Word count: 3566
Potato Pancake Tower (I)
The faint fragrance, although not as elegant as ordinary roses, had an understated fame, a chic wanton bloom.
These 9 pieces of chocolate each had a very chic appearance, so much so it made it such a pity to take a bite.
Lin Ke Song lowered her head, and took a whiff of the chocolate fragrance, thick and rich, with the smell of nuts, and the smell of rum, the smell of jam, Lin Ke Song could constantly imagine Jiang Qian Fan touching these chocolates with his finger, moulding them, filling them, packaging them
Don’t know whether he had tasted the flavours of these chocolates.
Carrying the chocolates, Lin Ke song couldn’t wait to call Jiang Qian Fan on his handphone.
When the clear voice of the other party’s sounded, Lin Ke Song was suddenly regretting.
What if the chocolates weren’t made by Jiang Qian Fan? It’s very possible that Mayer had bought it for her from some place……
The handwriting on the delivery note wasn’t Jiang Qian Fan’s ah…… rubbish, his eyes couldn’t see, how could he have filled in the form!
Even though she didn’t say a word, Jiang Qian Fan on the other end never said a word.
To not be straight forward is really unlike Lin Ke Song’s style of things.
“Mr Jiang, I’ve received the chocolates. And the climbing roses. Thank you.”
“No need, the rose was cut by Mayer.”
“…… still, thank you.”
Lin Ke Song was a little disappointed, so this present was from Mayer. This kind of exquisiteness, with a dash of romance, no matter how you think, it’s not Jiang Qian Fan’s style of things.
“Your voice sounds a little low.”
“It’s nothing.” Lin Ke Song was about to find an excuse, but she remembered, to not lie in front of Jiang Qian Fan. No matter if he was in front of her or not.
“I didn’t know your tastes because it seems like as long as it’s delicious food, you’ll be able to eat them very happily.”
So, the chocolates were made by Jiang Qian Fan!
Right, to gift flowers and what isn’t Jiang Qian Fan’s style, but chocolates……
“Remember, all foods have an expiry date.”
Lin KE Song laughed. Jiang Qian Fan really understands her, knew that she probably couldn’t bear to bite open all these very exquisite chocolates.
Jiang Qian Fan ended the call.
“would you choke of you said a couple more sentences?”
Lin Ke Song picked up the piece of chocolate that was in the centre of the box, and put it in her mouth.
The bitterness of the cocoa and the sweetness of the sugar was just right, there wasn’t any sweetness overload, the smell of butter and milk was looming, and there was a trace of spiciness, like a crackling fire, brushing past the tip of her tongue.
This was the first time that Lin Ke Song had tasted chocolate that carried a spiciness, but this kind of spiciness gave the original balance of flavours a little surprise.
This didn’t only come from Jiang Qian Fan’s gift, but also his coaching.
He never told her how to do things, but let her think about what needed to be done.
At this time, Jiang Qian Fan sat on the terrace, with Mayer reciting the news to him.
Jiang Qian Fan sat quietly on the sofa, right hand holding a cup of perfectly hot tea.
“Right, Sir, Timothy Viktor is also participating in the competition. Isn’t this considered fraud, he has learned from Mrs Quentin about cooking since he was young and is a genius.”
“During the auditions, what did the competition committee request of the participants?”
“To not be professionals.”
“In that case, he actually hasn’t violated the competition rules. He indeed isn’t a professional chef.”
“this is only a loophole that Mrs Quentin got. She must’ve heard about this news from somewhere, that the auditions will choose the worst dish. It is impossible for Ke Song to win if she were to face Timothy Viktor. That kid has been going in and out of a kitchen since he was 6.”
“I’ve never asked for Ke Song to win.” Jiang Qian Fan calmly replied.
“Sir, it’s obvious that Mrs Quentin wants to use this opportunity to gain fame.”
“I’ve never thought to use Ke Song to gain fame.”
Mayer exasperatedly gushed: “Sir, Mrs Quentin obviously doesn’t think that way. I even suspect, that Iris had already known about her mother’s intentions, but didn’t tell you.”
“This isn’t what we need to worry. Mayer, anyone who wants to climb over people, are more tragic than normal people when they fall. So there’s no need to be anxious Mayer, wait patiently, and you will definitely see the results you want to see.”
Mayer gaped, and in the end, didn’t say anything.
At this time, Nina walked in, “Sir, Ms Lin has left, does this mean her room can be cleared up?”
“Just clean it ba.”
“I’ll bring those books back to your study room.”
“Don’t bother about those books. leave them be at the places she left them.”
Nina looked doubtingly at Mayer, Mayer nodded back at her.
“If you care about Ke Song, you can actually go to the venue to watch her compete.”
“I will go, but not now.”
“wait till she feels that my presence is motivation, and not pressure.”
“Alright ba. There’s another thing, Song’s family Song Yi Fan has come to New York, it looks like he really wants to work with the Jiang’s.”
“What does he want to do?”
“Maybe he wants to participate in your New York Street Food Project. Or maybe, he hopes that a restaurant by Jiang Co. can settle in one of the new hotels that the Song family invested in.”
“can’t even guarantee profitability for the former, the latter is more in his interest.”
“Yes, he can borrow your name to upgrade his new hotel.”
“His motive is too obvious, a world of difference from his brother.”
Lin Ke Song searched for a very long time, but there was no vase at her uncle’s, she could only make do with a glass cup, fill it with water, and place the climbing rose in it, and bring it back to her room.
Song Yi Ran was still napping, Lin Ke Song didn’t disturb him, but quietly sit at her small table to flip through her note book.
Everything was quiet, like she’d returned to the library during her university days.
It was until dusk, when Song Yi Ran’s phone rang.
He lazily sat up from the bed and answered the call.
“Hello…… you’ve reached New York? I’m still sleeping……”
“Sleeping? Isn’t it already 5 plus?”
“drank a couple with friends.”
“Alright ba, no matter where you are, hurry come to the restaurant I’m staying. I’ve already sent the address to you.”
With the phone hung, Song Yi Ran’s elbow went on his thigh, his palm holding his chin and looked at his phone’s screen in amusement.
“Your big bro’s here to see you?” Lin Ke Song asked tilting her head.
“’See me’ is only an on the way thing. I’m leaving.” He went to Lin Ke Song, and flicked her forehead with his finger, “good luck for the next round of competition.”
“Luck isn’t enough, you need to have the ability.” Lin Ke Song raised her head in answer.
Song Yi Ran laughed, his gaze falling on the glass cup at the edge of the table when he was leaving.
That pure white rose was blooming arrogantly in front of his eyes.
Suddenly, his gaze went dark.
“Hey, wanna eat dinner tonight? I’m cooking oh!” Lin Ke Song wagged her eyebrows said smiling.
“I’m meeting my brother. He’ll probably act like a big brother and nag at me till daylight. Another time ba.”
Song Yi Ran stuffed his hands in his pockets and walked out.
That night, Lin Ke Song used her Uncle’s kitchen and made a plate of tomato scrambled eggs.
Lin Xiao Xue smelled the flavours from the other room, and came to the kitchen, and watched Lin Ke Song skilfully beating the eggs, cutting tomatoes, pouring the oil, stir fry, the fragrance was overflowing.
She pursed her lips, and was caught by Lin Ke Song who was just turning around.
“Hungry? Wanna eat together?”
“Isn’t it just tomato scrambled eggs? Cousin, you eat it ba. It’s only four thirty, I’m not hungry yet.” Lin Xiao Xue turned around and went back to the house.
Lin Ke Song knew that that was how she would reply.
She had prepared the portion to send to Uncle and the rest. The kitchen chefs and workers tend to eat earlier than normal people.
Tomato scrambled eggs are definitely not enough. Lin Ke Song made another portion of lightly fried potato strips, and fried a plate of fishy sliced pork.
The fragrance was too strong, and Lin Xiao Xue finally could not endure staying in her room, she wriggled out from the house, and saw Lin Ke Song carrying the plate to the floor below.
“Xiao Xue, I’ve left dinner for you and me in the kitchen. Uncle is busy these couple of days, and may not come up to make you dinner. If you’re hungry then eat ba!” Lin Ke Song said as she was walking down the stairs.
“Oh, I got it.” Lin Xiao Xue stood at the top of the stairs, and only turned around when she couldn’t see Lin Ke Song anymore.
The food that Lin Ke Song had sent down saw the base of the plate in 3 minutes.
Uncle rubbed his chin and said happily: “Ke Song ah! your cooking standard is better than your uncle’s now ah! looks like this Lin’s restaurant has to change chef!”
The others were eating with their heads lowered, even the sauces in the veggie dish were cleared clean, then simultaneously heads were raised saying: “Remember to come back tomorrow ah!”
To let everyone feel that the food was delicious, made Ke Song feel very happy. She brought the plates back upstairs, and returned to the kitchen, but realised that there wasn’t much of the dishes she’d left in the kitchen, you could see the base of the plates. The fishy pork slices were left with only a few greens, the tomato scrambled eggs had only 2 lonely tomato pieces, Lin Ke Song really couldn’t tell what was originally on the plate.
She looked towards Lin Xiao Xue’s room, that girl had her door dead shut, not a sound being produced, probably feeling embarrassed ba.
Lin Ke Song at the rest of the dishes, cleaned the kitchen, and returned to her room to recharge.
Wonder what the main theme of the next round of competitions would be? After the feast tasting, will it be time to test the knife skills?
That night, Master’s show’s first episode was broadcasted on tv. At 10 plus at night, Uncle and Lin Ke Song sat in front of the computer to watch the replay online. Lin Ke song looked calm on the outside, but she was actually nervous to death inside.
The other competitors, had obviously modified their appearances, the ladies had all properly put on makeup. Only she looked very ordinary.
Their popularity was ranked online. The first was Viktor. After all, there was no one who could beat his smile. Even the stern Goto Nozomi was 3 in the popularity ranking.
But Ke Song, was actually ranked second from the last. Because there was pretty much no screen time given to her, and her appearance also didn’t have anything outstanding. If it weren’t for her placing second in the tasting, and the camera man giving her several closeups, no need to say who’s popularity would be the lowest.
“You think, did those competitors hire stylists ah? do you want to get your hair done, and let Xiao Xue put some makeup on you?” Uncle Lin said worriedly, “don’t let the judges give you a low score because you aren’t popular.”
“It won’t happen, this isn’t even some beauty contest.” Even though that was how she thought, Lin Ke Song was considering dressing herself up slightly.
“Ai, that host even said that this was a competition of professionality. Since it’s about the professionals, then talk about ability, what’s up with the popularity poll ah?”
“to allow audience’s involvement, to increase ratings ba.”
Lin Ke Song returned to her room, she opened her closet and had a look, there’s no clothing that will look nice through the camera’s lens.
She even felt that the 2 contestants who wore stilettos were simply too amazing, if they really were to start cooking, will they really be able to guarantee that they wouldn’t fall in front of the work counter?
Sitting at the edge of the bed thinking, Lin Ke Song gave up the idea of dressing herself up in the end.
She didn’t have the talent to wear heels, makeup would make her feel uncomfortable too. Like the false lashes that Xiao Xue stuck to her eyelids, will they really not disrupt her vision?
Wednesday came in a blink of an eye.
The competition committee specially sent her a car to fetch her to Leidewensen Hotel. She entered the lift.
This lift was especially for the participants’ use.
She met a few participants in front of the lift. And one of them was Viktor.
He wore a simple t-shirt, and denim overalls, heartily smiling, and chatting with other participants, there was totally no sense of competition in the atmosphere.
Lin Ke Song stood behind them, and quietly listened to their talk.
“Hey, you are Ke Song ba? I’m ShanSha! You’re really amazing, to be able to get 9 points in the feast tasting!”
That was a girl similar to her age who had freckles, a fair face, curly brown hair, she looked like a doll.
Lin Ke Song suddenly remembered her: “You’re the participants from Denmark! You’re number 2 on the popularity polls!”
ShanSha rubbed the tips of her nose, and said a little sheepishly: “there’s no need to bother about those kinds of polls lah! It’s more important to showcase ability! You actually managed to get 2nd in the feast tasting, the other participants are starting to take notice of you now oh! Good luck!”
Lin Ke Song only then realised that the other participants had turned towards her. Even Viktor was walking towards her, curiously studying Lin Ke Song.
“Hey, who’s your mentor? If you tell me yours, I’ll tell you mine too!” Viktor looked at Lin Ke Song with his pretty eyes, his expression serious.
At this time, the constantly silent Goto Nozomi suddenly said: “Don’t tell him. If you say, he will only blink his innocent eyes and say, ‘didn’t you know that without your mentor’s permission, you cannot reveal your Mentor’s information?’ then he will tell his mentor about your mentor, then develop a series of plans that target your mentor’s cooking style.”
“Ah……” Lin KE Song never thought that with Viktor’s young age, he could actually have this kind of heart?
“So pointless. Goto, if you don’t mind your own business, the first person I’ll target will be you oh!” Viktor shrugged his shoulder, then showed a smiling face, “Goto, you say it like you were tricked by me!”
At this time, the lift doors opened, and when the other participants were looking to see what was going on, Goto Nozomi had coldly walked in.
The atmosphere went cold in a moment, and everyone entered the lift.
Lin Ke Song stood nearest o the door.
When the lift went up, someone tapped her shoulder.
Lin Ke Song turned around, and saw Viktor.
“Don’t listen to that Goto’s provocation, I’m not that bad.”
The lift doors opened, they had reached the floor where the competition will be held, Lin Ke Song quietly replied the other party: “We are only here for the competition, other’s opinions aren’t all that important.”
A line of people had walked out of the lift, the staff led them to the entrance.
When the doors opened again, Lin Ke Song’s mood was more uneasy than before. Because she knew that this round of the competition will be harder than the previous.
Returning to her work counter, and lifting her head, she realised that the area was filled with as many audiences as yesterday.
Uncle was still there with his friend to support her. But she didn’t see Song Yi Ran. Probably with his brother ba.
But there was another unexpected person who had come to support her, it was Doctor Xie.
He wore a suit, and had on frameless glasses, lifting his hand slightly to wave at Lin Ke Song.
Even with the slightly far distance, Lin Ke Song could still feel that smile that he held on his face that made people feel at ease.
She knew who Dr Xie was representing to watch the competition. Just before she left Jiang Qian Fan’s villa, he had told her, that he will be watching out for her.
“I’m very happy to be able to see everyone again. Of course, I also enjoy being able to once again be surrounded by so many audiences.”
Annalise held her had at her heart, and did an exaggerated but cute action.
“Today, the judges are already locked in the black room! So no matter the harsh evaluation, it will all not be face to face. And, more or less, I believe that every participant will be able to receive points. Unless your cooking skills have not improved at all the past 3 months.”
Lin Ke Song looked at her work counter, compared to before, there was an extra square frying pan.
Is today’s theme French fries? Or fried chicken wings? Fried chicken chop?
“Haha, looks like everyone has already noticed the frying pan in front of you.” Annalise walked to the centre of all the competitors, her eyes full of deep laughter, “so everyone should know, that whatever we’re making today, will definitely need a frying pan.”
At this time, the staff pushed a pushcart among them, and one by one placed a box in front of each person.
“Everyone, don’t be shy, you can open the boxes. The thing inside is the main and most important ingredient for today.”
Lin Ke Song was very curious too, she and all the participants, opened the box slowly.
The things that were inside were actually a few potatoes!
Heavens ah, does this mean that they really gotta make French fries? Indeed, French fries can test knife skills, and the control of fire…… good thing, she had secretly made French fries multiple times when she was in Jiang Qian Fan’s back kitchen.
“Today’s test, was decided upon together by the 12 judges. Does everyone think that you have to cook French fries today? If it were French fries —— then that’d absolutely be no fun! This is our question today!”
At that time, a staff pushed a cart in front of Annalise, it was a dining plate that was covered by a metal cover.
Everyone stretched their necks, wanting to know what was under the cover.
Annalise slowly lifted it, and a strong smell of potatoes and shrimp wafted from the gap.
The camera man gave the plate a close up, a golden brown was shown on the screen behind Annalise, dotted with tender parsley leaves, a few cherry tomatoes cut in half beside the potato cake. There wasn’t anything special, but it looked very attractive.
Many of the audience started swallowing.
“This is a potato pancake tower! Don’t think that this is just a common family dish, a lot of skill and thought needs to be out in this. Remember, your potato pancake tower isn’t made for your family and friends to eat, but for 12 extremely harsh food critics. To pass their tastes, you need to put your skills to the test. Not only can you not make a single mistake, you need to surprise the taste buds!”
Lin Ke Song took a breath.
Potato pancake tower, oh my god ah! she had never made that before!
Don’t talk about making, she’d hadn’t even tasted it before!
Even though this was a common family dish, this wasn’t a dish she’d commonly cook ah! this looked like some “boxed” thing, but it was made by potatoes!
“Ah, Viktor, I see you smiling.”
“Yeah ah, since I was young, I’ve seen her make this kind of potato pancake tower very often! And every time she made it, the flavours were different! So I too wish to let the judges taste a different flavour!” Viktor showed his trademark dimples.
“Ah, What about Goto?”
“It reminds me of tempura.” Goto replied calmly.
“So it seems like Goto is a frying pan expert too.” Annalise went round to Lin Ke Song, “But Ke Song, you look very nervous oh! Have you used a frying pan before?”
“I have.” Lin Ke Song nodded.
“does that mean you have never made potato pancake towers?” Annalise asked smiling.
Lin Ke Song laughed sheepishly, and considered it a confirmation that she’d indeed never tried that kind of thing before. Even in China, she’d had seen more of pancakes made from shredded potatoes, and the potato pancake tower that Annalise had shown, looked like the potatoes were cubed.