After surviving two long rough days of a clearly biased Promotion Exams, the third stage was announced with the rebelling 92nd Tōtsuki Generation students facing off against members of the Elite Ten Council. Sōma's opponent turned out to be Akira Hayama, who not only joined Central, but was awarded the 9th Seat of the Elite Ten Council.
Fearing for the closure of the Shiomi Seminar due to Azami Nakiri's new curriculum for Tōtsuki Culinary Academy, Akira begrudgingly joined Central, knowing that it was the best possible option to keep his beloved seminar alive. Despite heavy protests by Jun herself, Akira was willing to throw his values for the sake of her future. After defeating many other Central prospects, Akira officially joined Central, believing that it would be enough to keep Shiomi Seminar alive. However, Azami stated that even though he is a member of Central, he had yet to show true fealty. In order to show it, he was tasked with eliminating Sōma during the Promotion Exams.
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With Akira's defeat, he officially lost Shiomi Seminar's potential support by Azami's administration. Additionally, he lost his Elite Ten Council seats and was expelled from the academy as conditioned by Azami should he be defeated. To make matters worse, a majority of the rebelling students were expelled for losing duels to the other Elite Ten Council students. The only two rebelling students, aside from Erina who was exempt from the blatant matchup fixing, was Takumi Aldini and Megumi Tadokoro whose opponent, Rindō Kobayashi, did not duel them, but passed them during the third stage upon tasting their dishes.