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944 Advantages of a Deadpan Face

 "It's good to be young. Youth represents vigor and ingenuity. Head Chef Yuan, you are very good," Zhang Yan tried to look for a topic.

Yuan Zhou nodded solemnly at the encouragement he was receiving from the Sichuan Cuisine Association's chairman before greeting Lee Yanyi.

"Kid, your restaurant is getting more and more popular. It is getting hard to get a meal at your place," Lee Yanyi no longer bothered with Zhang Yan and said to Yuan Zhou, "But I don't wish for you to expand your restaurant either. You are the only chef. It's pointless to expand it."

The restaurant would only be Yuan Zhou's restaurant with Yuan Zhou in it. Therefore, there would be customers occasionally requesting for an expansion but very little would request for a new branch.

"The annual Sichuan Cuisine Exemplary Restaurant Selection is probably the biggest Sichuan Cuisine event of the year." Zhang Yan said, "Therefore, the related departments are very supportive of it. A lot of private and official media are here and many CEOs of different groups in the food industry have been invited as well."

Zhang Yan was not only speaking, he was also kindly guiding Yuan Zhou with his eyes and explaining everything one by one. For example, when talking about the official media, Yuan Zhou followed his gaze and was able to see those from Sichuan Daily there. With the huge banner, it was obvious who they were.

They even had their camera with them. It would seem like this award ceremony was going to be broadcasted live.

Then there were also the CEOs of the food groups. Yuan Zhou looked over and found that they were all men in their 30s or 40s. He knew none of them.

"All those are not important. The truly important part is the fact that the person conferring you the award later will be someone from the Provincial Party Committee. Head Chef Yuan, you won't be nervous, right?" Zhang Yan asked.

"..." Yuan Zhou sank into a long silence. He did not know if he should point out that he was initially not nervous, but after Zhang Yan's introduction, he was getting nervous.

After thinking about it for a while, Yuan Zhou decided not to mention that and only nodded his head cooperatively.

"Ok, that's enough. Little Yuan, you should focus your thoughts on cooking. As a chef, the most reliable thing is having good cooking skills." Zhou Shijie said, "Moreover, the government seems to have attached great importance on the event this time."

"Yes, it's obvious when you see even Chef Zhu wearing a suit," said Lee Yanyi as he pointed at a rather famous chef.

Apart from his cooking skills, one other reason for Chef Zhu's popularity was the fancy way in which he always dressed himself. Even Yuan Zhou knew about this. Yet today, this person was actually dressed like a normal person. The change was quite drastic.

In any form of gatherings, people would gather in groups of twos or threes. For example, the entrepreneurs would gather to talk about business while the chefs would gather to talk about cooking.

Of the attendees, Zhou Shijie, Zhang Yan, and Lee Yanyi were naturally the ones that received more attention. And presently, all three of them were surrounding Yuan Zhou.

And of course, the head chefs of all 10 nominated restaurants were in attendance as well. In comparison, even the head chef of Chengdu Cuisine was much older than Yuan Zhou.

Thus, even though the Master Chef Restaurant was the Exemplary Restaurant for this year, those veteran chefs would still not take the initiative to greet Yuan Zhou owing to their status.

But now that the important individuals were surrounding Yuan Zhou, they had no choice but to come one by one and offer their greetings. This caused the entire award ceremony to revolve around Yuan Zhou.

"Chairman Zhou, Chairman Zhang, and Master Lee," greeted Head Chef Tian. His restaurant was located at Nanchong, known as the number one restaurant in Nanchong, also a restaurant that had been nominated three times in the past. However, this restaurant had never won the award before.

To be frank, Head Chef Tian was 52 years old this year. One could say that when he was already famous in the cooking industry, Yuan Zhou was not even born yet.

"Head Chef Tian," Zhou Shijie nodded before saying, "Good, I'll take this chance to make an introduction. This is Yuan Zhou, a genius chef of our country."

"Yuan Zhou's Master Chef Restaurant is this year's Exemplary Restaurant," Zhang Yan joined in. "Little Yuan has a solid foundation and possesses the grace of a grandmaster."

Head Chef Tian looked at Zhang Yan and Zhou Shijie before saying, "I have long heard of Master Yuan's name. I have always wanted to pay you a visit."

"I'm just a normal chef, not a master. Master Tian's Duck's Blood and Beef Tripe in Spicy Soup is a masterpiece. I have long heard about that," Yuan Zhou quickly replied.

"His Duck's Blood and Beef Tripe in Spicy Soup is indeed good. There is one particular ingredient that until now, I still can't figure out what it is," Lee Yanyi suddenly said. "Lit... Head Chef Yuan, you have better taste buds than me. If you get the chance, you need to give it a try."

Lee Yanyi was afraid that Yuan Zhou would be disinterested and he added, "I brought Chu Xiao there in the past and he failed to figure out what that ingredient is as well."

Now, Yuan Zhou's interest was truly piqued. Lee Yanyi was a famed food critic. Yet he failed to figure out what that ingredient was, and even the incredibly talented Chu Xiao failed as well. What kind of Duck's Blood and Beef Tripe in Spicy Soup was this exactly?

"Haha, I don't deserve that much praise," Head Chef Tian waved his hand. But the next sentence of Lee Yanyi caused him to feel awkward.

"But he's not doing well in terms of disciples. He has three disciples under him yet none have inherited his skills. The food they make is very unpalatable," said Lee Yanyi, living up to his reputation of having a harsh mouth.

"Erm..." Head Chef Tian was stuck.

At times, Yuan Zhou wondered how people like Wu Hai and Lee Yanyi survived in this world without being beaten to death.

"Master Tian, hopefully, I will have a chance to learn from you," said Yuan Zhou, breaking the awkward silence.

"Not a problem. Not a problem," Head Chef Tian laughed in a somewhat awkward manner. To ease the awkwardness, he brought up a new topic, "This year's award ceremony is much grander than the past."

But returning to the previous topic, escorted by Zhou, Zhang, and Lee, the three braggers, all the chefs that came to offer their greetings were educated on how amazing Yuan Zhou was.

After about half an hour, the ceremony started. First, Zhang Yan went up the stage to give a talk on Sichuan Cuisine's history and the reason for the Exemplary Restaurant Event.

Below the stage, when Yuan Zhou saw how formal the ceremony was, he started getting nervous. Initially, Yuan Zhou thought that with so many reporters here, he could take this chance to gain more fame like what happened during the Sino-Japanese exchange.

But nervousness was infectious. When he heard that not only the secretary-general had come, even other government officials had arrived as well, he got even more nervous. The sight of all the other chefs being completely solemn did not help either. Fortunately, Yuan Zhou had a deadpan face so he could continue hiding his nervousness.

"The progress of Sichuan Cuisine is inseparable from outstanding chefs and restaurants. For this year's Sichuan Cuisine Exemplary Restaurant, I would like to welcome Mr. Li Wei to confer the award," said Zhang Yan as he invited a middle-aged man about 40 years old onto the stage.

Li Wei was a key government official, yet when being invited to the stage, he was addressed as Mr. instead of his official position. That was quite interesting.

"Sichuan Cuisine is a unique part of Sichuan province and has always been the promoter of Sichuan culture." Li Wei started reading out a large amount of data, looking very professional. It was worth noting that Sichuan Cuisine was not only popular in Sichuan province. It was also quite popular in the surrounding provinces as well.

But the fame was understandable as it was one of the eight famous regional cuisines.

To summarize what Li Wei speech, he mentioned the importance of Sichuan Cuisine to Sichuan province, also mentioning that the Exemplary restaurant and other nominated restaurants have to work hard on expanding their fame in order to propel Sichuan Cuisine's popularity.

"This year's Exemplary Restaurant is the Master Chef Restaurant. Let us welcome Head Chef Yuan Zhou from Master Chef Restaurant," Li Wei invited.

That final sentence of Li Wei caused all gazes to congregate on Yuan Zhou, including the many cameras and reporters.

This was a big scene, and the atmosphere was very solemn...