The Cooking Competition (1)
“Now then, the event you’ve all been waiting for – let’s begin with the Empire’s first-ever cooking competition! I’m Lana Lahna, reporting live on the scene. With me is the cafeteria lady, Marthe Borel, who will be acting as your commentator for today! Take it away for us!”
“Somehow, this has turned into something strange, but anyway, it’s a pleasure to be working with you.”
Their voices were amplified throughout the venue through the use of wind magic.
We were currently in a temporary event venue in the heart of the Imperial capital city, Ruhm.
There were kitchen stations in the middle of the venue, while spectators filled the seats surrounding us.
“This turned into something amazing, huh.”
“I didn’t expect this to happen.”
Claire-sama said, amazed. I responded to her in agreement.
There was an incredibly large number of spectators, which showed just how high the interest the Imperial citizens had in the event.
I thought the cooking competition was going to be something done privately, but thanks to Hilda, it ended up becoming a large-scale event before we even knew it.
It seemed that her aim for doing so was to increase the appeal of the Empire’s food reformation, all the while taking the credit for it.
She seriously was cunning to the bone.
There were three judges sitting in front of the kitchen.
Philine was one of them.
She was the one who had to decide what she wanted to serve for her banquet dinner, so it wasn’t strange at all for her to be a judge.
She had a nervous look on her face while she sat in her seat.
The second judge was the elderly man that acted as Dorothea’s aide.
It seemed that his name was Joseph-san.
Perhaps it was because he was so used to being in front of other people, he seemed a little bit bored.
The third and last person was Empress Dorothea.
With the attendance of the Empress, the event became even more exaggerated than before – but seriously, was it really okay for the Empress to be distracted with something like this?
Ever since they took their seats, Philine had been sneaking glances at Dorothea.
As for Dorothea, she seemed to pay no attention to Philine whatsoever.
The relationship between this mother and daughter seemed to have a variety of deep-seated issues.
Since Philine was heading down the Claire-sama route, there was no relationship progress being made with Dorothea right now.
“Heh, I’ll praise ye for not sneakin’ away with yer tail between yer legs.”
The head chef, who donned his usual white chef’s uniform, said with a snort.
Along with the people that appeared to be his line cooks, he had his arms crossed as they all stood tall with their gazes locked on us.
“There’s no way we were going to run. We’re not about to lose this, after all.”
“Hah! Don’t come cryin’ to me later!”
“Right back at you!”
Claire-sama and the head chef were already starting to get heated up.
“Whoa there, it seems like there’s some tension going on between the two sides already! This looks like it’s going to be a tight competition, isn’t that right, reporter Marthe-san?”
“I don’t think it really matters, but I hope they don’t injure each other. If it’s a battle between cooks, they should be competing with the taste of their food more than anything.”
“That’s completely correct! Now then, it’s time to get things started! This event has been sponsored by a business that is always on your side – the Frater Company!”
When I heard that last bit of unexpected information, I looked over to Lene, who merely stuck her tongue out at me.
As expected of Lene.
Her salesmanship was strong.
“Now then, without further ado, let’s start with some introductions! Your Majesty Dorothea, take it away!”
Dorothea got up from her seat and walked towards the center of the venue.
When the Empress made her entrance, all of the spectators fell as silent as water.
As expected of her charisma.
“This occasion is a great opportunity for us to show off the upcoming change in the Empire’s official cuisine. Make sure to watch the event with your own two eyes. I won’t let anybody call our food poisonous ever again.”
Dorothea’s simple and concise introduction was met with wild excitement from the spectators.
Her popularity was seriously something else.
“Thank you, Your Majesty Dorothea! Now then, let us explain the rules. The competition will consist of three dishes – an appetizer, meat-related dish, and dessert. It’ll be a best of three.”
We managed to come up with all of the dishes we wanted to make, but I wonder how much we could compete with actual professional chefs.
Well, if we were able to change the stance of the food in the Empire here, then we basically already got what we came for.
“Let’s start off with the appetizers. Now then, on your marks, get set, go……!”
There was a loud gong that echoed throughout the venue.
All of the chefs started moving in a hurry.
“Misha, Eve, do you need help with anything?”
They were in charge of most of the work, but I could still offer my support.
The two of them shook their heads at my offer, and,
“Just watch over us, Rei.”
“Please take a seat.”
I was met with a flat refusal.
Both Misha and Eve were the cold types, so being told that by both of them was a bit disheartening.
Or rather, it was considered a reward being treated with such an ice-cold attitude by two beautiful people.
“Misha-oneesama, Eve-san, give it your all!”
Mei was cheering for us from the stands on the Bauer side of the spectators.
Mei was here to provide us with moral support today.
She could cook a little bit as well, but she was nowhere near as good as Alea was.
When Mei’s voice reached her, Misha waved towards the stands.
Eve faced that direction as well and nodded.
“Oh, what’s this? It looks like the chefs on the Empire’s side have prepared a bunch of mushrooms, doesn’t it?”
“They’ve got shimeji, maitake, eryngii, and oyster mushrooms, huh. Considering it’s spring, they got their hands on quite the assortment of ingredients.”
“Hm, hm? Those are some pretty rare ingredients, aren’t they? On the other hand, it seems that Bauer is using onions and bacon for their dish.”
“Onions are delicious during this time of the year, after all. I believe it’s a classic choice.”
Lana and Marthe’s commentary filled the rest of the venue.
They were a duo that got assembled last minute, but they seemed to work really well around each other.
“Eve, is the dough ready?”
“Yes, senpai. All that’s left is to bake it. The oven is heated up now as well.”
“Thank you. I’ll take care of the rest.”
Misha and Eve were also operating on the same wavelength.
The two of them had similar personalities, so that was probably why they were able to work together with such ease.
The cooking continued on smoothly.
Both the Bauer side and the Empire’s side finished without any complications.
“Both sides have finished cooking their dishes. Without further ado, let’s move onto the next stage. Let’s start with the Empire’s side!”
Lana prompted for the head chef to serve the judges with his team’s dish.
The appetizer that the Empire made was――
“Four kindsa mushrooms marinated with lemon juice.”
The head chef presented it to them.
It doesn’t really matter, but I wonder why this guy has the tone of a person from the Edo period.1
“This is my first time meeting somebody from the Empire whose accent is so distorted.”
“An Imperial accent!?”
Judging from the names, I thought the Empire would be based around Germany, so this came as a shock to me.
Well, considering its food situation was a lot like England’s, there were probably a lot of things that were all mixed up.
Putting that aside, we moved onto the appetizer the head chef served.
“We carefully cooked the four types of mushrooms, makin’ sure it didn’t burn, and then marinated it with lemon sauce. The mushrooms we used were rare mushrooms that are outta season. Hope ya like the aroma and taste of this appetizer.”
Marinated mushrooms, huh.
That had to be delicious.
In the 21st century, it was a commonly served Italian appetizer.
“Now then, let’s have our judges eat up!”
Lana encouraged the judges to take a bite out of the marinated mushrooms.
When the three of them did so, all of their eyes lit up.
“This is…… delicious. The aroma of the mushrooms really drifts through the air……”
“The marinade is delicious, isn’t it. The refreshing aroma of the lemon really adds to the taste.”
“I don’t know how difficult it was to make this, but it’s quite delicious.”
It seemed to be well-received by everybody.
“Let’s move onto the Bauer team’s dish!”
Misha and Eve came to serve their meal.
The appetizer that the Bauer team made was――
“It’s a fresh onion and bacon pie.”
After Misha introduced the name of the dish, Eve took over with an explanation.
“We fried a large number of onions and bacon together, and in order to bring out the sweetness and the umami taste, we baked it into a pie. Please give it a taste.”
At first glance, it was an appetizer that looked more like a quiche than a pie.
Even if it was a freshly baked quiche, it was still delicious in itself.
The judges poked their forks into the dish.
“Ah, this is delicious as well. Somehow, it gives off a really nostalgic taste.”
“The fresh onions give it quite a sweet taste. As expected of a taste that fits the season.”
“Hmm. This is delicious as well.”
We were well-received as well.
The judges finished eating their food.
“Now then, judges, if you will, please raise your cards to decide on which one you found to be more delicious!”
A needlessly exquisite drumroll started playing…… and when it stopped, the judges raised their cards in unison.
“That’s two points for the Empire and one for Bauer! The Empire has secured the win! Waah!”
“Well, looks like it.”
Marthe-san commented on it leisurely.
“Let’s hear what the reasoning behind it was!”
“Well, both of them were delicious, but I gave the point to the head chef because of the novelty of his dish.”
“I gave the point to Bauer since their dish had a taste that fit the season.”
“The marinade was more delicious. That’s all.”
The result was a bit disappointing, but there was no other choice than to accept it.
“I’m sorry, Rei. We lost.”
“No, it’s fine. There’s still two more to go.”
That’s right, this was just the beginning of the match.
1) This is referring to people that were born and raised during the Edo period (which got renamed to Tokyo in 1868). They have a different tone and speak a different dialect from people in present Japan.↵