Soran stood in the kitchen with a pensive look on his face. A drop of sweat rolled down his face as he grit his teeth as he quickly took the dish off the fire.
He had lost another match to Soma, leaving him frustrated. While the download function of [Appraisal] was a great ability, he quickly figured out its limit.
Just because he knew how to prepare the dish doesn't mean the outcome would be the same as the original chef. He had tried it during his cook off with Soma, demanding another match immediately after the first one to test it out.
He had recreated the exact dish that Soma made, yet the taste wasn't up to that of the one the older twin made which made him realize something.
Knowing how to prepare it was one thing but having the skills to properly do it was an entirely different thing.
There was also another interesting developments that followed all these events.
"Order up." He said bluntly as he dropped a plates dish in front of a waiting customer.
The diner was lively as the customers were treated to a long forgotten sight; the sight of Soran cooking for the diner.
They hadn't seen him working at the diner for about four years. Even after he began cooking once more, he had yet to work in the diner until a few hours ago.
"Soran, you'll be joining us to work at the diner starting today. Don't slack off."
That was what Joichiro had said a few hours ago when the customers started arriving. He wanted Soran to gain some real life work experience as a chef rather than simply cooking in a completely controlled environment.
Soran finally reentering the kitchen to serve was a shock and pleasant surprise for the customers. The fact that he was very good looking only caused further murmurs among the younger females in the diner.
He had gained the skill [Waiter] for all his troubles yet he wasn't as good as Soma in that regard. Whereas Soma handled the job with enthusiasm, Soran took it as a necessary chore and so did it without complaints but without a smile either.
That didn't change the fact that the combination of the two Soma brothers in the kitchen was a treat for everyone with their excellent teamwork in balance the food and customer service.
Joichiro simply leaned against the wall, obscured by the shadows as he watched them. 'He's almost there. All he needs is that final push…' He thought with a small smile on his face.
He was the judge in their latest match and he could feel just how close Soran was to reaching Soma. One could say that he'd already reached him as it became more difficult to determine whose dish was better.
All that was left was the final push and he would surpass Soma. Say what you want but despite Joichiro seemingly favoring Soran over Soma, he loved them both equally.
Where Soran had natural talent, Soma had his unshakable will to continue trying no matter how many trial and errors it took. They both worked equally hard but Soran's talent was the deciding factor.
Had he put Soma through the training Soran was currently going through, it would only serve as a detriment to him rather than help him. Soma had his own way of progressing and Soran's way wasn't it.
"Where's that food I ordered!?" One of the middle aged customers yelled in unhinged excitement excitement.
"It's right here!" Soma answered, taking the food they just finished to the man's table.
Another month passed with shockingly no cook offs between Soma and Soran. Soran wanted time to dive even deeper into way to use [Cooking] and his other skills to produce better dishes.
Soma, while saddened by that was normally occupied with his own cook off which their father. He was still determined to beat Joichiro and that hadn't changed despite how many years ago Soma made that declaration.
Thinking back, Soran couldn't help but be a bit grateful to Soma. Despite him winning their cook offs, the older twin didn't hesitate to help Soran. He fondly remembered the times where it was him and Soma in the kitchen with Soma advising him on where he made errors.
Of course Joichiro's hellish regimen had not reduced in the slightest. It in fact seemed to increase in intensity.
'Who the hell tells a kid to think up and cook seven different dishes all at the same time under an hour and expect them to be wonderful...all with his eyes blindfolded!?' That was Joichiro for you.
He had spent countless sleepless nights with a level of determination nearing obsession, not that he would deny it at all. He was obsessed with being at the top.
It was why he felt some manner of satisfaction as he placed his dish in front of Joichiro. Soma had already presented his own dish and now it was his turn.
"Sticky Honey Sriracha Chicken Bites…Eat up!" Soran said with a confident but tired look. He had barely slept in the past weeks and it was clearly showing.
Joichiro stared at Soran with a look of concern. No matter how many times he advised his son to take it slow and rest a bit, the boy vehemently protested.
If Joichiro didn't teach him, he'd still end up staying late to practice. It's wasn't like he even had a choice, he was the one who offered to teach him. Forcefully ending that would be making a mockery of his dedication.
Grabbing one of the crispy bite size pieces of chicken with his chopsticks, he took a bite out of it. His eyes widened as the sweet but spicy taste exploded in his tastebuds.
'This taste! T-this is…!' He let out a small smile as he looked up to the two boys in front of him.
"The winner is…" He dragged on as the twins waited in anticipation.
"…Soran." Soran's eyes widened slowly as he let out a sigh of relief.
"Finally…" He murmured under his breath as he looked at his panel.
[Name: Yukihira Soran]
[Tap to Expand]
He finally felt satisfied with his victory. His first victory since waking up in this world three months ago.
Turned to Soma, unlike the look of defeat or sadness that he expected to see, all he was met with was a smile. Not a sad smile…a happy smile.
"Congratulations. You've earned it." Some said softly, his hand gripping the top his shoulder. No matter how much Soma hated losing, he was happy for Soran.
He had seen how much work and stress his younger twin was going through since he rejoined the kitchen. How could he not be happy for him?
Joichiro himself had a happy smile on his face as he walked up to his sons, ruffling their hair affectionately as he spoke.
"Well done, both of you!" Soran couldn't help but feel warm inside at it all. A small trail of tears rolled down his eyes in happiness as exhaustion finally caught up to him.
"Thank you." He managed to say before going unconscious.
Author's note: The next chapter is going to be a timeskip to the beginning of canon events. I'm still indecisive on who should be the female lead. Comment and let me know your suggestions.