Rui En, Li Si Qi, Pierre Png, Darren Lim, Cynthia Koh, Belinda Lee, Apple Hong, Richard Low, Cavin Soh, Terence Cao, May Phua, Jin Yin Ji
In her youth, Lin Baozhu had set up an “economical rice” stall with her husband who, unfortunately, died young. Under the strict control of her mother-in-law, Xiangqin, she painstakingly shouldered the responsibility of caring for the entire household. Her sister-in-law, Fenfen, helped her in the family business soon after the latter’s graduation. Focusing on the home-delivery market, the family successfully established themselves in the F&B business.
When Baozhu’s 2 sons, Jianye (the elder) and Jianhai (the younger) reached adulthood, Xiangqin, before she went into “seclusion”, told Baozhu to relinquish control of the family business. Fenfen was put in charge of Finance, Jianye helmed Marketing and Operations, whereas Jianhai oversaw the Delivery and Kitchen Operations departments.
Relieved of her burden and away from her mother-in-law’s manipulation, Baozhu swore that she would be a liberal mother who would never interfere in her children’s lives. But this was easier said than done. Perhaps because her mother-in-law had previously subjugated her, Baozhu unconsciously meddled in her children’s careers. Inevitably, she intruded into Jianye’s and his wife’s lives.
Jianye’s wife, Yan Qiuhua, had originally wanted to move out after marriage and Baozhu had also given her consent. She regretted her decision, however, as she couldn’t bear to have her son leave her side, and feigned loneliness to thwart the couple’s plans. Jianye felt bad about leaving Baozhu behind and begged Qiuhua to change her mind, giving the latter no choice but to concede. What piqued Qiuhua further was Baozhu’s mandate that no matter how busy she was, she had to cook dinner, with specific instructions that the meals served must be varied and that there must be 3 dishes and a soup. It was Baozhu’s insistence that the family tradition of dining together must not change.
What irked Qiuhua most was Baozhu’s refusal for Jianye to invest in expanding her manicure business on the pretext of not wanting Qiuhua to overwork. Qiuhua was at her wits’ end but at the same time, did not want to be controlled by Baozhu. As such, Qiuhua and Baozhu were constantly engaged in little battles of wit.
On the surface, Qiuhua always wore a smile. Underneath, however, she was waiting for her chance to “revolt”. When Jianhai married Jiazhen, Qiuhua thought she had an ally in her new sister-in-law. Bad-mouthing Baozhu before Jiazhen, Qiuhua encouraged the latter to fight for their freedom. Little did she expect Jiahen to abide by Jianhai’s wishes to stay with his mother. Qiuhua misunderstood that Jiazhen had done this to please Baozhu and to make her look bad.
Baozhu realised that Qiuhua was opinionated about Jiazhen. Baozhu doted most on Jianhai and as such, pampered Jiazhen as well. This did not escape Qiuhua’s eyes and she started to begrudge the partial treatment.
Under Qiuhua’s devious machinations, misunderstandings began to brew. Baozhu became more guarded towards Jiazhen and she started to suspect the latter’s motives in marrying Jianhai. Qiuhua further aggravated matters by divulging that Jiazhen had married Jianhai on the rebound after realizing that her ex-boyfriend had two-timed her. Baozhu was furious that her son had been made use of, and coupled with the trouble Jiazhen’s brother and sister-in-law had created, the relationship between the mother-and-daughter-in-law finally broke down. The aggrieved Jiazhen left home.
With Jiazhen gone, the antagonistic Qiuhua’s relationship with Baozhen deteriorated further.
In-law problems wreaked havoc in the Xiao household. The family was in shambles and happiness had left them. Jianhai left without a word and sought refuge with his grandmother (the “empress dowager”).
The “empress dowager” was certain that Baozhu had chased her daughter-in-law away, and returned home to take charge once again. She even feigned senility to pull wicked pranks on Baozhu. Just as Baozhu was reeling from the pranks, Jiazhen returned home to care for the two elders. Baozhu began to see Jiazhen’s virtues just as Jianye began to realize Qiuhua’s deviousness. He even discovered Qiuhua’s secret, that she had bore Shen Yun’s child before their marriage. Jianye decided to end his marriage…
Through the trials and tribulations, the family was reunited. Jianye and Jianhai expanded their catering business with their wives’ help, and opened a restaurant, pushing the family business to greater heights. It was only then that Baozhu truly shed her burden and handed the business over to the youngsters, as she started to enjoy her carefree life.