OCN C68 An Opportunity Presented to Them

When Fan Mei got into the ninjas’ car, there was a smile on her lips. She might not have been able to find out anything over dinner but that didn’t mean that she was at the end of her rope. No, this drive would certainly yield some information. After all, Tao Jin wasn’t here any longer to interfere. And since that assistant needed to focus on driving, she could use the time to grill the guy next to her.

She turned to Si Jin, her smile widening even further. “So, we didn’t get to talk much over dinner.”

Si Jin glanced at her and originally wanted to just ignore her but then he remembered what Si Yi had said so he at least gave a curt nod before he turned back to the front.

Fan Mei wasn’t discouraged. “Well, how do you think your chances are to get into the first episode?” This wouldn’t give her any information but she could slowly go from there. She was sure that by the end of this drive, she would have something useful that she could work off of.

Si Jin once again gave her a glance, feeling that this woman was really too troublesome. He already knew that he had been chosen but he couldn’t say that or she would certainly twist that into Xiao Ming opening a backdoor for him. In the end, he just gave a hum the could have meant anything.

Fan Mei stared at him, clearly not used to being talked to like that if one could even call this talking. Save for that one ‘big’ that she had gotten at the beginning of dinner, this guy hadn’t said a single word the whole evening. If not for that one instance, she actually might’ve thought he was mute.

Her lips twitched but she still wasn’t willing to give up. “I’m afraid I didn’t quite catch before what dish you made.”

Si Jin stared straight ahead, not even bothering to look at her this time. He still had Si Yi’s words in his ear though. “Same.”

Fan Mei stared at him, unable to wrap her head around it. Thinking back to what had happened before, she was actually angry at herself. She felt that in that situation, she should have been able to realize what he meant even though it had seemed a little cryptic. But in any case, it had been a direct retort to a direct question she asked even if it hadn’t quite been an answer. So it shouldn’t have needed Tao Jin to figure it out. Now though, no matter how she thought, she couldn’t find any relationship between what she had just asked and what he said.

In the driver’s seat, Si Yi had to hold back a smile. Considering that they would have to suffer her several more times in the next few weeks, he felt that they shouldn’t burden the relationship more though. Thus, he happily jumped in to help her out. “He made the same bring dish as your brother. As did I, as a matter of fact. I’m sure that Miss Fan knows about how Mister Si is friends with the chef Ai Gui Jin, right?”

This wasn’t news to her considering that she was the one who had ‘exposed’ that matter on her blog. Not that it wasn’t like Ai Gui Jin had given it away in his own live stream first to make Young Master Xiao aware of their Master and his pursuit of him. Thus, he didn’t mind telling her that. In fact, he would tell her even more but he would make sure that it was all either things that she already knew or something that would benefit them.

His plan seemed to work: Fan Mei was immediately all ears when she was finally given some information. Even though she had already known that, it was still nice to get the admission of this directly from the guilty party itself. “Oh, yes, I heard of that.”

Si Yi gave her a look through the rearview mirror. “Well, as you might also know, Mister Si didn’t really know how to cook prior to registering for the show. He merely signed up because he wanted to help the live streamer out that he likes.

“Well, naturally, he didn’t want to embarrass Mister Xiao by showing up without knowing how to cook. Thus, we asked Mister Ai for a favor. So right after we had signed up, he taught us a little.

“Naturally, our skills aren’t that sophisticated yet so we mostly focused on learning the basics and then making one dish that we could make for the casting. We chose the rice cake soup for that based on Mister Ai’s suggestion. At our skill level, he deemed it to be the choice.”

In fact, this wasn’t wrong. Si Shi Wu had thought for a long time before deciding on pursuing to teach them this dish to perfection. He had figured that it would best strike the balance between simplicity and the display of skills.

Fan Mei nodded, also feeling like that wasn’t wrong. In her eyes, there wasn’t that much that could be done wrong when making rice cake soup. She wasn’t really interested in that though. “Well, I do understand how you and Mister Si would end up with the same dish then. But why did my brother make the same one?”

Si Yi glanced at her again. Clearly, she thought that she was getting to the information she needed. But of course, he wouldn’t let her. No, now was the time to turn things around and use the opportunity she had created against her and for their own benefit.

He had to make sure that he didn’t give away too much information though. In any case, from what he knew, the dishes that the people that were chosen for the first episode had made would be shown on the website as well. Thus, she would find out sooner or later that not just the three of them but another seventeen people had also made the same dish. If there wasn’t a good explanation for this, then he was afraid that this would expose quite a lot.

The thoughts shot through his mind in just a moment and he gave a faint laugh almost at the same time. His gaze seemed to turn helpless. “Well, to be honest, that story is a little embarrassing. I’m really not sure if I should tell Miss Fan.”

Fan Mei narrowed her eyes, now even more intrigued when it came to this. “Oh, no, please tell me! In any case, we are all contestants. And I know how it is to start out with cooking. I would be really interested in knowing more about this. Maybe I could help you in the future.”

Si Yi gave her a grateful look before he sighed as if this was really asking quite a lot of him. He turned the steering wheel, slowly turning into another street. Fan Mei likely hadn’t noticed but they were actually getting closer and closer to the hotel where she had booked a room. As long as he talked about this story a little longer, he would not only reduce her grounds of suspecting anything but would also keep her from asking any further uncomfortable questions of his master.

“Thank you for the offer, Miss Fan. If we actually make it in, we might need to take you up on it. In any case, since you are Mister Fan’s sister and we are now taking part in the same show, we can be counted as friends as well. I guess it wouldn’t be a problem to tell you. Anyway, it probably isn’t that big of a deal.

“You see, naturally, Mister Ai is a busy man. He doesn’t have that much time to teach us one of one. He gave us some instructions at the beginning and then checked in on us after a while but he also has his own restaurant, right? We can’t expect too much of him.”

“But of course!”

Si Yi nodded as if he was happy that she was so understanding. “Well, as such, we were mostly left alone with our efforts to learn how to cook. We really tried our best but with just two people who don’t know anything, it is a little difficult. We really felt as if we were going to disgrace ourselves in the casting.

“After thinking for a bit, we felt that we should use the time that was left as well as we could just in case. Thus, we invited some people that had also registered for the casting to meet up and cook together. One of those people happened to be your brother.

“When we met, we naturally talked about the show and our expectations at length. And I guess because we mentioned how choosing the rice cake soup had been Mister Ai’s suggestion, quite a few people decided to do the same. In any case, since we were mostly cooking that dish, we were all gaining experience so it seemed like the plausible thing to do to use it for the casting.”

Fan Mei wasn’t quite sure where the embarrassing part of this was so she couldn’t help but raise her brows. There definitely had to be more to this. “And that is all? I’m not quite sure where the problem in that would be.”

Si Yi smiled faintly. She was really quite nice by providing him with this opportunity to elaborate. “Well, it wouldn’t be embarrassing if it had just been your brother. We didn’t think much of it at first either until we got to the venue this morning and realized that the people directly next to us were all making the same dish.”

He sighed deeply when he said this and even shook his head. “To be honest, we couldn’t quite explain this to ourselves but after sitting on this for the whole day, I think I know what happened.

“Because we didn’t want to take up the time of just one other person, we invited several groups of friends. In each of them, there was at least one person that chose the same dish as us. And I guess each of them might have spread their reason for doing so. So I’m afraid that in the end, there were a couple dozen people who all made rice cake soup. Now, that is really embarrassing.

“The look I got when I went up on stage after Mister Si had just finished receiving his feedback was quite strange. We also stayed around a little afterward to have a look at how others would be judged and learn from that so we saw the people who made the same dish go up soon afterward. The judges’ faces were a bit ugly by the end. I think they had to taste the same dish twenty times in a row. They probably can’t see rice cake soup anymore.”

Si Yi sighed deeply once again, his brows slightly furrowing. “I actually feel sorry. Maybe we shouldn’t have mentioned that the suggestion for this dish came from Mister Ai. Then, there probably wouldn’t have been that many people who wanted to use rice cake soup of all dishes in the casting.”

Fan Mei’s eyes immediately sparkled when she heard that there had been a problem with the judges. “Oh? But I’m sure Mister Yu dealt with that quite proficiently, didn’t he?”

Si Yi glanced at her through the rearview mirror before he gave his master a look. Well, it was pretty obvious what she was trying to do but he naturally wouldn’t do her the favor of helping with that.

“Well, I’m not quite sure what to say to that. There wasn’t much to deal with. In any case, while they might not be happy to have to taste the same dish several times in a row, they still have to do so and give their feedback honestly.

“They both did that so I guess it wasn’t that much of a problem to them afterward. It might just be that they weren’t quite as detailed when it came to giving us feedback as they were toward other contestants because they felt like they were repeating themselves. After all, it wasn’t just the same dish but also the exact same recipe and everybody learned from each other so the final dish was probably rather similar.”

This definitely wasn’t the kind of answer that Fan Mei was waiting for. She felt a bit unhappy but it also wasn’t like she could make him spill the beans if he didn’t want to. She could only try to gain some more information by keeping up her line of questioning. “Well, what was your impression of that Xiao Ming?”

Si Yi smiled even further. Even though his master’s expression gave nothing away, he was pretty sure that inwardly, he was seething. He’d better get that woman out of the car sometime soon or they would have to explain a murder. “Well, what can I say? Mister Si always insists on watching the live stream, well, live. So it has become somewhat of a ritual to sit down and watch ‘Bright Yellow Water’ whenever it is time.

“As such, I think I had specific expectations of how he would be. And I feel like as a judge on the stage, he was pretty much the same way he is in his live streams as well. As far as I can tell, he is very knowledgeable about cooking but what I admire the most is his ability to grasp onto problems.

“In the live stream, that kind of matter is usually rather theoretical where he just points out where problems might arise and then tells his viewers how to tackle them. As a judge, he can be more practical about these things.

“With an actual dish in front of him that he can give a taste, he can tell the contestant what he thinks might be a problem. I would compare it to how a while ago, they talked about the plating of dishes on their stream. That time, they offered for the viewers to send in their attempts if they wanted to and Mister Xiao would tell them what could be done better.

“I didn’t follow along too closely since there was other work to do for me but Mister Si took a look and from what I know it seemed that Miser Xiao went with a very similar approach there: He tried to point out where there were problems and explained why they were problematic before he gave suggestions for doing better in the future.

“I think he is very meticulous in these kinds of things. He genuinely wants people to do better.” He smiled and then glanced out of the window, stopping the car. “Ah, look at this. I’ve talked so much that we’ve already arrived at your hotel, Miss Fan. Please, wait a moment, I will open the door for you.” Not waiting for her to say anything, Si Yi got out of the car and opened the door, motioning outside. “Please. I hope that you had an enjoyable ride. Mister Si can be a little quiet at times. Please, don’t take that personally. That’s just his personality.”

Fan Mei stared at him and then looked back at the person sitting next to her who hadn’t bothered to say more than two words to her today and finally had to get out of the car. Even though she had thick skin, it would draw too much attention if she really continued to sit in there while his assistant was standing outside. And after getting her identity exposed online, she really didn’t want to have even more negative publicity. There were definitely enough people out there who might want revenge.

Getting out of the car, she gave Si Yi a smile while he closed the door. “I’m sorry, I’m afraid I didn’t quite catch it at the dinner today but what was your name again?”

“Si Yi.”

“Oh? You actually have the same surname as your employer? Are you related?” That smelled of nepotism!

Si Yi continued to smile faintly. “Something of the like. To be honest, we aren’t actually related but in a previous generation, one of my ancestors was adopted. So there is a close relationship.”

“And it doesn’t irk you at all to have to work for somebody that is basically a relative?”

Si Yi raised his brows. Was this woman honestly trying to cause strife between the ninjas of the Si clan? Oh, he was really eager to find out how that would turn out. “Not at all. I’m not quite sure why Miss Fan would think so.

“Being an assistant is something that I am good at and it is work that I enjoy subsequently. I can imagine that it might not seem like a dream job to others but I am genuinely happy.

“Also, Mister Si treats me very well and I enjoy being able to meet new people and get acquainted with all the things that he does. At the same time, I’m not necessarily the one who has to bear the consequences if something goes wrong. To me, that is worth a lot as well.

“Now, I believe I shouldn’t keep you here and bore you with my personal life. We will be able to see each other again very soon anyway. Please have a nice evening, Miss Fan.” He inclined his head and then waited for her to finally turn around before he got back into the car.

His gaze slid to the clock and he realized that it had already turned seven fifty-nine. He glanced at the rearview mirror and indeed saw his master take out his phone, probably going to check the website of ‘Golden Spoon’.

Si Yi smiled and then started the engine once again, returning to the temporary headquarters of the Si clan. Since their dinner was finished, he couldn’t help but wonder how things had turned out on Si Shi Wu’s side. In any case, it seemed that they had made quite a bit of progress today.

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