The Tōtsuki Autumn Election (秋の選抜 Aki no Senbatsu) is a cooking tournament-style event undertaken by a handful of high school first-year students at Tōtsuki Culinary Academy.
The Autumn Election used to determine the class standing of the current Generation of first-year students through a cooking tournament. Claiming victory in the Election can greatly increase a students chances of eventually becoming a member of Tōtsuki's Elite Ten Council.
Selection of CandidatesEdit
A total of 60 first year students are selected to participate in the event; the first 40 competitors are selected by Tōtsuki officials who oversaw and judged the students during the Tōtsuki Friendship and Rapport Training Camp, identifying and selecting those who stood out most amongst the class. The remaining 20 competitors are decided by the Elite Ten Council. The Elite Ten Council also have the athority to remove staff elected students from the bracket if they feel that the student is not a sutible candidate for the Election.
After the decision of which 60 students competing in the Election have been finalized, the names of all 60 junior chefs who qualified are displayed on one of two boards, dividing the participants into either the "A" Block or "B" Block for the Election Preliminary, with 30 students in each block. Sometime after the announcement, all of the participants will receive a letter, revealing the theme of the preliminaries.
The announcement of the 60 participants is made right before the summer break, along with an announcement of the theme of cuisine that the students will be cooking in the Election Preliminary. During the course of the summer vacation, the candidates are given that time to experiment and plan out their dish.
On the day of the preliminaries, the 60 participants will gather in the main hall for an introduction speech from the principal before splitting up into their respective blocks. Each block contains 30 students and a total of 5 judges who are generally big names in the culinary industry, one of which serves as the head judge.
Students are given one hour to cook and prepare all of their ingredients for their dish. The students will then make 5 servings to serve all 5 judges. The students are expected to bring their own ingredients and any appliances they may need in order to cook their dishes. However, the school provides the basic appliances such as a sink and an oven.
Each of the judges will take time to eat each students dish and critique them before giving a final score. Each judge can give a score from 0 to 20 points for a cumulative maximum score of 100 points. However, judging is very strict, as the judges treat each dish as if the student who prepared it should be on the same level as a professional chef. According to Osaji Kita, a score of 50 is the minimum score for a "satisfactory dish".
The top eight students, the top four from each block, shall advance to the main tournament. If two or more students are tied for fourth place, the judges will break the tie by choosing the better dish.
The 8 students who made it to the first round of the main tournament are matched up against eachother via lottery. Opponents in the Semifinals are also randomized, meaning that there is no fixed opponent for each round, except for the final match. Each match has a different culinary theme and is also decided randomly.
The main tournament of Autumn Election is held in a special arena known as The Chandra's Room, a culinary battle field that is otherwise reserved only for Food Wars between members of the Elite Ten Council. The unique feature of this arena is that the ceiling can open, used to allow moonlight into the venue, as way to measure the time left that the competing chefs have to complete their dish, and to bath said competitors in a "purifying moonlight" as they step forward to present their dish to the judges.
Students are allowed to bring any appliances or utensils they need to create and complete their dish and must provide their own ingredients.
The day before their quarterfinal match, the Elite Ten Council informs the competitors of their opponent and their battle theme. According to Senzaemon Nakiri, the purpose of that round is to show the student's flexibility and ability to think on their feet, as they are given less than a day to pick out and create a dish to fulfill a certain theme. From the semifinals onward, the participants are given a week to prepare. In all rounds of the tournament, the cooking period lasted two hours.
For the judging portion, students must prepare enough servings of their dishes for each of the judges. Unlike the Preliminaries, there is no scoring involved, which is meant to prevent any ties from happening as much as possible. The judges each must choose the dish that they felt was better overall. In most cases, the results were unanimous. The judges themselves are comprised of several notable figures in the culinary industry, such as the Tōtsuki Alumni.
Though the matches are already cooking duels, students are allowed to hold their matches as a Shokugeki if both parties agree to have one, as per rules of declaring one. The cooking time will remain the same, however the judging changes into a Shokugeki style of judging where each judge will vote individually and the individual with the most votes will win the match.
Despite the fact that the judging round was never to result in a tie, for the first time in Tōtsuki history in the 43rd Election, a semifinal match was declared a tie because one of the judges could not pick a decisive winner, something the other judges agreed upon despite declaring a winner themselves. Due to this circumstance, the finals was changed into a three-way duel. It is not known if there is a special reward for winning the Election, aside from being crowned the best student of that generation.