Erina wasn’t like most girls growing up. Her family owns and runs the Totsuki Saryo Culinary Institute, the top culinary school in the world. Not only that, but she was born with an exceptional palate. She’s hypersensitive to even the slightest ingredients in a meal. This is due to what was called her “God Tongue”.
Initially, Erina didn’t even enjoy eating all that much. That all changed when Erina tried the cooking of Yukihira Joichiro. She didn’t have too much time to savor this newfound love though. Her father Azami isolates her from that world soon afterward and forced Erina to only nothing but gourmet food. The rest of the family eventually chases away Azami. This leaves a scarred Erina in the care of her grandfather Senzaemon.
Since then she has enlisted in Totsuki and become a member of the Elite 10 cooks.
“Vain” is probably the best word to describe Erina. She views the world as completely beneath her and hates it when people defy her will. It doesn’t really matter if her opposition is actually in the moral right or not. Erina’s even so willing to go so far as to fail Soma and keeping him from attending Totsuki during the entrance exam because even though she loved the meal he made, she won’t pass him just because of the crassness of the ingredients Soma used. When someone fails her, Erina’s more than willing to drop them like it’s nothing. Just ask Ikumi Mito.
Of course, this stubbornness was born out of her father’s emotionally abusive upbringing. Underneath that prissy exterior is a very kind girl who would actually do anything for her friends. Later into the series, Erina even helps keep the Polar Star dormitory from getting demolished. She did so as a repayment for the dormitory taking her in while on the run from her father. Additionally, she even gives them a crash course in the attributes of all the different ingredients that could be found on their upcoming exam. Turns out that Erina is actually a caring person. Someone just had to melt some of the iciness away first.
Initially, only Hisako Arato could claim to be Erina’s friend, though she wouldn’t see it like that. The two have more of a master/servant relationship, where Arato would do anything for Erina and obsesses over her well-being. This leads Arato to suffer from an inferiority complex, as she considers herself inferior to Erina, something she reveals to Soma during their stagiaire. Of course, she doesn’t realize that she’s also the sole member of Erina’s social group and has more power over her than she realizes. She, along with Alice, are the ones who manage to convince Erina to defy her father and run away from her home.
Alice is the only other person who can be considered to be Erina’s friend. Even if they aren’t as close as they once were. As kids Alice helped Erina get out of her shell, bugging her to play together until she did so. The two became very close, that is until Alice moved to Denmark. Alice promised to write to Erina, but sadly Erina never got her letters thanks to her father intervenes. Regardless, Alice still worries for Erina and has been slowing reintegrating herself into Erina’s life.
Finally, though it took her a while to admit it, Yukihira Soma was largely responsible for Erina overcoming her mental barriers erected by her father. Soma’s ability to take any ingredient and turn it into something delicious had a profound effect on how she saw the world. Even if it took her a while to come accept this.
The way Soma casually address Erina, going as far as asking for advice when she was hoping for him to be expelled, is something she is not thrilled about. However, Erina’s grew to become much warmer towards Soma, eventually worrying about his expulsion during the Hokkaido exams.
While Soma is the main character, it’s Erina who really drives the conflict of Shokugeki no Soma. She was our introduction into prevailing attitudes at Totsuki how the world viewed someone like Soma. Her shift in demeanor is the driving force of the narrative. That is Erina slow transformation from a villain into Soma’s potential love interest. She’s the one we want Soma to change, and why we keep watching Shokugeki no Soma