OCN C71 A Special Feeling

Si Jin read through the cookbooks for another half an hour before he got up and retired to his own room, opening his laptop. If he wasn’t wrong, then Xiao Ming should have another live stream today even if he wouldn’t be cooking. Naturally, he wouldn’t want to miss that.

He sat down and made sure that he opened the chat on his phone, making sure that he would be able to answer Xiao Ming in time without needing to take his gaze off his face. Then, he waited.

Si Yi had followed him into the room and was now standing behind him, glancing at the screen as well.

To be honest, when it came to this matter with Xiao Ming, he actually felt a little helpless. Originally, their master hadn’t been somebody who easily showed affection. It probably wasn’t a wonder.

From early childhood, he had been raised not to give anything away of his emotions and all aspects of his education had been focused on becoming the best heir to the Si clan that he could be. There hadn’t been much time to form relationships with people outside. Save for his own family and the members of the clan that would later join him, he didn’t really have anyone. So Xiao Ming was for all intents and purposes his first love.

To fall in love with a man … well, it was something that the clan could deal with. In any case, while there had been an established bloodline, if the master decided to adopt a child, they would also be alright with that. And anyway, there were possibilities nowadays to have children even if it wasn’t from his actual partner. Even some that wouldn’t include cheating on him. The Si clan would definitely find a way to deal with that matter.

Xiao Ming’s status as an online celebrity also wouldn’t be a problem. They had been a bit worried because at first, that youth had seemed to struggle quite a lot. They had feared that if their master was too rash and tried to help out, he would be taken advantage of by somebody who didn’t actually like him back. But to their surprise, their master had taken a completely different approach.

Among the twenty ninjas following him, Si Yi was probably the one who was closest to him thanks to the fact that they spend the most time together. But even he had no idea what was going on in his master’s head most of the time. This matter with Xiao Ming was definitely one of those times.

He would’ve liked to help but there was no advice that he could offer. His own love life … well, there wasn’t much to share. There had been a few flings in the past but that had mostly been to gain experience and make sure that he would be prepared in case it was ever necessary. There had hardly ever been any feelings of love. Now, that was precisely the thing that he was lacking. The emotional connection to somebody, the longing for a person that you wanted to be with. Thinking of ways to make something possible that shouldn’t be. It was quite ironic actually.

He couldn’t help but think of Si Qi but he forced himself to stop. In any case, it was too late to try it. And he still wasn’t willing to take the risk. And now, after five years, their master had managed to make some progress anyway. No matter what, Si Yi was sure that he would be able to make things work.

Taking part in ‘Golden Spoon’ was only the first part. And even if they didn’t manage to win, there would be a chance to make his master’s dream come true. In any case, it could be as easy as walking up to young master Xiao and asking him to go out with him now. But that was something that he didn’t want to get involved in. Not for the time being anyway.

Nine o’clock arrived and the channel came to life, the image of Xiao Ming popping up on the screen. Si Jin clicked on it in record time, not wanting to miss even a single second. Seeing Xiao Ming’s smiling face, he felt like his heart was melting inside.

On the other side, Xiao Ming greeted the viewers. “Welcome to ‘Bright Yellow Water’! Today, we’re not cooking as usual but will instead talk a bit about the upcoming cooking show ‘Golden Spoon’.

“If you’ve been keeping up with news around this, then you will know that the casting was today. For that occasion, several thousand people that are interested in cooking came together to qualify for the first episode that will be shown on TV and online next weekend while we are filming the next episode already.

“I and Mister Yu are the main judges of this show and we’ve had the honorable task of choosing sixty-four people who we will welcome for that first round next week. If any of them are currently watching: Congratulations! We were presented with a lot of fantastic dishes today but yours were able to convince us especially. I’m curious to see what you’ll be able to bring us next week.”

Si Jin seemed to straighten up a little when Xiao Ming praised him. Well, to him, it was only praise for himself. He knew that there were sixty-three other people that were mentioned in the same breath as him and he even knew several of them personally but he didn’t care about that. For just a moment, he wanted to pretend that Xiao Ming was only speaking to him. This was what he usually did when he watched his live streams. It would’ve been great if that was indeed the case.

Xiao Ming continued to explain. “Now, I can’t tell you all about the casting yet. You’ll have to wait for the episode to air next week for that but I wanted to have a look at an interesting feature of today’s casting.”

He turned to the side where Qian Huang was already sitting with the laptop, navigating for him as usual. Strangely enough, he was sitting a little further away than usual.

Even though Si Jin hadn’t paid any attention to him before, he immediately became aware of it when Xiao Ming looked in that direction. After all, he had often been a bit envious that Qian Huang and Li Shui had the good luck to be able to get so close to him. He certainly knew how close they usually were. Even today at the casting, he hadn’t been as close even though he personally brought the dish over to him. What a wasted opportunity! He had to make up for that in next week’s episode.

As for why the setup was different today than usual, it became apparent in just a second: Xiao Ming moved to the side a little and, right on cue, the website of ‘Golden Spoon’ opened where Qian Huang was sitting.

Si Jin was happy to see this. He didn’t have anything against Qian Huang and he valued him as Xiao Ming’s friend but this had to mean that Xiao Ming would be the one doing most of the talking today. How could he not be ecstatic about that?

Just as expected, Xiao Ming immediately started talking to explain what was going on. “The show’s official website should be showing next to me now. You can also take a look on your own devices if you want to and feel that it is easier.

“In any case, right under the first announcement, you will find a list of the contestants that have qualified for the first episode. In the upcoming weeks, this is where you will always be able to check who made the cut. Just that next time, the announcement will only be made after the episode airs.”

The casting was a bit of a special case. Since the show was new they were doing some things differently from how it would be done in later episodes in the season or even the upcoming seasons. This was all to get more eyes on the show. The fact that some of the names on the list were rather well-known definitely helped with that.

“Other than this announcement, there is one more page and that is what we want to look at today.”

Next to him, Qian Huang switched to the other page, making sure that the viewers could see exactly what Xiao Ming was talking about.

This was the part of the website that E Cheng Jun had talked about at the end of the casting when she had said goodbye to the last contestants. As the viewers wouldn’t know about that, Xiao Ming explained again.

“Today, while the casting was still running, the chefs at the venue asked the contestants that finished whether they would like to leave the rest of their dish in the waiting hall. The people that were accompanying other contestants or coming to take them home, as well as all the other contestants that finished earlier, were then able to have a taste and could leave their opinion either on a small card or directly here on the website. They didn’t have to leave a name if they didn’t want to and could just do it anonymously but many people were also willing to give feedback directly.

“What I’d like to do today is to take a look at some of the feedback that the contestants of the show have gotten to give you a small taste of what you will get to see next week.” Xiao Ming stopped for a moment, not quite sure how to put into words what was going through his mind. He put his arms on the counter and leaned slightly forward, making it feel as if he was leaning closer and closer to the person on the other side of the screen.

“Now, not all the dishes of the contestants are included since some finished much later or didn’t want to leave them there and there were also many dishes that got feedback but didn’t make it into the first episode.

“If you have some time, I would suggest going through and have a look at everything. I think that there were some very interesting choices when it came to the dishes that the participants of the casting chose. We couldn’t let all of them through as sixty-four people really isn’t a lot but that doesn’t mean that any of them were bad.

“Personally, we decided to focus on the contestants that made it through today because we think that you might want to know more about them before you watch the episode of the casting next week.” He smiled again and then turned to Qian Huang’s screen to take a closer look at the first dish.

The team of ‘Golden Spoon’ had made a photo of each dish and left both the name of the dish and that of the contestant below the picture. If you clicked on one of them, you would get to see the feedback that had been left.

“Now, for the feedback, what you should know is that all of it is from the people that were visiting. The team of ‘Golden Spoon’ might’ve sneaked a taste but they didn’t leave any words behind so as to not influence anyone. So you can be sure that this is the unbiased opinion of the people that were there today. Now, let’s take a closer look!

“As you can see from the picture, the first dish here is hot and sour soup, in this case made by Huang Wei Bing. Let’s take a look at the comments that she got for her dish.”

Qian Huang clicked on the photo and the page with the comments opened, the photo still displayed above them.

“As you can see, the team of ‘Golden Spoon’ took photos of the cards that were filled out at the venue while the other comments are shown similar to text messages on WeChat. Now, let’s start with the first card.”

The team had made sure that they uploaded a card in-between some of the online comments, making it look more varied. The first comment under Huang Wei Bing’s dish was one of the cards.

“As you can see, this person left their name. They are called Zhao Li Yu. If you look further through the information on the website, you’ll notice that this person has participated in the casting as well and actually made it under the contestants of the first episode.”

Xiao Ming actually had a deep impression of Zhao Li Yu based on the fact that he originally hadn’t seen much in his dish but had been convinced by Mister Yu that this man deserved a chance. Now, he felt that that had been the right decision so Zhao Li Yu was somebody to look out for. To see his name pop up here … he was a bit surprised but also happy. This had to mean that he took the show really seriously.

Xiao Ming glanced at what he had written and almost laughed out loud. He managed to hold back in the end though and just read out the comment. “Zhao Li Yu wrote ‘Really liked this dish. So simple but tasty.'” He looked up at the camera and gave a faint smile. “In case you don’t quite have the recipe for hot and sour soup in mind, you should know that there aren’t that many steps for making the soup so that is probably what Zhao Li Yu means when he says that it is a simple dish. As long as you prepare the ingredients well, this is a dish that can be made easily. At the same time, the seasoning is very important so you need to be careful. Getting another contestant to call it tasty shows just how well Huang Wei Bing did with that step.”

He turned back to the screen in front of him and scrolled down. “The next comment is from an anonymous visitor: ‘Really sour, really spicy. Loved the seasoning in this one! Would’ve loved to get a second serving but the people from the crew are looking as if they’re keeping an eye on us.'”

This time, Xiao Ming really chuckled. “As you can see, there is yet another feedback alluding to the seasoning being very well done. So you can imagine that this hot and sour soup was precisely as the name suggests.

“Actually, it sounds like it was so tasty that maybe this visitor wasn’t the only one who wanted to have a second serving so the crew had to take a closer look to make sure there would be enough left for others to give feedback as well.”

Xiao Ming went through a few more comments, trying to add a few words of himself whenever he could before he motioned for Qian Huang to go back to the main page that listed all the dishes.

“Now, we’ve seen quite a few comments for this dish. There are even more but I’m afraid we won’t be able to have a look at all. Instead, let’s take a look at yet another dish.” He clicked on the next picture and a serving of rice cake soup with cakes in heart-shaped form jumped up.

Xiao Ming couldn’t help but smile when he saw this picture. Looking up at the camera, he felt as if you could see the expression or rather the non-expression of the man who had made this dish. “The next dish is the rice cake soup made by Si Jin.”

At the temporary headquarters of the Si clan, Si Jin felt as if his heart was suddenly racing even though his expression still stayed the same. Heavens, this was the first time that he had heard his name — his real name, not just the one he had given himself online — from Xiao Ming’s lips. That feeling … it was really special.

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