Pasta: Episode 7
Thank you all so much for your thoughtful comments and feedback! I’m having a wonderful time recapping Pasta with Andromytta, and I’m glad to see that so many of you are as excited about the show as we are!
EPISODE 7 RECAP
Dawn breaks over the horizon as Hyun-wook watches for the incoming fishing boat. Yoo-kyung sleeps, her head on his shoulder.
He leaps to his feet when the boat arrives, unceremoniously knocking her awake. They inspect the freshly arrived antler fish and Hyun-wook tells her to buy as many as she can afford. Yoo-kyung returns with the fish and their breakfast – microwaveable rice and chili paste. A culinary MacGyver, Hyun-wook whips up a simple, but apparently delicious meal of spicy sashimi and rice. To top of their breakfast, he grills the leftover fish skins over an open fire. It’s sweet how he feeds her various morsels throughout their meal.
Yoo-kyung receives a call from San as they drive home. San asks her if she really went all the way to the seaside alone. She dodges the question and instead snips at him to remember to eat breakfast. Hyun-wook looks irritated with the parts of the conversation he can overhear. When she hangs up, she tells Hyun-wook that it was “that customer” and that San’s merely checking up on them to see if they’re working. As Hyun-wook pointedly asks why San only seems to be checking up on Yoo-kyung, San calls her again. He asks her to tell Hyun-wook to come to La Sfera as soon as they return.
Yoo-kyung returns to the apartment and Se-young marvels at how many antler fish she brought back. Yoo-kyung tells her that some of them are the head chef’s. Se-young realizes that Hyun-wook and Yoo-kyung spent the night at the seaside and smiles awkwardly.
At La Sfera, Hyun-wook and San face off yet again.
Hyun-wook tells San that had he interviewed with San (and not President Seol) he would have never come to work at the restaurant. San responds with the verbal equivalent of sticking out his tongue and he evenly tells Hyun-wook that had been the case, he wouldn’t have hired him. Hyun-wook asks if San closed the restaurant these past few days just to stick it to him. San denies this and asks Hyun-wook if he is confident in the ingredients he procured at the seaside. San tells him that he will not be competing in La Sfera’s cook-off. Instead, Hyun-wook will represent La Sfera at a high-profile charity event. Hyun-wook is irritated by this change in plans and asks whether he should expect to be at the mercy of San’s various whims. San replies that he’s simply being strategic and trying to raise the restaurant’s public profile. He also says that Se-young will compete in Hyun-wook’s place in the cook-off.
Now in a full-on bad mood, Hyun-wook runs into Se-young in the parking garage of their apartment complex. She tells him that she’s looking forward to the competition at La Sfera as she’s been waiting for the opportunity to cook with him again. He sourly remarks that she hasn’t changed – to her, cooking is nothing but a battle. Hyun-wook says that she should anticipate stiff competition, but not from him. He fully expects Yoo-kyung to emerge victorious. Se-young incredulously asks whether he thinks she would lose to a novice chef. Hyun-wook smiles bitterly and tells her that is why cooking is fun, because it’s unpredictable. He says he is looking forward to the expression on the “star chef’s” face when she loses to Yoo-kyung.
Then, to ensure that Yoo-kyung wins at the competition, he drags the poor girl into his apartment for an intensive cooking session. Hyun-wook tells her that she needs to have the right mind-set at the cook-off. She must have the confidence to defeat him. Yoo-kyung meekly wonders how she could possibly beat him. He frowns, and grabs her by the shoulders. Sternly, he repeats the mantra, “I can do it. Posso farle. Posso farle!” (Posso farle is Italian for “I can do it”). He explains that he used to repeat this mantra to himself hundreds of times a day in Italy so as not to get discouraged. Confidence, grasshopper, confidence.
In the kitchen, Hyun-wook morphs into Mr. Hyde and criticizes each of Yoo-kyung’s attempts. Tired and dispirited, Yoo-kyung looks a picture of her mother when he finally leaves her alone for a few moments. In her head, she hears her mother who tells her to try her best. So long as she doesn’t come in last, it will be fine.
When Hyun-wook returns, she offers him the latest plate of her pasta. He chokes on an errant fishbone and thunders at her to do it again and to do it right.
Later that night, Yoo-kyung is standing outside of her father’s Chinese restaurant with the cooler of antler fish. She pounds on the door and desperately asks her father for help. Her father and younger brother listen as she explains that she cannot get her fish balls to taste like her fathers. And, she can’t figure out how to de-bone the damn fish. Her father tut-tuts and grumbles as all crochety-ajusshi-father types are wont to do, and then of course proceeds to solve all of her problems. He does a bit of MacGyver-ing of his own with clam tweezers and 100% potato starch.
When Yoo-kyung returns to her apartment, she notices that Se-young has left a mess in the kitchen. Se-young awakens from the couch where she has been resting. Yoo-kyung remarks that she must have been preparing for her television program and Se-young doesn’t correct her. As the two women share a cup of coffee, Yoo-kyung says that she is also exhausted from the all-night cooking session. Se-young shares that she and her lover would cook all night long when she was in Italy. Despite the long hours, she wasn’t tired because they were together. Yoo-kyung asks if this is the person Se-young wore the white uniform for. Se-young walks over to a uniform hanging by the sofa and says that this is the uniform. She would like to wear it before the man she loved again.
At the restaurant, San lays out the rules of the cooking competition in a telephone conversation with his sister. During Round One, the dishes will compete by course and be judged by La Sfera’s wait staff. The winners will go on to Round Two, where they will be judged by fifty restaurant patrons.
We then immediately jump to Philip’s gratuitous hair shot. Kang is waiting for him as he rumbles in on his motorcycle. He takes off his helmet and we step into a Pantene commercial. Philip sees Kang, and the two exchange comically suggestive looks.
La Sfera’s cooks square off, each of them explaining their dish in rather obnoxious voice-overs.
Yoo-kyung notices that Hyun-wook isn’t there. She asks Ji-hoon where he is, and he replies that there’s probably not enough stove space for the head chef in this particular kitchen. As it turns out, Hyun-wook is not in La Sfera at all, but is instead at the hotel for the charity event. Coincidentally, the fired female trio and former-President Seol are also at the hotel to inquire about employment. Of course, the four of them run into each other as they sneak about the hotel lobby trying to avoid Hyun-wook.
Se-young is the one using the other kitchen at La Sfera. San drops by and notes her uniform. Se-young replies that she used to wear it in Italy. He tells her that Hyun-wook will not be competing at the cook-off, but she shouldn’t be too disappointed, because Hyun-wook will be the final judge at the close of the competition.
At last the cooks are assembled with their completed dishes to compete in Round One. San walks in with Se-young behind him, holding her dish. Seok-ho demands to know where the head chef is, and San tells him that he’s currently at another event. Se-young will compete in his place. The other chefs looked concerned at this pronouncement.
San explains the rules of the competition. The winner will have his/her dish featured on La Sfera’s menu and will receive a monetary incentive according to it’s popularity.
We start with salads and Sang-shik beats Ji-hoon. With the soups, Seung-jae wins out over Philip, despite the latter’s best come-hither smile. Next, Yoo-kyung’s fish ball pasta competes against Eun-soo’s ramen alfredo casserole. She wins easily. Ho-nam is victorious over Woo-duk with entrees. So far, Team Korea is having a banner day. Finally, we get to the special plates. Seok-ho’s foie gras competes against Se-young’s ravioli, or “Three Taste Pasta.” Unfortunately, before the wait staff can taste the dishes, San halts the proceedings. He points out that Seok-ho didn’t follow the rules as foie gras costs far more than 10,000 won. Seok-ho arrogantly replies that customers will be able to distinguish quality. San says the sous chef missed the whole point and disqualifies him. Se-young wins by default.
Meanwhile, at the hotel, Hyun-wook is preparing his antler fish foie gras for the oh-so appropriately named Noblesse Oblige charity event.
The guests select their favorite dish by dropping tokens into a glass container. At first, the guests shuffle pass La Sfera’s table, seemingly disinterested. The fired female trio and Seol walk by and snark at the guests’ apparent lack of interest in Hyun-wook’s offering. They should have waited about thirty seconds, because a crowd lines up at La Sfera’s table, all insisting on the antler fish foie gras.
Round Two gets underway at La Sfera. The restaurant patrons munch happily away on the various dishes.
Se-young comes upon Yoo-kyung and apologizes for not telling her that she would also be competing. Yoo-kyung says that she’s happy just to have made it to the second round and she knows that she’s no match for Se-young. At the same time, the losers are de-compressing in the locker room. After an impetuous observation by Eun-soo, Seok-ho storms off. Team Italy muse about the implications of Se-young’s entry into the cook-off. Ji-hoon anxiously wonders what will happen if she wins.
Hyun-wook wraps up at the charity event and texts “posso farle” to Yoo-kyung. He lets her know that he’s on his way to La Sfera. “Posso farle.”
San catches her smiling and asks who the message was from. When she doesn’t respond, San mentions that the head chef will probably be at the restaurant soon. Involuntarily giving herself up, she confirms that Hyun-wook told her the charity event is over and he’s on his way. San gets a hard look on his face.
At the close of business, the staff are assembled and San announces the winners of Round Two as Hyun-wook returns to La Sfera. Team Korea pre-emptively congratulate one another, but it turns out that Se-young’s ravioli, “Three Taste Pasta” and Yoo-kyung’s fish ball pasta, “The Rising Sun,” have tied (heavy with the food metaphors this episode). The staff, including Yoo-kyung, are shocked at the results.
San welcomes Hyun-wook back and tells him that he will have to decide between the two women . . . er, dishes.
Hyun-wook samples each of the plates as the two women look nervously on. Rising, he announces the winner:
Hyun-wook: Seo Yoo-kyung. Cuisine is a living thing. Because of that, it must be able to seduce the knife and fork. You’re cuisine lacks in that ability to seduce. You . . . are second.
Se-young is crowned the winner. Crushed, Yoo-kyung manages a small smile. When she’s alone in the locker room she remembers the conversation she had earlier in the day with Se-young about the uniform and her lost love. Yoo-kyung becomes even more depressed as realization dawns.
San, Hyun-wook, and Se-young discuss the outcome of the competition. San tells the two of them to coordinate how to feature Se-young’s pasta on the restaurant’s menu. Hyun-wook asks San to leave the room. When they are alone, Hyun-wook coldly congratulates Se-young and suggests that she turn over the recipe to their kitchen staff. She declines. She assumed that he chose her as the winner knowing that she would personally be making the dish. Hyun-wook tells her not to misconstrue his actions. He picked her as winner, because she had the superior dish – he has no interest in working in the same kitchen with her.
San consoles Yoo-kyung. She should be proud of coming in second. Yoo-kyung acknowledges that she should be proud, but she’s still disapppointed.
Hyun-wook notices Yoo-kyung hanging her head and scolds her for being so dejected.
Yoo-kyung: What does it mean to be able to seduce? How do you seduce well?
Hyun-wook: Your cooking is one-sided. Your dishes lack the confidence that they will be enjoyed by those who taste them. Without that confidence, your dishes will not be able to seduce the fork and knife. Stop being in a one-sided relationship and try to seduce . . . properly.
I think it’s safe to say that Hyun-wook’s not talking about cooking anymore. Yoo-kyung doesn’t really get it and takes off with her melancholy self.
In La Sfera’s kitchen, Seok-ho is having his own melancholy moment. We hear San, in voice-over, who explains that he tasted Seok-ho’s foie gras after the competition. In San’s assessment, it was just as good as Se-young’s dish, but foie gras is simply too expensive. With a determined look on his face, Seok-ho lights up the stove and fries up some more foie gras as Hyun-wook walks by. Hey, it’s not his money.
Ho-nam meets up with the fired female trio and boasts about his third-place dish. He makes some crap up about how it’s called “Forbidden Love” to impress Mi-hee. The other two are like whatever and ask for more details about the cook-off.
Yoo-kyung is at a convenience store when San surprises her. Stalker, much?
He follows her to a public pool where she throws herself a one-woman party. Yoo-kyung splashes about and starts to sing aloud in a pretty awful voice (Alex must have been dying during this scene). Her spirits improve as the two of them goof off.
When she settles down, San asks her why she wants to celebrate alone. She replies that it’s because no one is genuinely happy for her, save herself. He bristles at that and asks her what she thinks of him and she retorts that he’s nothing but a big fat liar who’s been lying to her for the past three years. She demands to know if there’s anything else he’s keeping from her. You know, like the fact that you’re in love with her? San deflects and asks whether they should include Hyun-wook seeing as how he and Yoo-kyung seem awfully chummy.
Speaking of which, when Hyun-wook returns to the apartment complex, he calls Yoo-kyung. Yoo-kyung doesn’t answer his call, and San asks her why. She says she’d rather talk to Hyun-wook once she’s back to her normal, exuberant self. Hyun-wook drops by her apartment and Se-young answers the door. She sees that he has the uniform she’d left behind in his office and smiles at him expectantly. Hyun-wook notes the similarities between her and her “Three Taste Pasta.” Whatever Se-young wants, she goes after, and she has to have it all – men, ability, and reputation. He tells her that he hates that he picked her as winner. Hyun-wook angrily returns the uniform and tells Se-young to never wear it again in his presence. Se-young decides that this tense moment calls for a hug and lunges for him just as Yoo-kyung and San step off the elevator. San shields Yoo-kyung from Hyun-wook and Se-young’s non-embrace. His hands over Yoo-kyung’s eyes, he recites a children’s rhyme about cactus blooming at night. Hyun-wook and Se-young hear his recitation and Hyun-wook loses what little interest he had in Se-young in an instant.
He strides over to Yoo-kyung and San and tersely asks what the heck a cactus is doing blooming in the middle of the night. I presume this has some skeezy innuendo by the uncomfortable way San adjusts his tie. Hyun-wook has an “I-call-bullshit” look on his face as he looks from Yoo-kyung to San.
Everyone awkwardly says goodnight and back in their apartment, Se-young compliments Yoo-kyung on the fish ball pasta. She asks whether Yoo-kyung tasted Hyun-wook’s antler fish foie gras. When Yoo-kyung replies that he wouldn’t let her, Se-young subtly marks her territory. She tells Yoo-kyung that Hyun-wook’s always been like that – he doesn’t let people taste his dishes unless he thinks that they are perfect. Yoo-kyung attempts to ask her a question, but chickens out, and simply tells Se-young she looked nice in the uniform.
Later, Yoo-kyung comes out of her apartment and tiptoes across to Hyun-wook’s. She listens at his door and is conflicted whether to ring the doorbell. Pacing back and forth, she hides when he suddenly emerges from his apartment. Not aware that she is standing behind him, Hyun-wook mirrors her earlier behavior. She taps him on the shoulder, startling him.
He demands to know what’s going on with her and San. She replies that nothing is going between them. Yoo-kyung asks him what’s going with him and Se-young. Hyun-wook responds that nothing is going between them either. When Yoo-kyung brings up the uniform, he concedes that he and Se-young were classmates in Italy. Then they proceed to have a disgusting, but adorable conversation:
Yoo-kyung: Then the two of you must be really close.
Hyun-wook: You and I are closer now.
Yoo-kyung; How much closer?
Hyun-wook: As much as anchovy poop.
Yoo-kyung: Anchovies are half poop. They have a lot of poop.
Hyun-wook: What you see from head to tail isn’t poop. Those are mostly intestines. Poop is excreted in its due time, so there’s only a little left in the body. You can’t even tell the difference between poop and intestines. Can you tell the difference between poop and bean paste, being a chef and all?
Both of them return to their apartments much happier. Yoo-kyung muses aloud with an impish smile, “I wonder why he came outside?”
I have absolutely no idea what’s going through certain character’s heads. For example, what’s up with Seok-ho? He’s easy on the eyes, and as far as I can tell, played by a pretty talented actor (Lee Hyung-chul). For the most part, he’s just kind of there. In Episode 5, he was plotting with President Seol to become the new head chef, except Seuk-ho wasn’t actually doing any plotting, he just sat and agreed with Seol. In this episode, he’s disqualified from the competition for using foie gras, broods for a little bit, and then immediately returns to the kitchen to cook up a pan of . . . foie gras. Is this some profound metaphor for the intransigence of men, or is it just lousy character development?
Then, there’s Se-young. If it wasn’t clear from my last commentary in Episode 5, she’s on my list – yes, that list. During this episode, I was definitely asking myself aloud, “what is she thinking?!” She deliberately screws over a professional colleague (who also happens to be her lover), and then assumes an apology accompanied by fluttering eyelashes and damp eyes will make up for the whole thing. Her master plan seems to be to smother aforementioned colleague/lover with her unwanted attention at his every turn. That just seems dumb. Also, Honey Lee is an absolutely gorgeous woman, but she seems to variations of one facial expression, be it happy, sad, apologetic:
On a happier note, I’m pleased with the progression of Yoo-kyung and Hyun-wook’s relationship. Gong Hyo-jin and Lee Seon-kyun are absolutely delightful and have great chemistry. For all of Hyun-wook’s blustering about the “one-sidedness” of Yoo-kyung’s crush, he totally likes her too! At the end of the episode, I was flashing to Miss Congeniality when Sandra Bullock’s character, Gracie Hart is teasing her love interest, “You want to hug me . . . you want to love me . . . you want to smooch me.” Yes, I am a dorky fan girl at heart.
Finally, Andromytta discussed the extension in her recap of Episode 6, and I have to admit that I’m on the fence. Pasta is an innocuous slice-of-life drama, which is what I appreciate about it. I don’t need to do a lot of heavy mental-lifting. If done well, the extra episodes will be more breezy fluff, but if done poorly, it’ll all go to anchovy crap. For now, I’m keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for the best. Note to writers: “posso farle!”