Bon Appétit - Chapter 52
Luana turned over the documents with a fairly skillful attitude. As a person who has spent her high school in Korea, there was no way she couldn’t do this. The number of participants was huge, but it took quite a while because they could not be divided according to their experiences. Whether made for experts or beginners, it was important for the duke to feel the food’s taste.
The butler felt sorry to see Luana working hard to organize the documents. He thought she was perfect in any way. Why can’t she release the curse? It was just a pity.
After organizing the documents to some extent, she began to see the outlines of the preliminary round’s participants.
‘Surprisingly, a lot of noble ladies also participated?’
It seemed that the purpose of some people was not to cook, but that didn’t mean they could leave them out either. Luana pouted her lips as she looked at the papers. Somehow, she didn’t feel good. But her feeling is her feeling, and the document is the document. She couldn’t even organize the documents according to her feeling.
“By the way, Miss Luana, you’re not participating in the cooking contest?”
“Can I do it?”
“Isn’t there anything you can’t do?”
At that, Luana pondered for a moment.
‘Still, wouldn’t it be useless to participate in a cooking contest when I can’t even break the curse?’ She shook her head, thinking so.
“I think it would be better not to. Now, the paperwork is finished!”
In the end, Luana finished helping the butler organize the papers. She got up and stretched her hands. She had helped the butler, so she thought she would see Way. Since Way is the duke’s chef, he was also busy ahead of the competition.
Way, who was busy, greeted Luana. Although he must be swamped, his expression looked bright.
“Is there anything I can help with?”
“It’s okay. I can still handle it by myself. Help me when I get busier.”
After answering him, Luana decided to go to the duke this time. When she was just about to push the kitchen door, Way suddenly asked her a question.
“But is it true that the cooking contest is held to find the duke a wife?”
At that remark, Luana paused for a moment.
But on second thought, it wasn’t exactly wrong. If the food tastes good, the duke will have to love her somehow to break the curse. Otherwise, there was no point in holding such a big competition. As she reached that point, her mood went down even more.
“I don’t know that much either.”
Way replied awkwardly to Luana’s cold answer. She left him behind and left the kitchen. She now tried to visit the duke, too, but she was feeling reluctant. She stared at her waist pocket and started to think. She said she wouldn’t hide anymore, but she didn’t know why she kept staring at her waist. She stood for a long time in the middle of the hallway.
The cooking contest that has been a hot topic among people is finally here!
A huge amount of prize money, and the duke will be the judge from the first session. In addition, after the preliminary round, the emperor also participates as a judge. It was a dream competition that anyone wanted to join. Was it because of that? Many male chefs even protested. Some dressed up as women and went out to participate but were caught and kicked out.
Such a contest has started now!
“It tastes awful.”
A cold voice fell like a blade.
“Is this even food?”
The duke criticized many people in the preliminary round.
“Garbage would taste better than this.”
A soft-hearted participant even ran away crying. Way, who also served as the judge, tried to speak gently, but most of them fell at the duke’s words.
“Your Highness, your standards are too high.”
He tried to confess his pity, but the duke didn’t budge.
“I was just telling the truth.”
‘It’s not that bad, though.’
Way sighed but couldn’t say anything more because he knew the duke’s strict taste standard. Only Luana, who had volunteered to help the two, frowned.
“The taste is so disgusting…”
Luana blocked the duke’s mouth from giving a cruel evaluation this time. Surprised by the sudden unexpected action, Way could see his eyes wide open, but he couldn’t stand it anymore.
“You said it was round, right?”
As Luana said that, the duke looked at Luana, dissatisfied. Only then did she take her hand from covering his mouth, and Luana sighed.
“Why should you do that?”
Luana whispered in the duke’s ear.
“Actually, the taste isn’t that terrible, is it? You feel that way because of the curse now. How can you say that?”
‘If I try to participate in the cooking contest and hear only those words, I will despair. Maybe I’ll declare I’ll never cook again.’
“But this is a contest to break my curse. Why do I have to care about them?”
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“Then just say it’s not delicious. Don’t say more than that.”
Luana decided to make an appropriate compromise. The duke still looked dissatisfied, but he obeyed her. After that, he uttered the exact words mechanically.
Words he said after tasting a beautifully baked small tart.
Words he said after tasting a delicious meat dish.
Everything was the same. Perhaps because of that, some who took pride in cooking even protested.
“Is there even any delicious food for you?”
The duke replied proudly. Luana’s cooking was delicious, so it wasn’t wrong. However, the chef misunderstanding him, groaned and clenched his fists.
“I will come back as a better cook someday!”
And she ran out of the contest venue. The first day’s preliminary round was coming to an end, leaving so many people in despair.
“There was no result on the first day.”
Way looked tired as Luana said that regretfully.
“I know, right?”
He wanted to say a lot, but he didn’t say it. Many people would have passed if the duke had lowered his standard a little. Way, who doesn’t know about the curse, thought so. He thought the duke’s taste was much more sensitive and demanding than the average person. That’s why he resents the duke, who set the standards too high for the preliminary round.
At this rate, no one may pass the preliminary round. What kind of cooking contest is that? Way sighed and drooped his shoulders.
On the other hand, Luana looked a little excited. She seemed to be in a good mood. She smiled faintly as she comforted the duke, who had been offended by too many dishes today.
“I’ve eaten too many bad dishes today.”
“Well, why don’t we increase the number of judges?”
“But a good cook might appear from the preliminary round.”
“Still, if you ate it all up, you would get a stomach ache.”
“If it’s very hard, do you want me to pat you on the back if you’re tired?”
Then Luana’s small fist began to pat the duke’s solid back. It didn’t seem to have much effect, but somehow he liked it, so the duke remained calm. After a while, when the butler came, the two of them began to move separately and stopped. The duke stepped forward and waited for Luana on the spot for a while. It was only then that Luana started to step forward.
In that state, they walked side by side toward the duke’s room. He looked so close that she couldn’t take her eyes off him.
“Wasn’t it a contest to find him a wife?”
Way smiled bitterly. He had his guesses for a while, but he guessed he wasn’t wrong.
‘Well, you’re so close to each other. How can he try to find a new bride now?’
Way thought so and turned away.
It was the second day of the preliminary round. Some people passed this day because the butler was added as a new judge. He took turns judging with the duke, the butler, of course, not setting the standards too high like the duke. Even if he put it low, it was low based on the duke’s taste, so he eliminated quite a few people, but he was still better than the duke.
“Even His Majesty the Emperor participates as a judge, but there must be no one who has passed the preliminary round.”
With that said, he passed a few more. At the same time, he carefully looked at the participants’ different parts, such as their ages, whether they were the right age to marry a duke or the participants’ mentality.
It was not a smooth preliminary round. However, the heat began to increase as the finalists started to come out. People also made some bets. That way, the seven-day preliminary round went by in a flash, and finally, it was the last day.
The last contestants come to the venue with pounding hearts. And on the last day, the judge was the duke.
“Oh, no. I wanted the butler to be the judge.”
People now favor the butler since his standards are more lenient. But, the duke became the judge because it was the last day.
“I know. I really wanted to pass.”
Disappointed voices came from all over the place. And in the meantime, there was a woman wearing a hood. Knight Lugard found her, approached, and warned her.
“You must not cover your face inside the duchy.”
The woman clapped her hands lightly and took off her hood. She showed splendid silver hair. He was mesmerized by her hair for a moment, and then her blue-sky eyes stared at him.
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“Is it okay now?”
“W-what? Yes, you’re fine now.”
Lugard nodded and moved again. There were many people suddenly, and he started to get very busy because the emperor would also come on the last day of the preliminary round. By the way, the person he just saw somehow, looked familiar.
“But I don’t know a woman with silver hair.”
After thinking for a while, Lugard shook his head. He had a lot of urgent work right now, so he felt he could think about it later.