Chapter 41: The Culinary Tycoon

Mooncake Market Cools Down

The next day, the group once again noticed the dark circles under Chang Le’s eyes, but he seemed to be in good spirits and not as listless as last time.

When asked, he replied that he was feeling fine and there was nothing to worry about.

During breakfast, Chang Hao took a bite of his food and glanced at his brother, eating and smiling with a particularly good mood.

Yu Qingze and Grandpa Chang were also in a good mood, but they didn’t stare at people like Chang Hao did. Instead, their lips were constantly upturned in a smile.

Finally, there was a method to remove the long-standing haze, and the initial experiments were successful. How could one not be happy about it?!

Chang Le blushed under their gaze. Even though they were family, he had thin skin and felt quite embarrassed.

Yu Qingze noticed Brother Le’s unnatural expression and gave Chang Hao a pat, saying, “Why are you always staring at your brother? Hurry up and eat. Finish your meal and go to school.”

Chang Hao chuckled and said, “I just think that my brother looks really handsome! The more I look at him, the more handsome he becomes! What do you think, Brother Yu?”

Upon hearing this, Chang Le’s hand trembled as he was picking up a small bun, causing it to fall back into the steamer. He quickly picked it up again and stole a glance at Yu Qingze, only to meet his gaze.

Brother Le:…

Yu Qingze smiled faintly, looking into Chang Le’s eyes, and said, “Brother Le has always been good-looking.”

Chang Le’s face turned red as if blood would drip from it. He quickly averted his gaze, but his lips involuntarily curled up.

Seeing Chang Le becoming even redder, Yu Qingze shifted his gaze away, turned to Chang Hao, and said, “Eat quickly, eat more, so you can grow taller!”

Translated on ho lo lo novels dot com.

“Mm! Brother Yu, can I grow as tall as you?” When it came to height, Chang Hao quickly started eating and couldn’t help but ask about his potential for growth.

Height was a sensitive topic for him. There were several boys in the school who were two years younger than him but almost the same height or even taller. He dreamed of growing a little taller, ideally as tall as Brother Yu.

Yu Qingze understood well how important height was to boys. He nodded and said confidently, “Yes, you can. You just haven’t reached your growth spurt yet. In a few years, you will definitely be taller than me.”

With proper nutrition, exercise, and a positive mindset, he could grow well.

Upon hearing this, Chang Hao ate another bun!

Grow taller, grow taller, he wanted to grow taller!

After breakfast, Brother Chang and his father came over with a cart ready to set off.

Putting the freshly made mooncakes from yesterday into the cart, Yu Qingze instructed Brother Chang, “These are the mooncakes ordered by the Cai family. They use them for gifting and reciprocation. This morning, Mi Ge’er and the Cai family’s steward will come to collect them. According to their requirements, there are two types of packaging, one more expensive and one cheaper. Please tell Mi Ge’er and the others that for the ones to be sent to Yunzhou, they should choose the baked ones if possible. Also, let them know that the remaining mooncakes won’t be finished until tomorrow, so we’ll settle the accounts together then.”

Brother Chang nodded and replied, “Okay, Brother Yu, you can rest assured.”

After giving further instructions, the three of them set off with the cart.

Just as they left the house, Chang Le and the others encountered a middle-aged man.

“Are you guys setting up a stall? Oh, and this, is it Brother Le?” The middle-aged man saw the three of them pushing the food cart and the flatbed cart. He knew that ger and the others were going to set up a stall, but when he saw the person walking in the middle, he was momentarily stunned. It took him a moment to realize that it was Brother Le.

After seeing someone for more than ten years, suddenly cutting their long bangs to reveal their eyes and eyebrows, he didn’t recognize them at first.

Brother Chang replied, “Yes, Uncle Amin, this is indeed Brother Le.”

Chang Le, who was accustomed to instinctively lowering his head upon seeing someone from the village, had just lowered his head but remembered what he had promised Yu Qingze yesterday. He gritted his teeth, gathered his courage, and looked up at Uncle Amin. He forced a shy smile, tugging at the corners of his mouth.

The middle-aged man named Amin was momentarily stunned, but then he reacted and exclaimed, “It really is Brother Le! I almost thought I mistook someone!”

Chang Le nodded and smiled sheepishly.

Brother Chang laughed and said, “Uncle Amin, how do you find him? Isn’t he good-looking?”

Uncle Amin nodded repeatedly and sighed, “Very good-looking. The long bangs before covered his eyebrows and eyes. He has really grown up. It’s like a transformation.”

Upon hearing this, Chang Le’s anxious heart finally settled back into his chest.

“Yes, indeed. But Brother Le was already good-looking to begin with.” Brother Chang noticed the mushrooms and white fungus in Uncle Amin’s bamboo basket and asked, “Uncle Amin, are you going to pick mushrooms?”

“Yes, earlier Grandpa Chang mentioned that they are collecting mushrooms and white fungus. So I took the opportunity to go to the mountains this morning and managed to collect quite a few.” Uncle Amin chuckled.

Brother Chang replied with a smile, “Then you should hurry. Boss Yu and Grandpa Chang are both at home.”

“Alright, alright. You guys go set up your stall. After I give them the mushrooms, I need to go back and continue working in the fields. I still haven’t finished picking the grass.”

Ever since they started making Guandong-style skewers, Grandpa Chang would take a walk in the mountains every day, collecting mushrooms. He would also regularly visit the forest where they found the white fungus and bring some back to dry. Previously, they used the mushrooms that Grandpa Chang collected from the mountains for the skewers. However, if it hadn’t rained, the supply would be inconsistent, and sometimes all the mushrooms would be sold out in the morning.

Seeing this, Yu Qingze asked Grandpa Chang to inform the villagers that they would purchase mushrooms and white fungus.

Since the villagers were unaware of the value of white fungus, they bought it at an extremely low price of three cents per kilogram. However, in the eyes of the villagers, it didn’t seem cheap. They wondered if they were being foolish since the fungus couldn’t be eaten, questioning its purpose. Nevertheless, they didn’t hold any grudges over the money. Some people thought that Yu Qingze must have a great use for it, even if they themselves didn’t know, so they might as well earn some cash.

As a result, the villagers of Niutou Village now had an additional task. After finishing their farm work, they would go to the mountains, not only to the mountain behind the village but also to other mountains in search of mushrooms.

With the villagers joining in the mushroom picking, the Guandong-style skewer stall could now ensure a continuous supply of mushrooms throughout the day. They even had extra mushrooms to dry and store for the winter when there would be no mushrooms available. They also managed to collect a considerable amount of white fungus, which would come in handy during autumn.

With a stable source of ingredients, the villagers also increased their income, and the gossip about them in the village diminished. It could be considered an unexpected gain.

After bidding farewell to Uncle Amin, they encountered several villagers who were going to the market to sell vegetables. They all stared blankly at Brother Le and, once they realized who he was, expressed their regret, saying that he was quite good-looking. It was such a pity.

They also ran into Dahe and Chang Shun, who were heading to the dock.

(T/N: Chang Shun is the son of Chang Sheng, Grandpa Chang’s younger son in case you forgot 🙂

Chang Shun’s reaction wasn’t too dramatic; he was just slightly surprised and called out in a daze, “Brother Le.”

Chang Le nodded at him.

However, Dahe, upon seeing Chang Le’s appearance, initially walked faster and was about to overtake them. But as they continued, his steps became smaller and slower until he eventually fell behind Chang Le and the others.

“Dahe, why did you slow down? Weren’t we supposed to arrive early today?” Chang Shun looked at Dahe with confusion. With their pace, they should have overtaken Brother Le and hurried to the dock. But now, they were simply walking behind Brother Le and the others.

Dahe looked at Brother Le’s back and shook his head. “It’s alright, we still have time.”

Chang Shun: …

When they reached the main road, Brother Chang purposely pushed the cart to walk parallel to Brother Le and said to him, “See, I told you that you look good, right? It’s not that difficult to change, is it?”

Chang Le gently nodded, and his lips curled up slightly.

Indeed, it wasn’t as difficult as he had imagined.

The mocking and teasing from his childhood that had caused him distress seemed to have diminished. Perhaps there were still words of regret and pity, but they no longer affected him as much.

Brother Chang smiled and leaned closer to him, whispering, “Has Boss Yu praised your looks?”

As soon as he heard this, Chang Le couldn’t help but blush and glared at Brother Chang, refusing to answer.

Brother Chang chuckled and said, “You don’t have to say it. Hahaha…”

They continued on their way, laughing and joking, their mood brightening like the rising sun on the horizon.

When they arrived at the small stall, Mi Ge’er and the steward were already waiting for them.

Mi Ge’er immediately noticed the change in their appearance and exclaimed, “Your new hairstyles look so good! How did you come up with this idea? Can you teach me?”

Brother Chang winked at Chang Le and said, “Sure, I know a few different styles. I’ll draw them for you later, and you can choose your favorite. Then you can have someone help you cut it accordingly.”

“Really? That’s great!” Mi Ge’er exclaimed happily. “I’ve been unhappy with my hairstyle for a while. Everyone looks the same, and there’s no uniqueness.”

Brother Chang nodded in agreement and said, “Exactly! Mi Ge’er, you have a small face, and I think there’s a particular style that would suit you well. I’ll draw it for you later.”

“Okay, okay, okay!” they all laughed together.

After handing over the mooncakes and passing on the instructions from Yu Qingze to Mi Ge’er and the steward, Brother Chang borrowed some writing materials from the steward and drew five different hairstyles, that Yu Qingze had designed, for Mi Ge’er.

Mi Ge’er took the paper with excitement and happily went back.

Back at the Cai residence, Madam Cai arranged for suitable mooncake gift boxes to be quickly sent to various prestigious families in Tongshan City. He also arranged for another batch of mooncake gift boxes and other gifts to be sent out, some as presents and some as return gifts.

It was already August 12th, and Mid-Autumn Festival was just a couple of days away. The gifts had to be sent out promptly.

Mooncake gift boxes bearing the “Yu’s Delicious Delights” logo were delivered to the homes of prominent families in Tongshan City, while some were rushed to the residence of the governor in Yunzhou.

On August 13th, the small snack stall officially launched the mooncakes.

Since it was the first day of the new product, Yu Qingze came over to help. Grandpa Chang and Brother Chang’s mother continued making mooncakes at home.

In the morning, as the crowd gradually grew, they followed the usual practice of cutting small portions of each variety of mooncake for customers to taste.

However, although the customers praised the taste, few of them actually bought the mooncakes. And those who did buy only purchased one or two, not more.

“They are delicious, no doubt, but they are too expensive. Even the most famous shop in the city doesn’t sell them at such high prices.”

“That’s right. The most expensive pastries over there cost only five wen, but these small mooncakes are eight wen each, and the larger ones are sixteen wen. The boxed ones are even more unaffordable.”

“Sigh, I can only buy one or two to let the children have a taste and satisfy their cravings.”

“After they taste them, won’t they crave for more?”

“Well, that’s true.”

And so, the morning passed with very few mooncakes being sold. They didn’t receive the enthusiastic response like the cold noodles, liangpi, and Guandong Zhu dishes did when they were first introduced. Instead, they were met with indifference.

Brother Chang and his father looked at Yu Qingze with some concern, but they didn’t know how to comfort him. They could only focus on their own tasks.

Chang Le approached Yu Qingze and asked him, “What should we do? It seems like they are too expensive, and customers can’t afford them. Should we lower the prices?”

Yu Qingze shook his head and said, “We can’t lower the prices. If we do, we won’t make much profit. Don’t worry, Brother Le, there will be people who will come to buy.”

In fact, if they slightly lowered the prices to match other pastry shops, they would still make a profit, albeit a smaller one. However, Yu Qingze was gambling in his heart.

He was gambling on the influence of the Cai family in Tongshan City!


Thandar: Fine, don’t buy it now. I guarantee you won’t be able to even if you want to later (it’ll all be sold out) ⸜(。˃ ᵕ ˂ )⸝

1 Comment

  1. Aprillen says:

    Oh, new translator? Thank you for your hard work!

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