Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma is a battle shonen series where swords and fists are replaced with elite culinary skills and intense competition in the kitchen. Soma Yukihira and Erina Nakiri are the stars, and Soma makes all kinds of friends and rivals along the way who push him to the limit. Akira Hayama, the master of culinary fragrances, sets a high bar for everyone.
Akira Hayama is the student of Jun Shiomi, an eccentric but brilliant chef who understands the true depths of fragrance, spices and flavors in food, and Akira learned well. Then there's the humble and polite Megumi Tadokoro, who learned to assert herself and put her on the map. Can Akira defeat her in a proper shokugeki?
Akira Hayama's Cooking Skills
In a shokugeki, two chefs are compared not based on whether they could "beat" each other like in a typical battle series, but based on their accomplishment and the merits of their cooking style. Another measuring stick is to compare which chef has defeated another in a shokugeki or similar contest, showing who is "stronger."
Akira Hayama has a lot to brag about. He has a sharp nose that almost rivals Erina's God Tongue, able to detect the most minute details of an ingredient's or dish's fragrance and composition. Few other characters have senses this refined, and Akira always makes good use of his olfactory prowess. His aromatic dishes are a sensory treat for the judges and customers, but not at the expense of the actual flavor. Akira can elegantly blend flavor, texture and aroma into a cohesive whole, where no single factor overshadows the others.
Akira Hayama won the Autumn Elections, an impressive accomplishment given that the likes of Alice Nakiri, Ryo Kurokiba, Megumi Tadokoro and Soma Yukihira himself were in the running too. Akira qualified to join Azami Nakiri's elite Central, where only the very best of the best are accepted. While working for Azami, Akira was asked to challenge Soma to cook bear meat, and Akira very nearly won the duel. Soma only triumphed because he had Terunori Kuga of the Council of Ten to aid him, and Soma is the upstart who had narrowly outperformed Kuga during the Moon Festival. This puts Akira's cooking skills above even Kuga's and Soma's, at least at that point in time, and neither Megumi nor any of Soma's other friends could have done such a thing. When Central was ousted and a new Council of Ten was formed, Akira placed ninth.
Megumi Tadokoro's Cooking Skills
Megumi Tadokoro started off humble. In fact, she was on the verge of expulsion from Totsuki, but not for lack of talent. Instead, she was meek and afraid to show her true potential until she met Soma, who drew out her natural abilities. Once Megumi got serious in the kitchen, she rapidly made up for lost time, training with the strict Mr. Shinomiya to get a crash course in elite cooking. Like Soma himself, Megumi values family and friends, cooking to make them happy. Megumi practices home-style cooking, which is designed to comfort the diner and make them feel like they're having a home-cooked meal with family. Megumi uses seafood to maximize the flavor of her cooking. She even learned how to skin and cook a monkfish, which is no mean feat.
Megumi placed 10th when the new Council of Ten was formed, one slot below Akira Hayama, and it was Megumi who won the school-wide competition to see which three students would qualify for the team that would attend the BLUE tournament (Soma and Takumi Aldini also made it). Megumi also qualified to enter the Autumn Election tournament, narrowly losing to the aggressive chef Ryo Kurokiba when her gentle flavors faced off against Ryo's intense dish. Megumi was also able to join the eight-member rebel chef team to face off against Central in the final battle, narrowly losing to Momo Akanegakubo of Central in an apple-themed duel.
How a Cook-Off Between Akira & Megumi Would Go
Akira and Megumi would likely have their shokugeki on Totsuki's campus. Akira and Megumi are both highly qualified chefs, but overall, Akira has a few small advantages that would add up to his victory in most cases. For one thing, Megumi's main motivation (cooking for family) is limited here, since her family likely won't be present and their happiness isn't actually on the line. Also, Megumi focuses mainly on seafood, while Akira can use his fragrance prowess on any dish, of any kind.
In fact, Akira can use the power of fragrance to combine unusual or clashing ingredients to create a harmonious and alluring whole, something Megumi can't so easily do. With Akira's ultra-sharp nose guiding him, he would win this shokugeki.