Si Jin stared at the screen with a gloomy expression. The state television channel was currently live-broadcasting a press conference announcing a new cooking show that was supposed to start next month.
The media had gathered in the conference hall of one of the best hotels in the country. Their cameras were all directed at the four people that were sitting at a long table in front of a promotional poster. Every now and then, there was the flash of a photo being taken and some mumbling could be heard, accompanying the release of the news.
At this moment, the man on the right was speaking, explaining how the cooking show was supposed to proceed. From what he said, everybody would be eligible to enter as a contestant. From then on, the participants would compete against each other for several weeks in both basic skills and the preparation of dishes. Who would lose and who would win was determined by a panel of highly-acclaimed judges.
This panel of judges was what had made Si Jin’s mood sink. Other than the guest judges that would change each week, the other two were some famous star-leveled cook surnamed Yu that he had never heard about and the food anchor Xiao Ming from the channel Bright Yellow Water.
Needless to say, Xiao Ming was what Si Jin cared about. After all, he was this anchor’s certified number one fan. As such, he was happy that Xiao Ming would have such an opportunity to perform in front of an even bigger audience. But, unfortunately, it also meant that he wouldn’t broadcast on his own channel as often and since he was only a judge and not a contestant, the TV channel wouldn’t show much of him when he wasn’t giving his opinion on a contestant’s work.
In other words: Xiao Ming would hardly appear for a few minutes every episode!
How could Si Jin be satisfied with that? The show would be running for several weeks. That was way too long to go without seeing his deft handiwork and his cute smile!
Si Jin furrowed his brows, waiting for the end of the press conference. He already reached out for his phone and went online, looking at Xiao Ming’s channel. His other fans were already congratulating him, telling him how he deserved to be on the show, and that they hoped he would get many new viewers for his channel when he came back.
Si Jin’s mood sunk even lower. Now, everyone was giving Xiao Ming compliments. Shouldn’t he as his number one fan do the same? But he really couldn’t take the thought that he wouldn’t see him for so long …
He sighed and finally typed a short message.
Nin Sha: [Congratulations, Xiao Ming. Unfortunately, this means we won’t see you as often. I hope the show ends soon.]
There was a lull in the conversation before the other fans started to bombard the channel again.
Little Butterfly: [What the fuck! Are you cursing the anchor, Nin Sha?!]
Cooking Enthusiast: [Hahahaha (◍˃̶ᗜ˂̶◍)ﾉ” It seems the taciturn Nin Sha is distraught at having to go without Xiao Ming’s delicious food for a few weeks (◍˃̶ᗜ˂̶◍)ﾉ”]
Ming Ming Forever: [You’re horrible, Nin Sha! Shame on you! Why can’t you be happy for Xiao Ming Ming? >.<]
Si Jin ignored the others and put his phone away, focusing on the TV again. Anyway, Xiao Ming was still in the press conference so he couldn’t respond. Until then, there was no need to check the channel.
Back in the hotel’s conference hall, the producer and the host had finished announcing the news and the reporters finally got around to asking their questions. They first asked about some details of the program before they turned to the two fixed judges that were sitting in the middle seats.
Si Jin impatiently drummed the table with his fingers when they started with that star chef.
Finally, the reporters turned to Xiao Ming. Since he was an online celebrity, most reporters weren’t familiar with him and some had even only looked him up when they got the information that he would be on the panel of judges.
“Mister Xiao, as far as I’m aware you aren’t a certified chef, and cooking is only a hobby for you. Sitting on the panel of judges next to Mister Yu, do you feel any pressure?”
Xiao Ming smiled at that question as if he wasn’t able to hear the ridicule behind it. “Naturally, there is a feeling of pressure when meeting somebody who has managed to achieve what Mister Yu has achieved.
“But more than that I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work alongside Mister Yu. After all, he is an idol for everybody who wants to learn how to cook so when I was younger, I regularly watched his shows in my childhood and my early attempts at cooking were mimicking dishes Mister Yu had presented on TV. Even now, I often use his books as guidance when I am in doubt about a question concerning the subject.”
Si Jin gave a grunt. His idol was too nice. He didn’t need that guy anymore. He might have looked up to him once and learned from watching him cook but by now, he was good enough to create his own dishes. There really was no need to overly praise this old man.
Another reporter raised his hand. “What do you think made the producer decide to have you on the panel of judges and even as a permanent judge? Is it because they hope you will be able to draw in a new audience by telling your viewers online to watch the show?”
Xiao Ming laughed at that. “I naturally hope that my viewers will watch the show or maybe even try their luck as contestants. But as for what the producer had in mind when inviting me, I think you should ask Mister Bian.” He turned to the producer sitting next to Mister Yu on the other side of the table.
The man looked as if he was smiling but Si Jin in front of the screen snorted with disdain. That old bastard had definitely been thinking exactly of that! But Xiao Ming would certainly show him what he got. As soon as the actual show started, not only this producer but everyone taking part and watching the cooking show would be convinced of his skills. There was no doubt about that.
Si Jin took out his phone again and left another message on the channel, not bothering to see what the others were talking about or how they reacted.
Nin Sha: [Don’t worry, Xiao Ming, I’ll register as a contestant for you.]
The other fans were up in arms immediately.
Little Butterfly: [What do you mean you’ll do it for Xiao Ming? Don’t be shameless! (ง’̀-‘́)ง]
Ming Ming Forever: [Actually, the idea isn’t bad … (◍≖ˇдˇ≖◍)]
Food Lover: [Right, let’s all register and show these guys what our Ming Ming is capable of! I’d like to see if they’ll still dare to ridicule him then!]
Cooking Enthusiast: [Question is: Can the lot of you cook? 눈_눈 You don’t want to embarrass him.]
Back at the news conference, the producer was currently trying to disperse the awkward mood. “Naturally, we would be happy if Mister Xiao’s viewers were willing to take part in our show. More than that, we are of the opinion that he has proven with his continuous broadcasting that he is a very capable cook even if he isn’t a certified chef.”
The host on the other side of the table nodded along. “Also, the program is directed not at chefs but at people who love cooking and might be mostly self-taught. That is why the first prize is a personal lesson taught by our judge. Everybody who is enthusiastic about cooking will certainly love to get specially-tailored advice from a master of his caliber.
“But we also know that being scrutinized so closely is going to be stressful to most people. Having a person just like them on the program might be able to reduce some of the pressure that a judge like Mister Yu brings to them.”
Si Jin snorted again. As if those contestants could compare to Xiao Ming! No matter who registered, he didn’t believe that they were even fit to hold a candle to him. He took to Xiao Ming’s channel to inform him of this opinion as well, earning some goodwill back from the other fans.
Ming Ming Forever: [Actually, I feel that Nin Sha isn’t all that bad. Although he’s cold and aloof and ignores us all the time, he obviously loves our Xiao Ming Ming just as much as we do (*⌒▽⌒*)θ～♪ And after seeing these shameless people at the press conference, I also feel that it would be better for him just to broadcast on his own channel. So what if he doesn’t get new viewers? We can just throw some more money!°˖✧[̲̅$̲̅(̲̅50)̲̅$̲̅]◝(⁰▿⁰)◜[̲̅$̲̅(̲̅50)̲̅$̲̅]✧˖°]
To prove her point, she selected one of the gifts that could be bought for the anchors on the channel that was a bit more expensive than what she normally used.
Si Jin glanced over at the phone when the screen lit up with a notification that Xiao Ming had been awarded a silver spoon. His brows furrowed together and he opened the gift menu, clicking on the golden spoon.
He couldn’t be outdone.
Back at the press conference, Xiao Ming didn’t seem to hear any of the underlying thoughts and just happily answered the reporters’ questions. Anyway, he could only change these people’s minds if he proved that he deserved to be on the panel of judges on the show itself. If he made a ruckus before that, they would just call him a shameless anchor that didn’t know his place.
Anyway, he didn’t want to impress the producer and the host. He was already very happy that Mister Yu wasn’t behaving the same way. And his fans probably wouldn’t be influenced by somebody else’s opinion that easily. He had been a food anchor for too long for that to happen. At most, there might be some new people that found him now and then went on to make trouble.
The press conference finally came to an end with one last question to each of the participants before the host turned to address the people watching the press conference again.
“I hope everybody is looking forward to ‘Golden Spoon’ and that those interested in good food and cooking will register and try their luck in the casting four weeks from now. You can find the necessary information on the show’s website or the newly created Weibo account that’ll be reporting about the proceedings and update everyone with some behind-the-scenes peeks until the official start.”
Si Jin held out his hand to the left and a laptop was placed onto it, the website of ‘Golden Spoon’ already opened. He glimpsed at the terms and then registered, receiving a congratulatory message that he was contestant #1.
Without a change in expression, he handed the laptop back. “All of you register as well. Also, get me information on that producer, host, and Mister Yu.”
The clacking of keys sounded while the host back at the press conference nodded to show he had finished his closing words. There were some polite claps from the reporters following before they started to clamor to get a few more words with these important figures in private that they could use to spice up their reports.
Xiao Ming obviously wasn’t the one they wanted to talk to and he didn’t feel like bothering the people from the show either so he just gave everyone a smile, said his goodbyes, and then walked out.
His assistant was waiting outside with his coat hung over his arm, trying to suppress a grin. He handed Xiao Ming the coat and then shoved his phone into his face before he even had time to put it on. “Look at this!”
Xiao Ming raised his brows but first put on the coat. He grabbed Qian Huang by the arm and pulled him toward the door before he took the phone. Not everybody needed to know about whatever it was that was going on.
When they reached the door, he finally saw what Qian Huang was talking about: His viewers had apparently watched the press conference and were throwing gifts at him. There were a lot of familiar names but the most prominent was the leader of his fan club, Nin Sha. Every other message his name would be displayed in gold, the gift he sent always one level higher than the one before it.
Xiao Ming laughed. “Is he at it again?”
“Yeah. And it’s been going on for a while. If the others don’t give up soon, you’ll earn a few thousand just today. If you don’t want to, you don’t even need to accept that stupid cooking show anymore.”
“Eh.” Xiao Ming pointed at his assistant’s nose. “I wanted to do this show. They’re not forcing me. In fact, I’m happy to be able to work with Mister Yu just once in my life. It’s like a dream come true. And the viewers on the channel won’t run away just like that. Anyway, I should probably say something or Nin Sha is going to be broke soon. Is this my account?” He checked the username and then handed the phone back to Qian Huang. Naturally, that guy had been logged into his own account. If he didn’t remember to habitually check beforehand, people would start laughing at them soon.
Xiao Ming took out his own phone and hastily opened the channel. When he did, the shower of gifts was still going strong. There were a few messages mixed in, mainly people wondering what kind of background Nin Sha had to throw out gifts like that.
To be honest, he also would have liked to know but Nin Sha had never breathed even a single word about it so he doubted they would be able to get it out of him today.
Xiao Ming: [Thank you for your encouragement, everyone! ೭੧(❛▿❛✿)੭೨ I just got out of the studio so give me a moment to see what everyone was up to while I was away.]
As soon as he appeared, the fans cheered. Xiao Ming smiled and then scrolled through the previous messages. He couldn’t help but filter first, highlighting the ones that Nin Sha had sent.
[Congratulations, Xiao Ming. Unfortunately, this means we won’t see you as often. I hope the show ends soon.]
[Don’t worry, Xiao Ming, I’ll register as a contestant for you.]
[Whoever their contestants are, they’re not on your level, Xiao Ming. You’re as good as any chef out there.]
Xiao Ming smiled. This guy … Even though he always wrote it matter-of-factly, his words were very sweet. It made him feel appreciated and as if there would always be someone to fall back on. Yes, no matter what others said, he knew that there would always be at least this one person to tell him that his struggle was worth it and that he should continue on.