Ch20 – The Marshal has Arrived
The smart robot advanced forward and conducted a scan and sampling test on the dishes Ruan Tang had just finishing cooking. After no more than five minutes, the robot pronounced the dishes as “qualified”.
Next, it took out a tray and loaded onto it Ruan Tang’s three dishes and started to leave through the door that it came in through. At the same time, it beckoned towards Ruan Tang to follow.
The small door opened and revealed the suspended board. When Ruan Tang stepped on top of it, it slowly ascended to the upper floor. The evaluation room was on the third floor. When the suspended board stopped, he alighted and followed behind the smart robot through a ring-like hallway. He entered the large meeting room. Ruan Tang saw three people wearing the white chef’s uniform seated inside the room. These should be the examiners.
“Are you Ruan Tang?” Among them, a man with a straight mustache with his eyes narrowed, faced towards him and asked.
“I am.” This type of attitude definitely couldn’t be considered friendly, but Ruan Tang didn’t think much about it, simply thinking that this examiner was relatively more serious.
Mustachioed man once again asked, “These are your three dishes?”
“That’s right.” Said Ruan Tang.
“Your luck isn’t too good, but we are professional examiners and we cannot lower the requirements for you.” The mustachioed examiner revealed a smile that was yet not a smile. His eyes turned towards the three dishes brought by the smart robot. Although the appearance of these dishes were quite good, he looked as though he didn’t agree and merely said, “Any food if you boil it, can be eaten. You should also know this. However, your attempt to pass with such trickery is of no use.”
He raised his face slightly, and said in a dignified manner, “Since you are bold enough to join the chef’s assessment, you must know that the fish head has a lot of internal organs. However, unexpectedly, you did not process it at all and simply tossed the entire fish head into the pot. Were you relying on the high temperature to eliminate the impurities?”
Qi Zhuo shook his head. “Young people these days, just because you’ve met with some success online, you already disregard the honor and dignity of good food!” As he said this, his eyelids drooped low. He appeared as though he wished iron could turn straight into steel. But in fact, his eyes flashed unmistakable malice.
After the assessment candidate had entered the meeting room, he couldn’t just block the monitoring cameras. The entire process would be uploaded onto the Chefs’ Association’s website, therefore even if he wanted to eliminate Ruan Tang, he absolute must not let other people pick out any mistakes.
These ingredients, aside from the eggs, if they weren’t new ingredients, they were infamously known by everyone as scrap ingredients. The spectators might already be skeptical, he thus used these statements to instigate some disharmony. For these viewers, the first impression would be the strongest. They would think that Ruan Tang had smashed the pot because it was cracked and that he had come out with these dishes not because he had braved cooking these despite the obvious risks but because he sought to cheat his way through the assessment. In this way, he would be justified in eliminating Ruan Tang. After all, who could blame luck?
Even so, if someone does go and eat it, they would have their own reasons.
Having his carefully prepared dishes being ruthlessly dismissed like some randomly cooked garbage, Ruan Tang couldn’t help but feel somewhat angry. However, he and the other party had no conflicting interests and he couldn’t understand why the other person was acting this way. He could only reason that these intergalactic people weren’t familiar with the delicacies that used these ingredients and thus they were prejudiced against them. However, he was certain that the examiner would change his mind if he just had a taste.
“I have already prepared the fish head and pig’s liver quite well. Not only do I not think of these as scrap ingredients, but I also believe that they can be very delicious. If you don’t believe me, have a taste and you’ll understand.”
Qi Zhuo gave a cold snort but didn’t contradict his statement. He picked up a pair of chopsticks and had a taste of the Grandmother’s chili eggs. He then immediately spit it out. “Too spicy!”
He continued on to the pig’s liver. With his brows wrinkled as though he did so with great bitterness, he put it in his mouth. After chewing it a bit, he also spit it out. “Too bitter!”
Then he tried a mouthful of the fish head soup and with an expression as though he could not possibly endure it, spit it out in the trash bin. “Too fishy!”
All three dishes, after being tasted were immediately spit out. This was a wholly unimaginable outcome for Ruan Tang.
That he didn’t like the Grandmother’s chili eggs could be attributed to him not being used to spicy foods. That he didn’t like the pig’s liver could be attributed to personal taste but what he said was that it was “too bitter”!
Although Ruan Tang couldn’t add any doubanjiang or oyster sauce due to the limitation of ingredients, he was certain that he had properly removed the fishy taste. Even if he had only relied on salt, soy sauce and the natural sweetness of the green bell pepper, there was no way that it would taste bitter! And criticizing the fish head soup as being fishy, that was even more impossible! He had been very meticulous in removing the fishy taste. Although he had no cooking wine, he had repeatedly smeared salt and ginger-scallion juice onto it. He had definitely gotten rid of any fishy taste and what’s more, he even added ginger and scallion when boiling it.
No matter how stupid the person, they would be able to perceive that Qi Zhuo was deliberately targeting him. Ruan Tang’s expression turned cold and he looked straight at Qi Zhuo.
Qi Zhuo took out a paper towel. While wiping his mouth, he averted his eyes to mask the dread and grimness in his eyes.
This Ruan Tang had unexpectedly made such delicious dishes out of his painstakingly chosen troublesome ingredients. If this had been a few years ago, he might have been able to find a way to make use of such a talented person. However, Ruan Tang had appeared early in the month and had thrown his plans into disarray. Moreover, he didn’t know what crazy notion that old man Gu suddenly had but, with just one more year remaining in his term, he had suddenly decided to find a sufficiently talented youngster to “imbibe new vitality into the Chefs’ Association”. What a joke! If some random youngster managed to get the position of president, then for what had he been suffering in silence all these years for!
Now the other party must have already discovered that he’s being targeted and his hatred has been established. In that case, the only thing left to do was to cut the weeds and dig up the roots. How many years had Qi Zhuo strived in order for him to properly be able to attain the position of president. How much socializing with bigwigs had he done in order for the Chefs’ Association to attain its current standing? Not only was he determined to attain the president’s position, it was also simply a matter of course!
Gently disposing the tissue into the wastebasket, Qi Zhuo then confronted Ruan Tang. He acted as though he was dealing with a normal everyday matter. Qi Zhuo raised his head and earnestly prompted the other examiners, “It is possible that it might just be a matter of personal taste. However, I really cannot accept these dishes. You two should also give it a try. We mustn’t let an outstanding youngster be overlooked just because of my personal preference.”
“Yes.” The two others beside him nodded their heads and picked up their chopsticks at the same time. They started from the leftmost Grandmother’s Chili Egg. No sooner had it touched their lips than they spit it out.
“Too spicy!” “Too bitter!” “Too fishy!”
One after the other, all three dishes, received the same carbon copy treatment and evaluation. Ruan Tang was angry but he laughed instead. Now, he understood that these three were working in cahoots to make sure that he fails this assessment.
Knowing that this wasn’t an honest assessment, Ruan Tang lost all respect for them as well. He straightened his body and looked straight at the examiners, and in a voice that was neither haughty nor humble said, “The fish head soup is both nourishing and nutritious. Fish head can lower blood lipids, invigorate the brain and build up the kidney’s yang. It can also slow down senility. As for the processing of the fish head, I already used salt and scallion-ginger juice to get rid of the fishy taste. If you can still taste something foul, I think this foulness might not be coming from the fish head.”
“Impudent!” Hearing his explanation, Qi Zhu immediately slammed his hand against the table, interrupting his speech. This was in order to avoid the viewers from calling into question the credibility of the examiners. He glowered at Ruan Tang and self-righteously criticized Ruan Tang, “If you’ve committed a mistake, then you’ve committed a mistake! Not only do you quibble, but you also slander and question the behavior of the examiners! You don’t deserve to be called a chef!”
Ruan Tang retorted, “What did I say that insulted the examiners?”
“You—” Qi Zhuo pointed his finger at him but suddenly stopped. It was true that Ruan Tang had not directly said that “the examiners’ mouths are the ones that’s foul”. The way he had stood up as if to put someone in their right place, now suddenly looked like the actions of a man with a guilty conscience.
“You are still so young and yet you’re already such a schemer,” Qi Zhuo snorted coldly, “You’re deliberately ambiguous. You would rather slander others than reflect upon your own mistakes. Our Chefs’ Association does not need people like you.” Talking up to this point, his momentum momentarily died down. He sat back down and said, “Youngster, you shouldn’t make such a big deal about everything.”
“Candidate no. 59, Ruan Tang, I regret to inform you that you have fai…”
The meeting room’s door suddenly opened with a ‘bang’ and through it entered a tall and imposing man, dressed in military uniform that perfectly accentuated his strong and lofty build. His face was handsome, possessing a domineering quality. In all, a man who people could never forget.
With dashing eyebrows tightly furrowed, his cold, solemn eyes swept through the standing Ruan Tang and to Qi Zhuo.
“I regret that, Vice Presidet Qi Zhuo, you have been stripped of your qualifications as an examiner.”
Qi Zhuo frowned. Marshal He was a household name in the Blue Star Empire and he couldn’t not recognize him. However, under the current situation, he could only toughen his scalp and say, “Marshal He, although you are a marshal, your scope of authority is limited to military matters. This is the Chefs’ Association. Under whose authority are you doing this?”
Without any change in his expression, he turned slightly sideways and from behind him came a fat, white haired old man. As soon as the examiners laid eyes on this old man, the expressions on the faces of the three examiners immediately changed, “President!”
President Gu stared coldly at Qi Zhuo and in a grave voice said, “Under my authority”.