Back to the present day:
Se-young: It was a mistake made in the moment, one that I’m ashamed of. It was a mistake.
Hyun-wook: A mistake? No, it was a deliberate act on your part. A deliberate act to sabotage me, not a mistake. For you, loving me was a mistake too, wasn’t it?
Hyun-wook smolders in his darkened office for a few moments for no good reason except to give me some good eye candy.
He then goes to the locker room and announces that they’re having a mandatory group dinner. As the underlying runner, Eun-soo, and Yoo-kyung are cooking up delicious looking strips of pork, the other kitchen staffers are drinking the bottles of Barolo in the dining hall. The mood is tense despite Hyun-wook trying to ply them with alcohol.
When Yoo-kyung enters Hyun-wook calls her over to sit beside him. Aware that this constant singling out is pissing off the other staffers, she’s hesitant. He makes her sit down and then stands up to rally the troops. He tells them if it’s the right thing to do, he will fire her. But, he continues, the person they’re really angry with is him. He knows that they’re upset about the changes to the restaurant. He asks that they put a little more faith in their customers as they will be the first to recognize quality. If he fails at his job, he will willingly fire himself.
Eventually everyone leaves except Hyun-wook and Yoo-kyung. She apologizes for causing him additional trouble, and offers to take him home. He belligerently tells her to go on ahead and she sulkily complies.
When Yoo-kyung returns to her apartment, she finds that Se-young has moved in. Yoo-kyung expects to move out, but Se-young tells her the landlord insisted that Yoo-kyung was to have one of the rooms. Yoo-kyung looks surprised and asks who the landlord is. Se-young realizes that Yoo-kyung doesn’t know that it’s San and plays dumb.
The next morning, Hyun-wook and San have a run-in in the apartment’s garage. They take the opportunity to have a dick-waving contest. Irritated by San’s comment a few nights before, Hyun-wook wonders if San isn’t overly nosy for a just a customer. After all, why is it any of his business if Hyun-wook works Yoo-kyung to death or not? Furthermore, as a customer, San doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of manners – asking for a delivery (when they don’t deliver), ordering during the restaurant’s break time, sending untouched plates back to the kitchen, etc. San retorts that as the chef, Hyun-wook doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of manners either and that he can’t force customers to eat crappy dishes. If the kitchen is a mess, 97% of the blame lies with the chef.
At the restaurant, President Seol’s grade reports start today. Hyun-wook is once again trying to track down Chef Totti. Yoo-kyung dejectedly makes her way up the stairs as the staff assemble for the meeting with Seol. Walking up behind her, Hyun-wook tells her to keep an eye on him during the meeting. When he gives her the signal, she should call the number written on the paper.
As President Seol’s presentation gets underway, he points out the graph that reflects the cook’s performance (blue bar) as juxtaposed against customer complaints (orange line). When Yoo-kyung asks why her orange line is the longest, President Seol thunders “PICKLE!!!! YOU are in charge of the pickles.”
And then we get to a pointless amalgam of scenes. The trio of fired female cooks show up to confront Ho-nam to know why he’s eschewing Mi-Hee’s calls. Then, the egg vendor arrives to settle things with Yoo-kyung. Right behind him, rolls in Yoo-kyung’s father. Everyone’s yelling and I’m fast-fowarding.
By this time, President Seol’s self-righteous fervor has truly gotten underway. Walking over to Hyun-wook, Seol demands to know what he plans to do about Yoo-kyung and the bribe. Hyun-wook signals to Yoo-kyung, who then dials the number, and it turns out to be . . . Hyun-wook.
Hyun-wook answers his cell phone and exclaims, “Chef Totti!” and lets loose with his Italian. Seol looks shocked as Hyun-wook “talks” to Chef Totti. Handing the phone to Seol, Hyun-wook says that Totti wants to talk him. Of course, Seol refuses the call.
Red-faced, Seol then admits before the staff that yes, it was he who accepted the 10,000,000 won from Totti. Hyun-wook drags Seol down the stairs before the flabbergasted staff and San (who’s there having lunch with his sister), pins Seol against the stairwell and yells, “YOU FIRED!!!”
That night, Hyun-wook runs into Yoo-kyung in the lobby of their apartment building. In the elevator, he tells her to make pickles as if their customers were diabetic (without sugar). She meekly agrees.
Hyun-wook shakes his head at her inadequate response and lists off all that he’s done for her: proving her innocence, allowing her to be a cook, now letting her make pickles, and that’s all she has to say?
She impulsively kisses him on the cheek, much to his shock and hers.
PICKLES! I decided to invent a drinking game for every time the word pickle was mentioned during this episode. Double shot if the speaker spits out “PICK-UL!!!” with the vein bulging out in his/her forehead. Needless to say, you’d be drunk halfway through the episode. Seriously people, if the profit margin at your Italian restaurant is declining by double digits because of the lack of pickles, it’s time to open a deli.
Superfluous Characters. I know all dramas are like this, but there are too many superfluous characters in Pasta – this means I’m mostly ignoring their scenes – this includes the fired female trio, Yoo-kyung’s father, San’s sister Kang. The fired female trio are filler and not even the funny kind. We get it, you were fired, you hate Hyun-wook, how dare Ho-nam not call?! As for Yoo-kyung’s father, I don’t really understand his purpose except that he fulfils the scrappy, but loveable, Korean ajusshi quota on the show. San’s sister is also kind of pointless. I know that she’s supposed to be a cougar – looking hot, chasing after Philip, saying outrageously suggestive things, but she’s really not all that provocative. Also, note to writers, having your sister tag try and score sex for you is just creepy and wrong.
The Tragic Secret. Now that we know what went wrong between Hyun-wook and Se-young, it’s a decent explanation of why Hyun-wook has this giant chip on his shoulder when it comes to women in the kitchen. Se-young betrayed him, and in a pretty big way. She undermined not only Hyun-wook, but herself. Fair or not, Hyun-wook views women cooks as inadequate and is suspicious of their success. For the most part, the female cooks at La Sfera confirmed his suspicions – Hee-joo plonking down the live lobsters on the customer’s table or Mi-hee making out with Ho-nam in the refrigerator reinforced his perceptions of women as talentless and fickle. As the drama progresses, Hyun-wook’s attitude towards women and their ability is beginning to change. When Yoo-kyung correctly guesses that the Italian Consul will order Vongole, he lets her prepare it, and turns it into a teachable moment.
Overall, however, I do think it’s misplaced anger. Hyun-wook should be pissed at Se-young, not all womankind. She totally sucks! I don’t care how badly she wanted to go to Rome. She’s a cheater and cheaters never prosper.
That about does it for my recap of Pasta Episode 5. Until next time, thanks for reading!