Adorable Food Goddess - Chapter 65
Chapter 65: Return Money
Translator: YTJS_ Editor: Perriemix
Ye Jiayao knew that this competition had a lot riding on it, both for the reputation of the restaurant and hers. There would be no friendliness here. There would be definite winners and losers, and the results would determine fame and profit. This was why there was such a big difference between winning a gold medal and a silver medal in the Olympics.
“This culinary competition was organized five years ago. Back then, Heavenly Residence sent Master Chef Niu to compete. He won the third place and that established Heavenly Residence’s status in Jin Ling’s food and beverages industry,” Shopkeeper Li told her.
Ye Jiayao asked curiously, “Who won the first and second place?”
“Lu Yiming won the first place, he’s a chef from Vegetarian Place. He entered the Imperial kitchen after that. The Vegetarian Place only makes vegetarian feasts, and even though it is famous, its business is not as good as the other restaurants. In second place is Zheng Fugui from Fu Ji. He rewarded Fu Ji with a high status that’s still going strong even five years later.
“I heard that the Imperial court also had the intention of summoning him to work in the Imperial kitchen then, but Zheng Fugui rejected the offer. An Imperial chef only offers title, it can’t beat the chance of opening your own restaurant and earning truckloads of money.
“Xiang Yi Restaurant was a newcomer, but they rose impressively. And now that they have poached Master Chef Niu, it looks like they’re really hellbent on winning the competition. There’s also Kylin Pavilion and Ju Fu Lin, they’ve both developed quite well these past few years while Heavenly Residence is only going downhill.” The more thought he puts into it, the more depressed Shopkeeper Li became.
On the contrary, Ye Jiayao was pretty interested. “Shopkeeper, no matter what, Heavenly Residence will take part, right?”
“Even if we don’t want to compete, we have to. If Master Chef Niu was still around, everyone would be more than happy if we don’t compete. Only now, there are… rumors circulating that Heavenly Residence can’t find someone capable for the competition. If we compete now, in our current situation, you are our only candidate,” Shopkeeper Li told Li Yao, his face full of worry.
Ye Jiayao smiled and said, “Shopkeeper, don’t you worry about me. Who knows, maybe I’ll emerge as a new force to be reckoned with. I just might surprise everyone with my skills! Now, tell me more about that Zheng Fugui and Master Chef Niu. What are the specialties that make them the best?
Shopkeeper Li sneered, “Master Chef Niu is not the best. In the whole of Jin Ling, he’s the fifth at most. The real master is Madame Rong, Li Erniang got her skills from her. It was a pity she has become a nun.”
Ye Jiayao was shocked. The best chef is actually a woman? And she’s now a nun? Why?
“Why did she become a nun?”
“This is her private matters and it’s inappropriate for us to discuss.” The stern words from Shopkeeper Li stifled Ye Jiayao’s curiosity. He continued, “The second would be Lu Yiming, third is Zheng Fugui, and fourth is Duan Qilin, the head chef of Kylin Pavilion. However, he wasn’t able to attend the competition then because he was ill. Niu Shunbao only comes in fifth.”
Ye Jiayao brightened up and said, “Lu Yiming has already entered the Imperial kitchen and would naturally not compete. Zheng Fugui placed second so he would probably be too embarrassed to compete again. In that case, there is only Duan Qilin and Niu Shunbao! We still have a chance at this!”
Shopkeeper Li shook his head dejectedly. “I’m afraid that’s not the case, Li Yao. Lu Yiming and Zheng Fugui are not participating, but their sons, Lu Xiaotian and Zheng Sanduo are. They have all the handed-down techniques from their fathers, and they are both impressive.”
F*ck! Ye Jiayao finally saw how grim the situation was.
“Shopkeeper Li, we don’t have any other choice. I have to compete no matter what, so why don’t you say something encouraging instead? You’re being a serious wet blanket,” Ye Jiayao complained, pouting.
Shopkeeper Li sighed. Li Yao was right, they had no choice. He would just have to fake it till he makes it. He said, “Of course, of course. You’re right. Don’t mind me. I called you here today to give you a heads up. When the competition date and rules are set, we’ll think of a plan together.”
“Ay!” Ye Jiayao exclaimed, her lips pulling up into a smile full of mischief. “No matter what rules they set, it’ll still be under the category of cooking, right? Wouldn’t you say that it’d be better if I know the rivals I am up against? Do you think I should make a trip to Fu Ji, Kylin Pavilion or Xiang Yi Restaurant to try some of their foods?”
Shopkeeper Li laughed in spite of himself. “Go, bring your bills back so I can reimburse them.”
Ye Jiayao made a show of putting on a serious face. “Yes, Shopkeeper Li. I will make sure that every meal I eat will translate into gains. I will not waste a single cent of the restaurant.”
Shopkeeper Li didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at Li Yao’s antics. He waved his hand to shoo him off. Though even after Li Yao has left, Shopkeeper Li continued to frown. His new chef was full of spirit and enthusiasm, but that could only take him so far. This cooking competition was a platform for the restaurant and its chef. This was the shortcut for fame, a great opportunity for chefs and the restaurant they represent. He wasn’t sure how they would be able to pull through this successfully.
That night, Ye Jiayao returned to the motel and found Manager Du waiting for her.
“Little Brother Li, come over here,” he called, smiling.
“Big brother, what’s the matter?”
Shopkeeper Du pointed at the 100-tael banknote on the counter, and said, “Your friend sent this over, insisting that you change to the first-grade room. The room comes with free breakfast, dinner, as well as additional furniture.”
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the ‘friend’ who sent that note was that stupid donkey. Why the hell was he meddling in her affairs? Was that 100-tael note enough to buy him a peace of mind? Ha! He’s got another thing coming if he thinks I’m going to make this easy on him.
“Big brother, ignore him. I am fine where I am, I don’t need to change rooms. I will return this banknote to him,” Ye Jiayao said.
Manager Du nodded. “If that’s you want, sure, but I’ve thought about something for a while now. You’ve been helping around the motel every day, and I don’t feel good letting you stay in the lowest grade room. How about this, I shift you to the second-grade room on the second floor and you could just pay me a tael every month.”
“Big brother!” Ye Jiayao uttered in disbelief, “Surely there is no need for that!”
A second-grade room costs 300 coppers for a night, and a month would equal to around nine taels. Manager Du only asking for one tael – she might as well be staying for free! They already have been too generous, giving her a 70% discount on her current room. She couldn’t take a 90% discount on an upgrade!
“It is all set, your sister-in-law and I have already discussed it.” Manager Du laughed merrily.
Ye Jiayao replied resolutely, “Big brother, you two have taken more than good care of me. It wouldn’t feel right to take advantage of you like that. I will stay in my room, or else I’ll look for another place to live in.”
Manager Du was offended as he responded, “Little brother, saying that means you’re seeing me as an outsider. Are you calling me big brother for nothing? I own an inn! Do you know what I lack the least? It’s the rooms!”
“But your rooms are not here for you to leave vacant, it is for your business,” Ye Jiayao reasoned.
None of them were willing to budge. It was only when Li Erniang interfered that they both took a step back. They compromised in the end. Ye Jiayao would be moving to the second-grade room and she would be paying three taels a month.
Now that her salary would be increasing soon, Ye Jiayao felt that it was only right that her quality of life should improve as well, so she gave in.
Ultimately, this was all stirred up by that Chunyu. After shifting rooms, Ye Jiayao took the banknote and made her way to the Jing An Marquis’ mansion.
After asking around, Ye Jiayao arrived at the massive doorstep of the mansion. There was a huge stone lion on both sides of the entryway, lit up by a row of hanging lanterns. The uniformed guards lined up on every step just added to the mansion’s imposing manner.
Ye Jiayao was just about to climb up when the guards blocked her way.
“Open your eyes wide, little guy. This is the Jing An Marquis’ mansion. It’s out of bounds for unauthorized persons.”
Ye Jiayao looked down at her clothes. Yes, she admitted, she looked kind of shabby, but it was not as if she was dressed like a beggar. Her clothes were clean and there were no holes! It seemed like the watchdogs of the mansion took after their pompous master.
“Did you hear me? Scram!” the guard told her, his voice slightly raised.
Ye Jiayao took out the 100-tael banknote and slapped it against the guard’s chest. “I am here to return some money. I would have to trouble you to pass this banknote to your Heir-son Lord. Tell him that if he has nothing better to do with his time, he can visit a brothel or drown himself in wine. Tell him not to interfere with my life again. And if you dare take this for yourself, don’t blame me if your Heir-son Lord asks about it.”
After finishing her piece, Ye Jiayao walked off with her hands behind her back.
The guard looked at the fellow’s retreating figure. For a moment there, he was intimidated by the attitude that the scrawny guy has shown. He was dressed in such shabby clothes and looked like a poor fellow, but he was quite bold to ridicule the Heir-son Lord.
After some thought, he went out to seek for his master.
Xia Chunyu listened to his mother half-heartedly as she talked about matters that he had no interest in – matters that were giving him a headache.
“Chun-er.” Jing An Marquis’ lady, Xia You, smiled gently, the crow’s feet on her face doing nothing to hide the joy in her heart.
Ever since Yaoyao gave him the nickname ‘Dumb Donkey’, the name he once proudly carried never sounded quite the same. Every time his mother would call him ‘Chun-er’, all he could hear was her calling him ‘Stupid’.
“Today, Mother went to the palace to meet the empress, and she gave me a piece of news. The empress dowager has intentions to marry Princess Liuli to you. This is a joyous event, Chun-er! Everyone knows that the seventh prince is the empress dowager’s favorite son and the brother that the emperor relies heavily on. It was a pity that he passed away so young.
“The empress dowager raised Princess Liuli up on her own and is only waiting to title her ‘princess’ until she gets married. Whoever marries her will be able to inherit the seventh prince’s land, becoming the king of the vassal state. All of the princes and noblemen are thinking of it and the empress dowager has preferences solely for you…”
Xia Chunyu’s lack of concern was notable in his voice as he replied, “Your son does not have the good fortune to enjoy it.”
He has heard the rumors of Princess Liuli’s pampered ways. If he marries her, the whole mansion would be turned upside down to cater to her whims. He also has no doubts that she was not above using tears to get her way.
Xia You clicked her tongue in disapproval. She reproached, “How can you say that? This is the empress dowager’s idea, and the empress dowager’s idea is the majesty’s idea! Are you thinking of going against the Imperial edict? Other men are praying for this chance, and yet, here you are, disregarding it. Have you gone mad?”
“Madame, someone is looking for the Heir-son Lord outside,” a servant reported.
Xia Chunyu quickly jumped up. Just in time! “I will go out to have a look. This might be an official matter.”
He fled without another word.
Xia You is worried for her son.