The winner of “ cuisine” that is common, our hero Soma, is facing off against Kurokiba, Hayama, a spice specialist, and a bad boy who’s skilled with seafood. The theme is an ingredient that signifies the fall season: mackerel pike, a common fish that enables chefs to present various skills.
The competitors are followed by the remaining part of the novel as they prepare for their life-changing time in the kitchen. They visit an early morning fish market, to stress the value of ingredient choice and conduct an impromptu sashimi preparation session. Soma’s got to think of a creative, sudden tactic, since he doesn’t have the skills of the others. That’s the common manner he triumphs, through imagination.
Much emphasis is put on there being no substitute for experience and time in developing ability. It’s something of a letdown in that manner, since these adolescent chefs have been working since they were children, so it’s as though someone interested in learning to cook is washed out of the chance. But that’s typical of competition genre manga, that those involved are the greatest of the very best, with abilities that are nearly unnatural.
Ceremonial elements give extra drama (and the artist something to draw beyond food and cookers). As a casual read, I’m still vaguely interested in Food Wars, usually to see what dishes are created. Picturing the flavor of the extraordinary food is my favourite part, and I ‘ve learned facts about cooking and ingredient combinations. We’ll find out why, and who wins, in the next volume. (The publisher provided a review copy.)