Chapter 27 – Attaining a Higher Level
The result of the vote has already come out, and the assessment for the four-star chef was over. Although the audience still wanted it to continue, they had no choice but to leave the live room.
President Gu stood up from the judges’ table and walked over with a smile. “Ruan Tang, congratulations on becoming a four-star chef.”
Ruan Tang thanked him and listened to as he said, “To have such achievements at such a young age, it could be said that your future prospects are limitless. My brother… Qi Zhuo, has done very bad things to you, I will take this opportunity to apologize to you.”
As he said this, he bowed slightly. Ruan Tang quickly evaded and at the same time, he reached out a hand to hold his shoulder. He said helplessly, “President Gu, his mistake has nothing to do with you.”
“Qi Zhuo’s behavior this time was extremely detestable. After the evidence is verified, the association will remove him from office. Is this acceptable to you?” President Gu saw him slightly nod, and then continued. “There’s one more thing……”
Ruan Tang: “What?”
“Ruan Tang, I sincerely invite you to join the Chefs’ Association to take over Qi Zhuo’s post as vice president. You are currently the most suitable candidate. Maybe the Chefs’ Association still has a lot of problems, but there is no doubt that the Chefs’ Association needs you. And you can get more and better treatment here. If you want to continue to do the live broadcast, we can guarantee that no one would interfere with you.” President Gu looked at him with eyes burning. He was obviously very concerned about Ruan Tang’s reply.
But even so, he gently shook his head.
“I am really sorry. I prefer life without being bound, but I would be very happy to help if there is anything the Chefs’ Association needs in the future.”
“Seems like there’s no way.” Seeing his resolute attitude, President Gu had no choice but to give up and turned to another topic. “You have made a lot of innovative dishes since you started the live broadcast, but you weren’t part of the association at the time. You hadn’t been registered and we hadn’t contacted you. Now that you have a chef’s certificate, we can settle the bonus into your account.”
According to the rules of the Chefs’ Association, as long as a new cooking method was developed, a huge bonus could be obtained. If the main ingredient was newly released by the Academy of Sciences, additional bonuses were rewarded. Every year, the government sent a large amount of money to the Chefs’ Association to encourage them to develop and restore natural foods. Since his first live broadcast, all the dishes he came out with were innovative dishes. Among them, many used newly released ingredients. The accumulated reward money was quite considerable.
Unexpectedly, Ruan Tang shook his head. “These dishes weren’t my personal creations. It is not for me to take this money.”
“You didn’t create them?” He had not expected this answer and President Gu had to ask, “Who’s was the original?”
Having said that, President Gu still felt that it was unbelievable. If there is such a chef or even a group of chefs, how come he had never even heard a rumor about them?
Ruan Tang shook his head again. “I can’t find them anymore.” He was hesitating whether he wanted to fabricate some mysterious cookbook from some legendary hermit or some such excuse when President Gu gave his final decision, “Even so, this money is yours. Whether or not it’s an original but since no one has done it before, you can also count as a restorer, and the bonus will be calculated according to the specifications for restored dishes.”
President Gu thought that regardless if the dishes weren’t his original creations, if Ruan Tang had not been around to restore them, who knows how long they would have had to fumble around, taking who knows how many unnecessary detours. Thinking about it this way, President Gu could hand over this reward money with a clear conscience. As for the origins of the mysterious cookbook, since Ruan Tang was unwilling to say, he, of course, wouldn’t ask too much.
Since President Gu had already insisted to this degree, if he continued to refuse it would just make things between them more awkward. However, he definitely wouldn’t feel at ease using this money for his own benefit. He looked to President Gu and said: “Thank you, President, I accept the money. But can I trouble you to donate it for me?”
Even in the future interstellar world, there was still a gap between the rich and the poor, as well as all kinds of unavoidable natural and man-made disasters. This ill-gotten spoils that should not have belonged to him would be used for the public good. Ruan Tang thought this was a good use for them.
He said earnestly, “I am sorry to bother you.”
Unexpectedly, Ruan Tang immediately revealed a grateful look, “Thank you, and pardon the inconvenience.”
He had never liked troublesome things, especially with his current identity as a former film emperor. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have chosen to use the first perspective to do a live broadcast of his assessment.
President Gu also needed to wrap things up, as well as handle the matter regarding Qi Zhuo’s punishment. Ruan Tang passing through the assessment was a devastating blow to Qi Zhuo. It was inevitable that he would lose his mind and try to harm Ruan Tang, thus President Gu already had someone looking after him.
He called the staff member next to him, ready to let him take Ruan Tang to leave thru the back door, when he saw the He Family’s second son, He Yun Chen’s timely appearance through the doorway. Still wearing his tall military uniform and standing tall like a lofty mountain, his constantly piercing eyes softened when it landed on Ruan Tang next to him. He Yun Chen said, “I will send you off.”
Ruan Tang hesitated and said: “Is it too much of a bother for you?”
For the entire day, he had received so much help from this young marshal that he actually felt a bit embarrassed. After all, they had only met for the first time and weren’t familiar with each other.
He Yun Chen shook his head, “Not at all.”
Then he took the two steps forward and said to President Gu, “Then I shall be taking my leave.”
Ruan Tang glanced at him and likewise took his leave of the association president. Behind the other’s back, he uncomfortably kneaded his slightly reddened ears.
President Gu stood in the same place, watching them leave, his dark gray eyes were stunned. Then he couldn’t help but smile as he shook his head, “These youngsters…”
As expected there was no one there as they exited through the back door. They could only hear the wave of clamors from the other side of the building.
“Just here is fine, I’ve already troubled you so much today.” He bowed slightly to him. He truly didn’t want to add any more trouble to He Yun Chen, but when he heard approaching footsteps from the distance, all other thoughts were driven from his mind and he quickly pulled He Yun Chen to get in the car together.
He Yun Chen’s eyes curved slightly and he skillfully manipulated the suspended car to quickly leave, leaving the reporters to pounce on empty air.
“That… I have to trouble you again. I am so thankful for your help today,” Ruan Tang was a bit embarrassed to say.
“You’re welcome.” He Yun Chen glanced at him, resisted the urge to smile. He drove the suspended car away from the Chefs’ Association. When he saw no one had followed them, he asked, “What’s your address?”
He told him his address and then continued on to say, “Or you could also give me your address, and I will send you back something delicious.”
He really didn’t know how to express his gratitude. He thought it over but cooking was probably the only thing he could do well.
“Wouldn’t it be better to invite me to eat?” He Yun Chen’s thumb gently stroked the console, and his stomach gave a timely groan. “I’ve been outside the whole day and haven’t eaten yet.”
A man in military uniform and a serious man at that was so hungry that his stomach rumbled. Ruan Tang wanted to laugh, but when he saw the serious look on the other’s face, he immediately suppressed his smile. When he thought about who it was that the other didn’t eat the whole day for, he suddenly felt a strong sense of guilt.
He thought about his account balance, and though he was lacking a bit in confidence, heroically asked, “Which restaurant do you want to go to? Aside from places like the Rose Restaurant, anywhere is fine. I don’t have a lot of money now but…”
He Yun Chen glanced at him with a smile that was yet not a smile and with all seeming casualness said, “Let’s go to your place, I also want to taste the craftsmanship of a four-star chef.”
Ruan Tang “…okay.”
The suspended car was very fast. In less than ten minutes, they had already arrived at Ruan Tang’s high altitude building.
The two got out of the car together. When Ruan Tang opened the door the lights in the living room automatically lit up. He turned back and invited He Yun Chen to come in.
“Marshal He, have a seat and wait for a minute, I will go see what I can cook up.”
He Yun Chen sat down on the sofa and watched Ruan Tang enter the kitchen. He then sized up Ruan Tang’s home. The apartment wasn’t too big. There were only a handful of furniture and decorations in the two rooms and one living room. Even given the fact that only a single person lived there, it still felt a bit empty.
The kitchen was an open door type and from where he was sitting, he could see Ruan Tang open the cupboard to check the ingredients. The lighting was just as he had previously imagined. The yellow-orange light cast a honey like glow on Ruan Tang’s entire person.
“There aren’t a lot of ingredients at home. Do you have anything you’d like to eat? I could buy it online.” Ruan Tang looked up at him and he was a bit dazed when their eyes met.
When He Yun Chen returned to his senses, he said “Anything is fine. I’m not picky.”
If someone else heard this, they would laugh their heads off. The He Family’s Marshal He, not picky? The ruthlessly rejected chefs from the Rose Restaurant could tell you how picky he is. You can see it from their crying faces.
“Alright.” Ruan Tang didn’t think too much of it and busied himself in the kitchen.
There was still a big piece of streaky pork belly leftover from when he bought some yesterday. He could make Red Braised Pork as a topping for noodles. There are also some potatoes. These can also be included in the red braised pork. Finally, he could put in two poached eggs. It was pretty late already anyway, something simple for a late meal is better for the body.
While Ruan Tang was busy in the kitchen, He Yun Chen stroked the light brain on his wrist. The electronic scripts that his friends gave him were in there, but he didn’t know if he should hand it to Ruan Tang.
At present, it seemed Ruan Tang had no intention of revealing his past. Although he had been impulsive and rashly looked for his contacts amongst the entertainment circle, after having met Ruan Tang face to face, his mood had calmed down. For Ruan Tang, he was just someone he had met for the first time. At best, he was just a fan who has given him a few gifts. Rashly meddling in his personal life like this, might just cause the other person to dislike him.
After considering it again and again, he still took his hand back and decided to wait for them to become more familiar with each other, before asking Ruan Tang about his plans.
Not long after, the smell of stewed meat floated out of the kitchen. Thinking of that delicious meat he had tasted during the live broadcast, He Yun Chen couldn’t help but straighten up in his seat.
After waiting for a while, Ruan Tang walked out with a big bowl exuding an extremely alluring aroma. Ruan Tang placed the bowl before him and handed him a pair of chopsticks, “Try it.”
Looking at the faint smile on his face, He Yun Chen couldn’t help but ask: “Does cooking make you happy?”
Ruan Tang glanced at him and couldn’t understand why he suddenly asked such a question, but he still showed a very assured smile. “It does.”
He walked back to the kitchen and took out another bowl with slightly less noodles and sat down opposite He Yun Chen.
“Come on, quickly eat your noodles. They’re going to lump together after a while.”
He Yun Chen nodded, picked up the chopsticks, and took a big helping of noodles into his mouth.
The noodles were pulled noodles Ruan Tang had made before and kept in the freshness cabinet for storage. They were submerged in thick, rich soup. The noodles tasted fresh with a hint of sweetness and were chewy. The big bowl was filled with the red braised pork that he had seen during the live broadcast. The reddish-brown sauce completely covered the streaky piece of meat. It simply melted in his mouth, and went on to warm his stomach. It was very satisfying.
But what was different from the assessment was that potatoes were also added to this red braised pork. The stewed potatoes had soaked up all the meaty gravy. Surprisingly, it was even more savory than the meat. He ate each piece of potato with gusto. Then he found that there was a plump poached egg hiding at the bottom. The yolk was a beautiful golden liquid. When he broke the skin with his chopsticks, the golden egg yolk immediately rushed out sliding down the egg white. He Yun Chen hurriedly took it into his mouth, the fragrant and rich flavor immediately covered his tongue, slid down his throat and was swallowed into his stomach.
Compared with the tragic situation of live broadcasts where you could taste the food but not swallow it, the satisfaction of actually being able to eat real food was simply moving.
He wiped his mouth. Only when he had drank even the last drop of the soup did he put down his chopsticks in satisfaction. “Thank you for your hospitality. It was delicious.”
“I’m glad you liked it.” He glanced at the clock and found that it was almost 11 o’clock in the evening.
“It’s already eleven o’clock, are you heading home?”
He Yun Chen stood up and shook his head: “No, I’ll be going directly to army headquarters.”
He had been out the whole day today, he still had to deal with all the accumulated work.
Hearing these words, Ruan Tang felt even more embarrassed. If he hadn’t been helping him out today, he wouldn’t need to go back to work in the middle of the night.
He Yun Chen took off his military coat from the coat rack and put it on. Ruan Tang followed behind him to see him off. The warm yellow light was so welcoming that it made people reluctant to leave. He looked down at Ruan Tang who was half a head shorter and couldn’t help but rub that excellent head of hair.
“I’ll be going. Good night.”