There were only sixty-four spots for the first real episode after the casting. With twenty of them being taken up by the ninjas of the Si clan, it was actually quite difficult to choose the other forty-four. In the end, when Mister Yu handed over the final list they had come up with, he looked a bit tired.
Xiao Ming couldn’t help but give him a long look and show some worry. “Mister Yu, are you alright? Is somebody going to take you home?” At this moment, he couldn’t help but remember that this man was already in his sixties. Most likely, this kind of event was still a bit stressful for him.
Mister Yu just waved though. “This kind of small matter, it’s not a problem. Ah, I’m really looking forward to next week though. I really want to know what kind of surprises these sixty-four people can bring us. I wish we would just do one episode every day.” He folded his hands behind his back and slowly nodded while he walked off.
Xiao Ming was at a bit of a loss but he finally just took out his phone, switched it back on, and then messaged Qian Huang and Li Shui that they had finished and could go home.
He was expecting that Li Shui had gone off with the cameramen again but Qian Huang should still be waiting around. He just was that type of overly worried mother hen. As a result, actually got a message back that both of them were in the waiting room outside.
Xiao Ming raised his brows and then hurried over, finding the two of them sitting at a table with a cup of water next to them and a plate with some food. Qian Huang waved for him to come over and patted the seat next to them, pushing a glass of water toward him as well.
“You sit down first. Take a short break. After that, we can still go home.” In any case, while the two of them had just been running around doing what they liked to do — or in his case just sitting here and watching what was going on inside — Xiao Ming had been out there actually doing work. Most likely, he was exhausted. And next up would be the drive in the car which was always difficult for Xiao Ming so he’d rather he get into a better state of mind first.
Xiao Ming did indeed sit down even though he didn’t feel like he needed a break. But he didn’t want Qian Huang and Li Shui to worry so it was still better to take a moment. Also, they could use this opportunity to talk a bit. “Things actually went rather well. Well, save for a small stretch of time when we had a few difficult contestants.” His brows twitched and next to him, Li Shui laughed.
“That was Nin Sha, right?”
Qian Huang looked at Xiao Ming, wondering if what Li Shui had told him before could actually be right. Well, he wasn’t surprised that Nin Sha would actually turn up here but he still had a hard time believing that this guy was really some kind of rich businessman.
If he was, why go about things this way? Wouldn’t it be easier to call them and just ask for a meeting? In any case, he could become some kind of official sponsor or something. That would’ve been so much easier and he wouldn’t have needed to wait five years either.
Xiao Ming smiled wryly. “I mean I can’t prove it but I would think he is. He was marked down on the list as Si Jin and he was with that guy that Li Shui and I met in the supermarket the other day who send us the video.”
Actually, he was pretty sure that he had been with all of those guys from the first row but he wasn’t comfortable discussing that in public. They could talk about that after they were home again. “Well, there will be more time to interact with the contestants starting next week. I’m pretty sure that we’ll find out by then for sure.”
Qian Huang nodded his head but couldn’t help but think of something else. “If I remember correctly, then not only will the contestants that you chose be notified, the crew will also put some information on them up on the website. Save for the names, there will be some kind of statement about their history with cooking and maybe their jobs or something. So I guess we’ll know more by then.”
Xiao Ming nodded slowly, actually a little curious. He had only had a list with the names of the people who came up so it would be easier to interact but he hadn’t known anything else. “Well, if what that Misses Youya wrote was right about his name and job, then we should indeed know.”
Qian Huang leaned back when he heard that and sighed. “I don’t think she made that one up. After all, didn’t that Ai Gui Jin call him by that name first? So we already know that for sure. And I don’t think that there will be many people with that name registered so I’m pretty sure it’s him.”
Li Shui pursed his lips. “Didn’t I say it was him? Anyway, when he finally left the hall after Xiao Ming and the others left, I was just saying goodbye to the other cameramen and I saw that Ai Gui Jin talk to him. It’s clear that they know each other. Since they’re friends that should prove it.”
Qian Huang gave him a look that said that he didn’t quite believe in it when it came from Li Shui but, in the end, it still seemed rather likely that it was true all things considered. “Well, I guess it is not the worst if one of your fans takes part in ‘Golden Spoon’. Was he at least good?”
Xiao Ming nodded. “Yes, I was really surprised. If he only started four weeks ago … he has made immense progress. If we went to a restaurant and somebody served us that dish, I wouldn’t doubt that it had been cooked by a professional. It was to that standard.”
Qian Huang raised his brows but then couldn’t help but ask. “Well, if I had a personal friend who was a Michelin-starred chef below the age of thirty, I would also be able to do this.”
Xiao Ming shook his head at him. “You might not have a Michelin-starred chef as a friend but you at least have a food blogger as your best friend. And I would dare to say that despite knowing each other for years, you still haven’t made any progress. On the contrary, I feel like the little bit of progress that you could have made was stunted because I’m always close by. So if you were friends with someone like Mister Ai, I’m afraid it would be even worse.”
Qian Huang winced and then hurriedly got up, motioning to the door. “Anyway, you got enough of a break if you can scold me like this. We should better return home.”
Xiao Ming just chuckled but still got up and followed the two of them outside. “In any case, I’m looking forward to next week. I’m sure that the show will be really interesting.”
The three of them got into the car and Li Shui made doubly sure it was a good moment before he finally drove off.
In the backseat, Xiao Ming did indeed look a little uncomfortable but with Qian Huang there to distract him and his head still full of the impressions of the casting, things were slightly better than they had been before when he had been nervous already before getting into the car because of what was in front of them.
“Speaking of which, other than Nin Sha, that Misses Youya also came by. She is a surprisingly good cook. Maybe the way she scolded us before had something to do with that. She just really didn’t believe in my skills. Now, I guess we’ll see if her attitude will still be the same after the show.”
Qian Huang’s brows immediately shot up. “You mean to say that she is on the show? I mean for more than just the casting?”
Xiao Ming nodded. “Yes, her dish was really good. So there really wasn’t a reason not to let her through. Even though there were only sixty-four spots, I think she deserves one. In fact, she was one of the first contestants we settled on. She really left an impression.”
Qian Huang held his forehead, feeling like there was trouble ahead. Xiao Ming might be able to overlook what had happened before, but he didn’t believe that that Misses Youya would be able to do the same.
She had already disliked him before and now after she had been exposed like that, she would probably hate him even more since she had no way to go after that anonymous person who had done this to her. Thus, wasn’t it the easiest to transfer the hate to the person who had originally brought all of that about? And to her, that person was likely Xiao Ming. “This isn’t going to end well …”
Xiao Ming gave a wry smile. “Believe me, I was just as shocked as you are when I suddenly saw her and figured out who she was. But the show is about cooking. And since she was good, I can’t just pretend that it was different just because I had problems with her before. In any case, treating her just like I treat everyone else might also convince her that there really is no reason to go against each other. I just hope for that.”
Qian Huang gave a grunt. Xiao Ming was really too simpleminded. As if things were really that easy! Why was his friend never able to understand this kind of thing?
Li Shui looked at the rearview mirror, not quite sure if he should say anything. Xiao Ming didn’t look worried at all and it wasn’t like he and Qian Huang would be able to help him anyway. “Well, I was close by the whole time while you were on stage there. Whether it was the meeting with that Misses Youya or anyone else, I think you did really well. You should probably just focus on that. If Misses Youya makes trouble outside of the cooking, she will be thrown out of the show anyway and then it won’t be Xiao Ming’s fault. So … just ignore her.”
Xiao Ming nodded. “Exactly. It doesn’t matter to us. I will judge her like anyone else and the rest … we’ll see about that. Who knows? Maybe she will actually publish another post sometime soon, telling everyone that she was wrong and I’m actually an awesome cook.”
Qian Huang gave him a doubtful look but still reached over and patted his shoulder. “Yeah, she sure will. At the end of ‘Golden Spoon’, she will definitely have transformed into your loyal fangirl.”
Xiao Ming chuckled and the three of them finally made their way back to the apartment that they had rented for these weeks.
Going inside, Xiao Ming went to sit down, sighing deeply. Even though he wasn’t overly worried about Misses Youya and had also felt like he had done a rather good job at the casting today, he was still stressed. He really wished that there was a bit of time to just find back to himself. These last few weeks, everything had been a bit much. Unfortunately, he really couldn’t change things right now.
Qian Huang walked over and patted his back, finally going to get him something to drink. “Don’t take it this hard. In any case, you’ll get used to it. Also, there are only seven episodes and one of those is the casting even though they might not call it one. So there are just six more weeks. You can do that.”
Xiao Ming gave a hum and nodded, slowly unscrewing the lid of the bottle. “I know that I can. After today, I’m definitely sure of that. Although … there are a few things where I also feel like I still need to work on myself. I guess I should use the week in between to do that.”
Qian Huang gave him an indulgent look. “You just came back from this kind of day and what you’re thinking about is work. Why am I not surprised?”
Xiao Ming glanced at him and suddenly, there was a beautiful smile on his lips. “Well, I could also think about marriage. Did you know that somebody offered their granddaughter to me today?”
Not just Qian Huang but Li Shui also immediately came running over and the two of them sat down next to him.
“Well, who was it?”
“How did you get out of it?”
Being offered daughters, nieces, granddaughters, or grandnieces was definitely something that they had heard of. The problem was that they both knew that Xiao Ming was gay. If others were offered female relatives, it was awkward enough. But for him? They were afraid he would’ve been mortified.
Xiao Ming laughed at their faces. “It was Mister Yu. And I let him know later on that I wasn’t that interested in women. He seemed to understand even though he felt like I have no taste. Thankfully, Mister Ai came by and he was able to shift his target.” He remembered how Mister Ai had coincidentally appeared at that moment and couldn’t help but wonder if maybe there had been some reason behind that. Mister Ai had been really apologetic about what had happened the other time and had also warned him before about the matter with the original host, Ren Ya Hui. Clearly, he was trying to help him out. “I actually pity Mister Ai a bit. I hope he didn’t feel forced to agree to that.”
Qian Huang and Li Shui exchanged a glance. “I mean, as long as he isn’t gay himself, it shouldn’t be that much of a problem. He just has to go out with her once and then he can still say no.”
“Not to mention that she is the granddaughter of a famous chef. To him, it’s probably a win-win situation.”
After a moment, Li Shui couldn’t help but furrow his brows. “Wait. You wouldn’t think that he really is gay, right? Maybe has he has his eyes on Xiao Ming?”
The other two looked at him and Xiao Ming immediately shook his head. “I’m sure he isn’t.” Shaking his head again, he even waved his hands. “Even if he was, he wouldn’t be into me.”
Qian Huang couldn’t help but give Xiao Ming a look though. “I mean … I don’t think it’s completely impossible.”
Xiao Ming shook his head again and then just took a sip of the water but what had originally been a cool bottle fresh from the fridge suddenly felt a bit hot. But maybe that was because there were two blazing gazes directed at him. Clearly, these two were hoping to use the opportunity to set him up already. He should’ve known that something like this would happen!