Adorable Food Goddess - Chapter 129
Chapter 129: Protest
Translator: YTJS_ Editor: Perriemix
“Oh, so that is why.”
Shopkeeper Li, who was sitting in the first row, heard what Zheng Sanduo said and felt extremely annoyed. He wanted to rebut him but it was inappropriate for a senior to argue with the younger ones.
Lu Xiaotian laughed. “Brother Sanduo, you have underestimated him. I heard that His Majesty summoned him to the palace yesterday to prepare his royal meals – 18 dishes and a soup. His Majesty even personally bestowed a name for his dish and conferred him as a Mobile Imperial Chef.”
“What kind of official is a Mobile Imperial Chef?”
“Even imperial chefs are not officials! What kind of official is a Mobile Imperial Chef? It is just a servant in the palace,” Zheng Sanduo said, feeling salty. He could not believe that the new chef actually became a Mobile Imperial Chef.
Lu Xiaotian said, “It is indeed not impressive to be an imperial chef. After all, only the first place in the culinary competition has the qualifications to become an imperial chef. Even the second place can only do odd jobs in the imperial kitchen.”
The statement was obviously a jab at Zheng Sanduo. Everyone seated knew that Lu Yiming only became an imperial chef by winning the first place in the culinary competition. Zheng Fugui might have the qualifications to enter the imperial kitchen, but his status was clearly incomparable to that of Lu Yiming’s.
Ye Jiayao wanted to cheer for Lu Xiaotian. That’s right! Put that arrogant brat in his place.
Zheng Sanduo immediately regretted his slip of the tongue, his face paling with embarrassment.
“If you put it that way, then that Li Yao must really have some skills,” someone chimed in.
“Since he is so incredible, he should have the qualifications to join today’s meeting.”
“That’s right. Shopkeeper Li, why didn’t you bring him along? We could’ve gotten to know each other.”
Ye Jiayao looked to the direction of the sound. It was Niu Baoshun who was sitting on the first seat on the second row.
“We can only find out about his so-called skills in the competition,” Niu Baoshun said.
Zheng Sanduo, finally founding his ally, added, “That’s right. We have only heard rumors about Li Yao’s capabilities, but fame does not represent his skills. Who knows how he was able to win His Majesty’s favor? This Li Yao obviously knows how to get into the good books of the wealthy and powerful so he might really just be good at bootlicking.”
F*ck you, you douche canoe. Ye Jiayao stared daggers at the back of Zheng Sanduo’s head, reigning in the urge to kick him.
Lu Xiaotian chuckled coldly. “I think Li Yao would definitely participate in this culinary competition. When the time comes, Brother Sanduo will be able to see for himself whether Li Yao really lives up to his name or whether it is all unwarranted fame.”
The shopkeeper of Ju Fu Lin, Lin Changchun, who was sitting beside Shopkeeper Li, laughed in amusement. “Shopkeeper Li, five years ago, your Heavenly Residence has Niu Baoshun who managed to clinch in the third place as a dark horse. This year, your restaurant is the hot topic even before the competition begins. Your head chefs are no simpleton!”
Shopkeeper Li said humbly, “You are too kind. I heard that the head chef of your Ju Fu Lin is the real hidden master.”
Zheng Fugui, who was sitting on the seat of honor, took a sweeping glance of the meeting room. Since all the seats were filled up, he began, “Since everyone is present, let’s start the meeting!”
“First on the agenda is the protest that a few pastry shops in Jin Ling raised.”
Immediately, everyone turned to Shopkeeper Li, who turned a blind eye to their stares, sipping his tea calmly.
Ye Jiayao’s heart stopped for a while. Why are you so envious of my mooncakes, you f*ckers? What have we ever done to you?
Zheng Fugui continued, “Although it is not explicitly mentioned by the committee, it is the common consensus in the industry that restaurants, pastry shops, teahouses, wine houses, and even vinegar shops have their specific range of operations. The boundary should not be easily crossed. I heard that recently, Heavenly Residence launched their ice cream mooncake and greatly impacted the pastry shops in Jin Ling. Shopkeeper Li, why don’t you give an explanation.”
Shopkeeper Li set his cup of tea down and responded calmly, “A restaurant’s range of operation is comprehensive. We do not simply cook dishes. Restaurants also brew wine. For example, the Fu Shou Chun of your Fu Ji is self-brewed and brings good business to you. The wine houses haven’t raised a protest because of that, no?”
Zheng Fugui’s face turned ugly.
“Restaurants also make chilled drinks. For example, every restaurant will launch the iced sour plum soup, the lotus seed with fungus, and more during the summer period. Restaurants also make pastries. Some even marinate their preserved food. For example, Xiang Yi Restaurant’s pastries, Qi Lin Pavilion’s preserved food, all of them are very famous. Why didn’t anyone come out and protest? If you’re talking about selling mooncakes, who, among all the people sitting here with restaurants, do not sell mooncakes every year? Now that our Heavenly Residence starts selling mooncakes, how is that a hindrance?” Shopkeeper Li stated.
The bald Mei Xiuguang sitting at the opposite side jumped out to say, “Others who brew wine, make pastries, and marinate preserved foods did not constitute a destructive impact towards others. Your ice cream mooncakes caused our mooncakes to sell poorly! We simply can’t sell them anymore!”
Shopkeeper Li directed a patronizing smile at him. “Calm down, Shopkeeper Mei. Our Heavenly Residence’s ice cream mooncake is targeted at the wealthy people. Although Jin Ling has a lot of rich people, the commoners still far outnumber them. There is still an abundance of customers for pastry shops like yours. Business has always been reliant on competitiveness. Whoever has better things would naturally have better business. Otherwise, Xiang Yi Restaurant wouldn’t have the need to poach talents, would it?
“How is it my problem if you can’t sell your foods? If you are unable to win the people’s favor, then don’t you think that you should come up with a better plan? If you cannot sell top-grade mooncakes, then sell low-grade ones. Shopkeeper Mei, you are also an experienced businessman. I don’t have to teach you that, do I? If you insist on using an egg to knock a stone, who do you think will be the one to suffer?”
Ye Jiayao barely restrained herself from clapping. Who knew that Shopkeeper Li was capable of such eloquence?
Mei Xiuguang was dumbfounded and speechless.
“Shopkeeper Li, don’t be so aggressive. Fortunes rise and fall every day. Do you think your head chef will stay in Heavenly Residence forever?” someone reproved, disapproving of Shopkeeper Li’s sharp tongue.
“No one knows what the future holds so it is best to be in control of the present,” Shopkeeper Li replied in an offhand tone.
Zheng Fugui said, “Shopkeeper Li, we are all in the same trade and would cross paths often. Harmony breeds wealth, you know that. Why don’t Heavenly Residence reduce your quantity by half so that others can have a means of subsistence.”
Most of the people in the meeting room agreed. It was clear that many were envious of the fame Heavenly Residence was suddenly getting.
“I do not agree. Business has always been based on capabilities. As long as we do not swindle, cheat, or steal, any legitimate strategy should be fine,” Duan Qilin disagreed.
Ye Jiayao looked at the man in shock. She didn’t think that the fierce-looking man would jump to their defense.
“Please pardon this younger generation’s bold words.” Lu Xiaotian stood, his hands cupped in front of him.
“Chefs have their specialties because one’s skills and energy is limited and could not stretch out so far. So when the head chef of Heavenly Residence, Li Yao, appeared, we were all shocked and threatened. He is someone who not only makes exquisite and delicious dishes, but also a master in pastries – and, from what I heard, he’s also skilled in carving. Heavenly Residence is fortunate to be able to hire him as their head chef.
“Simply put, if your business is not as good as theirs, you have no one to blame but yourself for not being able to hire such an all-rounded chef. As for the pastry shops who are supposed to specialize in pastries and were beaten by a restaurant’s chef, you need to take a hard look at your business. If you’re in a fight and the other party defeats you, you can’t request to have his hands and legs tied up just because you lost. That’s a shameless act that’s only done by desperate, uncouth people.”
Mei Xiuguang’s old face was flushed red with anger and embarrassment but he was unable to respond.
“What Lu Xiaotian said makes sense. Ju Fu Lin’s business is slowing down but do you hear us blaming anyone?” Lin Changchun said.
Lu Xiaotian’s words were incisive. Everyone present didn’t dare to disagree with him lest they get labeled as a shameless person whose skills were not up to par.
Zheng Fugui sought the opinion of the old president beside him, who said, “You should settle this matter privately amongst yourself! Next topic is the discussion with regards to the culinary competition.”
“Jin Ling’s culinary competition is held once every five years. It was initially an event launched to raise the reputations of various restaurants and provoke innovation. However, this year, the government is hoping that the scale can be increased to not only limit the competition to the various restaurants but also to include anyone who feels that they have excellent culinary skills.”
Immediately, the whole hall was filled with chatter. This meant that the level of competition has risen. It was no longer just a matter within the community. When the time comes, the participants would definitely increase, including those from other towns and cities. The competition would be stiff.
“Why? The money for the competition is going to come out from the committee,” Lian Xingwang from Xiang Yi Restaurant opposed.
Zheng Fugui answered, “The committee will only bear 30% of this year’s expenses. The rest would be shouldered by the government.”
He, too, did not wish for the scope of the competition to increase as it would be unfavorable for his son, Sanduo. If it was just within Jin Ling, Sanduo’s culinary skills have the chance of winning. However, he was not sure if it would still hold true once the competition is open to all. There is always someone better out there.
Since the government was going to bear the majority of the cost, they could not even object even if they wanted to.
Ye Jiayao, however, was thinking about getting Zhong Xiang and the rest to enter the competition.
“How are the prizes going to be set?” someone questioned.
“Since the scope is wider, the prizes would naturally increase. The government has said that this year, the top 10 would be able to enter the imperial kitchen. Also, this time, the competition would also include pastries and noodles and the top three will be chosen,” Zheng Fugui answered.
Once again, there was a moment of chattering. The top 10? Was the imperial kitchen just using this competition as an opportunity to hire chefs?
Ye Jiayao could understand the logic behind the government’s decree. The masters in the palace must already be tired of the cooking of those chefs and wanted to try something new for a change.
It was normal. A restaurant changes chefs after a few years for fear that their customers would grow tired of the food.
“Therefore, everyone here has to prepare. This time, the competition is not just a fight for fame for yourselves. It is a fight for the reputation of Jin Ling’s restaurants.” Zheng Fugui obviously wanted to encourage everyone but as he said the words, he too felt a little heavy.