The next big contest for the cooking school kids is the Fall Classic. Before summer break, those that have been chosen to participate are pronounced, which gives them their whole vacation to prepare. The cast continues to grow with various contestants in these enormous conflicts, but it’s the few I can keep up with that I continue to follow.
But first, there’s a more personal story, the one I was thinking of when I said this volume was a little change-up. A former student, an associate of the elite council and currently a traveling chef with rock star hair, has returned to the dorms. Everyone’s impressed, and then he’s disclosed to have a secret link with one of the students. His globe trotting means he has all kinds of techniques and ingredients from various states to integrate into his repertoire.
The visitor gives Soma new outlook on the quest he’s been put on at the school and the history that brought him there. Naturally, the two wind up fast in a cook-off, competing to make a morning “dish to energize and invigorate the body!” for some of the other pupils. The food needs to be light, simple to eat, and healthy, and as always, it’s fascinating to see what the contestants come up with. Plus, their recipes are included.
Then comes the research for the upcoming showdown, including information on spices and how they’re prepared, with a special emphasis on scent in cooking. The artwork is typical for manga. Lots of focus on sayings to get across the desired emotional disposition, combined with high-energy activity to capture the struggle of competitors. It’s the food information that keeps me reading, not the capable but ambitious artwork.
Unlike with some of the other challenges, I liked the way the arrangement for this enormous competition — drawn out to emphasize its importance, since the effort just gets started in this volume — shows the kids really working hard and studying, instead of relying on their natural abilities and house encounters. (The publisher supplied a digital review copy.)