47.2 Orchid Dream College
Miss Meng raised her head to look at Nian Bing; her cold, lifeless eyes seemed to be devoid of any emotion. “Him? Shouldn’t you bring him to the cosmetics faculty? There are many beautiful girls there, so he could probably entice one. He wouldn’t need to test at all to get into the college. We don’t accept trash here, so please take him away.”
The middle-aged man laughed and replied, “I also thought that he wasn’t chef material, but I already brought him here. Since you won’t accept him, then we no longer have a relationship with each other. Boy, don’t blame me. If you have the talent, then persuade Miss Meng yourself as she is responsible for the test here.” After saying this, the middle-aged man turned to leave, not giving Nian Bing the chance to respond.
Nian Bing didn’t care about that man that much. It was enough that he brought him here. The cold and elegant Miss Meng piqued Nian Bing’s curiosity. Based on her looks, Nian Bing could tell that the Orchid Dream College has some skill. She had a pair of slender hands; her fingernails were trimmed very neatly. She didn’t wear any jewelry on her arms. When she was fiddling with the abacus, her fingers were extremely dextrous. These were definitely the hands a high-class chef would have.
Miss Meng looked at Nian Bing standing there and couldn’t help but frown. “Didn’t you hear what I said? You can leave now. Don’t stand there blocking my view; why are you so tall?”
Nian Bing smiled. “Being tall isn’t my mistake. That person said that as long as he brought me here I would be able to take the exam. I still haven’t tested yet, so I can’t leave.”
Miss Meng snorted and said, “Lemme teach you something. That guy just now is called Liao San’er, a famous good for nothing in the city. By chance he happened to save our college’s president’s life. The president carelessly agreed to allow him to introduce students to faculties and they wouldn’t need to wait for ten people to start the examination. No one knew that he would actually take the chance so seriously and collect a high referral fee. You must’ve spent quite a bit of money, but your money was in vain. From now on, don’t believe people so easily; take this as a lesson.”
Nian Bing smiled slightly and replied, “A silver coin for a lesson is not cheap! Since this Liao San’er has the permission of the president, then I should be able to take the test!”
Miss Meng said cooly, “Your test has already ended, so you can go. We don’t take in incompetents here. Even if you studied for five years, you won’t have any results. Although a chef might be a lowly profession, not just anyone can become one.”
Nian Bing burst out laughing in his heart. Even if he hadn’t reached the pinnacle of culinary arts, he couldn’t be incompetent. He asked curiously, “Miss Meng, could you tell me how you tested me that you were able to determine that I was not chef material?”
Miss Meng was already slightly impatient. She said coldly, “It’s very simple. Your hands. Although your clothing is plain, the innate characteristic of a person won’t change so easily. Moreover, your hands show no sign of undergoing physical labor. As a grown man wearing a ring, do you think you’re handsome? In my eyes you are just an idiot who knows nothing of culinary arts. I believe that you have potential in a profession where looks are more emphasized. Leave this place; I don’t welcome students like you.”
Nian Bing looked at his hands. He knew that this Miss Meng had already written him off as a pleasure-seeking son of rich parents, and there was no use explaining at the present. He could only use his ability as proof. “Miss Meng, no matter how you say it, I’ve already spent one silver coin to buy a chance for this test. If you make me leave like this, I definitely will not give up. You will see if I’m good or not; just give me a chance, and let me try making something.”
Miss Meng looked at Nian Bing with some surprise. She had not believed him to be this tenacious. “No need for you to do something as troublesome as making a dish. Do you see those cold veggies over there? If you can sell them all within an hour, it will be proof of your ability as a chef. You can improve the cold veggies as you wish. Of course, they must be edible.”
Nian Bing followed Miss Meng’s finger to another countertop not far away. The countertop was covered with a dozen plates of cold veggies wrapped under a clear gauze. These were not ordinary plates, but large trays. It looked like every tray of veggies held the equivalent of over ten regular plates. As such, every person in the restaurant needed to buy at least three plates of veggies in order to sell every last one. To sell these in an hour would obviously be difficult. With a smile, Nian Bing did not say any more, but walked over to the bucket on the side of the counter to wash his hands clean. He silently went behind the cold veggies counter.
A young chef stood behind the countertop. Naturally, he had heard what Miss Meng said. When he saw Nian Bing approaching, he made an inviting gesture and moved to the side while making an expression like he was watching something entertaining.
It was easy to see the style of the cold veggies. Nian Bing took out his chopsticks and tried each one and started to plan for his marketing strategy. First, he chose a plate of cucumber salad. He directly picked up the large tray and took it out from under the wraps, placing it on the counter there, and then looked at the chef standing off to the side. “Do you have a kitchen knife?”
The chef was stunned for a moment, then replied, “These are cold veggies, not hot foods. What are you going to do with a kitchen knife?” He couldn’t believe that the youth with a handsome mien before him seemed to be younger than him.
Nian Bing smiled and replied, “If you don’t have a kitchen knife, then how can I sell? Please give me a knife. If I can’t sell them all within the hour, then I will leave myself.”
“Give him a knife,” said Miss Meng. The young chef made a sound of agreement, and went to the back of the kitchen. In a moment, he came out with a kitchen knife.
Taking the knife, Nian Bing flipped it in his hand. He spread out the cucumber on the plate with a spoon, then placed his finger along the back of the knife. He placed his finger tip on the blade of the knife, while gripping the blade handle with his middle, ring, and little fingers. The wide tip wasn’t suited to show off his skills, but he wasn’t thinking about exposing his magic right now, so he could only do this. He turned to look at Miss Meng. Right now, she was watching him, but her gaze lacked the contempt from before. Instead, she was serious. It seemed like that she had already gleaned something from the way he gripped the knife.
“Jade Dream Cucumber, does anyone want any?” asked Nian Bing, raising his voice to a shout. The silence in the restaurant was immediately broken, and all of the customers looked in his direction, mostly with disgust. However, very soon their expressions turned to surprise because of the movements of the knife in Nian Bing’s hand. The wide bladed knife in Nian Bing’s hand seemed to dance; the knife tip revolved like a spinning top. There were no bones in his wrist as it flexed and conformed to any position he wanted. The cold cucumber on the tray didn’t make a mess at all, but the originally rhombus shaped cucumbers began to change form.
What were Jade Dream Cucumbers? It was very simple; it was when cucumbers all transformed into the character meng (梦)1. The fragments of the cucumbers were adroitly gathered to the side as the original shape of the cucumber changed. Nian Bing’s hand was exceedingly steady without the slightest shaking, but all the cucumbers had turned into the character meng. The knife in his hands was extremely controlled. Though the characters weren’t exactly the same in some places, for now it was enough.
The the guest closest to the cucumber counter saw most clearly, but the movements of the knife in NIan Bing’s hand was enough to attract attention. A medium-built middle-aged man walked over up to the counter. When he saw what the cucumbers had been transformed into, his jaw dropped in surprise. This was no longer in the category of culinary talent, but a masterpiece. It was not something an ordinary person like him could understand.
Nian Bing’s knife stopped, and he smiled. “Do you want a plate? One silver coin”
The middle-aged man was stunned. “A silver coin? Have you made a mistake? It’s usually three bronze coins for a plate, but it’s double the price?”
Nian Bing said confidently, “Do you not think that this meng character is worth one silver coin?”
The middle-aged man gave Nian Bing a thumbs up. “It’s worth it. Youngster, your knife skills are truly a divine art! Give me a plate. One silver coin is one silver coin.”
Nian Bing smiled and scooped out a plate’s worth of cucumber. He pointed at the counter and said, “Please give the money to Miss Meng. Is there anyone else who would like some Jade Dream Cucumber?”
Guests sitting at the nearby tables had stood up. Even if they didn’t want to buy, their curiosity was aroused by what was happening. When they saw each meng shaped cucumber, they couldn’t help but be stunned. It seemed that his mysterious and divine knife arts had made each of them open up their purses to buy a plate. As Nian Bing was continuing to sell the Jade Dream Cucumbers he made, Miss Meng appeared in front of him.
“Okay, no need to sell anymore. Is the Brocade Character Void Lattice only worth a silver coin?” Miss Meng looked at Nian Bing with a complicated expression as she prevented him from selling all of the cucumbers.
Nian Bing smiled and set down the knife. “Do you still think that I am a culinary arts fool? Have I passed the test?”
Miss Meng nodded and replied, “Come with me. Everyone, sorry. This is a new member of our culinary faculty. I must trouble everyone to continue eating.” After she said this, she brought Nian Bing to the back.
Passing through the bustling kitchen, Miss Meng directly brought Nian Bing into the back courtyard. “Where did you learn your brocade character void lattice?” Miss Meng’s tone was urgent.
Nian BIng said, “An elderly person taught me. I don’t know his name, and after passing knife techniques to me for several days, he left.”
Miss Meng’s already large eyes grew even wider. “What did you say? Only a couple of days? Do you take me for an idiot; for an ordinary person to train in the Brocade Character Void Lattice without a famous master, even if they practiced for a dozen years they would not be able to be successful. So who did you learn your knife arts from?”
Nian Bing said cooly, “Miss Meng, don’t you feel that you are asking for too much? Who I learned knife arts from is my secret. I came to the culinary college for lessons, not for your interrogation.”
Miss Meng’s frantic expression leveled. She nodded and said, “Sorry. I was belittling you earlier; I apologize.” She actually bowed slightly to Nian BIng.
Nian Bing wanted to help her up, but when he thought about the difference between men and woman, his raised hands just remained awkwardly mid-air. “Miss Meng doesn’t need to be so polite. From your deft hands, I could tell that you specialize in knife techniques. If we have the opportunity we should exchange pointers later, as I came here to deepen my skills.”
The coldness in Miss Meng’s eyes subsided. “Let’s go. I will lead you to the college to report. Our culinary faculty has all kinds of courses. I will recommend you to the faculty chairman.”
Nian Bing smiled and said, “Then I will trouble Miss Meng. I hope that I can learn more here.”
Miss Meng nodded. Her politeness much more obvious, she said to Nian Bing, “Please follow me.” The two people exited the back courtyard and led him away.
When Nian BIng arrived at the Orchid Dream College, it was difficult for to him cover his surprise. Rather than call it a college, it would be better to say it was a small city. The walls surrounding the college were five meters thick and ten meters high. Even the guards at the entrance wore the insignia of the Orchid Dream Empire on their uniform. On top of the main entrance hung a gigantic signboard, indicating this was a college.
Miss Meng looked at Nian Bing’s almost idiotic expression and couldn’t help but snicker. Finally, she smiled, and it immediately felt like a spring breeze had melted the frost, attracting Nian Bing’s gaze. She said, “The Orchid Dream College has a long-established history. This is the oldest college on the Yang Guang continent and occupies a third of the area of Orchid Dream City. It could be said that this is a city within a city. You saw these walls; they are the work of our college’s construction faculty students. It also includes a defensive system, drainage system, counterattack system and many other areas. I heard that it has more defensive capability than an ordinary city.
“The guards at the gate aren’t true soldiers, but members of the martial arts faculty. The martial arts faculty is the most famous faculty in the college. The faculty chairman is the most senior out of all the Saints of War, the fifth ranked in the Ten Great Martial Arts Experts. This is very attractive, which makes the martial arts faculty students the most numerous in the college. They probably are a fifth of the students. Not just a few talents have been given in service to the empire from our college. If you have the qualifications to graduate, the empire’s cavalry troops would love to hire you. You might even have the opportunity to enter the empire’s trump card, the Silver Feather Cavalry.”
Nian Bing was silently exclaiming in admiration for the scale of the Orchid Dream College, but he schooled his expression back to normal. He nodded his head and said, “The college’s strength is truly vast! However, I don’t have much interest towards other faculties. Miss Meng, could you introduce me to your culinary faculty? Are you a student or a teacher? From your appearance, you don’t seem to be over twenty years old.”
- Means dream. ↩