Word count: 3713
Oh right, previously all her attention was on Jiang Qian Fan’s obsessiveness, compulsiveness and mental breakdowns, and had forgotten about his achievements in this field and his demeanour.
The scene in front, gave of the feeling of a perfect couple.
Iris and Jiang Qian Fan were people of the same world.
Not to mention, the head chef Iris was actually such a great beauty. Her blonde hair was neatly combed, and gathered behind, with a slim stature and can be described as exquisite. In Lin Ke Song’s impression, female chefs were all full figured and fatties, but Iris was a total stunner.
It’s a pity Jiang Qian Fan’s eyes could not see, otherwise he’d see how much of a fest for the eyes Iris’s existence was.
“This is the student you’re sending to me?”
Iris looked at Lin Ke Song with great interest, her finger on her chin. That previously sharp as needles sight seemed to have disappeared.
“yes. She had no basics.”
“No basics?” Iris showed a surprised expression, “You would actually accept a student who has had no form of experience?”
Sorry that I know nothing, letting you laugh.
Lin Ke Song sighed in her heart.
“won’t you normally make something to eat at home?” Iris asked insistently.
“I know how to make instant noodles.”
Lin Ke Song laughed, and laughed a little ugly.
In school, she’d follow Song Yi Ran to either eat out or eat the canteen food. When she returns home, there’s a virtuous wife and fine mother around, she’d never even touched a spatula.
Iris laughed lightly, and looked at Jiang Qian Fan: “You did it on purpose, giving me a difficult problem.”
“Precisely because she doesn’t have any experience that I have to give her some.”
“Alright.” Iris clapped her hands, and said to Lin Ke Song, “Follow me ba. But if you cut yourself, don’t cry in my back kitchen.”
At this time, Jiang Qian Fan opened his mouth: “Lin Ke Song, remember, the focus of you coming here is not speed, but the right method to segment ingredients. Understand?”
Iris raised her brows, “Mr Jiang, you saying this will make her develop inertia, it won’t be conducive to my teachings.”
“Since she’s going to follow you to the back kitchen, she won’t be inert.” Jiang Qian Fan picked up his can, and walked up the stairs.
“Let’s go.” Iris brought Lin Ke Song into the back kitchen.
As they walked, Iris introduced the workers who were currently working.
Then she brought her to the front of a thirty something year old guy.
“Pepper, her name is Ke Song. The pronunciation is similar to the French bread. Today she’ll follow you. she’s a newbie, so don’t have too much expectations towards her speed. I will personally teach her some methods of cutting simple ingredients, you delegate some work to her.”
Lin Ke Song was a little 囧, it seemed like many people had to compare the French bread to the pronunciation of her name.
Pepper nodded: “Yes, chef.”
Iris nodded, and demonstrated in front of Lin Ke Song on how to cut potatoes, onions, carrots and other vegetables. Although it was only cutting things, from Iris’s agile movements and the unique position, her skills had deep foundations.
“Remembered?” Iris looked at Lin Ke Song.
“Remembered.” Lin Ke Song nodded.
Iris lifted the corners of her lips slightly, in her eyes, Lin Ke Song saw slight mockery. She didn’t believe Lin Ke Song had remembered. Or what she’d remembered and will execute was far apart.
“You try.” Iris pushed an onion to Lin Ke Song.
The onion had already been soaked. Lin Ke Song pressed in on the counter, and cut it vertically from the middle. Then, she put one of the halves on the counter, and started slitting. Lin Ke Song noticed, that Iris’s method of slitting onions was very quick. She knew that once she slowed on her cutting, it will be very easy to get chocked. And in the busy back kitchen, there was no extra time to let her soak the onions.
She could only bite the bullet, and cut as fast as she could. Especially under the watch of Iris, Lin Ke Song felt a thorn in her back.
When the first onion was cut, Iris reached out her hand to grab Lin Ke Song’s onion, and let it fall through her fingers. She examined them, and said unhurriedly: “even though the actions were slow, and the thickness of the onions cut are not uniform, at least the method isn’t wrong. Continue like this. Pepper, watch her well. The things that she cut, make sure to give it a once through.”
“Yes, chef.” Pepper nodded.
When Iris left, the whole kitchen started getting busy.
Pepper’s knife skill was quick, arranged the little potatoes on the counter, and pressed with his hand, one knife down, and all the little potatoes were split.
Lin Ke Song also followed and tried, but she couldn’t press onto so many at once, and only tried it on three.
Pepper only glanced at Lin Ke Song, didn’t give extra explanations.
At first, Lin Ke Song cut really slowly, gradually, she got affected by the Pepper’s speed, from holding the potatoes to pressing down on them, then to cutting them along the edge of her finger, to throwing them into the plate, even Pepper turned his face to look at Lin Ke Song.
Not even half an hour later, the little potatoes were all cut.
“You are really fortunate to not have cut your finger. You had no need to catch up to my speed.”
Pepper turned around, and took out onions from the freezer. Only Lin Ke Song stood dazedly at the original spot.
Only then did she realise, she had actually caught up to the chopping speed of Pepper, this veteran of the back kitchen.
She lifted her hands and had a look, and thought about the feeling of the blade pressing onto her fingers while it passed, and had cold sweat start up.
A few onions were pressed in front of Lin Ke Song, Pepper’s voice sounded: “Continue.”
Lin Ke Song took a breath, and according to Iris’s method, started cutting onions.
She tried her best to not let herself be influenced by Pepper who was at her side, and before every cut was made, make proper preparations. For example, the thickness released by the fingers, for example the angle of the blade going down, once it was confirmed, she cut without hesitation, and did her best to ensure that every slice of onion was of the same thickness, and still not spoil water content the onions carried.
Pepper looked at Lin Ke Song and never said another word.
From nine in the morning to 11, Lin Ke Song was beside Pepper chopping veggies.
And from 11 am onwards, it was like hell.
Today happened to be the weekend, reservations made by diners were more than usual.
Separated by a wall, Lin Ke Song could hear the roars of the pantry members.
“Why isn’t table 7’s onion soup not yet prepared!”
“Table 9’s fried lady’s fingers!”
“Is table 3’s mini Italian pizza dumplings ready!”
Everyone had their heads bowed, busy.
And even Iris inspected the kitchen, when she passed Lin Ke Song, she purposely stopped, and randomly picked up some slices of onions from the basket in front of her, then without saying a word, flung them back.
Lin Ke Song waited for her comments, but she didn’t say a word.
Iris clapped her hands, and got everyone’s attention. Then she delegated the work to each person, including Pepper.
“Pepper! A total of 12 people, Mr Elliot and his friends, all ordered the salmon en croute! I need you to handle it carefully! And, there are 20 orders for chicken cheese roll! You need to match up the baking speed!”
When Iris’s talking voice lowered, the whole back kitchen started boiling up.
“Hey, I’ll leave all these to you!” Pepper put a small basket of garlic in front of Lin Ke Song, “You need to cut them into thin slices!”
Cut into thin slices……
Pepper seemed to know what Lin Ke Song was thinking, and pushed a glass bowl in front of Lin Ke Song, “Cut them like this. Here, not everything is taught through demonstration, you need to do observation and experimentation!”
Without giving Lin Ke Song time to react, Pepper went to handle the salmon.
Lin Ke Song inhaled, and put the garlic in her palm, to observe the thickness, and the angle of the cut.
She peeled a garlic, and cut it up slice by slice like the example she had. Because it was thin, she had to be very careful, to not cut her fingers, so her progress was slow.
When Pepper had finished preparing a salmon, he turned around to look at Lin Ke Song, and sighed heavily: “With your speed, even when all the diners have finished their meal, these cloves of garlic will not be chopped!”
When he was about to teach Lin Ke Song, he was called by someone else. Before he left, he could only say: “don’t be so inflexible! Remember rhythm!”
Lin Ke Song looked at the garlic slices, and thought about how Pepper had chopped five potatoes at one shot, and suddenly felt that her slicing of garlic was stupid and slow.
She peeled all the garlic, and put the similar sized ones together, and out the knife through.
At first, when she moved the knife, all the garlic scattered, and at the end, she realised that the fingers holding the stabilising the garlic had to be pressed firmly.
From Lin Ke Song’s clumsiness at the start, to the slow but still of her own rhythm, no matter how battered and busy the others were, Lin Ke Song kept to her rhythm that seemed neither rushed nor slow to the end.
“Garlic slices! Where’re the garlic slices!”
Iris’s holler sounded.
Lin Ke Song’s shoulders jerked, finished finished, she sliced too slowly, she’s definitely going to be roared and howled at.
Pepper grabbed the glass bowl of garlic slice, and looked at Lin Ke Song like he had something to say.
Without another word, he put the glass bowl in Lin Ke Song’s hands: “Send it over! Leave the rest to me!”
Lin Ke Song hugged the bowl and ran to the direction of the main kitchen, Iris didn’t even look to see who it was, and just took the glass bowl away.
Lin Ke Song looked a little nervously at Iris as she sprinkled the garlic slices on the surface of the plate, and thought that she would say something, but she never said anything.
Lin Ke Song hurried back to Pepper’s side, and realised he was chopping garlic at a speed where the blade could not be seen, thin slices of garlic appeared on the surface of the blade, it was totally like a machine.
Quickly, all the garlic cloves were chopped.
Pepper lifted the apron, wiped the perspiration on his forehead, and glanced at Lin Ke Song.
“go to the fridge and bring a salmon over.”
“Yes.” Lin Ke Song went to the frozen seafood fridge, and following Pepper’s pronunciation, found a fish, and hugged it over.
Pepper glared at Lin Ke Song, and yelled: “Is this salmon? You don’t even recognise salmon? What do you even recognise?”
Lin Ke Song was shocked by his sound that her shoulders hunched.
She really did not recognise salmon. She who has never been to the supermarket, at most is only able to differentiate the cat fish and the Wucheng bream. As for salmon, this kind of fish that is commonly seen in western cuisines……. She totally did not know how it looked like……
Pepper grabbed Lin Ke Song’s collar, and brought her to seafood fridge, pointed to a certain kind of fish and said: “This is salmon! Cape Breton of Canada, it’s the best salmon! Look carefully at the head! The lines on the abdomen! And the tail!”
Lin Ke Song was hollered at by Pepper until her could barely open.
Finished finished, she’s already been despised by Pepper ah.
After he finished talking, Pepper retrieved a fish, and retrieved a special board and placed the salmon flat on it.
“I’m only going to teach you once.”
Lin Ke Song dispirited mood was shocked, and once she heard Pepper was going to teach her, her eyes immediately widened.
“First is to disinfect the tools.” Pepper sprayed some liquid on the blade in front of Lin Ke Song, then lighted it.
Lin Ke Song then realised that it was alcohol.
Pepper explained the constitution of the salmon, the best parts to pick, and the details of preparing.
He talked quickly, and furthermore it was in English, Lin Ke Song could not react immediately, and could only watch him seamlessly separate the meat from the bone, slice them in similar thickness, and put them aside.
Lin Ke Song tilted her head, watching the opening cut of the fish slices that were being cut, and focusing on the angle of Pepper’s blade as it touched the lines of the fish, even to the strength used when bringing the blade down.
“Avoid pressing too hard that you tear, it will destroy the texture of the fish, and make the meat loose, and lose its taste.”
“Yes.” Lin Ke Song has remembered those words.
Pepper continued to slice the salmon, his movements like flowing water, Lin Ke Song’s eyes couldn’t catch up.
Quickly, 12 pieces of salmon were sliced.
Pepper then started on other things. Because the chicken for the chicken rolls needed to be prepared.
It seemed like because the diners were more than expected, the whole back kitchen was so busy.
That 12 pieces of salmon were brought to the main kitchen, but the person carrying the plate just had to fall, all the salmon pieces fell onto the ground.
“Are the chicken breasts ready!”
“I’m removing the bones! Let me live!” Pepper replied loudly.
“Pepper —— the salmon fell on the floor, they can’t be used anymore!”
“God damnit ——”
The whole kitchen was a large ball of chaos, with a sort of order within the chaos. But only Lin Ke Song, as if she was an outsider, could only follow Pepper at his side, but not know what to do.
“I beg you, can’t you find something to do yourself! Chop garlic, potatoes, chop anything!” Pepper had obviously already lost patience.
Lin Ke Song could only bite the bullet and shout: “Does anyone need me to chop anything?”
Or maybe because it was Lin Ke Song, that no one needed her to chop anything.
Lin Ke Song only felt awkwardness. What she needed to do was something.
Even if they burned their asses, they wouldn’t ask her for help.
“Did you understand how to prepare salmon?”
Lin Ke Song nodded.
“Understand, or not! Talk!” Pepper’s fury came back again.
Lin Ke Song immediately brought out her utmost caution, and found a salmon from the refrigerator, and followed everything Pepper did, seamlessly removing the meat from the bone, without hesitation without doubt.
Then following the lines of the fish, felt around to make sure that there were no fish bones, and carefully expelling the thorns. After the fish bones were all removed, Lin Ke Song recalled Pepper’s movements, and cut the fish skin from the meat. But her experience was not as much as Pepper’s, Pepper’s fish skin was very thin, but the fish skin Lin Ke Song cut still had an obvious layer of flesh still stuck on.
There was no time to be particular. Lin Ke Song went according to her familiarly remembered angle, and went along the lines of the fish, cut by cut.
She put the meat into the glass tray, and sent it in front of Pepper: “Is this okay?”
Pepper lowered his head and gave a glance, then continued prepping the chicken.
Two seconds later, he turned back, looked at the fish meat, then at Lin Ke Song, his gaze somewhat indescribable.
“Hurry send it to the main kitchen! Faster! Get moving!”
Lin Ke Song immediately turned around, ran over, and handed the fish to Iris.
“Why is it only sent now! Ask Pepper to move faster! Does he want the diners to eat the plate!”
Just as Lin Ke Song wanted to explain something, Iris had already turned around. She could only silently return to Pepper’s side.
Pepper’s expression was as per normal, and didn’t even ask her about Iris reaction when she saw the salmon.
After Pepper had finished prepping the chicken breast meat, he started on the beef.
Even though Pepper was as busy as a bee, he was still able to point out to her which part of the cow the pieces that he cut to belonged to, the texture and other characteristics. Then Lin Ke Song was called to chop garlic again. But the more she cut the smoother and easier it became, and the time used was a lot less than what she had used at the start.
The lunch rush gradually passed, the whole atmosphere of the back kitchen also relaxed slightly.
Lin Ke Song exhaled, and lifted her hand to wipe the perspiration on her forehead.
The taut tension finally relaxed when it was almost 2 o’clock.
There were even people who took out a coke, a group of people gathered in a circle to drink it together.
“Hey, hungry?” Pepper suddenly asked.
Lin Ke Song then realised that she hadn’t even eaten lunch.
“Make you a sandwich?”
“Really? Thank you!”
At this time, somebody suddenly shouted Lin Ke Song’s name from outside the back kitchen.
“Lin Ke Song! Mr Jiang asked you to make a trip to the third floor!”
“Oh! Coming immediately!”
Lin Ke Song looked towards Pepper, Pepper nodded, indicating that she go up.
Lin Ke Song suddenly felt uneasy. These few hours, she’d been hollered at quite a few times by Pepper…… it was probably time to settle the score.
But there was always a first time for everything ah, she was only a fledgling, her feathers weren’t even fully grown, it can’t be expected of her to fly right?
With an inhale, Lin Ke Song walked up towards the third floor.
Each step carried a heavy mood.
She kept looking back at all the things she did wrong, like chopping the onions unevenly, her movements too slow, the salmon fish skin had way too much meat still stuck on which was such a waste, and…… she didn’t recognise salmon……
The third floor here was an outdoor platform that was like a flower garden.
The warm sunlight shone down, the flowers are the side of the stage blossomed gorgeously, and this place was the softest, gentlest place in this steel forest.
There was a table in the middle of the patio, and at the table sat Iris and Jiang Qian Fan.
Jiang Qian Fan was as usual, both hands holding onto the cane, his back upright and straight, with no other expression on his face.
“how is it experiencing your first day at the back kitchen?” Iris propped her face, and casually asked her.
In her eyes, Lin Ke Song was a nobody unworthy of a mention.
So she could only smile and not say a word.
“the onions were chopped relatively well, for a beginner. With more practice, the chopping will be better.”
“I will work hard.” Lin Ke Song lowered her head.
Jiang Qian Fan lifted his right hand, and stretched it towards Lin Ke Song’s direction: “Come here.”
His “come here” voice was very light, Iris’s original dull expression suddenly changed colour.
Jiang Qian Fan’s hand was still in mid-air, like he wouldn’t put his hand down if he didn’t have what he was waiting for. His eyes turned to her direction, like he was looking at her.
Lin Ke Song was suddenly at a loss. What was she supposed to give to Jiang Qian Fan?
A cup of tea was in front of him at the table, and it was still giving of a little steam too, so what he wanted was not a cup of tea.
Then…… sugar? Condensed milk?
Like Lin Ke Song was being towed, she slowly stretched out her own hand.
At the moment her fingertip just touched the other party, Jiang Qian Fan’s suddenly tightened, and grabbed onto her, with a tug, he pulled her over.
Lin Ke Song thought she’d bump into the other party, but Jiang Qian Fan had already turned, and nicely pull Lin Ke Song between his two folded legs.
This kind of distance and position was too ambiguous, just as Lin Ke Song wanted to lengthen the distance, Jiang Qian Fan actually lifted that hand of hers to his nose.
She drew a breath.
Jiang Qian Fan’s nose seemed to have rubbed across the back of her hand, and at that moment, all the sensation in her body flocked to that small piece of skin, her shoulders and back rapidly tightened.
His breath was so fresh, when the air pass through it brushed past her skin, like it wanted to blow all the pores away.
“I smell onions, potatoes, green peppers, garlic, eggplants and there’s also the smell of salmon.”
The voice was a calm that carried a hint of coolness, when Lin Ke Song heard it, it was like streams, quietly entering all the indentations of the heart.
“You’ve really cut a lot of things today.”
Lin Ke Song didn’t say anything. Because the Jiang Qian Fan in front of her eyes, was so gentle that it didn’t seem real.
The slightly lowered eyes, had a rich sense of mystery, that made people unable to guess what he was thinking about.
Lin Ke Song wanted to take her hand back.
Because every time Jiang Qian Fan opened his mouth to speak, she would have an illusion of the back of her hand touching the other party’s lips.
He lifted his head, it was a searching gesture.
She saw some kind of pure devotion in the depths of his eyes.