Chapter 42: The Finals of the Grand Cooking Tournament
「All right…Sorry to keep you waiting. This is Chinese food, one of the Planet Earth’s three great foods.」
Lined up on the table were all the stars of Chinese cuisine, served in Chinese bowls, such as hot and sour soups, tofu, fried rice, dumplings, shrimp chili, eight-treasure vegetables and pepper steak. It seemed that the genre of Chinese cuisine had not been established in this world yet.
All of the dishes served in this competition were completely new dishes from the perspective of the other people. It was as if they were trying foreign food. Moreover, those dishes were made with fresh ingredients such as real vegetables. It was unsurprising that my father won all of the previous matches unanimously. Rather, I was surprised that my father was very good at cooking. Speaking of which, I did remember that he said he was a chef once when I was younger…
「These are colorful dishes. I’ve seen a variety of dishes so far, but I’ve never seen such colorful foods.」
「What a strong fragrance. But, it’s no ordinary fragrance. At first, one could probably think that it resembles the aroma of burnt fish or meat. Yet, this strong fragrance is exactly the smell of a well-cooked dish. That’s what makes these dishes so appetizing.」
「Well, well. You have to try them for those good reasons. 」
My father had a dignified demeanor after he heard the jury’s compliments. My father hurried them to try his food, so each judge slowly tasted the flavors of Chinese cuisine for the very first time. On that moment, that strong taste “exploded” on their mouths.
「Wha…What is this cooking! 」
「Even the tofu’s flavor, which seemed seasoned with moderate spices, burst on my mouth! It gradually stimulated my appetite!」
「Not only this dish! Although the pepper steak is crunchy, it has less bitterness and displays a brilliant harmony between the meat, the pepper and the sauce!」
「No. Actually, it’s incredible that all of these dishes have their own personality. The flavor from each one of them is very unique. Moreover, this oolong tea naturally comes into the mouth as if it were a drink prepared just for these dishes. Just like the contestant Kyou did with his seafood dishes, the naturalness, harmony, and variations of these dishes were top notch. Let me assure you, these are delicious!!」
「Oh my! No…No way! The Gourmet Master made a great statement!! 」
In addition to the great acclaim of the jury, the audience, the announcer and even the other judges, were surprised to hear the huge compliments of the Gourmet Master towards one of the contestant’s dishes.
「Sir, did you say your name was Keiji? Your name is meritorious, your recipes are great, and on top of that, you’re Kyou’s…」
「Well, none of that really matters for matches like this. What I want is simple. I just want the jury to taste my food regardless of names, parenthood, or procedures.」
The Gourmet Master smiled to my father while saying “That’s right”.
「Well then. Let’s continue. I present you Kyou & Mina’s cooking! 」
At the call of the announcer, I carried my completed dish. During this time, I thanked Mina-chan who stood next to me.
「…Thanks Mina-chan. 」
「No, please carry your head high until the very end. 」
I had to thank her. Everybody saw what happened during our cooking process. In finals of the Grand Cooking Tournament, I cooked alone without Mina-chan’s help. Actually, I told Mina-chan about my preference the day before. There were many reasons, but I wanted to win against my father in the finals with my own power. I created a dish with the cooking process I’ve learnt from Mina-chan and Miss Katherina. I made it by using my own monsters. I wanted to try and see how far I could go on my own.
Of course, this tournament was also a great competition to improve Mina-chan’s ability as a chef. So, she had a good reason to refuse my request. However, she entrusted everything to me and said, “Mister Kyou has led me this far, so I will leave everything on Mister Kyou’s hands for the finals”. To make her proud, I poured everything I’ve got in my cooking and spread it in front of the jury.
「Thank you for waiting. These are my dishes. 」
「Oh, these are… 」
I put the Jack O’ Lantern soup on the table. There was also a salad with Devil Carrot and Mandragora’s flowers. A baked Ent Mushroom. And a Killer Plant sauce with Cockatrice meat.
These dishes were the first menu that I presented with Mina-chan on our regional contest. It was the first dishes that Mina-chan cooked with the monsters I grew on my field. However, the food I presented here today was the culmination of the monsters that I had been cultivating ever since I came to this different world. Every monster I raised here was nurtured with care.
The theme of this year’s Tournament was all about new “Food Cultivation”. It sounded quite simple at first. A simplicity that made me win against my previous competitors. But, against my father was another story. Small tricks wouldn’t do any justice. That’s why I dared to choose these dishes for the finals. It was all about the quality of the monsters I raised, their goodness and their taste. With Mina-chan’s technique, Miss Katherina’s guidance and Fitis’ cooperation, I managed to improve my cooking skills during this cooking competition. I will create them all with my resolution, hard work and care. I found that answer myself.
The jury were surprised by my dishes. Nevertheless, every single judge picked their chopsticks and slowly put my food onto their mouths.
「This is. 」
I couldn’t hear any big impressions nor critical acclaim from their voices. Just a breath of exclamation when they tasted my food. After a while, each judge placed the plates on the table after they carefully ate my dishes. After a brief silence, I finally heard a voice.
「…These were really good dishes. 」
Those were the words of the Gourmet Master after he tasted my food.
「Now, we shall move on to the review! Every judge should write down the name of the contestant that surprised you the most in a positive way and vote for the winner!」
The entire venue calmed down in response to the announcer’s declaration. And then, the first judge evaluation was shown.
It was written…Keiji.
「Oh my! The first vote belongs to Himuro Keiji! 」
The audience erupted in cheers and applause when they heard the first judge’s vote. Then, the second vote was for Keiji again. The announcer said that as if the third vote was going for Keiji as well, if that happened he would be the winner because of the majority of votes. But, if the third vote was for me, it would break that outcome. And so Kyou was written on the third vote. That was my name. The tension was high, and we weren’t allowed to even have any breaks within the voting time. The fourth vote ended up on my side. I felt relieved when my named appeared again.
「Holy heavens! The last two votes overturned the possible victory of our contestant Keiji! What an intense voting! The current result is 2 versus 2! The last judge entrusted with the final evaluation is our Gourmet Master!」
An exciting venue. The enthusiasm was so passionate that even the Gourmet Master took his time to grab a brush before writing the final vote. He wrote a name then. Eventually, the movement of his brush stopped. I saw that the eyes of the Gourmet Master looked at both my father and me. Finally, the name was announced in the whole venue.
It astounded me. Was it me? Or was it my father? The whole venue was silent for a moment, so I couldn’t even understand who had won. Before long, the happiness and cheers from the crowd spread throughout the stadium to celebrate the winner of the finals. My father and I just stood there silently amidst the greatest enthusiasm ever heard in this country.
「…Hmm, it’s over now. Well, regardless of the result, it was fun to be able to fight with you on the finals, Kyou.」
I saw that my father reached his hand in my direction. Ah, yes. Regardless of the outcome, I had all the rights and dignity to shake hands with him because I did everything I could with my own power.
I saw that Mina-chan was tearing up next to me. When I looked closely at the audience, I noticed that Dora-chan was also crying, while Lily and Fitis embraced Rock emotionally.
The only feeling I had inside of me was just a sense of accomplishment. It was indeed a tough tournament. I’ve never done anything like this since I was born. Regardless of the result, I won’t deny the refreshing feeling I felt on this day.
「…But, next time I won’t lose. Father. 」
「Yeah. I’m looking forward to it. 」
The name of the winner was Himuro Keiji.
In the Finals of the Grand Cooking Tournament…I had my first defeat on this superb cooking competition.
T_____T …Nice ending. Quite different from the manga.