Episode 20 Recap
The assessment of anonymously creating a dish and be chosen as the person to have made the dish by the sampling student is the first part to passing the assessment and contribute to the grading that will determine the five students going through to represent Si Ping High School at the national cooking competition.
Knowing something about the sampling student is key to passing this part and it is a piece of cake for Wang Mai Zhi when Wei Qi Zhen is the person he selects to make his dish for. With a pork ginger dish, Wei Qi Zhen easily guesses him to have made the dish she samples. A roast pork ginger ale meal, Wei Qi Zhen explains Wang Mai Zhi is only one of two people who knows she had a cold and he was the one who made ginger coke for her for her cold.
Wei Qi Zhen unfortunately fails the assessment when the person she selects to sample her dish, Liu Xuan, does find the correct reason, but makes an incorrect guess of the person who made the dish. Liu Xuan says the dish is made with her injured leg in mind. This person who made the dish wishes for her leg to heal faster. She goes to the whiteboard and circles Amy Fan’s name before turning to the person she circled. “Amy, it’s you, right?” Liu Xuan asks her. Amy Fan shakes her head. Wei Qi Zhen raises her hand as she informs Liu Xuan who actually did. “I did…” Wei Qi Zhen says. Liu Xuan is shocked. Wei Qi Zhen’s eyes discreetly roll in the direction of Wang Mai Zhi, seemingly apologetic towards him, sad and possibly embarrassed she is the first one to have not been correctly chosen.
Wei Qi Zhen therefore isn’t one of the five students representing Si Ping High School in the National Senior Cooking Competition. Wang Mai Zhi, however, is. The four others students making up the team representing Si Ping High School are: Ma Chong Sheng, Liu Xuan, Chen Meng Chen and Tang Hao. Kong Meng Zhen was disqualified as soon as the sampling starts when he initialed his dish. Amy Fan passed at the sampling stage; however, her dish seems to have not done well during judgment from the teachers.
Wei Qi Zhen failing to make to the final five means she isn’t able to receive the end-of-year giveaway Wang Mai Zhi had planned to give her. Wang Mai Zhi had been gutted when Wei Qi Zhen had failed to pass and seems to have really wanted to give away his end-of-year giveaway to Wei Qi Zhen. Catching up to Wei Qi Zhen and stopping her from leaving on her bicycle after she had dashed away from him in the hallway when he called out to her, Wang Mai Zhi asks Wei Qi Zhen if she wants to know what he had planned to give her. Wei Qi Zhen doesn’t. It will make her sad knowing she isn’t able to receive it. Hearing this, Wang Mai Zhi still goes on to tell Wei Qi Zhen what it was: it was a life-size cardboard cutout of him that he had wanted to give her as a prize. The disappointment Wei Qi Zhen expresses on having missed out on a life-size cardboard cutout of him and how much she wanted it has Wang Mai Zhi give a hint to the actual prize he wanted to give: “What’s so great about a life-size cardboard cutout? Isn’t it better to have the real person?” Wei Qi Zhen hears what he said, but is confused and questions it.
Wang Mai Zhi diverts. He tells Wei Qi Zhen he will take back his dictionary (Wei Qi Zhen had dropped it onto the floor in the hallway when she dashed away from Wang Mai Zhi) as punishment for making him chase after her. He warns her if she ever is like this in the future, he will ignore her. Wei Qi Zhen responds with saying she isn’t like him who possesses magical powers that has the ability to keep herself away from being eliminated by having a dictionary with no words of failure. She also tells him that the things she wants just doesn’t come to her no matter how much effort she puts in. Wang Mai Zhi disagrees and will prove that the things she wants will come to her: she simply needs to agree to give him what he wants at the time he manages to defeat Shi Wen High School in the national cooking competition—to which Wei Qi Zhen does.
Underneath the playfulness, Chris has a problem he’s hiding from Han Jie and everyone else. Chris has lost his sense of taste. It is through Han Jie knowing Chris well that Han Jie is able to help Chris regain his sense of taste. ‘Knowing the other’ is also what helps bring Han Jie and Si Ping High School to victory in the cooking competition.
Han Jie becomes aware of Chris’ problem after a call from Raymond informing Han Jie of Chris’ preparations made to exit from the cuisine world. This brings Han Jie to recall two occasions with Chris: the unpalatable spicy dish he ate that Chris made and the paper he found on the floor at Fang Xiao Rou’s father’s restaurant containing the recipe to the dessert Chris made at their cooking battle. Putting two and two together, Han Jie believes Chris has lost his sense of taste. Han Jie seeks proof to determine whether his guess is true or not. Han Jie tests Chris with pouring one of the condiment ingredients into a bowl of noodle soup Chris eats at an eatery he meets Chris up at and asks him to tell him what he added. Chris is vague with his answer: it’s salty. Han Jie soon gets confirmation when when he asks Chris how long he was going to hide it from him. A moment processing the question and looking at Han Jie with unwavering gaze on him, Chris tells Han Jie not to look at him with such a pitiful face.
With Chris confirming the problem, Han Jie becomes preoccupied with it to the point of him not noticing Fang Xiao Rou holding a bag of carrots or her smiling person as he walks away with the shopping trolley during a grocery shopping excursion of theirs. Fang Xiao Rou manages to snap Han Jie out of his thoughts with a kiss to his cheek and declaring to do a sudden check on whether he’s breaking the rule of hiding something from her. Han Jie telling Fang Xiao Rou Chris’ problem is the thing filling up all of his thoughts leads Fang Xiao Rou to mention Mr. Joel. “Since you can’t come up with a solution, why don’t you ask Mr. Joel for help? Just like how he taught you at the time, “I feel you can try going back to the original intention—go back and think on what the significance of competiting with Chris was back then.”
The story about Mr. Joel is told by Chris to Fang Xiao Rou during a talk between the two when Fang Xiao Rou had gone looking for Chris at her father’s restaurant to stop Chris from giving up cooking. Mr. Joel is Han Jie and Chris’ teacher when they were students. Mr. Joel is said to have been the youngest three michelin star chef during Han Jie and Chris’ student days and was someone both guys looked up to. The situation described to have happened back then was that Mr. Joel had given them a fork and set a challenge for each of them to turn every Chinese dish into ones that can only be eaten with a fork—that is: to turn Chinese cuisine into those that westerners would want to eat so it can be judged. Chris was the victorious one back then and the fork Mr. Joel had presented before them became Chris’—one that has been turned into a ring and currently in worn by Chris.
Fang Xiao Rou’s words has Han Jie smile to himself. He pulls her to him and envelops Fang Xiao Rou in a hug. “What are you doing? This is a supermarket,” Fang Xiao Rou says to Han Jie. Han Jie doesn’t care because Fang Xiao Rou had just helped him figure out how he’d face Chris.
The day of the National High School Cooking Competition arrives. Ninety minutes is designated for each team to create their dish for judgement. The topic is chicken. While Shi Wen High School goes through the ninety minutes smoothly, it isn’t so for Si Ping High School. Making Si Ping’s version of a creative chicken stew, blunders and accidents come one after the other. It starts with Tang Hao dropping a bowl to the ground before even starting cooking. When the cooking begins, Ma Chong Sheng nips his fingers whilst preparing chicken. Immediately following Ma Chong Sheng, it’s Tang Hao again: he knocks a bowl containing ingredients to the floor. And finally, Liu Xuan makes the biggest blunder when she spills the chicken stock for their stew onto the floor when her injured leg gives way. Chen Meng Chen, the only student who has been in control all this time, is devastated by the last mistake by Liu Xuan. Han Jie isn’t worried. He is calm and cool. Han Jie makes changes to the dish. Anchovy, rosemary and mash potatoes for dumpling knots are asked to be prepared to make up for the mistake.
The dish is completed and is put up for judgement. The way in which the dishes are judged involves judgement from the judges as well as a member of the other team decided by drawing a name. It is this additional judge from each of the teams that sees Han Jie having the ability to help Chris with his problem. Han Jie knowing Chris very well and Han Jie drawing out Chris to taste his team’s dish, Han Jie helps Chris regain his sense of taste: the Sichuan pepper Han Jie added into his team’s dish ignites Chris’ senses and returns him his sense of taste.
The results of the competition: Si Ping High School wins. This win comes after Chris contests the judges’ judgement of Shi Wen High School as the winner when he tells the judges they failed to pick up the depth of flavours in Han Jie’s dish—the depth of flavours that he knows Han Jie’s dishes always have because Chris understands his cooking.
With Si Ping High School announced as the winner, this means Wei Qi Zhen must give Wang Mai Zhi what he wants. What he wants is Wei Qi Zhen to be his girlfriend. However, Wang Mai Zhi asks for this in a riddle: "This present is me disliking extremely annoying things. It’s like when eating watermelons: you must get rid of all the seeds before you can eat—or, it’s like eating grapes." Wei Qi Zhen believes he wants fruits that don’t have seeds. However, it’s not what he means. What Wang Mai Zhi means is: "Our current relationship of good friends, we can get rid of that annoying seed." Wei Qi Zhen goes through a brain workout before she finally understands. What Wang Mai Zhi wants is for her to be his girlfriend.
Wang Mai Zhi doesn’t get his reward, however. When Wei Qi Zhen exclaims, “Girlfriend?!” in surprise, she gets a hand of Wang Mai Zhi’s covering her mouth. “Don’t say it so loud. If Ma Chong Sheng and the others hear it, it’ll be really embarrassing,” Wang Mai Zhi says to Wei Qi Zhen. Wei Qi Zhen’s becomes sad. She pushes Wang Mai Zhi’s hand away and separates them with a push. She looks up at Wang Mai Zhi. "If it was Liu Xuan standing here today, you wouldn’t be embarrassed, right?" Wang Mai Zhi is taken off guard by her comment. Wei Qi Zhen doesn’t wait further for Wang Mai Zhi to gather a response to her question. "Wang Mai Zhi, thank you for taking care of me. But, I don’t want to embarrass you anymore. From now on, we’ll just be regular classmates." Wei Qi Zhen then leaves. She leaves Wang Mai Zhi calling after her. "Why did I go say that for?" Wang Mai Zhi asks himself.
The episode takes the series back to what we had liked about Love Cuisine. The story focused on cooking and used cooking as a place for the romance plots to come in rather than romance (of the tedious kind) carrying the story through.
The writing is not the best, though. The competition: though it was very cool that Si Ping High School was announced as the winner in the end—we got to see that lovely sort-of-confession from Wang Mai Zhi to Wei Qi Zhen because of the win—the way Si Ping High School was written to be the winner was so odd. They have a supervising teacher who took their win away from them. ‘A playful character who never lets anything go by normally’ was the justification for Chris having chosen to contest his team’s win. We don’t know why Si Ping High School couldn’t just be written in as the winner from the get go. Maybe the purpose of writing it this way was to show how extremely okay Chris’ taste buds were. Or, maybe it’s for the purpose of getting across the fact that Chris understands Han Jie’s cooking so to match the theme of this episode. At least they bothered to write in the recklessness of Chris’ action. Han Jie was written to say Chris was going to be fired soon for it.
One thing we like that may or may not be realistic is Chris recovering his sense of taste due to the Sichuan peppers that is said to give him goosebumps. We don’t ever like seeing characters who loves what they do get told they aren’t able to do it any more because of some unfortunate event. We’re happy Chris is okay and able to taste now. He is happy. Han Jie is happy.
The writer is playing with the name tag on the chef uniform of Chris. Did anyone notice Chris’ last name is ‘Yao’. He’s Chris Yao—Cindy Yao’s brother. An extremely subtle development of the family background of this Chris character. Like brother like sister, it seems. Chris Yao and Cindy Yao are both playful and they both really like Han Jie.
The assessment for the student was creative. Having the students pick up on something they know about the sampling student as the way the sampling student is able to guess correctly of the cook was believable. It was interesting to hear the reasons behind the guesses.
That Liu Xuan—we agree with what Wang Mai Zhi said about how it’s Liu Xuan’s fault for not guessing it right. How could Wei Qi Zhen have made the dish any more sincere? Liu Xuan said it herself: the dish is made with the hope for her leg to heal faster. That’s sincere—sincere enough for it to be able to speak to the person eating the dish and tell them who made the dish! But the person eating guessed wrong. We think Wei Qi Zhen was simply a blip in Liu Xuan’s radar of people she notices. Wei Qi Zhen noticing and caring about her injured leg in the background wouldn’t make Liu Xuan notice her. It’s as if Wei Qi Zhen needed to make herself more known to Liu Xuan. It’s that she needs to form a better relationship with Liu Xuan so that she can be considered to have been the cook of the dish that was obviously filled with sincerity. But forming an even better relationship with her shouldn’t be necessary when Han Jie did say a dish filled with sincerity should speak to the person and tell them who made the dish.
Chen Meng Chen’s dish didn’t show any sort of sincerity and yet she passed. The sampling student did all the work to get her to pass. Ma Chong Sheng was the sampling student for Chen Meng Chen’s dish. Chen Meng Chen’s dish was all about herself. She put in an ingredient Ma Chong Sheng didn’t really care for. "I don’t care whether people like it or not as long as I’m happy"—this is what Ma Chong Sheng said is the attitude of Chen Meng Chen’s dish. Chen Meng Chen wholeheartedly agrees with it as well when we see her accompanying it with a nod and danced her head to the words Ma Chong Sheng used to describe her dish that has an ingredient Ma Chong Sheng doesn’t really like. It’s unlike Han Jie’s dish which also has an ingredient the sampling person hates. But, there was purpose in putting in that hated ingredient—to help regain the person’s sense of taste. That’s sincere. Chen Meng Chen’s dish was a dish filled with arrogance. It didn’t exert any sort of sincerity. Chen Meng Chen was just lucky that she drew out Ma Chong Sheng to sample her dish. He’s got great analytical skills and deduced that everyone except Chen Meng Chen would not ever put in something the sampling student didn’t like because they all care about people liking their food.
So, Wei Qi Zhen was very unlucky to have drawn Liu Xuan as the one to sample her dish. Sincerity was put into the dish Wei Qi Zhen made for Liu Xuan, yet she failed because Liu Xuan couldn’t see another possible person who could have made it for her. We guess Wei Qi Zhen didn’t pick a unique enough point about Liu Xuan for Liu Xuan to guess right. But then again, we feel Liu Xuan will still pick Amy Fan or someone else closer to her even if sincerity poured out from Wei Qi Zhen’s dish because Wei Qi Zhen drew a person who doesn’t seem observant or able to see pass the surface. We mean she couldn’t see Wang Mai Zhi as a durian—prickly on the outside, but soft on the inside. Who’s idea had Han Jie taken when he went to confess to Fang Xiao Rou? Wang. Mai. Zhi. Wang Mai Zhi! He’s not that bad! He just needs someone to be tolerant of his ways to the point of humouring him. His really soft side will then show itself! Wei Qi Zhen really does humour him a lot and takes his superior attitude really well!
But, story-wise, Wei Qi Zhen failing the assessment gave Wang Mai Zhi and Wei Qi Zhen the most interesting scene between them to date! It was Wang Mai Zhi’s sort-of-confession to Wei Qi Zhen! We like that Wei Qi Zhen rejected Wang Mai Zhi. Wei Qi Zhen shouldn’t agree to be Wang Mai Zhi’s girlfriend if he’s afraid to let people know. Nothing will change from how they are now if Wei Qi Zhen is Wang Mai Zhi’s girlfriend in secret. Wei Qi Zhen will have the secret title of girlfriend and she will get to see him more outside of school. But, inside school grounds, she’ll still be meeting up with him at their secret place and keeping a distance when in front of others. It won’t be anything different from now. Agreeing to be Wang Mai Zhi’s girlfriend in secret really only benefits Wang Mai Zhi. It guarantees Wei Qi Zhen from not going with other guys who become interested in her because she’s Wang Mai Zhi’s girlfriend. That’s right. Wang Mai Zhi can’t have Wei Qi Zhen until he lets go of maintaining image!
That riddle Wang Mai Zhi gave to ask Wei Qi Zhen to be his girlfriend, we were also as confused as Wei Qi Zhen for a while until we realised Wang Mai Zhi was talking about the Chinese characters for good friends and girlfriend. Just for anyone who’s curious, Wang Mai Zhi said, "Get rid of the seed in good friend". Seed in a fruit like the watermelon Wang Mai Zhi was talking about is the character 籽, but seed is also 子. Good friend in Chinese characters are 好朋友. Getting rid of the seed, 子, from the character 好 in 好朋友 becomes 女朋友. 女朋友 are the characters for girlfriend!
The Wang Mai Zhi and Wei Qi Zhen relationship is again the most interesting in the series. That cliffhanger was exciting! We’ll wait to see what it will bring. Hope it’s going to be awesome!