Being a great chef means thinking quickly under pressure, having a wide knowledge of ingredients and how well they work together, and being imaginative enough to whip up uniquely delicious dishes. Food Wars! takes this to every extreme, following the most promising young chefs at the world’s most prestigious cooking academy.
Every time the heroes’ free and creative way of cooking is threatened, they must push past all their limits to invent truly one-of-a-kind dishes that prove the value of self-expression in the kitchen.
Transforming Furikake Rice
Protagonist Soma Yukihira uses this dish to gain entry into Totsuki Academy, trying to prove to Erina Nakiri, one of the best chefs in Food Wars!, that the diner food he grew up cooking is as worthy as any gourmet dish. He cooks what seems like an ordinary bowl of furikake rice, only to reveal that he added chilled chicken broth to enhance the flavor and give it a gorgeous golden sheen.
Erina possesses the God Tongue, a genetic mutation that gives her an extremely refined and sensitive palate. This makes her acutely aware of all a dish’s flaws and unable to enjoy anything but perfect food. When she tastes the transformed rice, it blows her away. Though she refuses to admit it to Soma and tries to fail him, Totsuki’s dean (her grandfather Senzaemon) overrules her decision after tasting it himself.
Monkfish Dobu-Jiru Curry
Unlike her brash and confident classmates, Megumi Tadokoro is shy and quiet, characteristic of the Pisces zodiac sign. However, during the Autumn Election, she displays mastery of a skill known only to very few. In the episode “The One Who Surpasses the Ordinary,” she recalls how as a child, she was trained by the fishermen of her hometown to prepare monkfish.
In the preliminary round, she butchers a monkfish live on stage in front of a stunned audience, and creates from it the Monkfish Dobu-Jiru Curry. This dish is made primarily with ingredients from Megumi’s hometown and impresses the judges by the strong and sincere emotion that it carries.
Spear Squid Causa
No Totsuki student is better at handling exotic ingredients than Rindou Kobayashi. She has traveled the world to find the rarest of the rare, and is flexible enough to apply them to the cuisine of several different cultures. In the episode “Watching from Beside You,” she brings these skills to bear against Takumi Aldini with the Spear Squid Causa.
In this Peruvian dish, Rindou stacks patties of spear squid, mashed potatoes dyed with aji amarillo (a Peruvian chili pepper), and arapaima, a species of bonytongue fish native to the Amazon and Essequibo basins of South America. Her mastery of such an array of wild flavors wows the judges and wins her the match.
Cluster Bomb Cake
It is repeatedly reinforced throughout the show that a chef’s tools are incredibly important to them, representing both their style of cooking and who they are as a person. No one’s tools are more wild and showy than the arsenal of Sarge, a member of Les Cuisiniers Noirs who uses military-grade weaponry in her cooking, more like the gear found in My Hero Academia than in a kitchen.
In the episode “A Midsummer Christmas,” Soma must compete against her Cluster Bomb Cake, a pastry that expertly combines the flavors of chocolate, almonds, and mint. Sarge crafts this cake using her trusty Chainsaw Cutting Knife, a sledgehammer, and an oven that comes complete with a detonator.
Doppio Mezzaluna Pizza
The Aldini brothers, Takumi and Isami, take great pride in both the Italian and Japanese halves of their heritage and handily apply both cultures’ styles of cooking to their dishes. The best example of this is from the aptly titled episode “You’re Through,” in which Takumi wins his Regiment de Cuisine match against Etsuya Eizan by creating the Doppio Mezzaluna Pizza.
Not only does the pizza look impressive, with one half beef shigureni and the other four cheeses and pepper, but it was specifically crafted to counter his opponent. Knowing Eizan’s artichoke dish would turn the judges’ palates off to a pizza, he added the beef shigureni half to be eaten first, to better prepare them for the sweeter second half.
Naan Pot Pie Curry
Akira Hayama’s sense of smell is incredibly sharp, making him a master of using spices in his cooking. His dishes are characterized by their mouthwatering aromas, which make them delicious before they are even tasted. In the episode “The Warriors’ Banquet,” he demonstrates this talent with his Naan Pot Pie Curry.
Though it looks unassuming at first glance, once a spoon is pressed into the naan on top, the pot pie breaks open with a blast of spicy scent powerful enough to fill the entire arena. The key ingredient is holy basil, cultivated by Akira himself, which adds a strong note of sweetness to the spicy dish. It’s enough to do what few other dishes in the show have done: beat Soma in competition.
Japanese Roll Cake Castle
Baking is as difficult and impressive a vocation to master as traditional cooking. In the episode “The Two Queens,” Momo Akanegakubo defends her title as Totsuki’s top pastry chef by constructing this Japanese Roll Cake Castle, the pinnacle of Momo’s cherished cute aesthetics.
The castle is an arrangement of sugary Swiss rolls, decorated in heart patterns and filled with multiple sweet food colorings. It is garnished with berries and amezaiku, delicately sculpted and painted Japanese candy. Though it fails to beat Erina’s Souffle Leger de Grace, it is a truly striking creation all the same.
In the episode “The Last Supper,” Soma cooks this in the preliminary round of the BLUE competition. The retired underworld chef judging the round charges the candidates to make him a “last supper” of certain dishes, but Soma goes outside those guidelines and cooks a monaka stuffed with ankimo (monkfish liver), dashi broth, and spices.
Soma helps Heigoro realize that he can still enjoy food even if he can’t cook any longer, and invites him for another meal at Yukihira one day. Heigoro had planned to kill himself after he was done judging BLUE, but Soma inspires him to continue living. While the ankimonaka isn’t as flashy as some other dishes, it’s powerful enough to restore a man’s will to live.
Fragranceless Fried Rice
The final season of the show introduces Asahi Saiba, a master chef with a grudge against Soma and a near-supernatural power to copy the abilities of any chef whose tools he steals. Soma must pull out all the stops in order to defeat him, and the end result is the Fragranceless Fried Rice, which combines the five great cuisines of the world (Chinese, Italian, French, Indian, and Turkish) into one dish.
Not only is it good enough to beat Asahi and win Soma the semifinal match, but it’s also enough to please the God Tongue of Mana Nakiri, Erina’s mother in “The Taste of Failure,” the best Food Wars! episode according to IMDb. Mana’s hypersensitive palate had rendered her so repulsed by imperfect food that she was unable to eat, but her enjoyment of Soma’s fried rice is so complete that it triggers an explosive reaction throughout the whole arena.
Squid and Peanut Butter
Grilled squid dressed in peanut butter is the dish that showcases both the power of thinking outside the box and the progression of Erina Nakiri as a chef. It appears in the first episode, “The Endless Wilderness,” as one of Soma’s flavor experiments, a revolting concoction that he delights in forcing unwilling friends to sample. Whoever tastes it is overwhelmed by the sensation of being accosted by a giant squid.
Several arcs later, in the episode “Song of Hope” it becomes an element of Erina’s Le Plat Veritable, Delinquent Daughter Style, which contains minced squid tentacles and peanut butter, and mimicks the transforming effect of Soma’s furikake rice. Erina has now fully accepted her friends’ free-thinking style of cooking and become a stronger chef for it, and creates a new specialty dish so perfect that it forces her cold and rigid father Azami to acknowledge it as well.
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