We headed back over to the inn after finishing up our business at the Adventurer’s Guild.
I wanted to straight up just go out, find a kitchen, and buy everything we needed, but we couldn’t actually get to that right away. There was still something else we needed to do first.
『We’re going to need to decide what we’re going to be selling.』
『Well, yeah, but we still have to think about our ingredients and figure out how spicy we’re going to make it. We also have to determine how we’re going to serve our customers and get all that ready too.』
Barbra was a pretty big town, and there were lots of stalls and stuff for food all over the place, so it probably wouldn’t be all that hard for us to get in touch with someone willing to sign a wholesale contract for all our miscellaneous needs. Both paper plates and wooden spoons could be mass produced through the use of alchemy, and apparently the Chef’s Guild had a few contacts of their own, so we could actually just get everything done through them if we wanted. They’d probably give us a pretty good price point too.
We already had all the spices we needed on hand thanks to our pirate “friends,” so that was something we could cross off right away.
All in all, we had forty different types of spices at our disposal, so I set each out on a plate and lined them all up in front of me. We had such a large variety that I actually had to liberty choose to make it as mild or spicy as I wanted.
「Mild is better choice. Spicy is tasty but hard to eat.」
『Hm, you did always like the milder ones more. Besides, a milder curry is a lot less risky than something on the spicier side seeing as how children will probably end up being a pretty big portion of our sales.』
『Oh yeah, you did like the spicier ones, didn’t you Urushi?』
『Hmmm, well, I do think that a fair portion of our older customers will probably prefer a bit more spice in it as well.』
I mean, we could always just do both. Either way, we probably need to put a bit more thought into the ingredients first…
『What kind of curry do you think I should make? We could probably use beef-like meat, pork-like meat, lizard-like meat, fish-like meat or chicken-like meat. Bug-like meat, tiger-like meat, and wolf-like meat could probably work as well.』
The reason I stuck a “-like” after all the potential ingredient types was because we weren’t actually going to use regular farm animals. We were planning to use meat procured from magic beasts instead. For example, we’d be using Crash Boars instead of pigs if we went with pork, and Rock Bison instead of cows if we went with beef.
『Alright, that’s one thing we could do.』
『You liked bird meat, right Urushi?』
『Alright, pork and chicken are going to be our two main choices then.』
People from the Kansai region seemed to like beef-based curries. I, however, was from the Kantou region, and thus, I myself was much more inclined towards pork. Fran liked pork as too, and she’d always ask for it to be used in curry. Hence, I ending up using most of the cow-like creatures for stuff like hamburgers and barbeques instead. 
If we wanted meat, we’d probably have to find ourselves a butcher. I remember seeing a decent number of them in the marketplace. Said marketplace was really big, so we didn’t actually get to check out all the shops yet, but I was pretty sure that at least a few specialized in butchering magic beasts.
『Did you want to put anything else in? We’re going to use potatoes, carrots and onions for sure. Curry wouldn’t really be curry without them. That said, we could probably try enhancing the flavour by adding a few secret ingredients too. You know, stuff like apples, or honey, or maybe even chocolate…』
Fran was the type that didn’t really like chunks in her curry. She very much preferred when the vegetables were cooked to the point where they kind of just ended up melting into the mixture, hence the choices listed.
「What about toppings?」
『Won’t those be a bit too hard to manage? We only have one stall’s worth of space』
「Breaded cutlets. Cheeseburgers. Kara-age. Hot spring eggs. Deep fried vegetables. All tasty.」
Yeah, that’s way too many. At most, we could have like one or two…
『Why don’t we go check out the market place? We can think about what toppings we’ll have after we finish getting all the materials we need. Let’s try focusing on procuring the best pork-like meat and vegetables we can get for now.』
We browsed Barbra’s massive portside marketplace for about an hour. All sorts of goods were on display, and most could even be found in wholesale tier quantities, but despite that, we weren’t able to get our hands on what we needed.
『It doesn’t look like any of the butchers really have all that much magic beast meat in stock.』
Pork-type magic beast meat was not only especially rare, but also extremely expensive. Maybe it’d be better for us to give up and just use regular pork instead.
I mean, we were already in a pretty good spot anyways. Curry wasn’t exactly something that the people of this world would be able to get their hands on with ease, so we could probably pull a win with just the rarity factor.
On the bright side, we did manage to catch sight of all the vegetable-type stuff we needed. Apples, honey, chocolate, and coffee all looked like they were in pretty high abundance as well. I wouldn’t have any problems giving the curry a bit of an extra kick, so in all honesty, we didn’t need to use meat procured from magic beasts.
「Om bark nom bark」
『You guys sure seem to be enjoying yourselves.』
「Doing market research. Need to determine popular tastes.」
『Well, that’s fine, I guess.』
They were being relatively quiet, so it was pretty easy for me to listen in on people trying to make deals, which in turn helped me gather information on suppliers and market prices.
『Wait, did you just say market research? That’s actually a pretty good idea. We should go check out the competition.』
「Check out competition?」
『Yeah, let’s go find all the people who did well last year and try a bit of their cooking.』
Pretty much everyone that qualified last year was now super famous, so we might just be able to eat some of their dishes if we headed over to their workplaces.
「Nn. Got it.」
Urushi was happily wagging his tail, but I felt like there was a pretty good chance that he wasn’t going to be allowed in any of the stores. I hope he doesn’t get too disappointed.
It was actually surprisingly easy for us to gather all the information we needed. Many of Barbra’s roadside stalls were run by old men that caved almost instantly at the sight of a beautiful young woman buying their goods on en masse. They pretty much divulged everything they knew without so much as a second thought.
『The sign says “The Dragon’s Table,” so yeah, should be the right place.』
After gathering a bit of information, we arrived at the conclusion that this was the closest place. Moveover, the owner was actually one of last year’s finalists.
I had expected the place to be super high class, but its exterior wasn’t nearly as fancy as I’d imagined. The prices on the menu sitting out front weren’t really high either, so I couldn’t help but suspect that we’d come to the wrong place.
We pushed the door open and looked inside. The restaurant itself had a calm, relaxing atmosphere.
「Welcome. Table for one?」
「Nn. One person. One pet.」
「I’m sorry, but this restaurant doesn’t allow pets.」
『Well, rules are rules. You’re going to have to stay in Fran’s shadow for a bit.』
I’ll treat him to something nice later to make up for it.
「Then just one person.」
「D-Did your dog just sink into your shadow…?」
「Must be mistaken.」
「Huh? Really? W-Well, there’s no way a dog can just sink into a shadow, so you’re probably right. I must be getting tired.」
Sorry waitress lady… Seems like this is really hard on you.
「Hmm… What about the Dragon Bone Soup? It’s one of our signatures, and if you look outside you’ll see it on the menu.」
「Dragon bone? Bones from dragons used in soup stock?」
「Yup, it’s really good.」
Dragon bone soup eh? I can’t even imagine how that’s supposed to taste.
「Then that. And this, this, this and this.」
「Our servings are a bit big. Are you sure you’d like to order all that?」
「Okay, then I’ll just repeat your order so I can have you verify it. It’ll be one Dragon Bone Soup, one Rockbird Steak, one Gold Sheep Skewer, one Yggd Potato Salad, and one Barbra Crab Pilaf, right?」
It looked like a lot of food, but to Fran, it really wasn’t all that much at all.
The first dish to arrive, the Dragon Bone Soup, came after about ten minutes worth of waiting. The bowl didn’t actually contain any traces of the ingredients used to create the final product. The only thing it had inside of it was a golden, translucent, consomme-like soup.
I sneakily stored about half of the Dragon Bone Soup away for research purposes as soon as the waitress stopped paying attention.
（Can eat now?）
『Yeah, go ahead.』
Fran raised the bowl and drank a mouthful of its contents.
『How is it?』
Her face seemed a bit pained, and far from content. Was it actually really bad or something?
「Might be even better than Master’s consomme soup.」
It’s gotta be pretty amazing then. That’s probably the highest possible praise one could possibly get from Fran as far as food goes.
Much to my surprise, the soup was priced pretty cheaply. All of the store’s other dishes that used magic beasts cost around 50 Golde a plate, but the soup only cost 20.
It looked like I’d been underestimating the competition far too much. I probably won’t be able to win if I just half ass everything.
Sampling the soup with a doppelganger after we got back to the inn only convinced me of my prior observation all the more.
We later went back over to the market and checked out a few more of the stores related to last year’s participants and came to the conclusion that all of them had pretty damned good food. My Doppelganger’s senses were relatively fine tuned as a result of the superiorization process, so I had about the same sense of taste as the average human being. Hence, I was able to come to an understanding of exactly how skilled our competitors were.
『It looks like we might actually end up dead last if I don’t try my best.』
Okay, yeah. Regular pork is definitely out of the question. I’m going to have to find myself some sort of magic beast meat. I’ve got to be careful in choosing the rest of my materials as well. Freshness and taste are important, but we can’t go over budget else we won’t profit enough. I’m going to use as many spices as necessary without holding back though.
I have to figure out exactly how we’re going to sell everything too. I mean, how are you actually supposed to sell curry using a stall? People might think that they’re not actually getting enough bang for their buck if all we give them is a plate with some rice and curry on it.
Alright, the only way for us to really do this will be to use every connection we’ve got.
『We should probably pay the Luciel Conglomerate a visit. They were supposed to be a pretty big company, so they might have the meat and vegetables we need in stock.』
「Nn. Got it.」
Let’s see, is there anything else we’re missing? We’ve got the spices. The meat and vegetables hopefully won’t be an issue, so all that’s left would be… water. I want to use decently high quality water. I mean, the wells aren’t here aren’t bad or anything, it seemed that well water wasn’t the only type of water that could potentially be available to us.
We should probably ask the people at the conglomerate about that as well. We do have money, so we could probably make up for a decent amount of our lack of experience and skill by using high quality materials. I kinda ended up attacking this whole thing with a bit of a nouveau riche type approach, but hey, whatever it takes for victory is whatever I’ll do.
『Let’s make sure we get our hands on some good materials!』
 Bit of info for anyone that’s clueless when it comes to Japanese geography. Kansai is like south-western Japan. Kantou is the eastern part. For reference, Tokyo (which is actually pronounced Toukyou by the way!) is a part of the Kantou region. It’s kind of like comparing Cali with NY.
Woot, made my estimated release with 10 minutes to spare.