Chapter 88: My Brother
As soon as Ye Jiayao arrived at work in the morning, she told Shopkeeper Li that she had accepted the invitation to cook for the Helian Mansion’s banquet. She was the head chef of Heavenly Residence after all, and such matter still required the support of Shopkeeper Li.
Shopkeeper Li was delighted. “This is great! If you do an excellent job with this, you will become famous.”
“I signed up as the head chef of Heavenly Residence,” Ye Jiayao replied modestly.
Shopkeeper Li paced his office, excitedly rubbing his hands together. “Do not hesitate to tell me what you need and feel free to deploy the kitchen staff as you please. This is a rare chance and you must perform perfectly.”
Although Heavenly Residence was quite renowned in Jin Ling, most private banquets of such caliber were only catered by Fu Ji. This would be the first time that Heavenly Residence accepted such task, and success in this would elevate them to a new level. It would give them the right to challenge Fu Ji.
“I have already chosen my assistants — Zhong Xiang, Deng Haichuan, Wang Mingde, and Cui Dongpeng. The restaurant’s business will not be affected, don’t worry. I just need to use the kitchen when it’s available in order to study recipes, and I might waste some ingredients,” Ye Jiayao told him.
“No worries. Just fill a form with the specifics and hand it to the accountant,” Shopkeeper Li replied. Compared to the benefits he could receive in the future, these were all small gestures.
For restaurant owners, lifting chefs to fame was a conflicting task. There was always a huge chance that if their chefs gain fame, they’d jump ship to a bigger restaurant. That would just ultimately benefit their competitors. On the other hand, a chef that nobody knows would affect the business badly. It was all a big gamble.
However, Shopkeeper Li was not troubled this time because the contract had a clause that would benefit the restaurant. The clause basically stated that Li Yao would groom a head chef for the restaurant that would be as good as him in his three-year stint. Li Yao does not hold on to secrets and even taught his kitchen hands how to make cold drinks. That kind of generosity was rare in the industry.
Li Yao was truly a lucky charm sent to him by the heavens!
“How are we going to split the earnings from the private banquet, Shopkeeper Li?” Ye Jiayao asked. According to her knowledge, chefs who attend private banquets usually had to pay the restaurant management fees. Cases such as Fu Ji, where Zheng Fugui was the shopkeeper himself, were a different matter.
Shopkeeper Li thought about it for a short moment. “Usually, the fee is forty percent. How about you just pay ten percent as a token gesture?”
Shopkeeper Li sure was willing to provide a gesture of goodwill, Ye Jiayao thought to herself. That ten percent would not even cover his expenses.
“How about I pay twenty percent? I can’t let the restaurant lose money, after all, can I?” Ye Jiayao offered.
Shopkeeper Li smiled and nodded. “Fine, twenty percent it is. In the future, we will go by this rate too.”
Li Yao was definitely special and not someone who could be restricted. Shopkeeper Li knew that he couldn’t keep Li Yao tied to him so he might as well help him along his way.
After receiving Shopkeeper Li’s support, Ye Jiayao went to the kitchen to announce the decision.
This announcement was to reassure and motivate everyone. She wanted them to know that everyone has a chance and they simply have to fight for it.
Ye Jiayao intended to build a top-notch team to accept private tasks like this banquet, and a team of just four or five people was insufficient.
The air of excitement in the kitchen was almost palpable. Those who were chosen were practically bouncing with eagerness, while those who were left out were filled with envy. Their envy was a good thing, though, because it was fueling them to do better in order to gain Ye Jiayao’s attention and good graces.
The only one who was low in spirits was Liu Qisheng.
He had helped Brother Xiang oppose Li Yao, only to end up with Brother Xiang joining Li Yao eventually. Now, everyone was ignoring him and he was stuck in a no man’s land. Amongst the second-class kitchen hands, he was the only one left out, and in favor of a third-class kitchen hand no less!?He didn’t believe Li Yao’s claim that everyone had a chance. He had severely offended him and he was sure that Li Yao would give anyone?but?him a chance.
Liu Qisheng immersed himself in chopping vegetables, the hit of the knife against the chopping board echoing in the room as he vented out his frustration. The others simply thought he was making a determined effort.
After lunch, Ye Jiayao called the four that she chose to assign their respective tasks.
“Brother Xiang, focus on working on the four desserts. Based on the requirements we previously came up with, determine the optimal recipe so we don’t make mistakes later.”
Zhong Xiang nodded. “No problem. I’ll go and prepare the ingredients in a while.”[email protected]@@@[email protected]@@@@=======
“Wang Mingde, I want you to make me a very tasty vegetarian noodle broth. I want you to go all out.”
“I’ll try my best,” Wang Mingde replied.
“Deng Haichuan, I will prepare a list of the ingredients tomorrow. Go and find the manager of Helian Mansion and go over the quality of the ingredients together. Remember, the ingredients must be carefully chosen.”
“No worries, I will make sure of that,” Deng Haichuan guaranteed.
“There’s not much time left so let’s get a move on,” Ye Jiayao said, gesturing with her hands for them to get cracking.
“Brother Yao, what about me?” Cui Dongpeng asked.
Ye Jiayao slightly winced at her forgetfulness. “Go to the Forging Iron Alley and have the best blacksmith make me a set of knives. While you’re there, go to the store that manufactures bronze products and check if the ice holder is done yet.”
“Sure! I know which store Chef Niu and Chef Zheng had their knives made. I’ll have the blacksmith make you the exact same set,” Cui Dongpeng said with a grin.
“I don’t want the exact same set. I want something that is more nimble. Oh, and I also want a set of carving knives,” Ye Jiayao said. Her arms were not as strong as the male chefs. The knives in this kitchen were already too heavy for her as it is.
“You want them fine and nimble. Got it.”
Ye Jiayao gave him a friendly pat on the shoulder. “Smart.”
They were still in a meeting when Helian Jing and Xia Chunfeng arrived.
“Isn’t it too early to eat now?” Xia Chunfeng exclaimed. “How about we go to the teahouse to chat for a while first?”
“No, it’s not too early. I’ll introduce you to someone first.”
“Such mysteriousness. Who is it? Who’s this mysterious friend that you’ve made these few months I’ve been away?” Xia Chunfeng asked curiously.
Helian Jing pulled him inside. “You’ll know when you see him.”
Ah Xing saw Helian Jing arriving and hurriedly went up to greet him. “Young Royal Highness, Lotus Suite has already been prepared for you. Please head upstairs.”
“Go and call Li Yao over,” Helian Jing ordered.
Little Lu hurriedly ran to call Li Yao.
“Brother Yao, Young Royal Highness Jing has arrived. He’s now in the Lotus Pavilion and has asked for you to head over there.”
Ye Jiayao paused for a second. This early? Was he really here for dinner? This was more like a time for refreshments!
“How many people came?”
“Brother Xiang, would you mind making two cups of iced double milk? Little Lu, go and make a pot of first-class Lushan Mist Tea and also bring down some Cha Kwo. The rest of you can leave!”
Xia Chunfeng entered the private room and looked around. The breeze blew gently through the open windows that overlooked the sparkling river and the willows lining the embankment.
“The view is not bad at all,” Xia Chunfeng mused.
“The scenery is only secondary, it’s the food here that reaches the pinnacle of delicacies. Oh, and there are also cold drinks.” Helian Jing always felt a surge of pride whenever he tells others of Heavenly Residence. It was almost as if Heavenly Residence was his own home.
Xia Chunfeng sat down in a chair. “What cold drinks? Chilled Hawthorn Juice?”
“That stuff is old-fashioned. You might not know as you just came back, but right now, iced double milk, iced pink lady, and iced peach milk are all the rage in Jin Ling. This is the only place that has them, and if you don’t pre-order them, you won’t get any.”
Xia Chunfeng became very curious. “That’s… ridiculous. Is that really so?”
“It isn’t ridiculous at all. They only make two hundred bowls of cold drinks every day – exactly two hundred. It’s in short supply every day and if you come late, you definitely won’t be able to get one,” Helian Jing replied.
Xia Chunfeng raised a brow, impressed. “The shopkeeper here sure knows how to run a business. He clearly knows that rare commodities are worth hoarding. Very well, I must give it a try.”
“Eat all you want. After you try the cold drinks, there are still other delicacies,” Helian Jing boasted with a laugh.
Xia Chunfeng snorted. “It’s not like I haven’t tasted Chef Niu’s dishes, you know? They are just all mediocre at best.”
“Well, as I said, you’re behind the times. Chef Niu has already gone to Fragrant House, there is a new head chef here now.”
“You just like to try new things, just like Zhao Qixuan.” Xia Chunfeng chuckled.
“What do you mean try new things? I’m just looking for the flavor that suits me best and I’ve found it now. I won’t swap places anymore. If I want to eat, I’ll come to the Heavenly Residence,” Helian Jing said in a huff.
“Oh! The cook here must be really amazing if can make Young Royal Highness Jing stay in one place,” Xia Chunfeng teased. He felt that Helian Jing was exaggerating way too much.
“Believe me, in a while, the food you’ll taste will be so delicious, your tongue will fall off,” Helian Jing huffed.
“Little Jing, can you stop boasting? You’re going to exaggerate my skills,” Ye Jiayao joked as she walked in.
As soon as Helian Jing saw Ye Jiayao, his expression relaxed. “Yaoyao, this is Xia Chunfeng, the blood brother of Brother Chunyu. He is also a good brother of mine.”
Ye Jiayao clasped her hands and bowed. “I am Li Yao. Pleased to meet you, Young Master Xia.”
Ye Jiayao discreetly looked Chunyu’s brother up and down. Unlike Chunyu, who only resembled their mother by his eyes, Xia Chunfeng looked very much like their mother.
Xia Chunfeng nodded in acknowledgment and turned to face Helian Jing. “This is …”
“Li Yao, he’s my brother and also the head chef here,” Helian Jing replied.
Xia Chunfeng’s expression became cold. Little Jing referred to him as a brother first rather than as a chef. That implied that Little Jing held this person in high regards. Chunfeng and Little Jing grew up together and he had always thought that he was the only one Little Jing regarded as a brother. Hearing him refer to this Li Yao as his brother was very unexpected. It was now apparent that he really did miss a lot during his absence.
Little Lu brought the food in.
“Your Royal Highnesses, these are the iced double milk you ordered.”
“Yaoyao, have a seat. It’s still early anyway.” Helian Jing pulled out a chair for Yaoyao.
This act once again surprised Xia Chunfeng.?Holy crap!??Was Little Jing really pulling out a chair for a chef now?
Ye Jiayao sat down without objection
Curiosity clawed at Xia Chunfeng. This Li Yao just a little cook, how come he’s able to refer to Little Jing as a brother? It can’t be that Little Jing has all of a sudden became a foodie, right?
“Hey, how did you guys meet?” Xia Chufeng asked as he drank his iced double milk.