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I usually only write about four thousand characters per chapter, but today I wrote about seven thousand.
One day, while I was in the middle of doing my regular kitchen duties, His Majesty and Yuna-dono entered the kitchen.
What an unusual pairing, I thought. Well, them coming to the kitchen was even weirder.
Anyway, they were here to request me to make food for the birthday party of Sheelin’s feudal lord.
Normally, I wouldn’t make food for other nobles, but this time it was on Yuna-dono’s request, so we would depart for Sheelin with His Majesty’s permission.
I was sure we would go by carriage, but since there wasn’t much time left before the party, Yona-dono told me that we would ride her summoned beasts.
Summoned beasts? Oh, she was talking about her adorable bears she could summon. The ones Princess Flora often played with. I had watched them play together just the other day.
I had never seen the bears in their adult forms, but from what I heard, they were big enough for people to easily ride them. Knowing I would have to ride them was kind of scary, but I also looked forward to it at the same time.
We quickly packed up all the necessary ingredients and departed immediately.
Once outside of the capital, Yuna-dono summoned her bears from her bear-shaped gloves.
Wow, they were quite big. Big enough for people to ride on them, indeed. They had the same gentle expressions as when they played with Princess Flora, so I knew there was nothing to be afraid of.
Yuna-dono asked which one I wanted to ride first, and I decided on the white one.
If I remembered correctly, the black bear was Swaying Bear-dono, and the white bear was Hugging Bear-dono.
I approached Hugging Bear-dono, which cried softly, and lowered its back for me to get on.
What a smart bear.
Even though I was on the heavier side, Hugging Bear-dono stood up without a problem once I was on it. Yuna-dono’s bears were simply amazing.
We headed off, and I immediately noticed how quick the bears were.
They were even increasing their speed as we went, but, holding onto Hugging Bear-dono, I somehow knew that I couldn’t fall off.
This was the power of summoned beasts, huh.
After we traveled for a while, we took a break and switched bears.
I asked Yuna-dono why we had to switch, and she explained that Hugging Bear-dono would start to sulk if she only rode Swaying Bear-dono all the way.
Of course they would prefer having their master ride them rather than an old man like myself.
Not arguing with her explanation, I rode the next part of the journey on top of Swaying Bear-dono.
We set camp in the evening and arrived at Sheelin at noon of the next day.
That was way too quick, considering we had departed just shy of noon the previous day.
As expected of Yuna-dono’s summoned beasts…
We met with the star of the party, Gran-dono, and quickly asked to borrow the kitchen as I had to begin the food preparations immediately since the party was right around the corner.
I was in the middle of setting up in the kitchen, when the residence’s chef made a commotion in front of the door. He sounded angry about something; I had heard that he was injured, but he seemed to be doing quite fine.
I opened the door to speak with him and immediately recognized the person in front of me.
It was Botts, a chef who had worked at the same restaurant as me before I had become the royal head chef.
Even though I hadn’t seen him in a long time, I would never have guessed that Botts was the working as a chef here.
We didn’t really have time to reminiscence about the past, however, so I quickly explained him why I was here.
Botts then briefly summarized how he ended up here himself.
Luckily, His Majesty had given me permission to take some time off from my duties, so we should be able to have long chat after the party was behind us, but right now, I had to get back to my food preparations.
Just as I was about midway done for the day, Yuna-dono entered the kitchen and told me she wanted to make some pudding, and I naturally allowed her to do so.
Botts, however, got mad at her. Well, he didn’t know Yuna-dono, so I couldn’t blame him.
The first time I had heard of Yuna-dono had been when I had been told that I hadn’t needed to cook for Princess Flora because Yuna-dono had already prepared food for her. I had gotten quite mad that time myself. What a nostalgic memory.
When I finished all the basic preparations, I decided to report back to Gran-dono. Yuna-dono had also just finished making the pudding, so we went to see Gran-dono together.
We entered his study and found him and Cliff-dono in the middle of discussing the party.
「Zelef-dono, thank you very much for your hard work. Because of you, I can now hold my party at ease.」
「Oh no, you should thank Yuna-dono for that. I only came here because Yuna-dono requested it.」
「Eh? You don’t have to thank me. So, did you already decide on a plan for tomorrow?」
「Yes, we’ve been debating on who should we approach first…」
「Not that. I meant a countermeasure against the Salbert family. Aren’t they going to try and do something at the party?」
「We won’t be able to stop them from getting people on their side. Many people are already siding with the Salbert family, so we will have to give up on those.」
「That still isn’t what I meant…」
「Do you think they’ll try to do something else? They already attacked our chef. What more can they do?」
「Like, won’t they try putting bugs into the food? Maybe even some trash. Or, perhaps they’ll simply try to complain about it?」
「There’s no way they’ll do something like that!」
「Normally, when you are harassing someone, isn’t this exactly what you would do?」
Yuna-dono said something outrageous.
Putting trash into the food or simply complaining about it was very poor and cruel behaviour towards the chef.
Even though the families were in the middle of a feud, I didn’t think they would go that far.
「If they are aware that the chef has changed, then won’t they say that the food tastes bad? Based on what Gran-san said, didn’t all the chefs you asked turn you down?」
「Yes, but will they say stuff like that even after eating Zelef-dono’s cooking? He is the royal head chef, after all.」
「They don’t know that the new chef is Zelef-san, though.」
Yuna-dono continued to explain that for the people who did harass someone, this was something very basic, but I had never heard of someone putting garbage or bugs into food.
Still, Gran-dono and Cliff-dono both agreed that it was indeed possible after Yuna-dono explained it in detail.
If someone did something like that to my cooking, I would never be able to forgive them.
「If they decide to just say that the food tastes bad then we will have you do some acting for us, Zelef-san.」
Yuna-dono then proceeded to explain her plan.
Her plan sounded nice and all, but I couldn’t quarrel with a noble.
Yes, I had my position as royal head chef, but I wasn’t a noble myself. I also didn’t want to boast about the fact I had the backing of the royal family.
I was a chef, not a noble. I explained that to Yuna-dono, but she surprised me with another crazy response.
「You have to get mad when somebody makes fun of your cooking. It’s insulting to the people who enjoy your food. If your food tasted bad, then we couldn’t do anything about their complains, but you have your position because your skills were recognized, right? I don’t really get how this works, but wouldn’t it be really rude towards the king, the queen, and Princess Flora, who enjoy your food on a daily basis, if you let someone make fun of your cooking? 」
Yuna-dono lectured me. She was right… Making fun of my cooking, which the king himself had praised, was the same as making fun of the king’s tastes.
The previous head chef and my subordinates all also acknowledged my cooking. Letting the Salbert family insult my cooking would be disrespectful to everyone who liked the food I made.
Yes, Yuna-dono was right. Things were different now.
However, did nobles who would put bugs into food or claim that delicious food was disgusting really exist?
I had made food for other nobles before, but I had never had anything like that happen.
I should keep it in mind in case it did ever happen.
Yuna-dono then proceeded to explain how to counter such tactics.
She really knew a lot of weird things.
We took her warnings into account and were prepared when the party began, with me making sure to prepare plenty of food.
I received no messages from inside the hall yet. As soon as complaints against the food occured, I had to be ready to rush in there immediately.
It seemed like Yuna-dono had worried needlessly, so I continued giving instructions to those who aided me in the kitchen. Things were proceeding slower than in the royal kitchen, but we were having no problems so far.
As the party slowly moved towards its peak, somebody rushed into the kitchen.
「Zelef-sama, Gerardo-sama is… severely criticizing your cooking.」
He had a hard time telling me.
I really didn’t think that what Yuna-dono had predicted would come to happen. If we hadn’t prepared for this situation beforehand, I would most likely be panicking right now.
「I see. Got it.」
I said no more, stopped what I was doing, and headed straight for the hall.
I peeked into the hall through the crack in the door and could see Gran-dono disputing with another man. That man must be Gerardo-dono from the Salbert family.
I heard some other people closeby say that the food tasted bad and that it must have been made by a second or even a third-rate chef.
I knew that they were lying, but hearing it still put me off.
I now completely understood what Yuna-dono had been trying to tell me. As the royal head chef, I had to get mad for the sake of the people who acknowledged my cooking.
「Please excuse me. My name is Zelef, and I have been given the opportunity to be in charge of cooking for the party. Is my cooking really that unsatisfactory?」
Yuna-dono had told me to act like I was mad while asking that, but I didn’t really have to act as my anger was pouring out on its own already.
「You’re the one who made these?!」
「You have some nerve, serving such disgusting food.」
Gerardo-dono pointed at my food while complaining.
It was the soup I had carefully prepared. Managing to keep my anger in check, I looked at Gerardo-dono without even flinching.
「Please explain to me what you didn’t like about the dish, so I can forward it to the master I serve as a reference for future meals.」
Yuna-dono had told me that because my cooking was good, I must never apologize.
If Yuna-dono hadn’t warned me, I would have most likely apologized immediately.
「All of it is bad! Your master doesn’t know any better. How can your master be satisfied with this cooking? The Faren Gramm family has hit rock bottom, for them to leave their cooking to a chef like you!」
「I see. I will relay that message to my master, His Majesty.」
Gerardo-dono was shocked by my words, and everybody around us started panicking.
「No wonder he looked so familiar. He is the royal head chef…」
It seemed like some people here had recognized me.
Well, I often came out of the kitchen to greet the guests after the meal, so they might recognise me from one of the king’s banquets.
「The royal head chef…」
「Yes. My name is Zelef, and I cook for the royal family. Now, could you please tell me what you found bad about my cooking? I must not serve bad food to His Majesty, who always tells me that my food is delicious.」
I didn’t feel comfortable using the king’s authority like this, but if I backed down now, I would be insulting the tastes of entire royal family.
「So? What part of it did you think was third-rate? It will be very helpful if you told me.」
I asked the men surrounding Gerardo-dono.
「Weren’t you gentlemen surprised, exclaiming that the food tasted bad? If you could explain in more detail, that would be great. I must not serve low-grade dishes to His Majesty.」
I was mad that they made fun of my cooking, but knowing that they also insulted His Majesty made my anger swelled up even more.
They decided to lie just to trick us.
I got even angrier knowing that they might have done this to other chefs as well. If the food truly was bad, then that would be okay, but saying that good food tasted bad could ruin the chef’s future. They would start to doubt themselves, and then move onto a different path in life. I didn’t know how many more terrible things they might have done.
These people were the enemies of us chefs.
I glared at the people who called my food disgusting.
「No, you see…」
「Please tell me, so I can reference it for future dishes.」
I glared at them even harder.
「Cough, cough, Zelef-dono, I truly apologize.」
One of the men coughed and bowed.
「Actually, I caught a cold recently, so perhaps my taste buds are a little bit off because of it.」
「Oh, is that so?」
「Yes, Gran-sama wanted me to attend because there are some important things we must discuss, so I attended even though I caught this terrible cold. Isn’t that right, Gran-sama?」
The man looked at Gran-dono, wanting him to save him.
「That’s right, we had some important things to discuss, so I requested him to attend.」
「Gran-sama, since I’m not feeling too well, is it okay if we have our discussion earlier?」
The man bowed to me and went to Gran-dono’s side.
「Please take care of yourself.」
I responded in a way Yuna-dono had told me to.
Yuna-dono had said that when I questioned them in this manner, they would do one of three things. Either they would shut up, run to Gran-dono, or put the blame on Gerardo-dono.
If they ran to Gran-dono, I shouldn’t chase them, she had lectured me.
I knew they were lying, but I decided to follow Yuna-dono’s instructions. I wanted to question them more, but they were forced to lie by Gerardo-dono.
Seeing the man go to Gran-dono’s side, everybody else followed suit.
「Zelef-dono, you see, I haven’t been feeling well either, so my taste buds are all messed up. I also came to discuss some things with Gran-sama. Is it okay if I speak to Gran-sama before I feel any worse?」
「Of course, please take care of yourself.」
「I will, thank you.」
One more, then two more left.
I never really noticed it, but the title of the royal head chef had quite the influential power behind it.
People had acknowledged my cooking since I had been young, which was how I had gotten where I was today. I never thought about the power my position carried. I just wanted to make good food.
By no means I thought I had greater influence than nobles.
Still, I just could not forgive those who disrespected the people who supported me.
The royal family and others who ate my cooking all enjoyed it.
Yuna-dono, who was an exceptional chef herself, believed in me.
That was why I would never forgive those who lied about my cooking.
I took a step towards Gerardo-dono, while the others quietly disappeared, leaving only him standing in front of me.
「Now then, you also said that my cooking is no good. Please explain, so I can reference it for future meals.」
「W-why is Zelef-dono, the royal head chef, cooking at a place like this? Does His Majesty know about this?」
「Of course His Majesty knows that I am here. I did come for a personal reason, though. You see, the injured chef is an old friend of mine.」
Technically speaking, I hadn’t come here under the orders of His Majesty; we were treating it as a request from Eleanora-sama.
「Old friend of yours?」
「Yes. I used to work together with Gran-dono’s chef, Botts, at a restaurant in the capital called the Falcon’s Claw.」
「Also, Cliff-dono’s wife, Eleanora-sama, requested for me to come here. Because of that, His Majesty granted me some time off, so that I could come here to cook for this party.」
「You came running here right after their chef got injured? That’s impossible, timewise…」
「Please excuse my rudeness, but were you aware that the chef Botts was injured, Gerardo-dono?」
「No, I didn’t know. I only learned about it when Gran-dono told us earlier.」
「I see. If you know anything about it, or if you might know of any witnesses, please let us know.」
「I’m sorry that I can’t be of any help to you.」
「Oh no, he was attacked in a deserted alley, so finding a witness would be a miracle.」
People in the hall started to make a clamor hearing that the chef had been attacked.
Without a doubt, the one responsible for the attack on Botts was Gerardo-dono.
He had injured the chef’s most important asset, his hands. Botts would recover eventually, but he wouldn’t be able to hold a knife for a while.
「Zelef-dono, please don’t misunderstand. It’s not that the food didn’t taste good. It was very delicious.」
「Is that so? I heard you exclaiming that the food tasted bad, however. Everyone else heard you say it as well, right? Of course, I have no intentions of complaining if you thought so, but as a chef and the person in charge of the food for this party, I have to apologize if you really thought that the food was bad. I would also like to know what you did not like about it.」
I looked straight into Gerardo-dono’s eyes.
He tried to find a response, but to no avail.
「Zelef-dono, I must apologize. It seems that I am also feeling unwell.」
He backed away slightly, and looked at Gran-dono.
「Gran-dono, I am feeling unwell today, so I would like to head home early. Is that alright with you?」
「Of course. I’m sorry that I made you come all the way here, not realizing you were unwell. You are one of the lords of this town, so please take care of yourself.」
「Well then, Zelef-dono, please excuse me.」
Gerardo-dono told me in a calm voice, but I could see that he was biting his lips harshly.
「Please try my cooking again once you feel better and let me know what you think of it.」
Gerardo-dono called for his son.
His son did not try to hide his irritation and glared at everyone in the hall as he left with his father.
「Everybody, I’m sorry for disturbing your meal. This is a bit ahead of the schedule, but I would like you to try this dessert called pudding, which was also served at His Majesty’s birthday party. I will prepare some more food meanwhile, so please enjoy it.」
Yuna-dono allowed me to decide on when to serve her pudding.
I had wanted to serve the pudding a little bit later, but I felt that now was a good timing.
I bowed to everybody in the hall and received a round of applause as I exited the room.
Next chapter will be Gerardo’s POV, and then we will go back to Yuna’s POV.
Sorry for writing as I please.
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