Chapter 6: Kurt Arnold, The Cook

Editor: King of the End

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The room arranged for the dinner is naturally extravagantly gorgeous. We are summoned there.

As expected, Volg is considered a servant and not summoned here. He, along with Tina and Chloe, have their food arranged in a separate room.

The ones inside this room are Duchess Renalier, Margrave Fernande, Faruno, me, and another person who seems to be the chef of this ducal house. He glares at me with a sullen look.

“In this place, we’re going to be treated to the best full course that our Renalier house alone can afford. This is a trial, but please think of it as a reference for the full course that you will be performing as well.”

That is indeed the case. I didn’t have the proper experience of eating the full course meal of this world. I want to make sure how exactly it is different to what I was familiar with.

“Then, let us begin.”

Duchess Renalier snaps her fingers. When she does, the first course is arranged in front of us.

“First, the appetizer. I forgot to tell you about it, but please make sure to only finish half later.”

Arranged on a white plate, there are raw ham slices, so thin thay they’re translucent, being on top of cheese, with a sauce of sauté shellfish, similar to scallops.

ham n cheesef788a040_scallops.jpg

I promptly enjoy my plate. The ingredients are great. The cheese is suitably aged, the dry cured ham is seasoned with salt, and the scallops are truly fresh, it must have been caught today.

“How is it?”
“The ingredients are great. However, there are some issues about the cooking method.”
“Do elaborate.”
“The cheese and ham cannot achieve harmony, and this is too heavy for an appetizer. It will be better if the cheese is half as thick, I suppose. Then, the shellfish are slightly overcooked. This reduces the savory flavor of the shellfish. As an appetizer, I think it’s better to cook it by steaming instead of pan frying. Moreover, the sauce has a lot of grease and tastes too strong. In order to showcase the savory flavor of the shellfish, we can use a sweeter kind of oil.”
“I see, I understand. Go to the kitchen and make an improved dish from those you have pointed out.”

I’m taken aback, obviously. Is this what she meant by a trial? If I tell her the right thing, she could have felt embarrassed on the spot. Besides, saying that we can only eat half earlier, did she already expect to eat my improved dish?

“It should be fine. Then I shall excuse myself for a moment.”

“Thank you for waiting.”

After completing the dish in the kitchen I was escorted to, I have now returned. I was pierced by countless stares when I entered the kitchen.

Well, that should be a given. They seem to have heard about a new, outsider cook that Duchess Renalier brought in because they were too timid and disappointing.

“It’s faster than I expected.”
“Because it’s a simple dish.”

I only sliced the fresh ham and cheese thinly. I paid more meticulous attention to the scallop-like ingredient; I barely heated it up by steaming it, then used a sauce from stirring vinegar, herbs, salt, and a tiny amount of wine together.

“There are things that just like what you said. Especially the shellfish, it’s great. The juice from the shellfish itself is fully locked in; the acidity in the sauce is highlighting the sweetness. Wonderful. This is truly an appetizer.”

“Sauté technique with the butter isn’t a bad cooking method in itself. However, it will make the savory flavor of the shellfish run out, and become too strong to be an appetizer. In that point, the pan-covering method will lock all the flavor in. If the shellfish’s quality is good on its own like the ones you have here, the sweetness of the shellfish will determine the result.”

Duchess Renalier nods.

“What do you thing, Head Chef Venaritta?”
“……I cannot find any reason to disapprove the youngster. Indeed, as an appetizer, the one that he made is more delicious.”

He’s still wearing his sullen expression, but when it’s about recognizing a dish, it seems that he’s a man with a large heart.

The next dish to be served is the soup. I recognize the flavor of beef bone broth and vegetables from the stock.

“Baronet of Arnold’s heir, how about this?”
“It’s a nice soup. However, it seems that there are too many herbs used to cover the bad smell. The method of the scum removal step is somewhat crude. It clouds the flavor…… and I’ll say it just in case, but even I don’t have any method to improve the soup in a short time.”

I can’t make the same soup without boiling it down for more than half a day. Even for me, it’s still impossible, naturally.

“I understand. Head chef, what do you have to say about this?”
“There is no mistake. The smell is slightly too pungent. Besides…… Sorry, but this is my mistake. The one being responsible was careless. I will have them fired.”
“Can you do that for me? I intended to designate it for the real banquet. If in the real performance the cook continues being negligent, I have no need of you.”

It sounds harsh, but she’s speaking a sound argument.

“Now, then, we shall continue on to the next dish.”

After the granita in between to cleanse our palate, we continued to have the fish and meat dishes served afterwards. I pointed out the problematic points within and how to improve them.

The improved dishes that I brought in seemed to satisfy Duchess Renalier, while the head chef became all the more sullen. It seems we won’t have any desserts.

It means that there’s nothing to doubt about my skills in that area, so there’s no meaning to hold a test there.

“You have shown us your skills. You identified the problematic points of the dishes in succession impromptu, then how to improve them. How horrifying. I initially thought that it would be fine to serve the full course in the real banquet before you improved them.”

I seem to have triumphed over Duchess Renalier’s expectations, because she seems to be in a good mood.

“I think it is better to stop assuming in that direction. It completely misses the fundamental points of a full course meal. A minute improvement won’t enable it to become the best course.”
“You’ve said an interesting thing. How does it miss the points?”
“The last dishes of oxtail stew, as well as tuna meunière before. The line up is unsatisfactory.”
“And why is that?”
“The both of them tasted too strong. The fish dish needs to be lighter. If it’s going to lead to the ox tail stew, the fish dish needs to be more refreshing, in my opinion. Moreover, there’s still the desserts afterwards, especially if the desserts are meant to be on the richer side in the preparation.”

At the beginning, I was bewildered by the greasy fatty cut of the tuna meunière when it was served. The cooking method of meunière is meant to avoid the fatty cut of tuna to begin with. I improved it by choosing the red lean meat, but even that was still too heavy tasting.

“I have learned a lot. In that case, the full course has to be reinvented from the scratch.”

After Duchess Renalier said that, I heard a rattling noise.

“That’s enough!”

The head chef is standing while glaring at me.

“I recognized your talent. Your tongue, knowledge, they’re amazing. But what you are doing is only finding faults in our dishes. You haven’t shown us your skills at all!”
“That is indeed the case. We don’t have the opportunity for that today, so please have a taste of my cooking soon.”

As someone who also cooks, just like him, it’s not like I can’t understand his feelings. With all the dishes having flaws and to have them easily improved means that I’m better than him. It must be unbearable. Each of those dishes were visibly planned by them with precision. They were great chefs; that’s why I’m an unforgivable existence to them.

“Head chef Venaritta, so I take that you cannot acknowledge him as the person in charge for the next banquet, is this correct?”
“If only based on today’s trials, then yes.”
“I see, then how about doing it this way? The head chef won’t acknowledge him only from improving the dishes. Baronet of Arnold’s heir thinks that it’s no good to serve the existing full course menu. In that case, Baronet of Arnold’s heir needs to make a fish dish the way he wants it, and if that is better than the current course, he successfully passes the trial. There are still some ingredients, correct? If he can do it, that means he’s the real deal.”

The head chef is silenced and nods. Geez, can you not say it that easily? Commanding someone to think of a recipe impromptu in this place.

“Fine, I will make it promptly. I’ll show you my cooking.”

I replied immediately. It seems that I’m more of a sore loser than I previously thought.


Isecai’s Notes:

Kurt glides over the last part, so here’s how they look like:

Cucumber Granita (those are shaved ice!)
Sole Meuniere (can’t find tuna)
Oxtail Stew

Venaritta (ベナリッタ)’s name is interesting about its connection to the Märlar town. So I chose Märlar due to the elongated “ma-“, which reminds me of the Japanese katakana for Märchen. And when I tried to google a few possibilities for the head chef’s name and find “Venarotta”, guess which province is it located in Italy? Marche!

Am I getting close to the author’s thought process?

My question is… does steamed scallop goes well with raw ham and cheese?

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0 thoughts on “Chapter 6: Kurt Arnold, The Cook

  1. Yes, it does. Done right, steamed scallop, ham and cheese can be a great combination but like Kurt says, most likely NOT as the appetizer. The problem lies in the choice of ham and cheese rather than the scallop.

    Ham tend to have strong flavor to begin with and it would cover the taste of the scallop itself. A ham to be paired with scallop has to be more mild and not too salty, smoked ham is definite no. Champagne ham would be better.

    Same goes for the choice of cheese. The cheese have to be very light as appetizer, regular cheese tend to be too thick and oily. There’s a reason cheese usually eaten with bread. Cheddar can work but it has to be sliced very thin and very small portion. The best would be a tiny serving of swiss cheese due to their slightly milky taste and less oil

    • Thank you for the enlightenment! <3 I never really eat proper Western food I think, so things like a marriage of food and wine, or pairing what kind of cheese and ham with other ingredients completely escapes me. xD

      • Are you asking this because they seem to be a girl? *whisper*

        That being said, most of the hidden food blog owners/members have straightforward names XD

      • No no what kind of person do take me for.
        You can be anyone to feed me. My old boss where I work as a cook before is a brawny man with a face like Casey Neistat you know?

      • I’m not a food blog person. Can’t even write a blog even if I try XD

        I do love to experience a bit in the kitchen though… And sea food is my favourite :3

      • What do you mean you can’t when you just comment like a food blog reviewer.

        I think you just found your hidden talent/super power. With a few photos and you’re set.

  2. Thanks for the chapter! Loved the commentary at the start! To be perfectly honest, I would have had one of the appies be something involving veggies, like maybe a bruschetta?

  3. My mouth is watering with all this talk of food, far more than desert cravings. Could really go for a ham and cheese sandwich.

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