The story of Food Wars! follows Soma Yukihira, who, despite being a chef rather than a fighter, fits nearly all the shonen protagonist's requirements. Soma is noted for his can-do attitude, good work ethic, upbeat personality and willingness to learn new things and meet new people.
Many of Soma's classmates are in awe (or envy) of his creative and impactful cooking style, and by the series' end, he is practically the best chef of his entire generation. Still, he was humbled more than once in the story, and he had vital lessons to learn about the world of cuisine and even life itself. The kitchen can be an educational place.
Soma Learned To Perform A Mental Reset For Stress
Soma's father, Joichiro, was also a world-class chef during his time at Totsuki, and he later opened his family restaurant -- the Yukihira diner -- and taught his son how to run the kitchen by his side. Young Soma did his best to keep up, but juggling so many tasks at once quickly overwhelmed the boy, leaving him frozen with indecision until his father taught him a little trick.
If a chef feels overwhelmed in the kitchen or before a major event, they can clap their hands or slap their face and shock themselves out of their mental paralysis. This method can reset their minds and give them the clarity necessary to take stock of the situation and begin tackling one task after another. It's something that is seen frequently in various anime, applied to different professions or walks of life -- a way to ground you in the moment and settle nerves. Years later, Soma would pass this lesson on to his classmate and friend Megumi Tadokoro.
Learning To Accept Defeat Gracefully
The Autumn Elections arc fit the classic tournament story trope, gathering hundreds of Totsuki students to compete to see who could make it into the top eight of the single-elimination competition. Soma made the cut, and he defeated the gastronomy expert Alice Nakiri and the copycat Subaru Mimasaka. The final match boiled down to a three-way battle between Soma, Akira Hayama and the fierce Ryo Kurokiba.
With years of competing with Alice, Ryo's skills were sharp, and Akira was an expert in fragrances, spices and herbs. The match's theme was Pacific saury, and while Soma pushed himself to win this bout, he came in third, with Akira claiming the grand prize. Naturally, Soma didn't take the loss too well, but it was a much-needed moment of humility to show him that he still had a ways to go. The experience galvanized his will, and he reached new heights later on.
When Soma Ran A Food Stall During The Moon Festival
The Moon Festival took place all over Totsuki's campus, with students setting up stalls to sell their unique dishes to customers in exchange for tickets. The competition was fierce, and Soma picked a friendly fight with Terunori Kuga of the Council of Ten. Terunori was an expert on Chinese cooking and ran a massive stall, and Soma decided to beat him at his own game to prove his worth to the Council.
Soma's strategy was to run a small but charming stall across the street from Terunori's booth and claim the excess customers lining up for Terunori's food. It quickly proved to be easier said than done, but despite a weak start, Soma learned on the fly how to run a proper food stall in the face of overwhelming competition, and then several friends and allies joined him, creating a bigger and better food stall. By the festival's end, Terunori acknowledged Soma as a true rival.
Soma Learned The Importance of Adaptability
The first-year students of Totsuki were all sent to a private hotel for intense training, and one morning, the students got their greatest challenge yet: to cook and serve 200 egg-based breakfast dishes within two hours. Erina and her cousin Alice breezed through this test, but Soma struggled. He tried to make diner-style dishes, but they deflated after a minute and were unsuited for this event.
Despite Erina believing Soma would fail, Soma found a solution by mass-producing omelette soufflés that were pretty basic but had incredible texture and durability. He eventually drew a massive crowd at the last minute, serving his 200th dish in the nick of time. Being adaptable and understanding that not all food venues should be treated as a diner were lessons that Soma quickly learned.
Soma Learned To Cook For Friends & Family, Not For Pride
Finding a proper, fulfilling purpose for pursuing your passion is something that extends beyond the kitchen and can be applied to most goals. For Soma, this was a lesson he learned at a young age and early on in his culinary career, though he didn't mention it much until the fifth and final season of Food Wars!. Soma's background at a family diner taught him that cooking for sheer pride or gratification is selfish and hollow. Instead, a chef truly enjoys cooking when they lovingly prepare food to impress the people they adore, such as friends and family. Cooking is meant to bring people together, and even an iffy chef like Soma's rambunctious mother could get the most out of cooking this way.
Soma imparted this wisdom onto Erina Nakiri and Asahi Saiba during the BLUE, filling in the missing piece of the Nakiri family's culinary legacy. This helped bring together the Nakiri family at last, and they had Soma to thank for this vital lesson.