Naturally, the judges were unaware of what Chef Li and Yuan Zhou had in their minds. They were busy deciding on what to eat next.
In life, eating occupied a top priority, especially when it concerned delicious food.
“I think we should try Head Chef Yuan’s squid first,” Bai Xiaoxiao said.
“That is a constructive suggestion,” Zhang Yan nodded, though it was unknown how was something like that constructive.
“But I think we should eat the crab dumplings first,” Wang Xiang had a different opinion.
“Squids can’t be allowed to get cold. Otherwise, it will go bad,” Bai Xiaoxiao said.
“Crabs can’t be allowed to get cold as well,” said Wang Xiang. He would be happy to eat some delicious crabs as a replacement for the lobster he missed.
After all, both were seafood with comparatively larger shells.
While everyone was voicing their opinions, Zhou Shijie spoke.
“We still have six dishes,” Zhou Shijie said.
It was obvious what he was trying to say. There were six dishes left, and everyone would be able to eat all six. There was no point fighting over the order of eating.
“Since there are six more, let’s start with the squid. After all, that’s Boss Bai’s favorite food,” suggested Wang Xiang humbly.
“But the crab dumplings are your favorite, Head Chef Wang. Let’s start with your favorite,” said Bai Xiaoxiao, embarrassed.
“No, it is fine. We will start with your favorite,” said Wang Xiang.
“No, no, no, you first, Head Chef Wang,” Bai Xiaoxiao said.
After wasting a few minutes, Zhang Yan finally spoke, “Let’s start from this side, the salad snail.”
“Ok,” the assistants nodded and started serving the food.
Both Bai Xiaoxiao and Wang Xiang were slightly stunned. That was absolutely not one of the dishes they were fighting over earlier. Chairman Zhang was being too random here.
“Holy shit,” thought both of them. Of course, they did not let any of their thoughts show on their faces.
From this, it was obvious that a person in a position of power might not necessarily be a capable person, but his face would definitely be thick.
It was obvious from its name that the salad snail was an appetizer. Thus, the portion was rather small. Everyone only got to eat enough to try the taste and it was already finished.
After finishing it, everyone stared at Yuan Zhou’s other dishes. Alas, Zhou Shijie told the assistants to serve them the seafood alliance’s dish instead.
The four quickly finished the seafood alliance’s dish before finally, they got to eat Yuan Zhou’s third dish, Roasted Octopus.
But how did the seafood alliance’s Salad Sea Snail tasted like? It was clear from the frowns the judges had.
Evidently, Chef Li did not notice that. He was in complete confidence, as if victory was already in his grasp. He stood there, filled with satisfaction.
“Serve that dish,” said Zhou Shijie as he pointed at Yuan Zhou’s Eight Clawed Flaming Mountain.
“Ok, please wait a moment,” replied the assistant gently.
This time, the dish wasn’t separated before being served to the judges. Rather, it was carried over together with Yuan Zhou’s plate.
As this happened, the host who was nearly nonexistent spoke.
“Now, the judges are at the third dish. As usual, they are starting with Head Chef Yuan’s dish,” said the host while gesturing at the Eight Clawed Flaming Mountain.
Meanwhile, the assistant was introducing the dish to the four judges.
“Head Chef Yuan said that Chairman Zhou should try moving the tentacles of the squid and you will see the reason for this dish’s name,” said the assistant as she handed a special pair of metallic chopsticks to Zhou Shijie.
“Oh? Interesting,” said Zhou Shijie with a curious expression.
“Let’s see,” said Zhou Shijie. When he saw the other three judges looking at him expectantly, he did not bother dallying and directly moved the squid mountain with the chopsticks.
The Eight Clawed Flaming Mountain was a good looking dish, placed on a round black plate that was as thick as a finger.
The squid was arranged in the shape of a mountain on the plate, with the tentacles forming the bulk of the mountain. Oddly, the tentacles were all straight, unlike regular cooked squid tentacles that were curved.
The dark purple tentacles looked rather tender in contrast with the dark and thick plate. If one paid more attention, one would be able to see that slightly purple and transparent onion pieces were sprinkled on the squid as well.
Zhou Shijie was very skilled as the squid was still neatly arranged even after being prodded by him. But right after he was done prodding the squid, a red flame erupted from within the thick plate.
Hiss. Hiss. Hissing sound rang out as the tentacles were set aflame, and at a speed visible to the naked eye, the tentacles curved. At the same time, the transparent onions started emanating an aromatic fragrance.
“What an exquisite design,” lamented Zhou Shijie as he took a whiff at the squid flavor lingering in the air.
“So the gravy is actually inside,” said Bai Xiaoxiao as he pointed at the red gravy that flowed out after the squid was set aflame.
That’s right. The red gravy also flowed out at the same time as the fire. The combination of the bright red gravy, the curved tentacles, and the aroma in the air caused everyone there to take a gulp.
“It smells so good,” said Wang Xiang with a nod.
The flaming squid looked exactly like its name, an Eight Clawed Flaming Mountain.
“Its appearance indeed reflects its name. Well, we can start eating now,” said Zhou Shijie with a smile.
“Yeah. Let me give it a try,” said Zhang Yan as he reached for the squid without thinking too much.
He lifted a tentacle with his chopsticks. The moment the tentacle left the flaming mountain, it stopped burning. And after it stopped burning, it emanated an even stronger smell.
“Me too,” said Bai Xiaoxiao as he gulped.
With someone taking the lead, Zhou Shijie gestured to Wang Xiang to start as well. He was the last to reach out at the squid.
The dish was still burning, yet the tentacles they took would not be burning. This felt like plucking chestnuts out of a fire, giving a feeling like they were eating something out of a flaming mountain.
With satisfaction, Bai Xiaoxiao stuffed the tentacle into his mouth.
And the moment it entered his mouth, he shut his eyes instinctively.
The squid was very chewy, and due to Bai Xiaoxiao’s excitement, he started chewing before he could properly taste the flavor.
But the moment he started chewing, he found that the squid was unbelievably chewy, as if it was bouncing within his mouth. And after his teeth tore into the squid, a fragrant and spicy flavor erupted.
At the same time, the sesame seeds and onion pieces were chewed on and after everything mixed together, the flavors of the onion and chili caused the squid to give off a feeling that it was tender, chewy, and crispy at the same time.
The combination was akin to a beautiful symphony that was ringing in his mouth.
Because of the flame, the squid was still hot when it entered the mouth. Yet Bai Xiaoxiao couldn’t be bothered about that as he reached out with his chopsticks again.
But it was precisely because of the temperature that the squid was preserved at the perfect degree of tenderness. After all, the squid was a food that would be cooked very quickly. Thus, a suitable temperature was required to maintain its freshness.
And the slowly burning flame was the best option for this task…