Chapter 16: VS Gourmet Hero
「Oh, that was wonderful. The savory meat from the Crimson Lotus Dragon mixed with the monster lemon juice, the Queen Pineapple salad, and the famous see-through Kraken. Amazing dishes from the winner of the previous contest. As expected of John F. Restaurant. We are going to have more ingredients and flavors in this year’s contest than the previous year.」
The Lord and the members of the Gastronomic Association were mesmerized by the lavish cuisine that was served to them. They were full of admiration when they tasted those dishes. Every judge yelled unanimously, 「DE.LI.CI.OUS!!!」. Well, I knew it was definitely tasty even from watching from afar.
So far, many restaurants and cafeterias presented their signature dishes. But the dishes served by John F. Restaurant far exceeded their expectations. In fact, most of dishes that have been served so far have scored between 5 and 6 points. Only a few were able to score 7 or 8 points. However, the score for John F. Restaurant was 9.8. It was practically the maximum score.
By the way, the owner of the John F. Restaurant was laughing extremely loud. It was as if he’d won already. That was quite irritable. Yet, right next to him, the Gourmet hero was quietly standing with her eyes closed. She was really calm, maybe she was sleeping? Anyways, it was our turn to present our dishes.
「Finally, our last contestants! It’s their first participation in the cooking contest! It used to be a small restaurant, but recently, their popularity rose considerably because the quality of their ingredients improved dramatically! I present you the two representatives of Mina Restaurant!」
Mina was extremely nervous after the announcer introduced her restaurant. I put my hand on her shoulder to reassure her. I made an gesture with my thumb up that meant it would be okay. Thankfully, she was encouraged because she was able to show me a smile. She brought the dishes we prepared in advance and then she served the Lord and the rest of the judges.
「The…The menu is Jack O’ Lantern soup. Sauté Devil Carrot with Mandragora flower. Grilled Cockatrice’s meat seasoned with Killer Plant sauce, and baked Ent Mushroom.」
All of them were first-class ingredients. Dora herself gave the flowers of Mandragora. People say that the Mandragora’s main body has a better taste, but it seemed that the flower was eatable. The flavor was very unique and delicious. But it was an ingredient that couldn’t be eaten that often because it would take a few weeks to grow in the Mandragora once you harvest it.
First, the Lord and the other judges ate the soup and the flowers. They were eating more than I imagined they would. But they were quietly eating without saying any words. I didn’t know if it was bad or if they were admired by our dishes. I could feel the fragrant smell of the baked Ent Mushroom.
「This was…absolutely wonderful. The aroma we get from eating these dishes was phenomenal, but it’s the unique flavor that needs a special statement. It remains in the mouth after we ate. It stimulates the appetite. To be honest, I’m used to eating lots of delicious foods, but because of this unique scent and flavor, my appetite increased dramatically as I wanted to eat more and more of this wonderful food.」
All the Gastronomic Association members yelled,「DE.LI.CI.OUS!!! 」. This was the best compliment I heard in a long time. However, the competition was fierce and the judges were yet to eat all of our dishes. It will be a tough call.
Then, only the last dish remained. The Lord and the judges ate the tender meat of the Cockatrice covered with a savory yellow sauce. And…
The fork of the judges, including the Lord’s, fell over. After that, the judges were deciding the scores of Mina’s restaurant. It was a moment of tension. Everyone was anxiously waiting for the results.
The owner of the John F. Restaurant opened his mouth in shock. The Gourmet woman, who stood quietly next to him, opened her eyes and looked at the score. Ah, so she was awake.
「This is it! The winner has been decided! The victory goes to Mina Restaurant by achieving a perfect 10 score from the judges and, therefore, surpassing John F. Restaurant!!」
We heard high cheers from the crowds. Mina, Lily and I jumped with joy after winning the cooking contest.
「Wait a second. 」
At that moment, an indignant voice was heard from the crowds.
「May I ask the reason why they won over me? 」
The Gourmet woman was standing right in front of the judges as she asked for an explanation for our victory.
「I captured a variety of rare monsters from all over the world. I presented you high-class ingredients. The Crimson Lotus Dragon was the most difficult monster to find and capture. It was absolutely an arduous quest. The see-through Kraken is an exceptionally rare squid that appears in the frozen Sea of Ice every once in a few years. I failed to capture it during my last two adventures, but I finally caught it during my third time. Please let me ask you. Why did I lose against them when I was the one who had extremely rare high-class ingredients?」
The question of this woman was a bit extreme. I understood why she was angry because she had high-class ingredients that were difficult to acquire on her quest. However, she was a bit arrogant because she didn’t want to accept the result.
「You will get your answer if you eat this dish. 」
The Lord offered the plate of the Cockatrice meat with the Killer Plant sauce. Of all the dishes we made, I thought the Lord would give her the baked Ent Mushroom because it would be considered a high-class ingredient. But, instead, he gave her the Cockatrice with the Killer Plant sauce. It was a dish that I would find rather common. The Gourmet hero was looking suspiciously at our dish.
However, the moment she toke a bite of it, her annoyed expression changed dramatically.
「This…This is…! 」
「Do you understand it now. 」
She didn’t understand because she kept eating until the plate was clean. The Gourmet hero had a surprised yet confused expression on her face. I thought that she didn’t believe her loss yet.
Then, she walked in my direction and asked the following.
「Are you are the one who provided these ingredients? How did you find these? Tell me. 」
She was pretty close to my face. Well, I anticipated some sort of turmoil because of my ingredients. Therefore, I brought with me the guest of honor of that dish.
「Okay. I will tell you the secret of that monster dish. 」
After I said that, I showed her the Killer Plant that I put in a pot. By the way, I survived.
There was a big fuss all over the venue as soon as everybody saw that monster.
「How…How could you! So, you really used a real Killer Plant to one of Mina Restaurant’s signature dishes! It will attack people indiscriminately! What are you thinking? 」
When the Gourmet hero saw the Killer Plant, she immediately grabbed the sword on her waist. But after a while, she noticed that something was not right and she changed her offensive stance.
「…What does that mean? Why won’t it attack us? 」
Yes, the Killer Plant that I brought had absolutely zero urge to attack. Of course, the monster had already matured and its mouth had grown fangs. However, there was no movement. It was as if it had no energy to attack people.
Everyone in the venue noticed that dramatic change as well. Lots of questions started to rise one after another. Everybody was surprised and curious at the same time.
「It was easy to figure it out. This calm demeanor is probably the true personality of this monster plant.」
After I answered her questions, everyone in the venue was immersed on their thoughts. The Gourmet hero was still doubtful as she looked at me with distrusting eyes.
「…Please explain. 」
「First, this monster plant doesn’t grow in a normal land, or forest, or a place with fertile soil. The Killer Plant grows in the wastelands; far north from here, with no grass, or tree roots around. It grows at a place with no water at all.」
「That’s silly. Killer Plants won’t grow in remote areas! 」
Well, I thought the same at first. Not only the Killer Plant, but also ordinary monster plants were not supposed to grow in the wastelands.
「Killer Plants do grow in arid environments. Actually, only Killer Plants were able to grow on those places.」
「What do you mean? 」
「I saw that information on a comic book before. It’s called fasting in farming. 」
It was a famous comic book about delicious meals. It explained that, in order to limit the hunger of the plant and maximize the energy, the minimum use of water and fertilizer was required. It was a farming method to raise the plant’s flavor.
To tell the truth, I was also confused about the Killer Plant aggressive behavior. When it grew, it would attack people repeatedly. And not just people, it also attacked the plantation of Jack O’ Lantern. Yet, it would not attack for nourishment or just for predation. So, I reversed the idea. Maybe the Killer Plant grew too much that it became vigorously and ferocious?
The fruit of the Killer Plant resembled a tomato. I heard that if the tomato was fed with too much fertilizer it would get watery fat. In other words, maybe the true environment of the Killer Plant was, on the contrary, not one that fattens the fruit? So, I decided to grow them in a man-made wasteland. I used an agricultural method to give them the minimum water necessary to grow.
The result was that the fruit was not red, but a yellow-colored fruit. And after it matured, it didn’t attack. Rather, it focused on making its own fruits.
「As you can see, the fruit has a yellow hue. This is the true fruit of the Killer Plant. The taste and sweetness of the yellow fruit is far superior to the known red fruit of the Killer Plant. The high-grade taste of rare monsters were also hidden within ordinary monsters.」
I took one of the yellow fruits from the Killer Plant and gave it to the Gourmet hero. After taking a bite, the Gourmet hero looked as if she was a bit convinced.
「So, there are no objections between the two of you? Well then! The victory goes to the Mina Restaurant and its monster cultivator Kyou!」
This time, everyone cheered loudly and congratulated us on our grand triumph.
1/3 2 more coming up.