Word count: 3682
If You’re Not Confident I’ll Kiss You
His villa rarely had visitors, if there were, Lin Ke Song believed that they were all very important people, how could a student who pretty much doesn’t know anything get out there?
“Don’t worry, they aren’t people who are picky about food, they’re only a few restaurant partners. I plan to open a few casual dining restaurants, so the food won’t be of such a high standard as you’ve seen in polarlights. The people and the price are the most important, there is no need for flamboyant presentation. Or do you not even dare to give it a try? Bruce may not even know how to cook steak, but had the confidence to make so many well-known fine dishes to host. Don’t you have even this confidence?”
Jiang Qian Fan’s voice had no overbearing tone, it was the statement he usually said.
And at that moment, Lin Ke Song suddenly had an eagerness to be impulsive.
Even if she made it taste terrible, with her current standard, she couldn’t possibly make it as bad as the “hell’s red soup” ba?
She really wanted to know, if she depended on herself, whether the things she made could be accepted by others.
“I’m willing to try.”
“don’t try, but do it well.” Jiang Qian Fan got up, and fetched a chef’s white shirt, “Wear it ba.”
Lin Ke Song was stunned, she opened and saw, that this obviously didn’t match Jiang Qian Fan’s measurements.
“this was prepared for me?”
“I got Mayer to prepare this, you’d use it sooner or later.”
Lin Ke Song would have never thought that Jiang Qian Fan would even prepare even this for her.
Thinking back, even though Jiang Qian Fan had never directly taught her anything, he’d given her many opportunities to learn, to experience the rush in starred fine dining restaurant. For her to be able to depend on her sense of taste to deconstruct the three dishes and the cooking methods, would be dependent on this past month’s theoretical study and experience in the back kitchen.
These, Lin Ke Song believed that Bruce had never received before.
Lin Ke Song put on the white shirt. This was in an extremely design, but it represented a responsibility.
Jiang Qian Fan reached his hand over, searching and landing on Lin Ke Song’s shoulder.
He flattened the cloth, and straightened the collar.
“To a chef, the uniform is very important too. Don’t let your customers think that you’re dirty and don’t like cleanliness.”
“Yes, Chef.” Lin Ke Song pursed her lips, and looked at Jiang Qian Fan in the eye.
It was of the darkest deepest black crystal, reflecting a shine that moved people’s hearts.
Jiang Qian Fan’s fingers grazed past the skin on Lin Ke Song’s neck, and at the moment of interaction, the blood at her neck felt like they were gonna burst out of the blood vessels.
Her heartbeat increased by leaps and bounds.
She knew that it wasn’t due to her becoming a chef for a day, but because of the close distance between Jiang Qian Fan and her.
His breath, his warmth, once again invaded her world, unable to exclude, unable to refuse.
When he turned his face over, and tucked her flyaways to the back of her ears, she even had an illusion that he was going to kiss her again.
“Now, I will greet my friends, introduce today’s dish. You can prepare to start work now. Do you know what you have to do?”
“Marinate steak, make dessert, because the former needs time to let the flavours sink in, and the latter needs time to freeze.”
With those words, Jiang Qian Fan retreated 2 steps, turned around and walked out.
This dinner’s location was on the 2nd floor terrace of this villa.
The table was set appropriately. The simple vase held a fresh bouquet of lavender, that with a soft breeze, would one be able to smell a relaxing scent.
The glass wares that held the candles, just happened to be placed in front of the 3 guests.
Mayer elegantly helped them to aerate the wine, the 3 guests were full of laughter.
When Jiang Qian Fan appeared, the 3 of them stood up.
“Hello.” Jiang Qian Fan nodded, reaching his hand out to offer them a seat, “it’s been a long time since I’ve invited the three of you here. Of course, most of the time it’s to give the newly designed dishes for the new menu a taste test. Everyone knows that I plan to open a casual dining restaurant in New York, where the target group is the middle class. So, in this kind of restaurant, there will not be extremely expensive ingredients like caviar or black truffles. My goal, is to use commonly available ingredients to make flavours that the average person will find delicious, but be unable to easily recreate in their homes.”
“Yes, a lot of f&b industry giants are considering doing chain restaurants now. Even though personally don’t agree with this kind of utilitarian practice, restaurants need to make profit and at the same time become large scale. The restaurant Mr Jiang speaks of is a great choice. On one hand, there won’t be managerial problems due to the chain restaurants, and on the other, cheaper ingredients can be used to create high-quality foods, and help Jiang co. to widen their reputation, to be known to more people.”
“Furthermore, chefs of this kind of restaurants need not be as fine as other fine dining restaurants, after all, even though there needs to be a certain foundation of the common ingredients most people are familiar with, it’s not necessary to have complicated preparation like the other starred restaurants, service will be more productive.”
The few guests talked among themselves, with much anticipation for the dishes that will be presented.
“in that case, please wait a moment.”
After Jiang Qian Fan announced the menu for today, the three guests were very curious.
“don’t know how the Italian balsamic steak Mr Jiang made would taste like? You must know, that every time my wife makes me this dish, I feel like it’s a nightmare. Even though it’s common, not everyone can make it well.”
“You’re funny, you obviously know that you can make it yourself, why would you let your wife torture your tongue?”
“this is the way my wife shows her love for me, even if it’s torture, I will gladly accept.”
Just as the three of them were chatting, Lin Ke Song had already started on the flavoured cigar rolls.
She had melted an appropriate amount of butter. Sprinkled feta cheese into the mint leaves, and mixed an egg together then tasted the flavour, to make sure of the balance of the mint leaves and the cheese, whether there was enough egg, and to sprinkle the appropriate amount of salt. Then she retrieved the pizza that she had made freshly today, evenly brush on the melted butter, put the cigar roll mixture in, and added olive oil after rolling it. And lastly use excessive oil absorbing paper to absorb the grease.
She didn’t forget to plate, to pair every strip of cigar roll with a fresh bean sprout. And under each cigar roll was a well-made prepared hollandaise sauce.
Before she sent it out, she didn’t forget to have a taste of the finished product.
“Mr Jiang, would you like to have a taste to confirm?” Lin Ke Song asked.
“You need to have faith in your sense of taste.” Jiang Qian Fan passed the plated to Mayer, to bring out.
Just gonna serve it as it is?
“Concentrate, Ke Song. You should forget the appetiser, because you can’t change the taste of the dish anymore. So, put your focus on the upcoming main dish.”
“Yes, chef.” Lin Ke Song moderated her breathing, no matter what she thinks about now, she can’t do anything about the critiques.
The only thing she can do, is to make the main dish even more perfect.
Lin Ke Song did the preparations for 3 portions of steak according to the method before. She then confirmed the fire for the steak, the taste of the sauce at the base of the plate, the sourness of the arugula, and lastly plated simply, and handed everything to Mayer.
Mayer gave a smile, and brought the dishes out.
This was like an examination, Lin Ke Song had finished two-thirds of the examination paper, she had to carefully throw herself into the last question, to let this round of examination finish perfectly.
The pudding in the fridge had already taken form, of course, Lin Ke Song didn’t only make one.
She took one of them out, took a spoon and scooped one to taste, to make sure that the pudding’s taste, bounciness, and flavour was to her satisfaction, then start on making the jam.
She kept in mind the words Jiang Qian Fan had said to her before, that as a chef, she herself had to make sure of the flavour of every ingredient that was going to be used.
She tasted the blueberries, pineapple and the peaches, and according to the degree of their sweetness and sourness, made sure of the ratio of the fruits, then made the jam.
After making sure that every link was without fault, she mixed the jam and ice cream together and drizzled it on the pudding, and placed a bird nest shaped with caramel on top of the pudding, and lastly decorated with a single piece of mint leaf. Brightly coloured, the plating gave off the feel of a picture in a cooking book.
When even the dessert was taken away by Mayer, Lin Ke Song leaned against the counter and lifted her head, and took a deep breath.
“How does it feel?”
Jiang Qian Fan who had been silently in the kitchen finally spoke.
Lin Ke Song couldn’t help laughing, she was too focused, and had almost forgotten about Jiang Qian Fan’s presence: “Feels amazing.”
Jiang Qian Fan took out 2 tall glasses, and poured champagne, giving one to Lin Ke Song.
At that moment, Lin Ke Song had a feeling of being acknowledged. She received the glass, and clinked glasses with the other party, the crisp sound made her mood follow the vibration. She had never realised that champagne was actually this delicious, refreshingly moving, her whole being felt like it was floating.
And what was more mind blowing, was Jiang Qian Fan who was before her eyes.
Lin Ke Song felt like she had become the champagne that he held on his mouth, siding elegantly past the curve, so sexy that even the air felt a little warm.
A few minutes later, Jiang Qian Fan put the champagne glass on the table: “In that case, we can now listen to what the guests have to say, let’s go ba.”
Jiang Qian Fan walked towards the door, and Lin Ke Song’s originally relaxed mood was once again tensely nervous.
How will the guests critique?
Even though there isn’t a definite standard for delicious food or not, but the rough standard won’t be too different.
“you don’t have to be nervous. In the completion of the appetiser, main dish and dessert, there wasn’t any obvious mistake, with your standard, it’s already very rare.”
Jiang Qian Fan walked in front of her, Lin Ke Song looked at his back, and unconsciously laughed out loud.
“What’s wrong?” Jiang Qian Fan stopped walking, turned around.
Lin Ke Song suddenly had an illusion that nothing was permanent, like the oceans of fields.
“Because you pretty much don’t say things like ‘pretty good’, ‘very rare’. But in these 2 days, the number of times you’ve said these things are probably more than the number of times you’ve said them your whole life.”
You’ve made me feel very special, through your careful treatment, that is worthy of you stepping out of your own siege, to do something you’ve never thought of doing.
“Then go listen, to hear if they have the same judgement as I do”
When Lin Ke Song had almost reached the terrace, she was stunned.
Because the 3 guests who were sitting at the table were actually the top chefs of the restaurants under Jiang Qian Fan: Brody, Han Bin and Iris.
Jiang Qian Fan waved his hand slightly, “you stand right here.”
Lin Ke Song took a breath, and stopped in her tracks. This spot was the safest spot for her. She stood in a room without a light, she could see the expressions of the three guests clearly, could hear their chatting, but they would not see her who was in the dark.
Jiang Qian Fan had already really thought about her face.
“how does everyone feel about today’s appetiser, main dish and dessert?”
Jiang Qian Fan went to the front of the dining table, calmly asking. His question wasn’t as fancy as the restaurant, on the contrary, it had a very objective feeling.
“the appetiser’s skin was crispy, the cigar roll was very well marinated, full of flavour. Even though it’s a dish that can be made by the average household, the balance of flavours in this dish is pretty good, this only issue, of course it’s only my opinion, the cigar roll strips can be cut a fifth thicker, that way, when you eat it, it will have a more fulfilling feeling.”
Jiang Co.’s Chinese restaurant head chef Han Bin said.
Lin Ke Song heaved a sigh of relief, even though there was a flaw, the overall meaning was that it was delicious!
“Brody, what do you think?”
“I have a very deep impression of the dessert. This kinda pudding, was made very often for me by my mother when I was young, it has a very nostalgic taste. The ratio of the fruits in the jam is very appropriate, mixed with the vanilla ice cream give it a very fresh dynamic. There is also no problem with the pudding’s texture, however if it were me, I would consider making the pudding indented, to put the jam and ice cream in the hole, in that way, the flavours of the ice cream and jam will mix with the pudding easier.”
“Very good suggestion, I will remember it.” Jiang Qian Fan turned to Iris, “Iris, what do you think?”
“En……” Iris was silent.
Her silence led Lin Ke Song to start feeling very uneasy.
Iris has never acknowledged Lin Ke Song’s ability, she has always felt that she was only an outsider, unable to make the dishes on the table, all that she had was the shadow of Jiang Qian Fan, and even in the end become his weakness.
“this Italian style balsamic steak’s remarkable point are many. Like the steak, is precisely medium rare to medium, the meat is tender, the flavours of the spices in the marinate was properly retained in the cooking process, and it is just enough that it doesn’t drown the original flavour of the beef. But if it were me, I would pan fry the steak on its sides at the very start, to lock the juices in the meat in. good thing it’s the beef tenderloin, if it were a steak that had more fat, the excess fat of the steak can be pan fried out.” Iris held her arm laughing, “but from the flavours, there’s indeed nothing to criticise, except that the plating was a little inattentive. Even though the goal is the middle class, your requirement is to have the appearance for every portion of food be able to hook and whet the appetite from the start. It looks like, these three dishes are probably not your doing.”
Lin Ke Song was stunned, did it mean that the three chefs have been thinking that the person who cooked the dished was Jiang Qian Fan?
Didn’t he tell them?
“If the total marks were 10, how would you rate these three dishes?” Jiang Qian Fan asked.
Brody laughed out loud, and said to Iris: “I’m guessing that this has to be the new chef’s test, and us three are the judges! Alright ba, even though the artistry isn’t pretty enough, but I’m guessing that he should be very young, and lacks some experience. But as long as more training is done in the back kitchen, independent work can be quickly achieved. To me, for that pudding, I will give 7 points.”
Lin Ke Song blinked, she didn’t hear wrongly ba, head chef Brody is giving her 7 points?
You must know that the restaurant that head Chef Brody oversees has 3 Michelin stars, his tastes should be very high, and be very strict towards food.
“If it were me, that flavoured cigar rolls have a pretty good flavour, but it still needs some adjustments, I give it 6.5 points.” Han Bin nodded saying.
The YueJiang restaurant that Han Bin oversaw was the most prestigious Chinese restaurant in New York, many New York high flyers would think of YueJiang restaurant when Chinese food was mentioned. The points he gave Lin Ke Song for the appetiser was very objective, and the most important thing was that, Lin Ke Song passed!
If this was in a university overseas, 65% is pretty close to good!
“As for the steak, I feel that it can receive 7 points.” Iris said smiling.
At that moment, Lin Ke Song felt totally relaxed, and even overjoyed.
She’d never thought of getting such high scores in front of these three head chefs, but to have an all pass, doesn’t it at least mean that she was a little better than those novices?
Especially Iris, her 7 points was very clear cut, totally unlike the aggression in the bathroom the previous time.
They already knew that these dishes weren’t made by Jiang Qian Fan, so when giving scores, they wouldn’t think about saving Jiang Qian Fan’s face, and only need to express their thoughts, so their judgement towards her has pretty much no extra considerations.
Lin Ke Song’s tears were about to flow down, not because she was sad, but because she was happy.
“Alright, Mr Jiang, stop playing the guessing game. Bring that chef out ba. It’s better if we talked face to face.” Iris smiled saying.
Brody nodded his head too, “He indeed has talent, but still needs a little training. I suggest that before starting work at the restaurant, let him come to my restaurant to get adjusted.”
“Oh, Brody, you are such a scheming chap. You obviously know that my restaurant needs more hands, and yet you ask to have the new chef undergo ‘training’ at yours?” Iris said with interest holding her chin.
“So as a chef, you guys can accept him?” Jiang Qian Fan asked calmly.
At that moment, Lin Ke Song totally tense up.
“Can. Even though he’s not experienced enough, he can at least be a 2nd already.” Iris said holding her chin.
Lin Ke Song didn’t know what a 2nd was, but if you are able to enter Iris’ kitchen, you can at least say that she wasn’t as uncut and unpolished as she’d thought.
“Ke Song, come over ba. You’ve seen Iris and Brody, but this is your first time seeing Han Bin.”
When Jiang Qian Fan called for ‘Ke Song’, Iris obviously stiffened, eyes widening in an instant, totally unable to believe, even the hand fell from the chin.
Lin KE Song slowly walked from the darkness, for every step under the light, her emotions were unexplainable.
“Oh…… it’s you? I remember that a month ago, you’d come to my restaurant to observe! Mr Jiang’d said that you haven’t entered……these dishes were made by you?” Brody’s expression was very shocked too, but his shock was different from Iris’, it was a kind of pleasant surprise.
“Which is to say, Mr Jiang you have been directing her in the back kitchen ba.” Iris looked at Lin Ke Song, “You are very lucky, Mr Jiang has never taught anyone by taking them by the hand.”
Brody and Han Bin had an expression of realisation, to them, a novice who’d only just entered a month ago would have to rely on such a great chef like Jiang Qian Fan to achieve such a standard.
“I didn’t actually hold her hand as I taught her. These three dishes are also a test I gave her to test her ability. From 8.30am to 4pm, was all the time she took to learn to make these three dishes. And you three are her examiners. When she participates in the examination, I will not say anything extra.”
“What? You’ve only learnt this for a day?” Brody looked at Lin Ke Song, “I believe all that Mr Jiang has said. Even if it’s a month’s time, these three dishes finish and flavours are astounding. I’ve always thought it odd that Mr Jiang brought her to the back kitchen, now I understand. Ke Song, keep going!”
“If your standard is like these three dishes, you can already start considering working in this industry. If Mr Jiang can let you prepare these three dishes independently, it means that he believes your ability.” Han Bin said to Lin Ke Song with a smile too.
“But don’t let these 3 dishes get you proud, what you see is only a single tree, but there is a whole forest behind you.”
Iris graciously smiled, shaking Lin Ke Song’s hand.
But Lin Ke Song knows, that she wasn’t encouraging her, but warning her. This victory was only a coincidence in Iris’ eyes, and is unable to fully prove Lin Ke Song’s ability.
To Lin Ke Song, this level of words is already unable to graze her. At least now she knows that she isn’t rotten wood that cannot be carved. She believes, she too can do whatever Bruce can do.
After dinner ended, and the three chefs discussed about a new menu for the restaurant and left.
Jiang Qian Fan personally saw them to the door.
“Iris, I have something to say to you.”