Food Wars!: Central’s Central Mantra is Hypocritical

I’ve already mentioned that I recently been watching an anime that inspired me to try my hand at cooking. That anime is Shokugeki no Soma, or, as it’s called in Western markets, Food Wars. I have been eagerly awaiting the fourth season (or “plate” as how the anime designates their seasons) and, while I have been enjoying it, I have been less inspired to try out what they’re cooking this time around because everything seems so complicated and not much detail has been put into how the dishes are prepared anymore. No matter; Food Wars! is still a blast, especially when they raised the stakes with the entire Central storyline, with the entire Totsuki Saryo Culinary Institute’s curriculum as well as our protagonists’ school life as a rebel faction against the harsh new laws of the school on the line.

This leads us to the current storyline, the Regiment de Cuisine. Unlike the other Shokugeki battles we’ve encountered, the Regiment de Cuisine is a team battle with members being eliminated each round until one group runs out of members and is eliminated. The rebel group, who have the likes of Yukihira Soma and Erina Nakiri may be formidable. However, they are going against the best of the best of the entire Totsuki Saryo Culinary Institute, most of the Elite Ten’s members. If the rebels win, all the previous expulsions against the people that went against the school will be rescinded. But if Central’s team prevails, all the rebels will be expelled and Erina Nakiri and Joichiro Soma, Yukihira’s father, will be forced to join Central.

While the story is engaging, the entire Regiment de Cuisine tournament does have one problem that’s, well, not really a huge deal. But it does show the biggest flaw with Central’s ideals of cooking and how hypocritical they are.

For those who haven’t seen Shokugeki no Soma/Food Wars, here’s a quick breakdown on the story so far. Yukihira Soma is a simple diner cook who managed to get into the prestigious Totsuki Saryo Culinary Institute based on his father, who, unbeknownst to Yukihira, is actually a renowned chef. Yukihira encounters a lot of people and does cooking battles using the Shokugeki system, where you can wager something of value and earn something in return if you win. Thanks to his creativity, the boy manages to win various battles.

In the middle of the third season/plate, Azami Nariki, Erina’s estranged father, performs a coup at the school and takes over. He establishes Central, which includes the best students of the school, the Elite Ten, Azami declares that Totsuki Saryo Culinary Institute will teach the students to follow recipes strictly to the letter and any deviation will cause them to receive a failing grade. The rebels try to fight the establishment, which leads to this season/plate and the Regiment de Cuisine in order to determine the fate of the school.

Now, the main goal of Central’s change in the school’s law was to prevent deviations to classic dishes as well as to stop chefs like Joichiro getting burnt out from trying to create new dishes all the time. Basically, it’s the old “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” line of thinking. At a certain degree, I do understand their point of view, especially if it leads to people leaving the industry because the feel all pressured and stuff. However, it’s ultimately creativity that makes dishes all so better. When someone puts their own spin to any kind of recipe, it may make the dish worse. On the flip side, however, adding a twist to a classic recipe may kick things up a notch. The latter is ultimately preferable and you don’t really waste anything besides a little time and maybe some ingredients.

However, the entire Regiment de Cuisine does ultimately prove that Central’s central ideals are a farce. Why? Because most of the dishes that they had to prepare for it are not straight up recipes. Most of the Elite Ten developed them on the spot.

In fact, during the first battle of the tournament, this was the downfall for one of the Elite Ten, the noodle master, Kinokuni Nene. As she was someone who was schooled in the traditional way to prepare soba noodles. Yukihira, despite not knowing all that much on how to prepare soba, used a different and non-traditional way of preparing his dish, edging him out a victory. If you really think about it, that match was already enough to prove that the rebel’s ideals for more creative dishes is much better than Central’s image of cooking, as Yukihira’s offbeat dish was better than a dish that is super-traditional!

Also, most of the Elite Ten have their own specialties and are so creative, which is why they are part of the Elite Ten. Not only do they have excellent cooking skills, but they have created their own styles of cooking. The best example is Rindo Kobayashi. She specializes in exotic ingredients, such as alligator meat. She actually uses alligator meat in a dish during the Regiment de Cuisine as a substitute for the chicken meat for her Szechuan dish. Now, I’m not sure how many traditional Szechuan dishes call for alligator meat but I’m guessing this was not one of them. So, right then and there, the Elite Ten member herself isn’t following the prime directive of Central as she is directly making changes to a traditional recipe!

But let’s say that it’s the Elite Ten and the teachers that are making up new dishes all the time and then teaching them to the students. If this is they case, they want to be the ones controlling how things are made and all the recipes are essentially theirs. They may teach the students how to prepare the recipes flawlessly but, even still, the mere fact that they are making deviations to classic dishes that already worked before, is automatically going against their ideals of following a recipe to the letter.

Look, maybe this nitpick of mine has been addressed in the manga that I didn’t read and I’m just overthinking the entire arc to this season of Shokugeki no Soma/Food Wars. It’s not that big of an issue in the long run as it’s still an awesome anime to watch. I’ll continue to watch it and, well, maybe read the manga as well. It’s good… despite the weird and flawed plan Central has.

What do you think of Central’s general plan in Shokugeki no Soma/Food Wars? Let me know in the comments section below!

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