Chapter 82: Sidelines
Ye Jiayao was not a stranger to the suspicious and negative look Elder Princess Yi De was giving her. For a man, she was considered scrawny and ‘pretty’ so everyone looked at him as just some naive kid. She knew that this would not be the first nor the last time that she would have to face rigorous questionings because of what she looked like.
She would rather be doubted and questioned than be ugly.
Elder Princess Yi De and Lady Xia You took a seat. Elder Princess Yi De did not invite Big Yaoyao to sit, so Helian Jing decided to stand with him.
“What restaurants have you worked at before?” Elder Princess Yi De asked.
Ye Jiayao could make up a fake background like she did when the people at Heavenly Residence asked her, but somehow, lying didn’t feel right to her with Chunyu’s mom present. On the other hand, her resume was too unimpressive and certainly doesn’t speak the extent of her skills.
With a prayer, she answered, “Honestly, the biggest restaurant I’ve worked at so far is Heavenly Residence. I was traveling all around the country before that, tasting all the delicious foods, learning about the essence of Northern and Southern foods and fusing Eastern and Western cuisines. However, I don’t believe that my resume, or any resume for that matter, is a way to judge skills and probability for success. In a few years, though, I believe that not one single person in Jin Ling will ask me that question again.”
Elder Princess Yi De took a sharp intake of breath. This kid was really arrogant. Was he?just young and frivolous, or does he really have the skill he was claiming?
Helian Jing looked at Ye Jiayao with a mix of respect and admiration.
Lady Xia You, on the other hand, regarded the young chef with interest. It was seldom that someone could one-up Elder Princess Yi De.
“You are quite confident,” Elder Princess Yi De remarked with a glare.
Ye Jiayao smiled calmly and answered, “I’m not being proud, but I’m also not going to pretend to be modest and downplay what I can do.”
Ye Jiayao had always believed that the best way to beat the arrogance and prejudice of superiors was to be prouder than they were. She was not going to roll over for anyone, princess or not.
Elder Princess Yi De already had doubts about Li Yao’s skills and age, and the way he talked was not helping him convince her otherwise. She found him arrogant, brash, and… distasteful.
Helian Jing was aware of his mother’s temper – the prettier her smile, the worse the situation was about to get. He quickly handed her the menu. “Mum, this is the menu that Li Yao created. What do you think?”
Elder Princess Yi De took the menu leisurely. She was already completely uninterested and dissuaded but she could not ignore Little Jing’s eager and pleading look. She was prepared to glance over the menu for a few seconds and declare it lackluster. However, as soon as she made her way down the list, her mind quickly changed.
She had hosted all kinds of banquets, family banquets, seasonal banquets, and banquets for guests. She had also held feasts for celebrating the first month of a newborn, passing the civil examinations, birthdays, and even feasts for the Imperial family. In that vast experience, she had never seen a menu as detailed as this.
Li Yao listed??everything,??from the choice of plates and bowls to the tea and dried fruits and cakes to be served before the banquet. It contained the number of pickled dishes, the number of appetizers, the number of hot dishes, and even the longevity of the noodles. Every part and aspect of the banquet was accounted for.
Every dish had a name with an auspicious meaning. There were notes marked for the ingredients needed, a brief description of the cooking method, and the characteristics and efficacy. There were even some dishes that she had never heard of before.
Elder Princess Yi De found the menu extraordinary. The balance of meat and vegetables, the nutritional value, and the choice of delicacies from land and sea were all very particular. It was definitely presentable and fit for a feast. In fact, it could very well compete with an Imperial Feast.
Elder Princess Yi De handed the menu over to Lady Xia You who carefully read it over.
Lady Xia You asked, “You can cook all the dishes that are listed on this menu?”
“Yes. If you’d like further assurance, I can cook a few dishes first for you to sample,” Ye Jiayao replied.
“Mum, that’s a great idea,” Helian Jing chimed in. He would’ve definitely rained down praises on Big Yaoyao in the past, but he has learned to play it smart now. His mother has her notions and prejudices against Big Yaoyao and Helian Jing complimenting him would not help. He would have to just let Big Yaoyao’s cooking speak for itself.
“There are a few dishes which might not be able to be done by tomorrow, like the hundred year fish. Ingredients such as fresh white mushrooms are not easy to find and will take some time,” Ye Jiayao clarified with a polite smile.
“Let’s skip over this first,” Elder Princess Yi De said. “I want to ask you about the seasonal dessert called ‘Reunite (Tuantuan Yuanyuan)’. What is this and why is there a question mark next to it?”
Ye Jiayao answered, “The elder’s birthday is on the 28th of July, close to the mid-autumn of August. The dessert would allow everyone to eat mooncake in advance, symbolizing the reunion of every year. I marked it with a question mark because this mooncake is one that I have created. It was originally going to be launched in August, so no one has tried it so far. Also, it is quite expensive, so I am not too sure if you would like to add it to the menu.”
“What type of mooncake is it?” Lady Xia You asked curiously. She had never understood what was so delicious about sweet mooncakes, whether it be Suzhou-style, or Cantonese style or Beijing style. However, she was intrigued if this new type of mooncake would finally be the one she would like.
Ye Jiayao subtly shook her nerves off.??This is Chunyu’s mum!
“To be precise, there are two types of mooncakes. Before the launch, these are all considered trade secrets, but since you asked, I’ll reveal a bit of information about them. One of them is called the Crystal Mooncake. The skin of the cake is clear like crystal, soft, and bouncy. The filling is made from various fruits and it is sweet, but not sickly so. The other type is called Ice Cream Mooncake. This ice cream is what my master learned from Western countries oceans away. It is so good it’s addicting,” Ye Jiayao described, already missing the taste of ice cream. She reminisced how her worries would fade away as she enjoys a cup of blueberry ice cream in a dessert cafe with airconditioning in midsummer time.
Lady Xia You and Elder Princess Yi De exchanged a glance, both perplexed and fascinated.
This was also the first time Helian Jing heard of something like this, but he was absolutely confident in Big Yaoyao’s ability.
“Mum and Auntie, have you heard of the chilled drinks that are popular in Jin Ling now? Like the iced pink lady and iced peach milk?” Helian Jing asked.
Yi De frowned a little. “I think I heard that Liu Li left the palace to have a taste of these cold drinks. Are those really that good?”
Helian Jing smiled proudly and said, “I’ll go out and buy some for you to try tomorrow. These cold drinks were created by Li Yao and they are now the most popular drinks in Jin Ling.”
“Young Royal Highness, there is no need for you to go out and buy it yourself. If you want them, I can send some over anytime,” Ye Jiayao said.
Helian Jing turned to Big Yaoyao and exclaimed excitedly, “Really?” He could turn this as an excuse to invite him over.
Ye Jiayao looked at him with a smile on her face, but her eyes conveyed a menacing look. Of course,??not??really! If she had to come over everytime he calls her, she would never get anything done.??I like you, Little Jinjing, but you really are slow sometimes.?
Helian Jing, quickly realizing his blunder, looked away and scratched his head awkwardly.
Ye Jiayao returned back to the topic at hand, “The cost of making these two mooncakes are very high and there are many steps involved, so the price really cannot be decreased. The price of a small Ice Cream Mooncake will be at least five taels of silver, and the Crystal Mooncakes would not be cheaper than three taels each. If I were to include all the guests, well… the cost would be frighteningly high. I marked it with a question mark so you can decide whether to include it or not.”
Elder Princess Yi De gracefully touched her pearl headpin and gave a slight smile that hinted of her arrogance. “As long as it is actually good, this amount of silver is nothing.”
According to the plan, there would be thirty-six tables for the feast, each table would seat ten people, so there were three hundred and sixty people in total. Five taels for each person meant that it won’t be over two thousand taels. That was not frighteningly high. This little chef was underestimating the Helian Mansion.
“According to your menu, each table is already a few hundred taels. Why would Elder Princess mind about this small amount when she has already spent so much? What’s important is that the food is truly good,” Lady Xia You spoke with a slight smile.
Yi De wanted her to find faults, but Lady Xia You did not want to listen to her. She thought that this chef, a younger age than most, would have new and refreshing ideas. The Ice Cream Mooncake he mentioned was very unfamiliar and hard to imagine, but Lady Xia You was already looking forward to it.
She has also thought that the menu was designed quite well. Heavenly Residence was quite famous in Jin Ling City and if this young man was able to become a head chef there, how bad could he be? She?was in favor of letting this chef handle the feast.
At first, Ye Jiayao thought that Chunyu’s mother was agreeing with Elder Princess. However, as the conversation progressed, it seemed that Lady Xia You was backing the Elder Princess to a corner. If Little Jing’s mother back out now, it would look like that she found the menu too expensive.
Elder Princess Yi De hesitated for a bit. It wasn’t because of the money. It didn’t even matter how much it cost. She also didn’t have any problems with the menu. No. It was because the empress dowager told her yesterday to just leave the birthday feast to the Imperial chefs if there was no one suitable. Elder Princess Yi De just so happened to agree that letting the Imperial chefs take over was more appropriate.
“Mum, come on, let’s settle this. If we debate any longer, it will just hold everything up. Big brother and I both believe that Li Yao can do this,” Helian Jing urged.
Lady Xia You shot a glance at Elder Princess Yi De who was still deliberating and said mischievously, “Next year, my Lord will be turning fifty. We’re going to hold a feast then, too. I’m telling you now, Li Yao, when we ask you then, you can’t make the prices any higher.”
Ye Jiayao was touched. Who knew that Chunyu’s mum could be so kind?