Head Chef’s Astonishment
“Ha? Princess Consorts wants to visit the kitchen?”
“That is right. Moreover, this is His Highness’s request. You have no right of veto. Do you understand?”
Having suddenly appeared before me, Head Court Lady thrust an unreasonable request at me. As the evening grew late and silence finally befell on the kitchen, I scowled at Head Court Lady who’d dropped an unexpected bomb.
“What does it mean”
I knit my brows at the subject of Head Court Lady’s, no, His Highness’s request.
A subject as absurd as guiding Princess Consort around the kitchen cannot even be considered a joke.
“It’s as you’ve heard. Princess Consort wishes to tour the kitchen. And under His Highness’s orders, I am telling you to arrange it”
“Do you mean you insist we approve Princess Consort to wreak havoc on our holy ground that she knows nothing about?”
As I said the cutting remark, with corners of her eyes lifted in displeasure, Head Court Lady fixed her gaze at me.
“Please don’t say discourteous things. Princess Consort is by no means a dull-witted person. She wants to tour the kitchen. If possible, she wants to see the pantry. It’s exactly as I say. She doesn’t want anything more”
“Can we trust that?”
It seems Princess Consort has already earned Head Court Lady’s trust.
But, we only know Princess Consort from rumors.
I’ve heard she’s received His Highness full favor and infatuation, but that’s all.
I don’t know what kind of lady she is, and I don’t need to know. It’s good as long as she’s to his taste.
In the first place, I don’t want people who know nothing about cooking inside the kitchen. Everybody here shares this view.
Even though everybody here contributed to the nervous atmosphere, Head Court Lady had the nerve to act unconcerned.
“I said this is His Highness’s request. You have no right of veto. Tomorrow you can just stay silent and guide Princess Consort, nothing more. Or am I demanding something difficult?”
“… We understand”
I can’t help but find Head Court Lady, who understands our circumstances yet orders us, irritating.
Being told it’s ‘His Highness’s request’ we cannot ignore it.
His Highness directly protects this country, it’s something the citizens, and especially the people who work inside the castle, know. That His Highness has never asked anything of us.
I wish I could return something, even if a little, to His Highness who risks his life to protects this country. Everybody shares this feeling.
That’s why if it’s to grant His Highness’s favored Princess Consort’s wish, we have no choice but to shut up and nod.
Therefore, the answer was decided from the start. Still, I’m reluctant to give the permission to visit. I just wanted to voice my complaints. Thinking so I grumbled, but she didn’t intend to allow even that. I felt gloomy at her gaze that said she won’t permit Princess Consort’s feeling being hurt.
“… Please don’t take an unpleasant attitude towards Princess Consort. It’s also for your sake. His Highness would never forgive you. Please”
“… I understand. Everybody, is it okay?”
From the kitchen resounded many voices that couldn’t be called honest.
Having sighed, Please, Head Court Lady persistently emphasized and returned to her post.
The next day.
While I was confirming the ingredients prepared yesterday dispirited, I received a report from my subordinate that Princess Consort had arrived.
“So she’s really come…”
My thoughts that even if unlikely it might be a joke were easily denied.
Reluctantly I stood up and went to greet Princess Consort.
It’ll be quick, quick.
It’ll be easy, just show her the pantry and finish. So I told myself.
So that she doesn’t do anything unnecessary, I intended to keep watch from beginning to end.
“Where is Princess Consort?”
I directed my gaze in the direction pointed by my subordinate. There an unsuited for kitchen beautiful girl with violet eyes looked around with greatly interested face.
No court lady is attending to her. I was just a little surprised she came her alone.
Head Court Lady had informed us in advance, so nobody formally bowed, but I’m relieved she really doesn’t look like she minds. At least her pride doesn’t seem unusually high for a noble lady.
But that alone isn’t everything. Thinking so, I called out to Princess Consort.
“We have been waiting for you, Princess Consort. I am Head Chef Bart. I have already heard the story. This way, please”
I became flustered since my voice was more displeased than I’d expected. Thinking Princess Consort would be offended, I waited to see her reaction, but for some reason she laughed.
When, a little offended, I asked why, she answered that this attitude was similar to the cooks’ she knows.
While deep down surprised that Princess Consort has interacted with cooks, I reminded myself not to do anything strange. Moreover, as Princess Consort lightly nodded, she broached the subject of visiting the pantry.
I’ve heard about it in advance, and I’d like to finish the work forced on me at once.
When I began walking, Princess Consort followed after in a hurry.
I introduced Vice Head Chef whom I had stand by in front of the pantry, and had him open the door.
Next I tried explaining how the temperature is kept inside, but Princess Consort simply ignored it without a hint of curiosity visible. The attitude that says she already knows made me feel the sense of incongruity for the first time.
And that sense of incongruity further grew as Princess Consort entered the pantry.
An easy to understand cry of joy.
I thought only cooks would let out such a voice when entering a pantry, that was the first surprise.
Unconsciously I exchanged glances with Vice Head Chef next to me.
Even so, Princess Consort didn’t notice our bewilderment.
With obvious excitement, she happily ran up to one of the shelves crammed inside the pantry. Carefully picking up things so they don’t get damaged, she observed them with sparkling eyes. Princess Consort who muttered the name of ingredients and repeatedly said “So it’s here” or “Ah, as expected” to herself was perfectly suspicious.
We couldn’t hide our surprise at Princess Consort’s attitude being so unexpectedly serious.
I’d been convinced it’d end as a simple observation, so it truly surprised me.
“… She looks like a real cook”
Vice Head Chef next to me spoke, looking surprised.
As for me, I nodded that it might just be so.
“Ah… At least it looks like she didn’t come her to make fun of us”
Her serious attitude towards ingredients gives me a favorable impression. As expected of the person His Highness chose. She’s completely different from other young ladies, while both of us were impressed we watched to see what Princess Consort would do next, but when she approached the last shelf and saw the ingredients placed there, her joyful scream flabbergasted us.
A smile filled Princess Consort’s face as she shouted that.
Taking the ingredient in her hand, she looked about to jump in joy, that’s how happy she was.
But, that wasn’t the case for us.
“Agar”, certainly that’s what Princess Consort said.
Princess Consort knows what it is.
The ingredient Princess Consort was holding, although it was imported, was a troublesome good that we know neither the name nor use of. Although I’d tried asking various people, ultimately without learning anything we had to leave it alone. Princess Consort picked it up and told us its name.
Perhaps, Princess Consort may know its identity.
Thinking so, we couldn’t sit still. Vice Head Chef next to me, unable to endure, called out to her.
“Are you by chance aware of what that is?”
Princess Consort readily nodded to these words.
What’s more, she brought up trying to cook something with it.
I nodded at the heaven-sent proposal without any hesitation and apologized for my lack of awareness while guiding her around the kitchen. As I apologized for thinking that it was nothing but a noble lady’s selfishness, she ended the topic cheerfully smiling that she doesn’t really mind.
… Tolerant. As one would expect of the lady His Highness chose. While we reconsidered, as if he remembered something, Vice Head Chef brought up Princess Consort’s family name.
―――― Vivoir, the preeminent ducal house.
It’s a number one noble family in the country well known even to ordinary people, but it has bigger meaning to us.
The cook who’s the owner of ‘Daifuku’ original recipe is there, for us cooks it’s the most exciting residence right now.
Curious, I carefully listened to Vice Head Chef and Princess Consort’s talk.
I can tell the whole kitchen is paying attention to their conversation. It’s a matter of course.
Since Princess Consort’s house is Vivoir ducal house, she may know the owner of the original recipe.
But, meaningfully smiling, Princess Consort spoke few words that threw the kitchen into turmoil.
“I made it”
To Vice Head Chef’s wordless disbelief, with a face that contained no falsehood Princess Consort said that she can even make it here as a proof.
Even though I nodded to these words, my thoughts were in chaos.
Princess Consort bombshell statements continued.
In response to Vice Head Chef’s suspicion, she readily admitted to owning the curry rice original recipe, furthermore she started happily telling anecdotes about the famous cook Lars. I was already speechless.
Princess Consort is the owner of original recipes…
I didn’t think it was a lie. Because that would be useless.
She said she’ll make it now, and we’re fellow cooks. Had she lied, we’d know immediately.
And if that happened, even if she’s Princess Consort, having disgraced the original recipe owner she’d receive a barrage of criticism from the cooks. She must understand this much, above all looking at Princess Consort’s natural behavior that’s not one bit worked up, I can only think it’s the truth.
No longer able to doubt her, everybody fell silent.
… No way, this lady is the original recipe owner…
Vice Head Chef was also impressed, but the emotion I felt was even deeper.
Daifuku and curry rice. Both are completely new dishes, never seen or heard of before. The one who came up with the idea and completed them is this lady.
When I ate them for the first time, I received a great shock.
I also want to make such original recipe one day. Thinking so I’ve been working hard. And the object of this yearning is right now in front of me. I’m so moved my voice isn’t coming out.
Then Princess Consort made daifuku in front of us, proving the words that she’s the original recipe owner, but when she showed her new creation ‘yohcan’ afterwards, I was made to admire her again.
Being able to witness the birth of a new original recipe we trembled overcome with emotion, but the person herself lightly ignored us as if it was the usual thing and in good mood demonstrated how to use agar in further new recipes.
Honestly, what passes through this lady’s mind. Thinking so, admiration for her filled me. Princess Consort, that way of calling her already somehow feels wrong.
She taught us new recipes. It’s only appropriate to call her master.
As I thought that, with everybody seeming to share my thoughts, I spontaneously addressed her as Master.
Hearing that, Princess Consort shrugged her shoulders resignedly, and in the end gave up and allowed us to call her however we like.
Time quickly passed. As time passed in the twinkling of an eye while listening to Master’s talk, it slowly became the troublesome time to begin dinner preparations. Cooks in charge of preliminary arrangements regrettably left one after another.
We also have to move. I thought so, but wanting to remember everything, even movements of her hands, I couldn’t take my eyes off her completing the masterpiece.
She must’ve noticed we’re like that.
Master’s hands stopped, perhaps signaling the break from work. At that moment――――.
Suddenly, I felt the atmosphere around us change.
Everybody’s nervousness was transmitted. Everybody in the kitchen, down to the assistants, stopped moving for a moment.
Despite my doubts, I raised my face. As I did, His Highness the Crown Prince of our country was there, watching Master intently with a smile on his face.
For many it’s their first time seeing His Highness. But, affected by his aura that could indeed be called royal, people around prostrated themselves one by one.
It’d be absurd to ask who this person is.
Everybody intuitively knew he’s the Crown Prince the instant they saw him, upon realizing that they spontaneously fell on their knees.
His Highness didn’t take notice of us. His eyes were fixed only at Master, and in a sweet, enchanted voice he called his fiancée’s name.
A great number of people blushed at His Highness’s voice. His single word had that much destructive power.
Calling one’s name is an ordinary act, and yet it shows just how dear His Highness holds his fiancée.
His Highness is infatuated with Princess Consort――――.
The single word proved that the words that seemed like a plausible rumor are beyond doubt the truth.
His Highness, who came to kitchen for the first time, walked towards Master with no hesitation. The moment His Highness moved, the subordinates yielded way in panic.
As His Highness imposingly walked between the people who quickly stepped back, a mysterious force made everybody lower their heads. Behind him is the Chivalric Order Commander, but nobody is looking his way. Everybody became affected by His Highness’s overwhelming presence.
“I was worried since you were considerably late”
As His Highness came close to Master and said that, he stroked her cheek. The gaze directed at Master was exhaustively sweet. Having it directed at her, she blushed happily.
―――― I see. Their feelings are mutual, huh.
I immediately understood that seeing their behavior.
I want to take my fiancée away as soon as possible. Such His Highness’s sentiment was directly conveyed.
Even so, when I bitterly stared at His Highness, frustrated by Master being stolen, I felt like His Highness abruptly smiled.
In the end, saying Master will come tomorrow too, His Highness and Master left while being intimate, but the kitchen after they left was dreadful.
“It’s the first time I’ve seen him! So His Highness is like this”
“I was extremely scared! Rather, his infatuation exceeds rumors”
“At the end they were completely in the world of their own. They haven’t yet married, and yet aren’t they lovey-dovey. His Highness has it nice”
“The rumors say His Highness has been in awfully good mood recently, that’s because of Master, right? I thought those were just rumors, but it’s true”
“He came as far as the kitchen just to pick her up, just how much does he want to be with her”
“But, His Highness seemed extremely happy”
“That he did. They were like newlyweds”
“Ah, but Master too seemed happy that His Highness came to pick her up”
“Certainly. But I want to be spared from flirting in such a place. It was so sweet I wanted to lick salt”
“Ah, me too”
“But, when Master marries His Highness, she’ll keep coming here”
“Well, of course”
“Then, won’t Master teach us various things from now on”
“Ah… That’s true”
Noticing that fact, the kitchen suddenly got excited.
I was also happy to hear that. I’ll be able to study under Master from now on.
I thanked God for the unbelievable fortune. I felt happy from the bottom of my heart to be employed in the Royal Palace.
While everybody talked in an extremely fascinated voices, Vice Head Chef spoke in a voice full of admiration.
“To choose Master, as expected of His Highness, he has discerning eye. I applaud His Highness’s excellent decision”
Everybody nodded in agreement.
His Highness, who hadn’t chosen a fiancée for a long time. When that His Highness abruptly got engaged and announced marriage a few months ago, I worried about what it meant.
Those worries were truly a needless anxiety. If it’s her, we’d like to support them with all our power.
No, absolutely no matter what happens we’ll have His Highness marry Master.
If in the worst case she escaped, we too would be troubled.
“For our sake too, I wish for a safe marriage”
Everybody strongly agreed to the words somebody muttered.