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Pasta: Episode 11

What the . . . ?!


The episode opens with the squee-inducing moment from Episode 10. Hyun-wook tells Yoo-kyung that he likes her too. Adorably flushed, she replies, “even in the kitchen?” She voices her concern that they might get caught, but Hyun-wook brushes it off and says they’ll just have to be careful. Unfortunately, the moment is tempered by Eun-soo’s comical “wtf” face, followed by his dramatic tiptoeing out of the kitchen.

Eun-soo runs off in shock. The next morning, which is payday, he greets San with the same dazed expression he had the previous night (and which might be his general resting face). San informs the maknae that he plans to pay all of La Sfera’s employees in person. San asks whether something’s wrong, noting the perplexed look on Eun-soo’s face. The maknae mumbles a denial. We see him next in a bathroom stall counting his earnings, which aren’t a whole lot. Welcome to the working world, kid.

At the apartment building, Yoo-kyung and Hyun-wook have their morning dose of cute. He tells her not to be so obvious or else they’ll get caught.

Both of them run into Eun-soo as they walk into La Sfera, who looks after them with a knowing smirk. Now that he knows about their secret love, Eun-soo is hyper-attuned to their little exchanges. Also, it doesn’t help that the tables have turned, and now Hyun-wook is being super obvious.  He keeps sneaking Yoo-kyung meaningful looks and lingers in her general vicinity. She finally texts him, “Chef, you’re making it obvious that you like me. Over! Goldfish.” He rectifies the situation by threatening to string her upside down should she mess up the orders. Ah, love.

In the dining hall, Waiter Seol serves a customer who we can immediately tell is bad news. Long hair, patchy mustache, and general skeezy demeanor, he requests to see the chef who prepared his meal. In the kitchen, Seol happily conveys Mr. Skeezy’s request. When Hyun-wook moves to go to the hall, Seol smugly tells him that the customer wants to see the sous chef, Seok-ho. Se-young, who happens to witness their exchange, frowns at the sight.

For the first time in this entire series, Seok-ho is in a good mood. Mr. Skeezy offered the sous chef a position at his new pasta restaurant. In the locker room, Seok-ho confers with the other members of Team Korea and asks if they’ll come with him to his kitchen. Team Korea is delighted and they all accept on the spot. The sous chef promises them that he’ll make sure that they’ll have far superior contracts at the new restaurant and then they share an incredibly awkward bonding moment.

Meanwhile, Yoo-kyung is skipping outside during the mid-day break. She calls her father to let him know that she sent him a bit of her paycheck. He says that she sounds unusually happy – love shows. As she bounces along the street, San chases after her. Asking her where she’s headed, she gives him a vague answer.  When she asks where he’s headed, he tells her that it’s a secret. By “secret,” he means “be super annoying and follow you around like a creepy stalker” as he trails her all the way to a nearby convenience store . . . where Hyun-wook is waiting for her.

Undeterred, Yoo-kyung forges ahead with their rendezvous and does the worst job ever of feigning surprise as she greets Hyun-wook. San’s not buying it and he walks over to the two of them, stony-faced. She continues to beat a dead horse by asking Hyun-wook dumb questions such as “what are you doing here Chef?” and “are you here all by yourself?”

Hyun-wook and San simultaneously try to put her out of her misery by handing her a lollipop and an ice cream bar. San snarks that employees are supposed to treat their boss to something on payday as the three of them sullenly munch on their ice cream.

Later that night, Se-young barges into Hyun-wook’s office to report that the sous chef is likely on his way out. She tells Hyun-wook that Mr. Skeezy is setting up a new restaurant and that Seok-ho is probably taking all of Team Korea with him. Confirming her suspicions, Hyun-wook finds Team Korea in the garage, conspiring in Seok-ho’s car. The sous chef is collecting their resumes to present to the restaurateur.

When he meets with Mr. Skeezy, the latter stays true to form and tells him that he’s not interested in all of Team Korea – he wants a pasta chef. Extracting Seung-jae’s resume (the one that looks a little like the Green Goblin), Mr. Skeezy tells Seok-ho to replace him with a chef from La Sfera’s pasta line.

The following day, Eun-soo, who has been filled in about Team Korea’s imminent departure, acts even more peculiarly around Hyun-wook and Yoo-kyung.

Unfortunately, Team Korea is also distracted. They fail to notice that their side of the kitchen is running amok. Because Chef Hyun-wook is not a proponent of positive reinforcement (and because he’s pissed about their plans to leave), he comes down hard.

Oversized chopsticks in tow, he furiously criticizes each of Team Korea, and Eun-soo is not spared. When Hyun-wook growls that the maknae should earn his salary, Eun-soo whimpers that his salary barely covers his transportation costs. He then flees the kitchen in tears, colliding with Waiter Seol. Seol tut tuts at the situation and implores them to try to be more pleasant with one another. You tell em, Mr. PICK-UL. In a pretty dick move, Hyun-wook criticizes Eun-soo for being such a wimp. Seok-ho’s had it, and he furiously flings his frying pan to the floor. The tension in the kitchen is palpable.

Eun-soo has retreated to his bathroom stall and cries.  Also in the bathroom, Team Korea tries to comfort him. They wonder whether Hyun-wook is aware of their plans to depart. Sensitive souls that they are, they impatiently bang on the stall door and yell at Eun-soo to stop crying, which of course doesn’t help.

Alone in the kitchen, the head chef and sous chef square off. Going into metaphors-with-food hyperdrive, the gist of their exchange is that Hyun-wook believes that third-rate cooks can become first-rate cooks with a whole lot of tough love. Alternatively, Seok-ho thinks that too much tough love is just kinda mean.

Outside the kitchen, Team Italy notes the sous chef’s odd behavior, and surmise that something’s amiss. They don’t find anything out of the ordinary with Hyun-wook’s ranting, which they view as a mark of Chef’s favor. Hmm.

In the locker room, Team Korea corner Yoo-kyung and are uncharacteristically nice to her. They’re trying to poach her for the new restaurant, but before they can Hyun-wook walks into the locker room.

Seok-ho does a better job and asks her outright to come with him. He’s noticed the vast improvement in her pasta-cooking skills (Se-young had complimented her earlier on helping with the Three Taste Pasta). Even though she’s happy for him, she gently declines. She still has a lot to learn at La Sfera.

Later that night, Hyun-wook imparts a warning to the sous chef, “I’m not good with manipulating words, so let me be blunt – if you want to leave, you leave after I fire you, or after you defeat me. Leave after you’ve surpassed me. Do you understand?”

Hyun-wook finds Yoo-kyung in the kitchen making Se-young’s ravioli. She has to make 500 of them for tomorrow’s meal service. He says that he wants to play, and drags her off on a date. Sort of. He takes her to a subpar Italian restaurant and proceeds to be a big jerk.  While she tries to enjoy the meal, Hyun-wook finds fault with each and every course, starting with the bread. After scrutinizing each dish, he grumbles “don’t eat it.”

Deflated, Yoo-kyung wonders why he’s being such a bad sport – she appreciates eating out because she hates cooking for herself (preach, sister!). Suddenly interested in what she’s saying, he pointedly asks her if she’ll cook for her husband.

Hyun-wook: Whoever it is, I feel sorry for the person who ends up living with you.
Yoo-kyung: My husband can cook for me.
Hyun-wook: Right! What kind of man would cook for his wife when she’s a chef?
Yoo-kyung: I can get married to another chef.
Hyun-wook: Hah!

On the way home, Yoo-kyung chides him for being so critical. For instance, what was with his earlier hostility towards Team Korea? Hyun-wook retorts that her attitude simply enables poor cooks to remain mediocre. Both of them are tired, hungry, and irritable, when they pull over to a bathhouse. Enjoying eggs and iced drinks, she sighs thinking about the unfinished ravioli. She asks him to help her, which of course, he refuses to do. He has no interest in helping people who give him a headache – Se-young, or those ingrates who plan to leave La Sfera.

She’s surprised that he knows about that, and asks him why he’s such an ass to everybody – pushing away people who like him, and pushing people away who don’t like him even harder. That being said, she plans to stick to him like gum no matter what.

The next morning, San convenes both Hyun-wook and Seok-ho in his office. A mystery customer has made the unusual request that the two of them cook a meal for him at midnight. Of course, the inconsiderate customer turns out to be Mr. Skeezy. He asks that they both make him lobster bisque.

As he samples the finished dishes, Mr. Skeezy asks the sous chef why he didn’t use the extra virgin olive oil. Is it because he’s cheap? Hyun-wook interrupts before Seok-ho can respond, and calls the smarmy poseur on his bullshit. Extra virgin olive oil burns easily and is therefore inappropriate for grilling. Skeezy retorts that he still prefers expensive ingredients. He grows increasingly critical of the sous chef’s offering, castigating it as lowbrow, but Hyun-wook defends his sous chef against each new charge.

Once they are alone, Mr. Skeezy grumbles about Hyun-wook’s audacity. He tells the sous chef that he made the right choice for his restaurant. Seok-ho is the type who will do as he’s told. If Skeezy says it’s so, than it’s so. Realization dawning, Seok-ho doesn’t seem to like the sound of that.

Separately, Yoo-kyung admits to Hyun-wook that she was recruited by Seok-ho. Hyun-wook finds this hilarious. Sobering, he says that he has to figure out how to make Team Korea stay. He knows the sous chef is too timid to head his own kitchen. He won’t be able to assert his authority over a strong-willed, misinformed manager like Mr. Skeezy. He sagely tells Yoo-kyung to remember that the only person who matters is the customer, not the boss. Yoo-kyung teases him by replying that she’s quite fond of their boss, San. Not liking the sound of that, Hyun-wook tells her to reach into his pocket, where he has put a clamshell. Erm, okay.

The next morning, Yoo-kyung brings him breakfast (see, she will cook for you) and he’s touched by the gesture. Meanwhile, San, Kang, and Se-young are also having breakfast. Kang demands to know who San’s secret crush is. She exasperatedly asks Se-young and San how they ended up liking other people.

Later, at the restaurant, Eun-soo is still smarting from the scolding he got from Hyun-wook a day earlier. Red-eyed, he asks Hyun-wook whether the latter has anything to be ashamed of in the kitchen. The question gives him pause, though Hyun-wook eventually says no.

Mr. Skeezy returns to La Sfera with a contract for Seok-ho to sign. The sous chef says that he’ll be an obedient chef, but only if Skeezy hires Seung-jae. As expected, it’s a deal-breaker. In the locker room, Seok-ho tells Team Korea that the negotiations fell through because his skills weren’t up to par. Eun-soo is especially disappointed because he had hoped to become a chef.  Seok-ho later asks Hyun-wook how he advanced to head chef from sous chef. Hyun-wook replies that he had a complete tyrant for a head chef, whom he desperately wanted to surpass. Seok-ho finally gets it.

In the kitchen, Hyun-wook clears the air with Team Korea. In his own way, the head chef lets them know that all is forgiven and he’s willing to start anew. However, it’s not going to be that easy as we have a four-episode extension. Just as Hyun-wook is about to read the incoming order (and San enters the kitchen), Eun-soo interrupts, “I have something to say. Please listen to me.”


Alex. I’m becoming a bit frustrated with Alex. Like Honey Lee, I’m not sure that he’s a bad actor, but he’s not very expressive, which makes his character incredibly unsympathetic. I presume we’re supposed to feel sympathy for him as opposed to a general sense of annoyance?

Eun-soo. Poor kid. Admittedly, he’s a bit pathetic, but sheesh, I’d cry too if I was in a thankless job that paid minor ducats and my boss was a raving despot.

Hyun-wook the Jerk. Speaking of which, I guess Hyun-wook’s not so much a misogynist as he is an equal opportunity jackass. Even though we know he’s well intentioned, there were definitely moments during this episode where I was cringing at the abuse he doled out. Hopefully, he’ll learn that not everyone is receptive to giant chopsticks being shoved in their chest. Also, note to Yoo-kyung: eat in, a lot.


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