Chapter 66 – Zero!

 

By the time Ye Chui plated the rice noodles, the colour on each and every strand of needle were perfectly even, more importantly none of the noodles were sticking or clumping together. This was the most important point when it came to the ‘Gan’ or ‘dry’ in Gan Chao Niu He. Not a single extra drop of oil or soy sauce and perfectly even colours. Just from appearance alone, the dark colour of the Gan Chao Niu He was enough to stimulate the appetite.

At this point, the Sun Yi who had been standing nearby was impressed to the point of prostrating himself in front of Ye Chui, moreover, he considered it his fortune to have encounter Ye Chui in this exam.

As for the other candidates, most of them were quite sceptical of Ye Chui’s ability due to his age. After all, just how much experience could a young brat like him could  gotten at this age? However, after seeing Ye Chui’s ability they felt that the probability of him passing was quite high, the probability of passing was way too high and secretly sigh in their hearts, looking quite depressed.

They were given two hours for the exam, examinees who had completed their dishes could turn in their food for judgement. However, most of them will use this time to cook a few more test dishes and offered up the best tasting result for the judges.

There was no way the Ye Chui would do anything so troublesome. Before the astonished eyes of everyone, Ye Chui became the first candidate to bring his finished dish, freshly cooked Gan Chao Niu He, over to the judges.

“So fast? This brat is really confident, ah.”

“After seeing his technique just now, his level is certainly not ordinary.”

“It’s pointless to compare with a talent like that, but who know what kind of points the judges will give him.”

The cooking candidates all took a secret break, whispering and speculating with each other in hushed tones — this was a Chef’s Certification exams, though the atmosphere here was just like a school, unlike an actual school there was no penalty for whispered discussions. The most important point here was cooking ability.

As the first to ‘hand in his script’, moreover due to his young age, Ye Chui actually garnered a lot of attention from the other candidates around him. They all really want to know what kind of result this youngster could gain.

The three judges were all experienced chefs. Before each of them were the list of the candidate’s name as well as the dishes they were supposed to cook. Ye Chui first carried his dish over to the right most judge. The judge was a middle age man called Wang Haichun.

“Please taste this.” Ye Chui placed the dish in front of the man and stepped back with a confident smile — He was sure that he had prepared the perfect Gan Chao Niu He. Just based on the tone of his voice alone, if anyone dare to give him less than perfect marks, clearly there’s something wrong with that person…

“Zero points!”

Wang Haichun barked coldly without even tasting the dish.

Ye Chui, “… …”

Just what was this situation?

Silence fell, but not for long. Soon, an explosion of titters and sneering laughter was heard.

“No wonder he finished so quickly, it turns out that kid is just an empty talking can.”

“I’ve already gone through this exam three times, this is the first time I heard someone get zero points,”

“Just now the way he used the ladle was really incredible…really a pity…”

At these mutterings, Sun Yi was left staring down at the marinating stem lettuce slices and felt that he may have been lead into a trap by Ye Chui. He was wondering whether he should still use the rolling cut technique, he did everything the way Ye Chui had instructed earlier, but…

Zhao Hongyu was staring down from the viewing platform in pure delight. Wang Haichun was the Uncle Wang he had been chatting with earlier. Too see Uncle Wang slap Ye Chui’s dish with a zero even without even tasting it made him happy beyond reason.

However, his happiness did not last. That was because among the three judges at the table, the second judge seated in the middle, a white haired old man have a rather dissatisfied expression on his face. The name plate in front of him read Ge Yongming, he was clearly unhappy with the way Wang Haichun had allocated the points. “Wang Haichun, to just hand out a zero without even tasting the dish, aren’t you being too reckless?”

“Reckless?” Wang Haichun pushed the dish over to Ge Yongming, “Would Teacher Ge please take a look at this. He actually used beef for this Gan Chao Niu He, without even a basic understanding of the recipe, how could he even qualify to be in this exam?”

“Aren’t candidates allowed to display their creativity in these exams?” Ye Chui only realized now that this popular dish was may have had different origins from the Gan Chao Niu He from his previous life — he thought that this was originally a meat dish converted to a vegetarian style via meat substitution, but it looked like he was mistaken.

“No matter what, you have no reason to be so egoistic.” Wang Haichun’s eyes were like lasers as they glared at Ye Chui. “Just because there’s the word ‘Niu’ in Gan Chao Niu He you just carelessly throw in some beef?”

“Well, it’s entirely possible that the original ‘Niu’ dish may actually had beef in it, right?” Ye Chui smiled as he gently contradicted him.

“A smooth talker!” Wang Haichun flapped his hands violently at Ye Chui, “You’ve failed this exam!”

Seeing Wang Haichun’s attitude, even if Ye Chui possessed a milder nature would have also lose his temper at that point. He felt that this man was trying to deliberately fail him. However, he managed to say in a steady voice, “Aren’t there three judges? Does your point of view represents the other teachers as well?”

Hearing Ye Chui said this, Wang Haichun’s eyes immediately widened his eyes. He laughed like he had heard the funniest joke in the universe, “Naturally your points will be averaged out from the total given to you by the judges, however, since I’ve already given you a zero, the only way you can scrape a passing mark is for both judges to give you at least 9 points each. Of all the chefs that had taken this exam, how many chefs do you think could achieve 9 points?”

For a chef to gain 8 points was already something to be proud of. The average passing points was about 6 or 7, chefs who could achieve 9 points were very few. Since Wang Haichun already given Ye Chui a zero, he had already ensured his failure.

However, Ye Chui was still wearing that confident smile. “We won’t know till we try, right?”

At these words, the other candidates sneaked another peek over. They felt that if Ye Chui did not have the ability to back his words, either he really have some steel guts or no brains. Other candidates who had been immersed in their cooking also stopped their hands to look over.

Wang Haichun coldly glared at Ye Chui, with a snort he said, “Very well, I shall see what kind of results you can collect. Teacher Ye, how many points do you think this candidate’s dish is worth?”

While Ye Chui and Wang Haichun had been bantering with each other, Ge Yong Ming had been examining Ye Chui’s Gan Chao Niu He with a keeneye. With a pair of bamboo chopsticks, he lightly sifted through the noodles and praised, “The colour on every single strand of noodle is very even, no two strands are sticking together, this perfectly fulfils the criteria for the ‘Gan’ portion in dry frying. The fire has to be properly controlled in order to create the best environment for this to happen. As for the accompanying beef slices, every piece was sliced to the exact same size, as though they had been stamped out from a machine, the knife work is alone is worth 10 points.”

When he heard Ge Yongming’s praise, Wang Haichun’s face grew dissatisfied. Other candidates were also shocked, this was certainly not a low judgement, ah.

Under the stares of everyone around him, Ge Yongming picked up a strand of rice noodle along with a piece of beef and placed it delicately into his mouth. As he chewed, everyone waited with bated breath. They all wanted to know just what kind of points Ge Yongming would give in terms of flavour.

“Good!”

Ge Yongming suddenly shouted, “The rice noodles were neither oily nor greasy, its texture is tender and slippery. More importantly, the fragrance of beef which brought outthe best of every elements. In fact, this variation of Gan Chao Niu He gives me the impression this is how it should always be done!”

This evaluation clearly elevated this Gan Chao Niu He even more.

Wang Haichun’s face grew ugly, “Teacher Ge, surely your evaluation is too high, ba? I wonder, are you actually collaborating with this brat!”

“You say that I’ve been collaborating with him?” Ge Yongming’s face changed, his eyes darted once towards the viewing platform. With a harrumph, he slide the plate of Gan Chao Niu He towards the third judge. This judge was called Fan Wenbin, only 30 years old. Ge Yongming said in a low voice, “Wenbin, you give this a taste and tell me if I’m correct.”

As the youngest, he had been watching Ge Yongming and Wang Haichun trying to one up each other with growing distress. When he heard Ge Yongming’s words he could only hardened his scalp[1] and said, “All right.”

With different pair of chopsticks, he also picked up a strand of noodle with a slice of beef and placed them together into his mouth and chewed over the flavour. Then, a complicated expression appeared on his face, which gradually morphed into pure joy.

“Wenbin, just what do you think?!” Wang Haichun asked urgently.

“This…” Fan Wenbin really wanted to say something that will pacify both parties. However, he could not restrain his words. This Gan Chao Niu He had touched something deep within him, after hesitating for awhile he made his decision to follow through with his own opinion. “My view is the same as Teacher Ge.”

“What?” Wang Haichun was shocked.

Ge Yongming immediately grinned. He said in a precise voice, “I give this dish 10 points!”

“10 points!”

A shock wave went through the entire room of candidates. Ever since the beginning of this Chef Certification Exams, had there ever been anyone who gotten full marks?

However, that was not the end of their shock, because very soon Fan Wenbin’s voice followed next, “I… also award him 10 points!”

Two 10 points!

Even with Wang Haichun’s zero points, he had enough average for a passing mark. This Ye Chui had passed the Chef’s Certification Exam. More importantly, he had gained two 10 points. 10 points! That means utter perfection, was that plate of Gan Chao Niu He really that delicious?

 

Teaser:

“Teacher Wang,” As the youngest judge, Fan Wenbin stood up and gently placed the plate of Gan Chao Niu He in front of Wand Haichun. “Would Teacher Wang at least try this dish, ba. I do believe you would understand why Teacher Ge and I would award the 10 points.”

 

[Translator: Do you guys like teasers? Should I make it a habit?]

 

[1] Harden his scalp – Strengthen his resolve

 

 

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