OCN C48 The Judges’ Verdict

The camera might not have been filming the place where the other two stood, but it wasn’t like Si Shi Wu was alone. Coincidentally, Qian Huang had just looked over and noticed Si Shi Wu’s expression that could only be said to be malevolent. He didn’t know what this guy had just done on his phone, but he felt like something was definitely up with that. He shuddered, and then turned back to the steamer, feeling that it was better to just focus on cooking. Xiao Ming had been completely right: It was best not to think about anything else that was unrelated and just focus on the things that could do. Even though he couldn’t actually cook, it was still better to pretend he could for the time being. He really didn’t want to think about what this Ai Gui Jin was doing or not. He probably wouldn’t like what he came up with otherwise.

When Xiao Ming and Ren Ya Hui and back, the water in the steamer had been boiling for quite some time. Xiao Ming looked at Qian Huang with a faint smile and he tilted his head. “So, how is it, contestant Qiang? Have you finished steaming already or do we still need to wait?”

Qian Huang pondered and lifted the lid to get a better look at the couple of buns inside. He really wasn’t quite sure how to answer this question but he finally just nodded. “Yes, they should be done by now.” In any case, the viewers wouldn’t be able to taste them and he felt like they shouldn’t be that bad.

Xiao Ming nodded and then motioned over to the other side of the kitchen block where the cupboards with the plates and bowls hung. “Then please plate your dish.”

Qian Huang nodded and went to get a bowl and a ladle. He then scooped out the buns from the steamer and threw them in the bowl. Looking at the sad-looking buns in the plain bowl, he realized that this wouldn’t work. Even if the viewers couldn’t taste it, they still had eyes to see. He coughed, put down the bowl, and went back to the other side to get a plate as well.

What had Xiao Ming said in that live stream? You could combine two dishes to make it look more awesome. At the very least, that was what he had understood. Qian Huang searched around for a bit and finally found a dark blue plate, that he felt looked quite decent. Carrying it back over, he put the bowl on top, and then looked from Xiao Ming to Si Shi Wu and then hurriedly back again, when he remembered how the latter had looked over before. He really wondered how he had offended that guy.

Seeing that Qian Huang stopped moving, Ren Ya Hui spoke up. “So, are you finished, Mister Qian? Can the judges have a taste now?”

Qian Huang nodded and pushed the bowl over to Xiao Ming, waiting for his verdict.

Xiao Ming took his chopsticks, picked up one of the buns, and then gave it a taste. His expression … looked a little underwhelmed.

He chewed for a while and then gulped it down before he put down the chopsticks. Qian Huang felt as if his heart was suspended in the air, and stared at him eagerly. Even though he didn’t care about cooking himself and even though he wasn’t a real contestant on the show so that nothing was relying on this, he was anxious about the result.

Meanwhile, Si Shi Wu also picked up a pair of chopsticks, stretched out his arm, and also raised a bun out of the bowl. Taking a bite, his expression immediately changed, making him look as if he was pondering if maybe he should spit it right back out. He persevered though and finally gulped it down.

Really, he suddenly felt that young master Xiao was really awesome. He had actually managed to keep a calm look on his face after eating this. Either he had gotten extremely lucky and coincidentally picked a better one, or he was really good at keeping a poker face. Well, if it was the latter, it would really be good. Considering their master’s facial paralysis, they had really worried about whether or not young master Xiao would be scared off. But if he himself was also able to do something like this, then the understanding between the two men would definitely be better. Yes, that was the one good thing that came out of this mess.

Ren Ya Hui pulled back the task of asking questions and turned to Xiao Ming. “Judge Xiao, you have now tasted the dish that the contestant made. What is your verdict? If this was already the casting, would you let him through?”

Xiao Ming put on a pensive expression and glanced at Qian Huang. In any case, both he and Li Shui had often enough admitted on the stream that they didn’t know how to cook at all because they had always eaten his food or that of his family. So it probably wouldn’t come as a surprise if he said the truth. In any case, as a judge, he couldn’t spare the contestants’ feelings too much. He could at most try to choose the words wisely and make sure that he didn’t sound too harsh.

Thinking for a moment, he picked up another bun and put it on a small plate to the side. Pushing it in front of Qian Huang, he poked it with his chopsticks. “Alright, first things first, I’m afraid your bun wasn’t wrapped too well. If you look at this, you can see that the wrapper has actually opened and some of the fillings had spilled out.” Right now, some of the vegetables that Qian Huang and Ren Ya Hui had cut before were poking out. The cameraman gave it a close-up, showing precisely what Xiao Ming meant.

“This shouldn’t happen. Usually, if it does, that is because your dough wasn’t mixed right. Another reason could also be that you just used way too much filling which brings me to the second point. If you compare the buns that you made, then their sizes are very varied. Usually, you would want to make them a little more even. In the casting, I think I wouldn’t expect you to get them perfectly evenly sized, but the differences shouldn’t be this big.”

Qian Huang pressed his lips together, feeling a bit ashamed of himself. This kind of thing … it was probably a mistake beginners made. Well, he definitely was a beginner but considering that he had watched Xiao Ming cook so often, he felt that he probably should’ve been better than that and at least paid attention to this matter.

“The different sizes are a bit of a problem because the bigger your bun is, the more time it’ll need to steam. Otherwise, the filling might be raw. Now, you used both meat and vegetables in your filling, so if this isn’t done, it might be a bit problematic.”

Xiao Ming looked at the dish with a bit of pity in his eyes and then glanced at Si Shi Wu. “Personally, I think that these are the things that are the biggest problems with the dish. Maybe Mister Ai would like to give his verdict now?”

Si Shi Wu who had already managed to school his expression again nodded. “Mister Xiao is too courteous. Well, I would agree with everything you said so far. I’m afraid that since the two of us aren’t friends, I will have to add a few more things though.” He pulled over the bowl with the ingredients that Qian Huang and Ren Ya Hui had cut before and motioned at them. “Not only are your buns not evenly sized, not even your filling is.

“You might think it doesn’t matter since you can’t see it, but as Mister Xiao just said, a different size will also affect whether or not it was steamed long enough. In fact, the time you used for steaming these was pretty short in general. So the bigger ones with uneven filling are indeed raw in some places. That is something that really shouldn’t have happened.

“Furthermore, there’s a problem with this filling in general. You haven’t used any kind of spices. No sauce at all, nothing. You really just cut everything up and put it inside there. So while the raw ingredients themselves are quite alright, the whole thing is a little tasteless. I would advise you to use more seasonings the next time. Speaking of seasonings … what made you think of putting salt into the water in your steamer?”

Qian Huang gulped, feeling that he had suddenly realized just why Ai Gui Jin had looked at him like this before. Clearly, this master chef had been offended at his handling of the food. Most likely, a guy like him was pained seeing somebody deal with the ingredients this badly. “Oh, well, because I didn’t put in any seasonings before, I figured that if I salted the water, it would be better.”

Si Shi Wu gave him an insipid look in return. “It isn’t.” He shook his head and then motioned at the bowl and the plate. “I’ll give you that you at least picked another plate to put the bowl on top. I think that the dark base with a white bowl on top is also something that you chose rather well compared to everything else you did. So at least the plating wasn’t completely disastrous. Although I have to say that just ladling your buns in there like that …” He shook his head again and sighed. “Let’s say it like this, if one of the chefs in my restaurant did that, I would fire them.”

Qian Huang shrank his neck and took a step toward Xiao Ming, clearly a little afraid of Ai Gui Jin.

The viewers on the live stream were howling once more, amused by his misfortune.

Food Enthusiast. [I understand Mister Ai too well. Xiao Ming was just being nice. This guy … it really is good that he was never allowed to touch anything on the live streams. Xiao Ming wouldn’t have been able to stop the disaster from happening.]

Cuddly Lion: [I still feel a bit sorry for him. Even though he definitely has no idea about cooking, he really tried hard. Did you see his expression of utter focus when he chopped those vegetables? I could’ve sworn he was taking the university entrance exam or something.]

Nin Sha kept quiet since there wasn’t anything about Xiao Ming but he still stared at the screen intently. Tomorrow. Just one more day and he would finally be able to see him face-to-face. By then, he really wondered what Xiao Ming would say. Would their beautiful love story begin that very same day? He felt that it was very well possible.

Back at the kitchen block, Xiao Ming cleared his throat and then reached up to pat Qian Huang’s shoulder. “Well, this time, you might not make it into the next round, but if you practice a bit more after this, you might be able to get through the casting next year if there is another season.”

Qian Huang rubbed the bridge of his nose and shook his head. “I guess after this, I’d rather leave the cooking to you and the contestants.”

Ren Ya Hui looked up at the camera at that and flashed a smile at the audience, taking the ending words right from Xiao Ming. “Well, how the contestants will do, we’ll see tomorrow already. So don’t forget to check out the rules and the list of ingredients on the website, and then get to the venue on time so as to not forfeit your chance. I wish everyone good luck in the casting and that you will be able to make a big splash on ‘Golden Spoon’. Thank you for watching the live stream today and tomorrow, we’ll see you bright and early for the casting.”

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