2015-01-19 - Cooking Club Calamity!

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Title: Cooking Club Calamity!

The Infinity Cooking Club is holding an open tasting session as a prelude to the upcoming festival - but the headmistress of a rival culinary school has come to challenge the Infinity cooking program!


Gordon, Kuniko Saito, Makoto Kino, Izou Saitou, Lucy Iwai, Mai Tokiha, Kyouko Sakura, Ikiko Hisakata


Infinity Institute - Classrooms

OOC - IC Date:

12 May 2014 - 01/19/2015

<Pose Tracker> Gordon [Infinity Institute (S)] has posed.

Gordon is putting on a show tonight.

Part of a chef's job, in his opinion, is excellent service. Some chefs disagree with this notion; some have even said he focuses too much on the front of the house, and not enough on strictly focusing on cuisine. As such, even for a friendly tasting by the cooking club, the chef has gone all out: the tables are set with whites, some Cooking Club members are dressed in formal wear, and taking orders. It is still informal -- people get up to go to the table and get their own, food, and the students who cooked it are there, too.

But, Gordon wants the feel of a high-class restaurant, and that means having the style, even if it's not quite the substance. It may be a tasting for the cultural festival coming up -- the meals may not be served here -- but Gordon doesn't let that hold him back.

The rabbit is standing there in his chef's whites -- no ridiculous paper hat, of course -- and overseeing things. He has his own contribution, too: a Korean barbecue chicken, a distinctly Asian style, served with a salad in the French tradition and some honey glazed pecans. In this case, the uncharitable might call it fusion cuisine.

But it's delicious.

The students are behind their own dishes, to explain them when people approach. Gordon is, for once, nervous. It shows mostly in that slight... twitch. just above his eye. As people enter, the chef calls out: "Come in, come in! Have a seat. We'll get your drink," he says. "Then come up and try what we've made, to bring in the new school year!"

<Pose Tracker> Kuniko Saito [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Kuniko Saito is in immaculate whites, having even gotten a fresh hair cut for this occasion. Beneath her slightly roughened exterior, she is bursting with pride at all of this. There's the fluttering of anxiety as well, because any service situation can be chaotic, but she's confident.

Her position is, perhaps appropriately, the fish station. This contains two dishes in handy sampler sized plates.

One is "shawarma onigiri," where slices of tuna are taken from a skewer that is rotating in front of a gas flame. It has been marinated in spices and herbs and the fish itself is certainly cooked, though not to the point of being murdered. For this, Kuniko flakes meat off onto a warm handful of rice, adds a bit of sauce, and wraps it up with a postage-stamp strip of nori. The taste is exotic yet familiar, mostly in the spices.

Another is "bouillabaise au Japon," which comes pre-assembled - little plates with two small cups, one containing a mingling of the smaller and often-overlooked fish from the Tsukiji fish market in a creamy sauce, and another containing a rich dashi broth with a floating piece of well toasted crusty bread. The flavoring here includes rich provencial herbs as well as the familiar tastes of dashi and just a tiny pinch of wasabi in the cream sauce.

<Pose Tracker> Ikiko Hisakata [Juuban Public School (6)] has posed.

Snacks are a good way of catching Ikiko's attention, especially when it's by Infinity's Cooking Club. She had heard that they were going to be having a tasting session, and so she made sure to come over as soon as school let out for the day.

As she walks into the room, she sidesteps out of the way of other students walking in and takes a deep breath, enjoying all of the scents. After taking a seat and getting her drink, she walks over to peruse the options available. So many choices to choose from, and they all look good!

<Pose Tracker> Lucy Iwai [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Just a week or so ago, Lucy has been encouraged to come visit the cooking club. She isn't what you could call much of a cook. She's had some very simple tastes and not much in the way of culinary variety for much of her life. By far the fanciest thing she has ever prepared herself is unidentified, unseasoned meat roast on a spit. And yet!! This recent fateful encounter may have introduced a new dimension to her life.

So what better way to take her mind off of recent troubles than to swing by here? And what better time to do so than today?

Lucy comes into the clubroom wearing a radiant smile. She clasps her hands, nostrils flaring and eyes twinkling from all the delicious-looking food on display. She spots Kuniko, waves to her, and then goes to take a seat. She pulls a chair for the friend she also brought with her.

Her friend insisted on coming. This seemed like a bad idea, but he begged and begged, and Lucy gave up on trying to stop him. At least, she figured, she could get him dressed.

And so, with a long coat and a trilby hat, Didi the Dinosaur is here to devou-- /sample/ the food by himself! His wooden stilts clatter against the chair he sits on. He then looks upon Gordon with his beady mascot eyes. Maybe he came overdressed, huh.

A second after their drinks even touch the table, Lucy is up and right next to Kuniko's booth. "Ah, hello! What's on the menu?" She has obvious interest in both dishes.

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

It's largely though chance that Mai is at Infinity today. She'd heard about the tasting - it seemed like half the staff and customers at work were talking about it - but hadn't expected to have schedules line up in her favour. The first time she checked the calendar, it seemed like work would line up to keep her busy all evening.

...but as it happens, there was a scheduling mixup, and she was left with a free afternoon after all. One normally to be spent on schoolwork, or tidying up around the apartment, or... there are a lot of non-fun options. But it sounds fascinating - and not just to her, as it turns out.

The Sister Schools' uniforms are all at least passably formal, and so it is that a pair of teens enters in their Ohtori best. The younger of the two, a brown-haired middle school boy, is looking around the room with eyes wide. Not the gaze of a master chef, perhaps, but someone who can at least appreciate the skills on display. After the initial pass over the room, he turns to the older orange-haired girl with him. "There's a lot of neat dishes, sis - I wonder if we can pick up a few recipes? That bouillabaise smells good..."

Mai tears her eyes away from the rabbit, and looks to her brother - admittedly, still rather distracted. There was a rabbit in a chef's apron, did no one notice?...best not say anything, she wouldn't want to sound crazy. Shaking her head to clear it, she gives Takumi a smile. "Well, maybe if we're polite - but honestly, I'm looking forward to being the customer for a change."

Takumi pauses for a moment. "You do work hard..."

"Anyway," Mai interjects, "we should probably get a table before they're all taken up." Trying to put the concern out of her mind, Mai goes ahead to lay claim to a small table. She's conservative with her drink order - just water - and winds up parting ways with her brother. While he goes to investigate the fish soup, she heads towards that chicken-and-salad presentation.

...it really is a rabbit. Try to pretend it's not. "Good afternoon. Uh, if you don't mind my asking - pecans with the chicken?"

<Pose Tracker> Gordon [Infinity Institute (S)] has posed.

Gordon gives Didi a very, very long look. It boils down to something between 'I know what you are' and 'For the love of God, please don't eat me.' He is, after all, a rabbit at heart.

He lets Kuniko talk to Lucy, though, and then he looks at Ikiko. He doesn't quite smile, but he nods at her. "This is chicken bulgogi, served with a classic salade verte. It has a light vinagrette and honey-roasted pecans to add to the flavor and texture," he says. "A mix of flavors and cuisines, but I think you'll find it to your liking."

Selling teenagers on high cuisine can be hard.

Case in point, when Mai asks him about it. He looks at her for a moment, before he nods; the rabbit talks, too, with a working class Londoner accent. Who knew? "Quite right," he says. "It sounds strange, but the sweetness of the honey helps cut the slight bitterness of the pecans. The texture, too, adds to the chicken -- which is a mixture of crisp and chewy, thanks to the quickly cooked Korean style. They don't seem like they go together, but if you try it, I think you'll be surprised."

<Pose Tracker> Makoto Kino [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Makoto is a bit of a wreck, to be honest.

Not that she looks it, at least not to anyone who doesn't know her well enough to see the signs. Her whites are pristine, her hair is carefully tied back in something a bit more orderly than her usual careless ponytail, and the most obvious outward sign of how knotted up she is with anxiety is a tendency to periodicially wring her fingers together behind her back. It's the first event that she's had the opportunity to participate in as an official club member, and Mako desperately wants it to go better than the rest of her life is going right now.

There's nothing to be ashamed of at the dessert station that Mako is positioned behind, at least. The table is arrayed with choux à la crème and petit fours; the golden brown of baked pastry, white puffs of whipped cream and dramatic dark chocolate ganache alternates with the pastel pink and green of strawberry and green tea flavors, and the creamier shades of vanilla and chestnut cream fillings, accented here and there with chocolate leaves and faintly sparkling candied flower petals.

Makoto watches the visitors filter in, catches herself glancing anxiously over toward Kuniko and Gordon, and reminds herself to stand up straight even if it does make her feel uncomfortably like she's looming.

<Pose Tracker> Kuniko Saito [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Kuniko gives a glance towards the figure in a trilby. She doesn't seem to trust that hat.

To Lucy, she says, "Oh hey, Iwai, welcome to the tasting event." She's a little softer and a little more formal than she was when she whipped out her cookin' sword and lopped off chicken bits out in the open air. "Glad you could make it. We have all kinds of stuff - I like Chef's salad over there a lot, but here, we got..."

Kuniko DOES have a knife. "The bouillabaise, which I'm proud of - just make sure you eat both cups if you go for that. Or I can roll you some of this onigiri, which is a little different from the tuna shawarma I was doing the other day - but I think you'd dig it, it's just a little milder."

Kuniko glances towards the cooler terrains of the dessert station, meeting Makoto's eyes and giving her a momentary grin without guile or modesty. "Don't forget to save room for dessert," she adds to Lucy.

<Pose Tracker> Kyouko Sakura [None] has posed.

Kyouko Sakura swaggers in, wearing combat boots, black aviator sunglasses, shorts, and an immense lobster bib. The lobster in question is also wearing a lobster bib. Taking off her shades and tossing her hair back, her fang glints through her wolfish grin.


It's even better than she expected. Her source had mentioned that the Cooking Club was going all out, but this still outdid her expectations. She lopes in with a jungle cat's gait, scanning the room and its offerings in a single slow sweep of her gaze while prowling towards an empty table meant for six. Settling herself down at its middle, she lays her sunglasses on the corner and rubs her hands together in anticipation.

"Good evening! What would you like to drink?"

"Mm. Sake."


"Eh. Just kiddin'. How 'bout some water. An' some pineapple juice."

Settling in, she looks around again, noticing a few familiar faces, and the Club's bunny mascot. Though..her eyes narrow, and she leans towards the rabbit to see a little closer. There's..something..odd..about that rabbit. Like..that it's greeting people. That's pretty weird.

She settles back, and doesn't think anything more of it. She's at the Infinity Institute. Whole place is weird. She doesn't wait for her drinks, and starts making the rounds..first to the rabbit, which seems to be offering its own specialty.

Leaning over the chicken, she draws in a generous whiff, nodding her approval. It seems unusual, and it smells fantastic. Kyouko regards the bunny in chef's whites, holding court at an event where she half-expected to eat roast rabbit. "Hello. Some of this, please."

She's often friendlier to chefs and cooks. And it isn't wise to mock a talking rabbit without knowing anything about it.

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Bulgogi, with...a salad? Mai frowns in concentration a moment, considering the...head chef's advice. (Don't think of him as a bunny rabbit, that way lies madness.) "Definitely a medley - not that I have room to talk, considering where I work. Sure, I'll give it a try." Something to keep in mind for bento boxes, next time she's low on rice. "I haven't tried making bulgogi before, what kind of-"

An interruption, from nearby - Mai looks, reflexively, and sees Kyouko. Kyouko, destroyer of karaoke food budgets. The devourer. "Oh - good to see you."

Face slightly pale, she turns back to Gordon, and gives him a faint smile borne of ominous knowledge. "Good luck." And then she gets out of the way.

Makoto catches her eye - both for height, and for being someone else here she knows - and she heads in her direction. For a moment, she's utterly flummoxed by the baking on display. "...good heavens, how long did this take you?"

<Pose Tracker> Lucy Iwai [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Looking at those who arrived shortly after her, Lucy smiles as she sees Mai, though the smile fades at the sight of her brother. She remembers that mess, a while ago, with La Sirene and the... Cardiax, she thinks it was called? But at least it's nice that both siblings seem to be in good spirits.

Didi also notices Mai, though his reaction is to sweat profusely (somehow, despite not even having sweat glands) and pull down the rim of his hat so she won't recognize him. He nods to Gordon as he gives him that look-- It's okay, he hasn't eaten anything that talks in a very, very long time. As a sign of goodwill, he even stilt-walks over to the rabbit's booth.

He clears his throat. "Can I have, like, just the chicken?"

Meanwhile Lucy nods several times, enthusiastically, to Kuniko's explanation. "I'll have... Hold on, I knew I'd probably come here facing a dilemma, so I came with a plan." She holds out a fifty-yen coin, and flips it.

"I'll have the bouillabaisse!" She looks at the other dish with a bit of regret, but it's best not to dwell on the path not taken.

Her plate filled, she slides over to Makoto's booth with a beaming smile. "Aaaaaah, these look tasty /and/ cute! I can't wait to taste them, Kino-san! I'll have a little bit of everything, I think." Mai then comes over, and Lucy gives her a small wave. "Hello, Tokiha-senpai!"

Didi's eyes meet with Kyouko's sunshades. Somehow it feels like there's going to be trouble.

<Pose Tracker> Gordon [Infinity Institute (S)] has posed.

When Mako looks in his direction, Gordon nods at her. It's a simple, short gesture, but full of confidence. The dishes here met his approval; he may not have said much to that effect, but he cares about quality. He let her do her dessert table because it is, in his opinion, some of the most promising work here. But then he's looking back at the others here, because the customer requires focus too.

"Of course," he says to Mai. He retains his calm at her wishing him luck. But why? "Let me know what you think of it, please."

And then, he turns to look at Kyouko. He slides her over a small plate with it -- the idea being to give small plates for sampling, instead of whole meals -- and nods. "Of course," he says. "If you've had Korean barbecue, this is prepared in the same style, with a salad with honey-roasted pecans and a light vinagrette."

The dinosaur, then, speaks to him. He takes it in stride (after all, he too is a talking animal).

"The greens are a crucial part of the dish as a whole," he says. Despite the fact the chicken is not mixed in with them on the plate. "Everything here compliments everything else. I strongly suggest having it with both."

<Pose Tracker> Zoisite [Infinity Institute (S)] has posed.

Even for someone who teleports in lieu of walking even short distances, playing multiple roles at once can become -- well, work. And is that not the very reason the concept of treating oneself was invented?

Professor Izono is on sabbatical, so it's Izou Saitou who saunters into the white-on-white space saturated so with savoury smells. He looks every inch the fashion model he billed himself as during the Student Council race, clad as he is in dark blue trouser jeans and a smoke-grey waistcoat over a saffron-yellow collared shirt, a slim violet tie knotted loosely at his throat. He's undone his cuffs and pushed them up quite carelessly almost to his elbows; let's not get béchamel on our shirt, mm?

Gordon's the first thing that meets Izou's eye. If he hadn't known beforehand (see: Professor Izono) the Cooking Club's...mascot...was a rabbit, he might've assumed this was some sort of "meet the meat" type thing. Infinity is like that, you know.

Instead, the redhead breezes past and finds himself a small table (who would be so gauche as to take up one meant for more -- say, six -- diners?). Almost immediately, a starstruck sophomore rushes up to take his drink order. "Welcome! Wh-"

"Do you have any wine?"

"...I, um. No, Saitou-senpai, just soft drinks and stuff like that." It's Infinity, not Ohtori.

Izou's cupids-bow lips flatten slightly. "Pity. Black tea then, with cream and sugar," he compromises, rising from his seat.

First stop: seafood. Kuniko receives a light smile -- and an outstretched palm. Not willing to make a coinflip of it, "One of each, if you would." A pause. "...Perhaps you might as well tell me what each of these are, I suppose."

<Pose Tracker> Makoto Kino [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

The grin that answers Kuniko's is distinctly wry... but Gordon's nod of acknowledgement, however brief, helps loosen a few of the knots that Makoto's tied herself into, and she brightens up as Mai and Lucy both head in her direction. A moment ago her expression looked rather stiff, but now she's able to give the two other girls a warm and genuine smile of greeting, encouraged by the sight of some familiar - and friendly - faces.

"Thank you!" she answers Lucy, and gestures over the display with a wave of her hand as though in invitation. "Please, go ahead. They're small so you can try out different flavors if you want to - I hope you'll find something you like."

Mai's question gets a tip of Makoto's head and a rueful laugh. "--a while," Mako admits, absently reaching up to rub at the back of her neck. "I lose track of the time when I get on a roll. But I think everything turned out all right, so it's all worthwhile in the end, isn't it?"

<Pose Tracker> Kuniko Saito [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Kuniko puts a fresh piece of bread in the soup and tells Lucy, "Come back for the onigiri if you want, we want everyone to have a taste of real cuisine here!"

Then she's faced with a fashion model.

Kuniko's cheeks color faintly. "Oh, uh - well these are two different takes on the classic seafood of Japan, this," a nudge at one of the paired ramekins, "is bouillabaise with an Edomae flair, and over here I'm doing onigiri with shawarma-style tuna."

Fish is shaved off the rotating heap and arrayed in the rice, which is then squeezed in Kuniko's warm but clean hand, decorated with the nori strip, dusted with toasted sesame seeds, and held out on a plate for the benefit of Izou. "Please enjoy it!"

<Pose Tracker> Ikiko Hisakata [Juuban Public School (6)] has posed.

After a certain amount of pacing and listening, Ikiko steps forward towards Gordon. "I'll have some of the chicken and salad, please!" she says with a smile.

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Lucy's arrival catches Mai off-guard, and she turns to the younger girl. Recognition takes a moment, but she gives a smile and a nod back. "Iwai, right? They do look good - Kino-san's done incredible-looking work here. I might have to try a few, even though it's a bit early for dessert...oh, uh."

She looks troubled a moment, and starts looking around. She misses spying Didi immediately, though, and seems to think better of outright asking - though her looking around isn't exactly subtle. She does spot Takumi, though, cheerfully waving with his own plate and bowl.

Back to Makoto for a moment, with a smile. "Better you than me - I wish I had enough time to really master the art. It looks great, though - I'll try one of the chocolate ones, and be back for more." A quick grin - and then she heads over to join Takumi to try out what she's gathered.

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

One of the guests has yet to sample anything. An older woman in a crisp suit makes her way from station to station, examining the wares, sniffing the air, not saying a word. Her eyes pass over Makoto's artfully decorated pastries without comment - at least until she picks up on the tea flavours interspersed with chocolate and cream. "Really, now. Both?" And with that comment, she moves on.

Each of the other students is subjected to similar scrutiny - not a kind word to be heard, if she says anything at all. Her next to last stop is Kuniko's display, and here she takes her pause - calm disdain replaced with a moment's incredulity. Here, she examines the workings in greater detail - the roasting process, the odor of the spices in use, the herbs and cream and dashi intertwined...

Kuniko receives a direct, accusing gaze. No words, only an expression communicating intense disapproval.

She makes her way swiftly to Gordon's station, and slaps a hand down on the counter. A brief pause, before speaking - long enough to take in the pecan-and-vinaigette salad, paired with the savoury bulgogi dak - and then a ferocious glare is levelled on the head of ceremonies, paired with a disgusted sneer. "Gordon la Lapine, stand and answer. What on earth do you intend with this...this offence to the art? Justify what your students have wrought."

<Pose Tracker> Kyouko Sakura [None] has posed.

Mai greets her at the rabbit's station, so Kyouko flashes a toothy grin. "Good to see you too." She isn't quite sure why Mai went a little whiter at the sight of her, but that's the kind of reaction that she tends to interpret as a sign that she's doing something right.

A plate slides her way, and she takes it in hand, grunting in acknowledgement of the chef's description. "I see." Bringing the plate close, she catches the morsels in the light to get a better look at them..Her gaze return's to Gordon, and she smiles. Less toothily this time. "Thanks."

Back to her table it goes..now to find the plate a friend or two. Her sunglasses, still on the table and now next to the chicken, gleam back at Didi. She moves to Kuniko's station, and the fishi dishes to choose from.

She grins at Kuniko. She doesn't emphasize her fang, but she doesn't go to an effort to conceal it like she had with Gordon. Kuniko probably wouldn't worry about getting eaten. "Hello. Mmm..looks unusual. Never seen something like this." She points to the "bouillabaise au Japon."

Some well dressed woman that looked like she smelled a fart glided over. Her attitude seems pretty frosty. Kyouko scratches her elbow and openly watches her, a little curious, a little amused, a little bored.

<Pose Tracker> Lucy Iwai [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

"Maaaaaan," Didi says at the prospect of having to eat salad. His teeth are NOT made for chewing that. Still, he doesn't want to make a scene. "Okay, sure, whatever." His clever plan is to later set the greens aside, like a picky child.

He proceeds to the next booths over, and repeats the same rough process. He completely ignores any dish that doesn't have meat in it, tries to "compromise" when faced with one that has mixed ingredients, and just generally takes big portions of what he sets his sights on.

Meanwhile, Lucy picks out a little bit of everything from Makoto's dazzling display. She pauses at the sight of Izou Saitou's hard-to-miss entrance, then goes right back to filling the corner of her plate with sweets. She gives a playful salute before skipping over to the next table, and soon her plate is overflowing with culinary delights.

Lucy and Didi simultaneous sit back at their table, clap their hands (Didi's coat sleeves are dangling), and say "Itadak--"

The sound of a hand being slammed down on Gordon's counter interrupts them. The girl and her dinosaur's heads turn around to look at the unfolding scene. "Who's that woman?" Lucy stage-whispers loud enough for the neighboring tables to hear, "That's an awfully mean thing to say."

<Pose Tracker> Gordon [Infinity Institute (S)] has posed.

"Of course!" Gordon says, handing a plate towards Ikiko. He hands it over with pride. Someone who gets it! He hopes. "Bon appetit! Tell me what you think of it."

And then he's back to working with the others -- preparing for the potential feud between Kyouko and a dinosaur, perhaps. Didi has a plate slid towards him, with a sigh. But then, Gordon is rather interrupted by a stately older woman! His too large eyes widen, as he stares up at her. Then they narrow, with recognition -- and with determination.

"This? This is food that combines multiple influences and multiple cultures," he says, "and served well, to satisfy those who eat it. I should think it's a bloody good thing to teach up and coming cooks!"

Someone is angry.

<Pose Tracker> Kuniko Saito [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Kuniko doesn't pick up on the older woman giving some harshness on Makoto's platter. She is distracted with Kyoukos. "Well, it's kind of usually served in a bigger dish - the original dish is from southern France, though I kinda, like, remixed it - excuse me, I mean I reinterpreted it in light of what we can get here in Tokyo."

"You want some onigiri with that?" she says to Kyouko, before...

That Woman comes by. Kuniko's brow furrows as she's given a deep, cold stinkeye - it's kind of chilling, but her it doesn't daunt, not immediately, even if it does distract her. (Nijimura, who had been passing out tomato salad near her, is shaken profoundly and ducks towards the kitchen door poste-haste.)

She steals a glance towards Kyouko, and then across the room at Makoto, before her eyes turn towards where Gordon's starting to get up a full head of lapine outrage. Kuniko seems content to watch this for just this moment.

<Pose Tracker> Zoisite [Infinity Institute (S)] has posed.

Zoisite, like Tony Stark, has no idea what shawarma is (that's Kunzite's territory, as he may or may not find out later). Kuniko makes it sound appetizing, though, so he accepts the plate she passes over, deftly scooping up a plate of soup ramekins while he's at it. "Bouillabaisse au japon," he mutters, giving the creamier of the two a sniff. French food is /his/ territory, but he's never seen a bouillabaisse perfumed with wasabi!

No worries, Kuniko; the stew passes the, ah, sniff-test. Provisionally satisfied, Izou turns, passing a girl with hair redder than his (and hoping with a sort of quiet desperation that wasabi marries well with herbes de Provence) on his way back to his table. Fabulous, his tea is waiting for him.

He's barely sat down when some thundering behemoth of a woman gets up in the rabbit's face about -- oh for darkness' sake. There's petty, as Zoisite well knows, and then there's just stupid. (Not having a human's perspective on what to many is immutable culinary law, even if he is the Heavenly King of Europe, lends the brewing clash of titans less gravity, perhaps, than it actually deserves. Or maybe he's just dangerously irreverent.)

Delicately, Izou licks a grain of vinegared rice off of one finger. (Is there sherry vinegar in the mix?) The shawarma nigiri was oddly pleasing, he found, though he's pretty sure he prefers his tuna raw. Equally delicately, he dips his spoon into the bouillabaisse au japon and sets it between his rosy lips, content to eat and watch the fireworks.

Mmm. Dinner /and/ a show.

<Pose Tracker> Makoto Kino [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Makoto sends Mai and Lucy off with the pastries of their choice, and buoyed by this promising start she manages to go on well enough for a little while, inviting passing guests to sample something, pointing out particular flavors and combinations, and answering questions when asked.

This lasts until the dignified-looking older lady stops to look over her station with that critical gaze. Mako is just opening her mouth to ask her if she'd care to try anything when the woman's comment cuts her short - really, both? - and the question and Makoto's smile die away in unison, leaving her confused and off-balance.

"I'm sorry, but I--" She might as well not have bothered; the woman has already moved on to turn her disapproval on the next station.

All of the anxiety Mako had wrestled down before surges back up with a vengeance as she watches the woman's progress along the stations. She can't see the glare that's turned on Kuniko, but she meets Kuniko's eyes when the older girl glances her way, with concern and a silent question written all over her face.

When that hand slams down onto Gordon's station, Makoto can't take it any more. She's halfway around the side of her table of pastries, indignance beginning to replace nerves, and only the belated thought that she shouldn't leave her position keeps her from barging over there to find out more directly what the heck is going on.

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

One shoe taps sharply against the floor as murmurs start to make their way around the room. Most of the comments are along the lines of Gordon's - or just plain wondering who this woman is to say such things. She doesn't seem perturbed by what others might think, though - her attention is on the cuisine on display, and on her criticisms.

And, of course, on Gordon's words. She purses her lips in tight fury, preparing to voice her objections...when someone else speaks up in her stead.

"Zis? Zis is a betrayal. One wishes to preserve culture, not have it savaged by your manglings and meldings!" A French accent, in sharp contrast to Gordon's English. There's a turtle standing on the counter. It must have been there all along, as turtles don't move very quickly. The woman rests her hand on the counter, nodding simply.

"Thank you - of course, la Lapine, you remember Adrian? But he has hit upon the key point - mixing Levantine spices with Japanese sushi rice, Tsukiji fish with French herbs, Korean dak with a Balkan-inspired salad - your combinations spit on the traditions of every culture involved. I despair of what depravities these youths learn from your folly." Kuniko's station, and the foods there, receive a second glare from the woman.

The commotion from Makoto's station does get her attention, and she turns to her - and, by extension, to the other culinary students here. "Allow me to introduce myself. I am Denko Misono, headmistress of Kyoto Culinary Institute, here to see what the vaunted culinary students of Infinity Institute have prepared. And...I see this. Senseless medleys of spices from across the globe, violations of tradition, and this deplorable focus on modern presentation and service over traditional methods."

Behind her, the turtle speaks to the chef - or perhaps it's a video phone, that would make more sense. "I have had low expectations of you, but the expectations are defied. You, I name unfit for teaching cuisine."

<Pose Tracker> Lucy Iwai [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Lucy leans in and listens intently to Gordon's impassioned rebuttal of the critic's evaluation. She has a pecan lodged between two chopsticks and mere inches away from her mouth, but right now she keeps it right where it is.

Meanwhile Didi just wolfs his plate down gluttonously, without bothering with utensils.

Drama unfolds, a menacing turtle appears, and Lucy grits her teeth. She's only seen Gordon in passing before, but if he's taught things to Saito and Kino, he can't be bad, right? And then... Unfit for teaching?!

Lucy's chopsticks crack apart between her fingers. Her free hand slams on the table, and her chair clatters to the floor. Didi stops eating, and finally seems to understand that there's A Situation.

"That's so unfair!" Lucy cries out, "You haven't even tasted anything they've made!"

<Pose Tracker> Gordon [Infinity Institute (S)] has posed.

"Adrian," Gordon rumbles, in the sort of unhappy way that communicates one simple thing: he is most unhappy to see this particular turtle.

"Repeating traditions, over and over, is not a way to grow. Even Escoffier deviated from tradition, when he wrote his book!" the rabbit says, both to Denko and the turtle, but it's aimed at the latter more. He turns, looking at his students, and then back at them. "They've honed their skills. They've made mistakes, but... they've shown what they can do."

He shakes his head. "If you want a challenge, we'll win it. Like she said--" A look in Lucy's direction. "You haven't tasted a bite. These students' styles may vary, but their skills are top notch--" He thrusts a paw at the turtle, heatedly. "--and their service is better than yours, Adrian. They know that it isn't just about the cuisine, but the whole experience!"

<Pose Tracker> Kuniko Saito [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Kuniko's mouth hangs open as someone speaks up in a French accent. When this woman - Denko Misono - glares towards her station, the tuna on her rotating skewer slides off, as if shrinking in her baleful and judgmental gaze.

Her face blanches as her careful creation is called a senseless medley! As her unique expression of culinary art is termed a sputum on the cultural legacy of the Mediterranaean basin and Japan alike!

For the moment she seems shellshocked, but --

Lucy is the first one to counter the claim. Kuniko exhales, the spell of self-doubt not broken but at least held in abeyance for the moment. Her head then tilts as she sees Gordon shoving a paw at -

"A turtle??"

<Pose Tracker> Makoto Kino [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

At the turtle's accusation, the last of Makoto's fraying restraint finally snaps.

"Traditions are important, but not as important as serving delicious food that people enjoy eating!" she declares, calling toward Misono and Adrian from where she's standing the side of her station. "If we're too caught up in following traditions to remember that, then there's no point!"

She'll probably regret her outburst later, but right now, Makoto crosses her arms in front of her and lifts her chin, posture full to the brim with indignation. "Chef Gordon understands that," she says. "You have no right to call him unfit without even tasting anything we've made!"

<Pose Tracker> Zoisite [Infinity Institute (S)] has posed.

"Well now, that's just silly. Who cares about rules and tradition as long as the food tastes good?" Izou opines, waggling his spoon to-and-fro. His tone is casual enough, but the smirk revealing his pearly teeth perfectly displays just how much the fiery-haired youth is enjoying this debacle. "...You /did/ taste the food, right?"

The smirk grows wider.

"Besides, I'd like to see you do better, Monsieur Tortue. Can you even cook? At least Monsieur la Lapine has fingers."

Sometimes the surface world is even more entertaining than Beryl's court. It definitely has better food, he reflects, crunching pointedly on the bread that came with his soup.

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

With rare exceptions, the room has largely stopped eating. Denko Misono's condemnations are not shouted, and yet her voice carries throughout the room crisp and clear - the skills of a professional educator. Adrian is less bold; his comments are intended for Gordon, and whoever else hears it is not to his concern.

The headmistress taps her foot against the floor sharply, looking over those who have chosen to speak up in Gordon's defense. Several comments from the patrons of this event, largely centred on her refusal to taste the dishes on display. Simple enough to address.

"It is from traditions that we draw our knowledge of which flavours are correct. Each of these cultures has its prescriptions against certain foods - laws that Gordon and his students deem fit to utterly disregard. I have no desire to taste a combination I know to violate good sense - would you dip a filet of beef in chocolate and eggs? Of course not, that would be horrible."

She ignores Didi on principle.

"It is the same with these dishes - blending coriander with rice vinegar, dashi with herbes de provence, soy with basalmic. I see no need to insult my palate with such creations." She slaps her hand down on the counter, as she begins to get worked up...but once again, her partner beats her to the eruption.

Adrian, turning his full fury on Gordon, practically explodes in a rant. "That says nothing of your techniques abominable! One has need of time for cuisine - the braise of many hours, the roast, the pickling of vegetables! Your barbecue Korean - this bulgogi - is haste and sloppiness, like all that you do. You must return yourself to the kitchen, instead of this...focus on presentation!" Should the turtle be that red in the face? Probably not.

Clearing her throat, the headmistress from Kyoto speaks up to the room at large. "Infinity's culinary educator has spoken of challenge - and so I will make it official. Adrian and I hereby challenge Gordon la Lapine - if his administration of Infinity's culinary program has produced these would-be cooks, his aptitude is sorely in question. But of course, this is not a question of culinary skill - "

She pauses to sneer at the bulgogi-salad combination.

" - but of education. My students against yours, la Lapine." She folds her arms, meeting the glares from Gordon's defenders, not looking at the rabbit. "What say you?"

<Pose Tracker> Gordon [Infinity Institute (S)] has posed.

In this, Gordon does not hesitate. He looks about the room, at Kuniko and Makoto, and his other students. There is no doubt of them. Of himself, yes; he isn't perfect, he isn't infallible. He knows that he could have failed to teach them well enough, to impart all of the skills that they might need. But, this is a challenge that cannot remain unanswered.

And so, the rabbit nods once, sharply.

"We'll do it," he says. "In the classic way of the Blue Ribbon Society. The only body that has the right to judge our different schools -- and we'll see waht they have to say on this!" Then, a quick look at Makoto and Kuniko. "And I know my students are up for the challenge!"

No pressure, though.

<Pose Tracker> Kuniko Saito [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Makoto adds more heart and seasoning to this soup of defiance. Even the piquant words of Izou add a dash of verve and that je ne sais quoi of quality that brings a clenched fist to Kuniko's hand.

She puts her knife down, just in case.

When the Mme. unleashes her logic, Kuniko grits her teeth. There is, in fact, logic to it. It's cold - isolating - but to simply throw things together... Kuniko thinks on how poorly it might have gone were she not so well trained with the details of ingredients and how they interact. If she'd done this blindly. Maybe...

Kuniko is kept from the depths of introspection by the ranting of the turtle, and then a challenge comes up. Student against student? "But," she says, quietly, parenthetically, "The - Wait, you don't mean --"

Makoto may be made anxious when she sees just how profound a look of shock, almost TERROR, crosses over Kuniko's face when Gordon leaps up and accepts what he has challenged forth. "W-w-wait you mean like -- just a cookoff or something?! OK, that's fine --"

He couldn't really be thinking of THAT, could he? Kuniko muses with dread.

<Pose Tracker> Lucy Iwai [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Gordon glances at Lucy. She looks around, blushes faintly, and sets her chair back upright. She's not the only one to get mad, though (a part of her wishes Makoto were within high-five range), and with good reason.

The challenge is issued and accepted. Lucy looks at the two cooking club members she knows with her fists clenched, trying to transmit determination and support from across the room! She might not be a member of the club, or in fact really understand what's at stake or what kind of contest they have in mind, but she's with them 100%!

With her bare hand, she defiantly grabs a petit four and bites into it.

Meanwhile Didi has resumed eating and in fact finished his plate, minus the greens. He's looking very interested in Lucy's right now.

<Pose Tracker> Makoto Kino [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

When Gordon looks her way, Makoto answers the quick glance with a firm nod. The words leave her mouth without so much as a second's pause for consideration: "We're definitely up for it!"

Only after she's said it does she look over toward Kuniko, and all of that confidence very apruptly falters at the sight of the expression on her senior club member's face. Suddenly and keenly, Mako regrets being so quick to open her mouth.

What has she just gotten herself into?

<Pose Tracker> Zoisite [Infinity Institute (S)] has posed.

It's times like these that Zoisite would leverage his credentials as Heavenly King of Europe...if not for a more pressing desire to maintain his cover (and not earn himself a lashing from his Queen). There's also the distinct possibility, he's forced to admit, that centuries of administrative privilege and no shortage of magical acumen wouldn't matter to this woman who apparently doesn't know soy or balsamic well enough to see how they might complement each other. Isn't that the point of cultivating one's palate?

True to form, he's not done needling Madame: "More for me, then. I think I'll insult my palate next with some sweets."

In the time it takes Izou to scoot out of his seat and saunter over to Makoto's station, the gauntlet falls squarely between the two critter chefs. A cooking competition, hmmm? "I'll have to see that," Izou remarks to a shellshocked Makoto as he piles a plate with her creations. Does she recognise him like this? he wonders, fixing her with a dazzling smile.

It's not like he makes a lot of effort to vary his disguises, after all.

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Conviction and certainty from Gordon. A hint of doubt and fear from his student? Either way, there's applause from the other patrons, who might not know exactly what's going on but are at least somewhat entertained by the show.

Adrian is still in a full-fledged fume - he almost seems to be considering a more direct challenge, here and now. Headmistress Misono intervenes before he can explode any further, though - picking him up elegantly, returning Gordon's sharp nod. "Very well. Fortunately, even you respect some traditions. We will contact you with the details - the arena will need to be prepared, after all, and I will take time to select a suitable challenger."

Kuniko's panic catches her gaze, and her scowl briefly becomes a cruel smile. "And you, it seems, should take time to instruct some of your students on Blue Ribbon tradition. Really, now, she doesn't even know?..." A sad, sad shake of the head.

Lucy is enthusiastic, Didi is eating again - this last getting a look somewhere between disappointment and disgust from the woman - and Makoto's courage earns a brief look of consideration.

With that, shoes clacking sharply against the tile floor, she strides out. Not one morsel of food has passed her lips, not one sip of liquid. Her standards, it seems, have been far from met.

Adrian, ceremoniously removed from the room, snarls a few French invectives that are best left untranslated. And with their departure, a murmur of conversation starts up - table after table occupied with talk about the upcoming contest, and what it might be like.

<Pose Tracker> Kyouko Sakura [None] has posed.

Kyouko has been eating all along, taking advantage of the chefs' distraction to help herself to a few more servings than she might have gotten otherwise. It's all spectacular. The rabbit's chicken is a bit of a cut above, but if he's the teacher then that isn't so strange. The second plate she grabs from his table, she simply pours down into her mouth, slurping down the entire symphony in a single swallow.

Whatever battle seems to be brewing isn't based on terms that she feels familiar with. A part of her feels amazed that such tension could spring up over something that feels so low stakes..but foodstuffs are some of the few stuffs that she feels an inherent respect for.

That being said, it's a little surreal to listen to an argument between a pair of critters that she'd just as soon eat, especially when that argument's over food. Food fight for sure. All that said..what she had was delicious. Tradition is garbage, taste is taste. She can't imagine why she'd have to pick a side in this strange feud, but if it comes to it, she knows where she'll fall.

Kyouko digs some meatstring out from her teeth with a toothpick, smacking her lips, and speaks to the room.

"Contest'll be open to the public, right? Judges, yeah? I'm feelin' pretty qwallyfied at the mom'en."

<Pose Tracker> Makoto Kino [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

If Makoto recognizes anything of Zoe Palissandre in Izou Saito, no hint of that recognition shows on her face - and Mako isn't someone who's very good at mastering her expressions. Of course, she does have more than a little to distract her, at the moment.

None of which stops her from blushing bright red under the power of that smile, but Mako hastily looks down and fixes her eyes on the spread of pastries, and her answering smile is lopsided with embarrassment and a certain self-deprecation. Don't even *think* about it, she tells herself sternly. This is how you end up on all-night sprees of angstbaking.

With this momentary hitch, her downcast gaze turns into a polite inclination of her head, to cover what would otherwise probably look like rudeness. "Please," she says, "enjoy."