The Female Supporting Role Shows Out - Chapter 4
Translator: NovelMultiverse | Editor: NovelMultiverse
Lin Dan helped Lady Qi to the entrance and sat her down. She turned around and looked at Yan Langqing fiercely. “Miss Yan, have you ever looked at the book of recipes that I’ve returned to you?”
“Of course, I have.” Yan Langqing stood on the stairs leading to the second floor and stared at Lin Dan condescendingly with a puzzled yet arrogant look.
“If so, you should have realized that the first 60 pages of that book are yellow and the writings have faded, while the next 388 pages are as good as new and the writings remain clean and clear. Why do you think this is so?”
Yan Langqing knew that things were starting to go south, but she was unable to stop Lin Dan from going on. Lin Dan stepped forward and proclaimed, “That’s because the 388 pages are all new dishes developed by my father to make up for the inadequacies in Yan’s recipes. My father has been in the culinary scene for decades. He has created hundreds of new dishes and dozens of innovative techniques which are all recorded in the Yan family’s recipe book. The most popular signature dishes in the restaurant today are all invented by my father. Young Marquis, I’m sure you would never forget the roasted deer tendon that was invented by the old marquis and my father. It took several months for them to come up with this dish and they even had to kill dozens of wild deer for that.”
The young marquis replied in a serious tone, “That is true.”
Many connoisseurs were present at the time as the second son of the Lin family had invited them to come and celebrate the revamp of the restaurant’s signboard. One of them had a close relationship with Lin Baotian and blurted, “Don’t forget that braised shark’s fin too! I was the one who invented that dish with your father. It took us more than half a year to come up with that dish. We even burned a few carts of shark’s fin before we were able to get this famous dish included as part of the imperial cuisine. We can disregard Lin Baotian’s character for the time being, but his culinary skills are truly outstanding. It’s a superb skill that can’t be stolen or taken and can only be mastered in the kitchen!”
Lin Dan bowed to the man respectfully and said gratefully, “Thank you, Uncle Liu, for speaking up for my father. As for my father’s character, I’m sure everyone should have a fairly good idea based on what he has done over the years.” Lin Dan then turned to Yan Langqing and continued, “Your father is the son of the grandmaster. Yet, your father failed to see him for the last time when the grandmaster fell gravely ill for several months, despite sending letters to your father multiple times. Let’s not speculate the reasons behind that, but I just want to point out that my father was the one who held the funeral for the grandmaster, completed the rites by breaking the pot, and even erected a gravestone for him instead of his son. I’m sure you can’t deny that, do you?”
Yan Langqing looked at her father. Before he could refute, Lin Dan added, “Many people attended the funeral and I am sure it won’t be difficult to find witnesses to attest to that.”
Yan’s father dare not utter a word. The funeral was held respectfully indeed, and many people could still remember it.
Lin Dan glanced at him. “My father took care of him until his death and even held a funeral for him. He did what a son should do and how could you say that he has deceived his master and brought shame to his ancestors? Back then, the grandmaster had imparted his culinary skills to your father and mine. But your father has not made his name, while my father traveled around before coming back to the capital and laid a foundation for Yan’s dishes. Tell me, was my father being despicable by stealing your family’s Golden Knife and recipes, or was your father not competent enough to master the true essence of Yan’s dishes? Just like we’re unsure of the true reason behind the son who didn’t arrive in time to hold a funeral for his father, how can we be so sure that your one-sided story is the only truth?”
Yan’s father broke out in cold sweat. He wanted to raise his hand to wipe it away but hurriedly put his hand down, looking rather guilty and embarrassed. Even if he wanted to explain himself, it is indeed unfilial of him to not hold a funeral for his father. It was something serious enough for everyone to spit on him.
Lin Dan turned around to look at Yan Langqing again. “You wanted to hold a food competition with the Golden Knife and the recipes as the winning prize. I accepted it because I thought it was a reasonable condition. Now that you’ve won and I’ve already returned you the knife and the recipes, does that mean you agree that only the best chef is qualified to inherit the title of the ‘Successor of the Golden Knife Imperial Chef’? If so, shouldn’t your father and my father have a competition back then?”
This seemed to have rubbed Yan’s father the wrong way. He yelled, “What’s there to compete? I am my father’s own son. My father’s belongings are rightfully mine. What has this got to do with your father?”
An onlooker was unable to hold himself back anymore and retorted, “The culinary art is unlike other forms of art. The only way to find out whether a chef is genuinely good is through competing in the kitchen because there’s no way anyone can cheat in a cooking competition! The title of being the successor of a legendary chef is not something you can pass on to anyone, you must be good enough to earn the title! All chefs value their own signature dishes and reputation and not even his own son can tarnish it! “
People nodded in agreement. Even chefs who were fairly prestigious have few dozens of disciples, but only one or two are carefully selected among them to inherit their title. This was because true craftsmanship could only be passed on to those who were truly talented.
Some things were better left unsaid. But suspicions would be raised once everything was made clear and plain. All of a sudden, everyone’s eyes changed when they looked at the father and daughter of the Yan family.
Lin Dan said steadily, “You’re right. You’re the grandmaster’s own son and maybe telling the truth. But since my father is dead, there’s no way he can defend himself. Now, according to Yan Langqing’s line of reasoning, shall we hold a competition between you and my father? I will compete in my father’s place and finish that competition that was never held back then. We will prepare three dishes each using the kitchen of this restaurant and everyone here shall be our witness. The winner will inherit the Golden Knife and the book of recipes. How does that sound?”
His lips began to tremble in fear. Yan’s father did not learn how to cook because he found cooking a chore that was too tough for him. This was why he begged his mother to send him away to his grandfather’s town to study when he was a child. He did not have the culinary talent, but Yan Langqing had inherited it instead. Otherwise, he would not be confident enough to push his daughter to compete against Lin Dan.
Little did he expect Lin Dan to be so cunning by posing a challenge to him instead. He was unsure whether he should accept it. He would be embarrassing himself if he did and lost the competition, but it would make him look even more guilty if he rejected it.
Yan Langqing was only one or two years older than Lin Dan and was a little more shrewd than she was. She immediately stood up and yelled, “Lin Dan, compete against me if you want. You have no right to compete against my father!”
“Our competition has concluded and this is a match between our fathers. Although my culinary skills were taught by my father, I have only mastered slightly more than half of his skills. I’ll accept it gracefully if I lose, but if I win, you’ll have to retract all the words of malice and slander against my father. Are you up for the test or not?”
Yan’s father did not even know how to toss food in the wok and wondered whether he stood any chance competing against Lin Dan. Cold sweat started trickling down his forehead.
The onlookers knew that he was not as good at cooking when they saw the reaction and started murmuring, “He can’t even win a twelve or thirteen-year-old girl and is trying to compare himself with Lin Baotian? If I were Imperial Chef Yan, I would surely choose Lin Baotian as my successor instead of this incompetent son.” The public opinion, which was originally unfavorable to Lin Baotian, had completely changed. Some people were even urging Yan’s father to accept the challenge so that they could watch him embarrass himself.
Although Lin Dan had lost to Yan Langqing, she was doing this for her deceased father and protecting his reputation. In this way, nobody would fault her and would even praise her for being a filial and perfect daughter.
The grey-bearded man who was the judge of the cooking competition a few days ago looked at Lin Dan and nodded his head with admiration.
Yan’s father panicked and took a few steps backward as he wiped his sweat away. Yan Langqing turned around and looked at the young marquis pitifully, seemingly asking for his help. Lin Dan’s family had served the young marquis and she would definitely stop putting Yan’s father in a spot as long as he commanded her to. But at this moment, the young marquis who had always been on her side kept a solemn face without saying a word.
Lin Dan glanced at the young marquis and said as if she had no choice, “Fine, for the sake of the grandmaster in heaven, I shall not make things difficult for you. But there’s only one thing I have to clarify – my father is by no means an ungrateful man who deceived his master. Everything he had was achieved based on his true capabilities. There were at least dozens or hundreds of imperial chefs who retired from the palace, but how many of them were able to make their name after leaving the palace? I could even just with one hand – there’s only five of them. If not for my father, would anyone know the Golden Knife Imperial Chef? Would people know Yan’s dishes? The recipe book of the Yan family only had sixty pages, but now has more than four hundred pages because of my father, and those were the fruits of his hard work.”
Lin Dan looked straight at Yan Langqing. “I have already given you the Golden Knife, including the new recipes my father wrote to repay the grandmaster’s kindness for raising him for many years. I hope you will stop pushing us into a corner. You can stop me from making the dishes that were written in that recipe book, but please do not deny my father’s culinary skills and character, let alone his dedication to Yan’s dishes. Without him, there would be no such high praises for Yan’s dishes from the public. He did not let the grandmaster down, nor did he let the Yan family down. He had done nothing shameless until the day of this death.” Lin Dan helped Lady Qi up after saying her piece and walked away unhurriedly.
As soon as the two of them left, a commotion was made in the restaurant. Some said that it was indeed to Lin Baotian’s credit that Yan’s dishes had gained such a high reputation. Lin Baotian had always claimed himself to be a successor of Yan’s dishes. He was actually being grateful by doing so on the contrary to what people had said. Some others said that the father and daughter of the Yan family were being too nasty to the Lin family. Without Lin Baotian, Yan’s dishes would not gain today’s achievements. It was the Yan family’s fortune to have Lin Baotian add more recipes to Yan’s recipe book. Yet, they disregarded what Lin Baotian had done and even disallowed Lin Dan to make those dishes!
The people initially sympathized with Yan Langqing and her father, but they soon realized that they were vicious and despicable villains who told lies to ruin someone’s reputation and drove two ladies into a corner. This made Lin Dan and her father seemed generous and magnanimous in contrast.
“I’m leaving. Without Chef Lin, I reckon this restaurant will not produce any more delicious dishes.” The patrons got up immediately and the lively hall suddenly became empty.
Lin Dan helped Lady Qi to get on the hired carriage and went to the suburbs of Beijing to find cheap accommodation. One hundred and twenty taels of silver may sound substantial, but it was easy to spend all of it within a short time. Without an income, they must live frugally to ensure their survival.
“Dan’er, why didn’t you insist on competing with Yan Shouye? Back then, he couldn’t even toss the food in the wok, he’s no match for you.” Qi Shi wondered.
“Mother, didn’t you notice that the young marquis is very protective of Yan Langqing? With him around, it’s better that we don’t make things too difficult for the Yan family.” Lin Dan straightened the thin bedding and put Lady Qi down to take a rest. Not wanting to provoke Yan Langqing was just one of the reasons. The truth was, she only had Lin Dan’s memory, but not master her culinary skills. She said those things only to intimidate Yan’s father and had no intention to hold a real competition with him. If they really competed, she would embarrass herself too. Otherwise, it would humiliate Yan’s father further if his level of capability was left up to people’s imagination. This was what she wanted to achieve.
“Did you mean that the young marquis and Yan Langqing are…” Lady Qi suddenly sighed when she thought of Yan Langqing’s beautiful and radiant face, and remembered how the young marquis had been protecting her. Since they had nobody to depend on, Lin Dan was right that it was best to leave the Yan family some leeway and not upset the young marquis.
Little did they know that after Lin Dan and Lady Qi had left, the young marquis also left without saying a word, leaving Yan Langqing there to suffer in embarrassment.