Chapter 60: The Culinary Tycoon

Dress Rehearsal

Perhaps it was because they saw that both Old Madam Cai and Madam Zhao had eaten and nothing happened to them, some of the other gentlemen began to eat as well.

At this moment, they also figured it out. Since Old Madam Cai dared to serve this dessert to guests, it must be certain that it was safe to eat. Moreover, both Old Madam Cai and Madam Zhao had eaten it. If they didn’t eat it, it would feel as if they were not giving face to Old Madam Cai.

Furthermore, if they set aside the claim that eating white fungus would cause itchy skin, solely focusing on this dessert, the taste was indeed very good.

Of course, there are also discussions about not eating the white fungus, such as the one mentioned earlier by Madam Huang. He stubbornly refused to touch the dessert.

Old Madam Cai saw this and didn’t try to persuade him to eat the White Fungus Red Date Lotus Seed Soup anymore. He asked him to have some other pastries and just smiled it off.

On the other hand, Madam Zhao glanced at Madam Huang thoughtfully, lowered his eyes, pursed his lips, and smiled. Then he turned his head and continued chatting with Old Madam Cai.

After bidding farewell to the other gentlemen, Old Madam Cai said to Yu Qingze and Brother Le, “The pastries were all delicious, and the White Fungus Red Date Lotus Seed Soup was also very tasty. The esteemed guests also enjoyed it. Thank you for your hard work.”

Yu Qingze smiled and said, “It’s our pleasure to assist, Old Madam.”

Old Madam Cai smiled warmly and said, “Thanks to all of you, the flower appreciation event will be a great success. I won’t keep you busy anymore. Once things settle down at the shop and everything becomes stable, you must come and visit. Wei’er and the others have become really good at kicking the shuttlecock, I’d love to have a match with you.”

Hearing this, Yu Qingze readily agreed and said, “Sure, Old Madam. We’ll take our leave now.”

“Alright, go ahead.”

After leaving Cai’s residence, Yu Qingze said to Chang Le, “Brother Le, I think we need to set up one or a few secluded private rooms. Two or three tables should be enough.”

According to what Old Madam Cai just mentioned, if the other esteemed guests had a positive response to the pastries, they might also come to the shop in the future. It would be best to provide this group of customers with special treatment, such as private rooms.

Even if they don’t come, the shop won’t suffer any losses. It’s better to be prepared, as there will always be a time when it comes in handy.

Brother Le looked at him with a puzzled expression and asked, “Why?”

Yu Qingze explained, “Think about it. If someone with a status like Old Madam Cai comes to our shop to eat dim sum …. Well, Old Madam Cai might not mind. But if it’s someone like the head of the Zhao family or their sons, do you think they would feel comfortable sitting in the main hall eating with others? Wouldn’t it be awkward?”

Chang Le pondered for a moment. People of their status and position would probably have higher standards and wouldn’t enjoy sitting in a crowded main hall eating dim sum with strangers.

Chang Le gestured and said, “It would be awkward, no, it would definitely be awkward.”

Yu Qingze said, “Exactly, that’s why we can set up a few small private rooms. Our shop might not be able to provide separate elegant rooms, but we can use screens or something similar to create partitions. What do you think?”

Chang Le’s eyes lit up, and he nodded and gestured, “Yes, that way, people of their status might come to our shop  as well.”

“Shall we go and look at the screens?”

Chang Le nodded.

The two of them went to look at the screens again. With a limited budget, they couldn’t afford expensive ones. They looked for screens that had a relatively elegant appearance, noted down the dimensions, and then returned to the shop to start designing. They considered which area would be suitable for creating the private rooms.

After careful consideration, they decided on the wall far from the main street. It was quieter there and had windows for sufficient natural light. They could create the impression of three small private rooms and later add some potted plants to enhance the atmosphere.

Early the next morning, Yu Qingze sent a bag of dried white fungus mushrooms to Cai’s residence. He had already taught Uncle Fu the preparation methods and various ways to consume them, so he instructed Uncle Fu to frequently make the white fungus soup for Old Madam and the others.

When Old Madam Cai learned about this, he was delighted, and his favorable impression of Yu Qingze grew even stronger.

The preparations for the shop were progressing smoothly. Yu Qingze would purchase additional items every day, gradually completing the collection.

The stove was ready, waiting only for it to dry and dissipate the odor. The kitchen utensils, stove, coal balls, and firewood were all purchased. Ten four-person tables had been delivered, and the remaining four large tables would be ready in a couple of days. Screens were also purchased to create three small private rooms.

The staff had been sorted out as well. Brother Chang’s mother confirmed that he could come and make dim sum, which relieved Yu Qingze. He utilized the evenings to teach him other recipes. Sometimes when he was busy, he would let Brother Le teach him.

For the remaining three service staff, he also made time for them to come to his house in the evening to teach them number recognition and provide training.

Small bamboo tags used for pricing were made by Grandpa Chang himself. He had already made around sixty to seventy tags. In the evening, Yu Qingze would use a small file to engrave the numbers on both sides, using uppercase characters. Then he would write over them with ink. Once dried, they would be ready for use.

Furthermore, he asked Brother Chang’s father to weave small bamboo baskets with multiple compartments, tied around the waist with a belt. The small bamboo tags would be placed inside these baskets for easy access by the serving staff.

In addition, Yu Qingze asked the village chief to make a few larger price signs. These needed to be erected, so the village chief and others would handle their production.

Translated on ho lo lo novels dot com.

On September 18th, the signboard for their shop was completed. Yu Qingze inspected it, confirmed that everything was fine, and covered it with a red cloth. They would hang it up the day before the grand opening.

On September 20th, the remaining tables were also completed. At this point, all the hardware facilities were in place.

Since it was a day off for the snack stall, Yu Qingze gathered everyone in the shop in the afternoon. They arranged the tables and chairs and began practicing for the opening.

In the morning, Chang Le and Brother Chang’s mother had already prepared ten kinds of dim sum, cooked two small pots of congee, three side dishes, and a pot of Guandong style hot pot.

This was the menu that Yu Qingze had prepared for the trial period. He was afraid of making too much at once, as the staff responsible for taking orders were still unfamiliar and might make mistakes. So he planned to start with a small selection and gradually increase it.

They lit every stove and transferred the dim sum to the new stove, conducting a rehearsal following the procedures of official operation.

Now, the layout of the shop was as follows:

Upon entering, the dining area was on the left, and the order pickup area was on the right.

To the right after entering, there was a table with plates, bowls, and dishes for customers to help themselves.

Next was the L-shaped stove counter, where they placed the Guandong style hot pot, two pots of congee, and three side dishes. After that was the long counter with five stoves, on top of which were steamers containing ten types of dim sum: shumai, steamed dumplings, three types of buns, two types of mantou, sticky rice balls, sticky rice chicken, and pumpkin pancakes.

The wall adjoining the kitchen didn’t have a stove counter. Yu Qingze planned to place the snack carts there in the future, each cart accommodating four stoves.

After passing through the kitchen door and the aisle, there was the cash register counter.

The three newly hired staff members were assigned their tasks. Uncle Zhen was responsible for dishwashing, Yu Xiaoshu, a 19-year-old young man, was in charge of clearing the tables, and Brother Qing, who was about the same age as Brother Chang, along with Brother Chang, was responsible for order pickup.

Jiabao handled the cash register, while the others acted as temporary customers when they were not busy.

Yu Qingze clapped his hands and said, “Alright, everyone take your positions. Let’s give it a try. Brother Chang and Brother Qing, don’t rush. Just remember the prices of the items and make sure not to mix up the bamboo tags.”

They both nodded and tied the small baskets around their waists, then stood in their respective areas.

Brother Chang was in charge of the shorter counter, where the prices for the Guandong style hot pot and three side dishes varied, making it a bit more complicated. Brother Qing was responsible for the long counter with the dim sum, where each mantou cost one wen, each steamed buns cost two wen, and shumai, dumplings, and sticky rice balls were five wen per serving, while sticky rice chicken was five wen each—relatively easier to remember.

“Alright, let’s begin! Brother Le, you can come in now,” Yu Qingze called out.

Everyone started pretending to be customers, walking outside and then entering the shop.

Brother Le went first, instinctively taking a tray and starting to order his meal.

Next was Brother Chang’s mother, who followed to place his order.

Seeing this, Chang Hao initially intended to follow them, but he suddenly thought of a problem. He raised his hand and said to Yu Qingze, “Brother Yu, I’ve noticed something.”

Yu Qingze asked, “What’s the problem?”

Chang Hao replied, “If I were a real customer coming in for the first time, how would I know how to pick up my order? It’s not clear to me.”

Hearing this, everyone realized he was right. They were all familiar with the process, but other customers wouldn’t know. They were accustomed to entering the shop and finding a seat.

Yu Qingze was taken aback for a moment, then slapped his forehead, saying, “Oh, I forgot! We need someone to greet and explain the process to customers. We’ll have to find someone!”

He glanced at the people present, and almost everyone had tasks to do. He pondered for a moment and said, “Xiaoshu, you’ve learned how to read as well. Why don’t you go and take over Brother Chang’s position? Brother Chang will come over to greet the customers and explain the process.”

Xiaoshu happily agreed and went over. He was quite interested in the task of order pickup—it was much more exciting than clearing tables.

The two switched places.

Yu Qingze gave Brother Chang some welcoming lines and instructions, and Brother Chang practiced saying them a few times to remember them.

The rehearsal started again.

Brother Le entered the shop once more.

As soon as he entered, Brother Chang greeted him with a smile, saying, “Welcome. How many guests?”

Brother Le held back his laughter and raised his index finger.

Others also chuckled secretly. They were all familiar with each other, and this whole situation seemed quite amusing.

“One guest. Please follow me, sir. Our shop is self-service. Here, you can pick up a tray and choose your food. The staff will place the selected dishes and bamboo tags with the prices in your tray. After collecting your meal, you can proceed to the counter over there for payment. Then, you can choose a seat at any available table. Chopsticks are provided on the table, and the chili sauce is complimentary for you to use as you like.”

Brother Le nodded with a smile and began ordering his meal.

Brother Le ordered one serving of each dish with different prices, which made Xiaoshu a bit flustered. He wasn’t familiar with the prices yet, especially for the Guandong style hot pot, which had several different prices and didn’t have large price signs like the other dishes. As a result, his speed was a bit slow.

Brother Chang’s mother, who was behind Brother Le in line, waited for a while but couldn’t wait any longer, so he went around to the front.

Seeing this, Yu Qingze stood beside Xiaoshu and reminded him twice. Xiaoshu gradually memorized the prices.

One by one, the customers came in, and Yu Qingze observed from the side. Whenever he noticed a problem, he promptly pointed it out and corrected it for them.

The challenge for the staff responsible for order pickup was that they hadn’t fully memorized the prices of the dishes yet. However, this wasn’t a major issue as practice makes perfect, and within a day or two, they would definitely become proficient. Another issue was that during peak hours, things could get a bit chaotic. This problem could be solved by increasing the number of staff, but it would depend on the shop’s revenue and cost evaluation before deciding whether to hire more people.

On the other side, at the checkout counter, Yu Qingze initially thought Jiabao was calculating the bills in his mind. However, to his surprise, Jiabao actually took out an abacus and swiftly calculated with a “clack, clack, clack.”

Yu Qingze:…

“Jiabao, when did you learn to use an abacus?” This was truly surprising!

Jiabao finished calculating Brother Le’s bamboo tags and scratched his head apologetically, saying, “When you rented the shop, you told me that I would be in charge of the checkout in the future. I was afraid of making mistakes just by mental calculation, so I learned how to use the abacus from Boss Liu across the street.”

Yu Qingze asked in astonishment, “You learned it in just a few days?”

He had been busy with shop matters lately and didn’t have time to manage the snack stall. He rarely visited Liu’s place either. Yet, Jiabao had managed to contact Boss Liu and learn how to use the abacus?

Jiabao nodded and said a bit shyly, “These numbers are small and quite simple.”

Yu Qingze didn’t believe it, so he took the bamboo tags that Brother Le had just used and calculated them himself. The result matched Jiabao’s calculation.

He continued to observe Jiabao calculating a few more times, and everything was accurate. Yu Qingze couldn’t help but pat his shoulder with excitement and said, “Jiabao, you’re a good kid, learning so fast!” He thought of nurturing him well, as he might have the potential to be an accountant!

Jiabao blushed and smiled bashfully.

After an afternoon of rehearsal, Brother Chang had practically memorized the entire process and could recite it without even thinking. It came naturally to him.

Twice, Chang Hao noticed someone trying to sneak past the counter without paying, but Jiabao caught one of them, and Brother Chang caught the other.

Brother Qing and Xiaoshu finally became familiar with all the prices of the items and were no longer flustered. Jiabao diligently and accurately handled the accounting, without making any mistakes.

The most crucial aspects were more or less covered.

Finally, after practicing all day, everyone was hungry and finished all the dim sum and food. Nothing was left.

That evening, when they returned home, Grandpa Chang found another helper to take care of clearing the tables.

On September 21st, in the morning, they hung up the signs, which were covered with red cloth. They would unveil them on the opening day.

Then, they practiced for another day. After finishing, they tidied everything up, wiped the tables and chairs once again, and confirmed that everything was in order. Yu Qingze spoke loudly, saying, “

“Great! Tomorrow at the hour of si (9 a.m. to 11 a.m), we’ll open on time!”


Thandar: It was a bit difficult choosing pronouns for the madams because direct translation did not work well. The author used male pronouns but also quite female in a sense, which worked in Chinese but not so much in English. And I’m not good with Chinese, so I chose the term “Madam.” If there is a better option anyone can think of, let me know 😀


  1. Gremlin says:

    Sobbing rn, I caught up 🥲🥲🥲

    Thank you for the chapter!!

  2. njuweyn says:

    thank you for the update!! i can’t get enough of this story!

  3. Aprillen says:

    Thank you for the update!

    I must admit that “mother” and “madam” confuse my brain and make me think of them as women. It’s unfortunate that we don’t really have any gender-neutral honorifics in English. If I were to write this kind of story from scratch, I would make some up, either neutral ones for everyone or special ones for the fictional genders.

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