Warrior Chef 2: Round 1

Talia: @Rose, Vin, and I all have immunity going into the first round of this competition and that feels awesome. @I know that I can stand up with the best of them and win that title now.

Lilian: @I’m feeling good about this competition because I did really well in the Eliminator Round, but I still need to work my butt off or else I’m gone for good next.

Victoria: Welcome to the main competition! So let’s get into the creativity challenge! Everyone, please draw knives!

Talia – 1

Duke – 1

Amanda – 1

Rose – 2

Vin – 2

Jo – 2

Enrique – 3

Betsy – 3

Marisa – 3

Lilian – 4

Trisha – 4

Nate – 4

Nate: @I’m with Trisha and Lilian and that’s a good team to have. @The three of us can easily bust this out.

Amanda: @I’m working with Talia and Duke, so I’m excited. @Duke did really well in our preliminary and Talia won the Eliminator Round, so both of them are talented cooks.

Victoria: So this challenge will have two parts. In the first part, it’s a mise en place race. Members of your team will need to filet and portion 10 pieces of salmon, juice and seed 10 lemons, brunoise 8 shallots, and then peel 20 pieces of asparagus. And each member must be solely responsible for one task. The fourth task, all three of you can work on at the same time.
Rose: @Mise en place shouldn’t be the worst. @I know that I can handle the shallots or salmon easily.

Victoria: The winning team is going to be the team that finishes first. They will not receive immunity, but they will be given $500!

Vin: @Immunity is off the table, and that’s fine, because Rose and I both have it anyways. @So I’m not too worried.

Victoria: The team that finishes last, they will have to cook head to head to head to remain in the competition, using the mise en place from the first leg.

Jo: Oh. @I’m on a team with two people who both have immunity. @If they screw up and we end up on the bottom, then I’m going home.

Marisa: @I am definitely not envious of Jo, Amanda, or Duke right now. @If either of their teams are on the bottom, then one of those three are going home.

Victoria: So four tasks to complete and your time starts now!

Amanda: @So Duke is going to filet the salmon, I’m going to juice the lemons, and Talia is going to peel the asparagus. @We decide to handle the shallots together because peeling and chopping will take a lot of time.

Rose: @So Jo is going to do the salmon, I’m going to do the lemons, and Vin is handling the shallots. @We know that we will all jump onto the asparagus together anyways, so it won’t be a huge challenge.

Betsy: @Marisa is handling the salmon, I’m going to do the shallots, and Enrique is on lemon duty. @Right now, I’m thinking about who the biggest competitor in this season is, and it probably has to be the four cooks who came out of the Eliminator Round. @They’re going to be the toughest to beat by far.

Nate: @I’m going to do the salmon filet, Trisha is on lemons, and Lilian is handling asparagus. @I think that nobody would be dumb enough to try to delegate the salmon to multiple people, because you really can’t filet with more than one person.

Jo: @I manage to get the salmon filleted and now I’m starting to portion it out. @Rose finished off her lemons and she’s already starting to peel asparagus, and Vin’s working hard on those shallots too. @I think our team is doing well and I hope that they won’t try to sabotage me with their immunity.

Marisa: @I see that Rose’s team is almost done, and I’m pretty surprised. @If I were Rose and Vin, I might use that immunity to my advantage.

Enrique: @I almost finish the lemons, and then I squirt some of the juice into my eye. CRAP! @It hurts. @A lot.

Trisha: @Enrique managed to screw up his lemons, and I just finish mine and move on to the shallots with Lilian. @I see that our team is neck and neck with Jo’s.

Vin: @At this point, Jo, Rose, and I are all on asparagus, and we are just cruising through it. Check!

Everyone stops and looks up at them.

Victoria examines the mise en place.

Victoria: Congratulations! Team 2! You are the first team done, and you’ll win $500 each! Well done!
Rose: @At this point, I have immunity and $500 to burn. @Life is great!

Victoria: Everyone else, keep cooking!
Nate: Are you kidding me?! @They managed to just edge us out. Check!

Victoria examines the mise en place.

Victoria: Team 4, you guys are safe!

Lilian: Awesome!

Amanda: @Two teams are safe, and now I’m really hustling. @If our team is on the bottom, then it’s either me or Duke going home. @Duke finished the salmon and now he’s joining Talia and I on the shallots.

Betsy: @At this point, Enrique getting lemon juice in his eyes is setting us back. @It’s up to me and Marisa to get things done.
Marisa: @Betsy and I are on the asparagus while Enrique is recovering, and then my heart just sinks when I hear…

Duke: Check!

Victoria examines their mise en place.

Victoria: Team 1, you guys are safe. Team 3, that means you guys will be up for elimination tonight.

Betsy: Oh no….

Victoria: So you guys have just 30 minutes to prepare a dish using salmon, lemon juice, diced shallots, and asparagus. And your time starts…. now!

Marisa: @30 minutes is a lot of time for just salmon, so I know I need to push myself. @I’m going to make a salmon with a caramelized shallot and asparagus pesto, and a grated potato cake.

Enrique: @I decide on an asparagus soup with smoked salmon. @I’m going to sweat out the shallots, deglaze with white wine and lemon juice, and then blitz that with olive oil. @I think it’ll be good enough to keep me in the competition, especially against someone as white bread as Betsy.

Betsy: @I’m making a seared filet of salmon with a lemon hollandaise sauce, blanched asparagus, and caramelized shallots. @I’m not too confident on the shallots, just caramelizing them, but I just hope it all works together really well here.

Nate: @Looking at the three dishes, I like the direction Marisa is going in. @The pesto is definitely a cool idea with the pesto and she’s got the balls to add a component that doesn’t even use the mise en place.

Vin: @I think Marisa is surprisingly strong competition judging from how composed she is. @Enrique’s got the coolest idea, making a soup, but I don’t know about Betsy. @I still think she’s playing it too safe.

Betsy: @I’m hoping that the flavors come through, because my hollandaise is good and the salmon is cooked nicely. @I see that Enrique isn’t even cooking his salmon and that makes me interested. @He’s blanching asparagus however.

Victoria: Time’s up! Step away from your dishes!

Marisa: @I see Enrique and Betsy’s dishes. @Betsy went a really obvious route in my eyes. @I’m not too impressed.

Victoria tastes the three dishes.

Betsy: @I’m really nervous at this point. @Victoria has hosted multiple Warrior Chef competitions in the past, so she definitely knows good food.

Victoria: Alright, so off the bat, one of you is definitely safe. Enrique, your soup was really clever and that just stood out to me. You are safe.
Enrique: Thank you. @It’s down to one of the girls, and I couldn’t care less. @One of them deserves to leave tonight.

Victoria: Marisa and Betsy, you guys just lacked the same creativity as Enrique. And that’s what it came down to. Both of you nailed your cook on the salmon and everything was well seasoned. But Marisa, your pesto is the one thing that set you apart. And that’s why, Betsy, you are going home tonight. Please leave the kitchen.

Betsy: Alright. @I’m leaving first in the main competition. @Yeah, I didn’t see that one coming. @It sucks so much, because I wanted to go all the way to that finale and be crowned the Warrior Chef.

Betsy leaves the kitchen.

Trisha: @I feel bad for her, but that’s the name of the competition. @Everyone here except for one will have to lose.

Victoria: Now for the elimination challenge! Tonight, we want you guys to prepare a dish inspired by your first food memory! You have 1 hour, starting now!

Vin: @I’m half Italian and half Singaporean. @Risotto is probably the first dish where I felt like my two cultures combined into one. @For the challenge, I’m going to prepare a miso risotto with basil poached shrimp. @I hope that I can continue nailing my dishes and staying on top of challenges. @It’s be nice to go three for three.

Amanda: @Right now, Vin and Rose have won every challenge they’ve attempted. @I really want to show both of them that I’m not somebody that’s just going to be eliminated just because I’m a freshman. @I learned this dish from my mom, so I decide on preparing grilled trout with poached escargot, tarragon butter sauce, and lemons. @She taught me everything I know about French food, so this will be a great homage to her and it’ll just be full circle.

Talia: @Being half Black, I do love my soul food. @I remember learning how to make chicken and waffles from my grandma Hilda, but I want to do something even more than that. @I’m preparing fried duck wings with waffles, orange syrup, and foie gras butter. @I think that it’ll show my willingness to take risks.

Enrique: @I love myself Latin or seafood. @I already proved in the last challenge that I can nail salmon, so tonight, I need to do something else with Latin flavors. @I’m going to make a ceviche with seabass, and then serve that with some roasted chilies and mango salsa. @I’m excited, because this is my chance to redeem myself from almost going home.

Marisa: @I need redemption. @At this point, everyone must be thinking that I am the weakest link in the competition, and I need to prove them wrong. @I’m making a mascarpone panna cotta with poached pears and cannoli crumble. @I love Italian food and it runs through my veins. @Cut my wrist and out spills tomato sauce. @Okay, I’m joking. @It’s obviously blood. @You get where I’m going with this.

Lilian: @Being a baker who loves using fruit, that’ll be my advantage. @I’m making schaumtorte, which is like a pavlova served with fresh fruit and berries. @I’m also going to prepare a champagne sorbet. @Right now, I think my biggest competition will be Rose and Vin, because they have won every challenge so far and have immunity.

Trisha: @Right now, Jo, Amanda, and I are the three youngest cooks here. @I want to make it to the end with them just for that reason. @I’m going to prepare Taiwanese soup dumplings with black vinegar and ginger sorbet. @I’m taking a risk using the liquid nitrogen to freeze the black vinegar and ginger, but that’s going to be what makes my dish unique to me.

Jo: @I love making stir fried noodles and I want to do exactly that. @I’m going to do stir fried noodles with grilled chicken thighs. @I’m using a wok to do the stir fry, and if I can nail the cook on the noodles with my wok, then I’m not going home. @I know that the competition is tough, but I’m more than ready to prove myself.

Rose: @Nobody can beat me. @My food speaks to who I am, and when I think about my first food memory, I just think about dim sum and offal. @I’m making steamed rice in a lotus leaf, so like a Chinese tamale, and then I’m going to serve that with crispy liver. @It’s two of my childhood favorites, coming together as one.

Duke: @Being raised in Arcadia, I was exposed to plenty of Asian food growing up. @I’m making a lamb hotpot, where I will slice the lamb tataki style, and then have the judges pour a savory Chinese broth using goji, wood ear, star anise, and kombu. @I’m hoping that my flavors come together and make something that’ll win me the first elimination challenge tonight.

Nate: @I know my biggest competition right now is Rose and Vin. @Both of them are strong. @I’m making glazed pork belly with rice and grilled bok choy. @It’s a relatively safe dish, but I know my pork belly will be killer and that will save me from being eliminated tonight. @It’s too early in the competition for me to feel comfortable taking risks. @I want to test the waters first and see how to approach the rest of my competition, using this dish first.

Victoria: Time’s up!

Rose: @I think that my dish, I’m feeling regret. @I could have done char su in a phyllo roll, and that would be a better merging of my two heritages.

Lilian: @I’m feeling bad. @All of the alcohol in the champagne kept the sorbet was freezing properly, so now it’s melting into the rest of the dessert.

Victoria: Your judges are:

Aster Walker

Miriam Adjanti

Erwin Ko

Victoria: Let’s start with the dishes by Trisha, Amanda, and Jo!

Trisha – soup dumplings with black vinegar-ginger sorbet

Amanda – grilled trout, poached escargot, tarragon butter, lemons

Jo – stir fried noodles with chicken thighs

Aster: I thought Trisha made a good dumpling, but the sorbet was just a complete miss. What she accomplished with her dumpling, she completely missed with that attempt at an ice cream that wound up more like vinegar-ice. It was just wrong.

Miriam: Amanda nailed her trout and the usage of escargot was daring. I loved her butter and the lemon highlighted those flavors. There was absolutely nothing I would change about her dish. Vive la France.

Erwin: Jo’s noodles were cooked nicely and I loved the grill on the chicken thighs. Mine were cooked through so I was happy about that. The biggest issue I’m having is that he played it safe. Nothing was wrong, but it was a really safe dish, even with the wok.

Victoria: Next are Vin, Talia, and Enrique!

Vin – miso risotto with basil poached shrimp

Talia – fried duck wings with waffles, orange syrup, and foie gras butter

Enrique – seabass ceviche, mango salsa, roasted chilies

Erwin: Wow. Vin’s risotto was delicious! The layers of umami in the rice was really addictive. I liked how he cooked the shrimp as well. This dish met the challenge brief perfectly. I loved it.
Aster: Talia just knocked it out of the park here. The innovative take on chicken and waffles was awesome and the foie gras butter and orange syrup were brilliant. I really loved her dish.

Miriam: The ceviche was just… disappointing for me. I enjoyed the flavors, but he had an hour and all he did was marinate fish? That’s playing it safe and in all of the wrong ways. I’m feeling frustrated right now.

Victoria: And finally, Duke, Nate, and Lilian!

Duke – lamb tataki hot pot
Nate – glazed pork belly with bok choy and rice

Lilian – schaumtorte with champagne sorbet

Erwin: Duke nailed his hot pot and I really enjoyed the flavors of it. The broth in particular, he developed so much flavor and that’s where you know his time went.

Aster: Nate played it safe. His rice was well cooked and I loved the pork belly, but really with the bok choy? It tasted like take out food. I’m feeling let down here.

Miriam: Lilian’s dessert, my biggest issue was that she tried to make a sorbet, and it just soaked everything. The meringue was soggy and it all tasted like cough syrup.

Victoria: So can we decide who won this challenge and who is going home?

Erwin: Yes.

In walks Vin, Talia, and Amanda.

Victoria: Tonight, the three of you prepared the judges’s favorite dishes, and one of you has won the elimination challenge!

Aster: Vin, that risotto was delicious and you were creative in melding your two heritages into a single dish. Talia, the play on chicken and waffles was nothing short of brilliant. And Amanda, You took the biggest risk tonight, cooking a dish with snails. That might be a first in this competition where somebody voluntarily chose to cook with them. But you nailed your dish and we loved the texture you achieved with them.

Talia: @Right now, I feel like it’s between me and Amanda for the challenge win. @Vin made a solid dish, but our dishes stood out against his.

Victoria: Miriam, please announce the winner tonight.

Miriam: It was tough, but the best cook was… Amanda.

Victoria: Congratulations, Amanda! You won the first elimination challenge!
Amanda: Oh wow! Definitely wasn’t expecting that! @I won! @Being the winner of the first elimination challenge feels wonderful. @I didn’t think I had it in me, but I’m proving to all of the older cooks that I am a strong contender in this competition.

The top three leave.
Vin: @Amanda’s strong, but I can’t let that stop me from putting up my best every single time. @This is just a wake-up call.

In walks Enrique, Lilian, and Trisha.

Victoria: The judges agreed that the three of you are on the bottom of tonight’s challenge and one of you is going home.

Aster: Enrique, we felt you were playing it too safe. Lilian and Trisha, you both felt the need to put a sorbet on your dish, and while we appreciate the risk taking there, it wasn’t a good choice in either of your dishes.

Trisha: @I’m scared. @I really hope that they value my creativity and just send Enrique home, but I think it might be my time.

Victoria: It was a tough call, because so many people played it safe. But Lilian, please return to the kitchen and leave.
Lilian: Thank you for giving me this opportunity to compete and I know it’s been a short ride, but I’ve honestly had a blast. @I’m leaving feeling grateful for the friends I’ve made and the dishes I’ve put up. @I’m proud of how far I’ve come along. @Warrior Chef, it’s an experience that I will appreciate for the rest of my life.

Enrique: @Seeing Lilian going home, it’s a wake-up call that I need to figure out the blend between staying in my comfort zone, but taking some risks, or else I’m gone.

How it is: Chapter 20

“Uh….” The models looked at the awkward sight before them. Valerie stood there, stunned speechless while Justin and Timmy stared at her, terrified. This was not what the couple had in mind. “Well….. I’m going to go now.” Valerie turned around, clearly shaken by her encounter. She took off without looking back to see that Misaki and Tarou were approaching the Muji storefront. Timmy just looked at Justin, expectantly. “Was that your plan? To get me to talk to her?” He glared at him. “No! I wanted you to talk to Tarou!” “Wait, Tarou’s here?!” Timmy looked around and immediately noticed the Japanese boy standing just a couple meters off. Timmy froze in horror. “Okay, well we are blocking the entrance to Muji, so let’s go somewhere else for right now.” Justin ushered the three of them off to a couple of benches a block down from the store. “Here, let’s just sit here and talk it out.” Misaki suggested, looking at the two college freshmen. “I’m not ready.” Timmy frowned, crossing his arms and looking away from Tarou’s direction. The younger model just scoffed in disgust. Was this really the same person he used to look up to as a kid? It was hard to believe that, given how immaturely the Taiwanese boy was acting right now. “Timmy! Stop being a little bitch! Suck it up, and confront the problem like an adult!” Justin growled.

“Oh my fucking god. What the actual fuck?!” Valerie mumbled to herself as she continued storming back to campus. The last thing she wanted to do was see Timmy and his scrawny, cowardly face. To say that he was a disappointment as a human being was an understatement. He failed at taking ownership of anything, he tried to spread rumors, and while they used to be friends, Valerie felt like the Taiwanese boy deserved every ounce of misery he was receiving at this moment. “People like him, they just exist to hold us back.” She assured herself, trying to remove every thought of that pathetic excuse for an adult. Finally arriving at her dorm, Valerie grabbed her knife bag. She was going straight to work. Maybe being on the line was what she needed to brush off her steam. At this very moment, she felt hurt. Somebody she trusted and loved like family completely stabbed her in the back, on top of pushing her to the point of trying to kill herself. She felt hurt, frustrated, angry, there were a long list of adjectives, all negative, that described how her mood was when Timmy became the topic of discussion or interest. “I wonder if they’ll let me practice butchery today. I think I really need to put a cleaver through a pig’s head right now.” She growled to herself, gritting her teeth. At Wish, everyone knew that when Valerie was pissed, they needed to hand her off all of the primal cuts on the butchery station, or else she would not be pleasant to be around during service.

“So what exactly do we say in these kinds of situations?” Tarou looked at Misaki, puzzled. The Japanese boy was blatantly ignoring Timmy and Justin at this point. “How about you talk to Timmy.” The older model stressed the Taiwanese boy’s name as she turned Tarou to face him. The two former friends looked at each other and flinched. And then a few seconds later, Timmy was stifling a chuckle. Soon after, both boys were laughing. Misaki and Justin exchanged looks of confusion before stepping away. It seemed like Tarou and Timmy would be okay on their own for this. “Your face!” Timmy bursted into tears of laughter. “Even after all these years, becoming a model, you still look like the same crybaby Tarou when you’re scared!” “Shut up, dude! You should’ve seen the look on your face! I’ve never seen you look that scared before!” Tarou tried to calm down and take a deep breath, but he could not. This was just too funny for him. “Oh, Tarou, I missed this!” Timmy was beginning to realize just how important the Japanese boy was to him. They had been through so much together, and even after everything that happened to them, this moment just resonated with that fact. No matter how much changed, they could still enjoy a good laugh together.

“Oh geez, Butch Valerie is back!” Mako warned the line cooks. That was the kitchen’s nickname for Valerie when she was angry and needed to blow steam on the butcher station. Nobody felt safe with Valerie holding the cleaver, especially with her proficiency at using it. “Ah, shit. Not today!” Joseph groaned. “Uh, can I take my day off today?” Jacky looked at the sous chef and chef de cuisine. “Hell no.” They both glared at him. “We have to suffer through this together.” “Fucking… piece… of…. SHIT!” The girl swung down the knife through the neck of the duck carcass. Seeing Timmy’s cowardly, scrawny self angered her greatly. She was focusing all of her aggression onto the mountain of ducks that need to be broken down at this moment. “Oh, geez. Butch Valerie?” Janice walked into the kitchen to the loud noise the executive pastry chef was causing with her cleaver. “Yeah.” “Well, that means today will be a fast prep day. She’s going to breeze through the ducks, and move straight into the chickens, pork, lamb, and even after that, she’s still got enough steam in her to bust out all of the pastry prep, so this is a good day.” Janice giggled. Unlike everyone else, the executive chef did not mind Valerie’s bizarre and terrifying attitude because from an owner’s perspective, Butch Valerie was the most productive prep cook in the restaurant industry. So long as she was allowed to use a knife, Valerie would be able to breeze through any and all of the prep in the kitchen in a manner of two hours.

“Yeah, so ACU kicked me off their board.” Timmy explained. Tarou frowned. “Are you okay?” “Yeah. Honestly, I’m sorry about being homophobic. This is all still coming back to me, and I’m just getting used to the fact that you could be into dudes as well. It’s a lot to take in.” The Taiwanese boy apologized. “Something I’m realizing is that coming out is a process for everyone. I’m sorry I did not come out to you earlier, when less was at stake.” Tarou returned the apology. “I do love you, man. You’re family to me.” Timmy hugged his friend. “Thanks, Timmy. You’re my brother. Not older or younger. Just my brother.” The model laughed. “But Valerie, she’s… pretty pissed at you.” “Yeah… I’m feeling a bit scared to confront her. What should I do about that?” Timmy looked at his friend, concerned. “I’ll help you.” Tarou offered. “She might try to kill me, but I’ll help you.” “Oh geez.” Timmy gulped nervously. “Also, can you do something about all of those clubs that are trying to passive aggressively assault me? It’s been making my life a living hell.” Timmy admitted, awkwardly. He did not want this apology to seem like it had an ulterior motive, but all of the people death-glaring him was incredibly uncomfortable. “What do you mean?” “All of the people in basically every club you’re a part of hates me.” Timmy frowned uncomfortable. “Oh… Because of the video.” Tarou grimaced. “Yeah, I’ll just tell my friends that we made up, and that you’re coming to terms with the whole situation at your own pace, and that at the time of the video, you were being recorded at the worst possible time.” “Thanks, bro.” Timmy sighed in relief. Apologizing felt good.

How it is: Chapter 19

“How was your day?” Tarou turned to see an exhausted Valerie re-enter their room. “I’m just shot. I’m going to bed.” She yawned, dropping face-first on the mattress. The Japanese boy, deciding it was best to continue doing his homework elsewhere, left the room, turning off the lights as he exited. “Goodnight, Val!” “Goodnight, Tarou.” She murmured before drifting off to sleep. The boy decided to finish his homework in the hallway, just so that he would not disturb her. He was grateful to Valerie for housing him and did not want to do anything to agitate her or potentially compromise his ability to live there. It’s been a couple weeks at this point, and Tarou was already adjusted to living with her. The two knew that being a romantic couple was out of the question at this point, given how both of them were emotionally, and how Timmy would be affected if something like this were to happen. Finally saving his paper, Tarou closed the window and looked at job openings for the summer. The summer was close, so he needed to start thinking about what he would be doing then. “Huh? A modeling gig in Tokyo?” Tarou noticed an email sent to him from the agency. “Summer job, will be modeling for the summer edition of Vogue’s Menswear Collection.” He read aloud, intrigued. “Will need basic Japanese speaking skills and prior modeling experience preferred.” The more he looked into it, the more Tarou wanted to apply for the job. At this point, he had nothing to lose. “Hell, let’s do it.” He submitted his resume onto the site and closed his laptop entirely. “It’s 2am already. I’ve got to go to bed.” He sighed, going back into their room.

It was the next morning, and Tarou and Valerie were eating together in the dining hall. “How was your paper? Are you done now?” The pastry chef looked at him. “Yeah, I’m done with it! I also applied for a modeling job in Tokyo for the summer!” “Oh my god! That’s amazing! If you get it, send me pics! I want to see and live that experience through you vicariously.” She giggled. “How about you? Any news?” Tarou smiled at her. “Well, I got this in the mail.” She pulled out an envelope. “Wait, what’s in it?” The Japanese model looked at her curiously. “You won’t believe it. I actually didn’t myself.” She opened the flap and pulled out the letter. Tarou quickly scanned through the contents. “Dear Valerie, we are going to be holding a special Warrior Chef: All Stars edition, where previous finalists and contestants from all seasons will have a chance to redeem themselves. Since you were the runner-up in our most recent season, we in the Warrior Chef team would like to cordially invite you to compete. Please contact us at wcascasting@gmail.com if you are interested in competing again and hope to hear from you soon! Victoria Clark, Executive Producer.” Stunned, he just looked at her, awestruck. “So are you going to take it?” Valerie just smiled in response to that question. “Well, what do you think? I’m a previous runner-up! I need to represent!” She beamed. “Thanks, Tarou. You helped me regain my confidence, and I will try my best to win this one for you.”

“Tarou!” Misaki ran up to the model as he exited the changing rooms. He had finished another session and was getting ready to go home. “Misaki! What’s going on?” He looked at her. She was exhausted from running. “Hold on!” She put her hand up, panting. “Catching… my breath.” She sighed, getting up and looking at the slightly amused teen. “What’s going on?” “It’s Timmy. He wants to talk to you.” She lied between her teeth. “Wait, what?!” Tarou could not believe what he was hearing. “Yeah. Hold on, come with me.” She led him out of the building. Misaki was determined to make these two at least confront each other. Whether or not they remained friends was another subject entirely, but at the very least, she wanted Tarou to be able to put that frustration behind him, while on Timmy’s behalf, she just wanted him to live a life that did not involve hulling himself away in his room. Nobody deserved to be robbed of their youth like that, in her eyes.

“Here we are.” Justin looked at Timmy. The software engineer lied to Timmy as well, telling him to meet up with him in front of the Muji at Noho so that they can go get food together in the area. Misaki was going to be taking Tarou to this location as well, so that the two of them could leave the ex-friends and roommates confront each other. “Hey, Justin!” Timmy sighed, looked around fearfully before walking up to his friend. He was terrified that somebody was going to verbally assault him. “What’s with you? Don’t worry, okay? These kinds of issues and problems, they’re not going to be around for much longer, alright?” Justin assured him. “What makes you so certain about that?” Timmy frowned. He was scared at this point. What did Justin mean by that? How could he assure that nothing bad was going to happen. “I just have a gut feeling that no matter what happens, you’ll come out of this stronger. And that’s a big reason why I wanted to meet up with you.” He grinned, although Timmy was still visibly disturbed. And this uneasiness would only escalate within a mere few seconds of Justin’s last statement. “Timmy?!” The Taiwanese boy’s shoulders shot up at the beckon of his name. He was being called by a very familiar voice. Turning around slowly, he knew who this was. It was none other than a very dumbstruck Valerie Ang.

Deciding that it was something to celebrate over, Valerie decided to go to her favorite store, Muji in Noho, to buy some stationary. She was running low on sketchbooks and liked the simplistic design of the Japanese notebooks that Muji sold. She was excited. Even though just a few months ago, losing the competition had gotten her down, Valerie was determined to do this competition, and prove that, even if she were to lose, that she could be a gracious loser. Going to Muji, she was skittish. She needed to continue brushing up on different recipes, dishes, ingredients, and mentally prepare herself to be going head to head with some of the best chefs in the competition’s history. However, in that very moment, Valerie’s shopping spree was cut to an abrupt halt. Describing her feelings in that moment, it was difficult. Rage, frustration, irritation, complete anger, a linger bit of pity, and ultimately, disappointment. Timmy Li was standing in front of her favorite store, not only blocking the entrance, by ruining what could have been a wonderful day for her. Without thinking, the pastry chef found herself blurting out his name, in disbelief that she would bump into him. His very presence made her bury the urge of holding him underneath a tub of water, before dropping a toaster in said bathtub. Timmy, uneasy, turned to her, shaken by her unexpected appearance. “Uh….” He trailed off. Just knowing that he called her a slut made him feel an overwhelming sense of guilt. But the words “I’m sorry” could not come to him. He just found himself awkwardly standing there, staring at her, mouth agape. “Uh…” Justin did not anticipate Valerie’s appearance either. “Alright, so I said to meet up here!” Misaki ushered a still hesitant Tarou over to the front of Muji.

Warrior Chef 2: Preliminary Rounds + Eliminator Round

Preliminary Round 1

Seniors:
-Roman Junior: Quarter Chinese, three-fourths American linebacker from Houston, Texas. Loves to cook homey, Southern dishes and wants to prove that he has what it takes to win the entire competition; he’s highly competitive.
-Rose Fu: Half Montenegrin, half Chinese girl from Brooklyn, New York. Loves to prepare rustic food true to both of her heritages, but does not partake in fusion cooking. Wants to win to put Montenegrin food on the map.

Juniors:
-Brandon Keane: Lanky blonde from New York City. Is a very confident individual and enjoys cooking with bold Asian flavors. Wants to win to prove that he is a capable cook and deserves his own restaurant.
-Enrique Morales: Fit Latin American from Portland, Oregon. Loves to cook with bold Latin flavors and specializes in seafood. Wants to win the competition and use the money towards funding his first restaurant, Cocina de la Playa.

Sophomores:
-Marisa Grafiato: Slim blonde with haughty brown eyes from Hollywood, California. Loves to sing and dance and cooks bold Italian food. Wants to win for her grandmother, who taught her everything about cooking.
-Duke Kensington: Tall brunette from Los Angeles, California. Loves to cook modern American food, namely Asian fusion. Wants to win to show that he is not just some trend-following millennial.

Freshmen:
-Jessica Yuo: Stout Taiwanese girl, raised in Warsaw Poland, but currently residing in Miami, Florida. Is obese, but also a fitness trainer. Wants to win the competition to prove that her lifestyle is amazing.
-Amanda Bolen: Slender brunette from Charleston, Massachusetts. Is a passionate French and American cook and loves to dance and play the cello on the side. Wants to win the competition so that she can pay for culinary school.

Rose: @I’m the first person walking into the room and I’m feeling stoked. @This is my chance to show off what I can make in a competition setting.

Brandon: @I love cooking Asian food and I want to use that money to travel throughout Asia. @I’m ready for this competition.

Victoria: Welcome to Warrior Chef! For this challenge, you’ll be preparing your signature dish in just one hour! And your time starts now!

Roman: @So for my dish tonight, I’m going to prepare a grilled skirt steak with salsa verde and mango salsa. @The inspiration for my dish tonight is Tex-Mex, because I’m from the South and I know how to make a delicious steak and a kick-ass salsa.

Rose: @Roman looks like a total hunk, but I don’t really see him as my main competition here. @Amanda looks like a really composed competitor, so I’m keeping my eyes out for what she’s got to bring. @I’m preparing a homemade baklava, making the phyllo dough from scratch, with a goat milk ice cream.

Brandon: @For my dish tonight, I’m going to prepare pressure-cooked lamb ribs with some homemade pulled noodles. @To make my noodles, I’m using flour, corn starch, and boiling hot salted water, and I’m using the dough hook on the stand mixer to help me do the rest of that.

Enrique: @I see that Roman cooking with spicy Latin flavors too, and I want to beat him. @I’m making a mahi-mahi taco with pineapple slaw and a lime-habanero sauce. @I’m making the tortillas from scratch, just to show even more technique in my dish.

Marisa: @I love to prepare Italian food, and I want to surprise everyone with what I can do exactly. @I’m making a salami-ricotta agnolotti with mostarda brown butter, apricots, and speck pangritata. @Amanda is probably my biggest competitor here, so I’m nervous about what she might put up.

Duke: @Brandon and I both cook Asian fusion, but I’m confident that I can do mine better, so I’m going to prepare a soft shell crab bao. @For the crab, I’m going to make a Singaporean spice paste, and the bao, I’m going to do a traditional Chinese styled bao. @For my dipping sauce, I’m going with peanuts, cucumbers, fish sauce, coconut milk, and shallots and mint. @I’m feeling good about this tonight.

Jessica: @I’m making an herb embedded lasagna with mushroom ragout and garlic chips. @I’m going with baked chips, because they are healthier, and the dish is vegetarian because that’s healthy too. @I’m confident that my healthy dish will be the winner of the night. @It’s going to be good.

Amanda: @I’m making lamb lollipops with red wine-onion jam, parsnip puree, and lamb jus. @Marisa’s making fresh pasta, and that’s incredible. @I’m not sure if my dish will measure up to all of the other older competitors, but that’s going to be what drives me to try harder.

Victoria: Time’s up!

Enrique: @I’m confident with this. @I see the other dishes, and I’m not impressed with Brandon’s lamb ribs. @They look greasy.

Brandon: @I know that the noodles are a bit greasy, but the lamb is cooked well, and that will need to count for something.

Victoria: Your judges are:

Aster Walker – renowned Los Angeles food critic

Kierra Johnston – famous food critic in the Chicago area

Guy Flannigan – food television personality

Lotte Amazo – award-winning cookbook author from the UK

Frank Torres – French-trained award-winning pastry chef from New York

Chloe Lula – highly acclaimed vegan and vegetarian cooking expert

Victoria: Let’s start with Roman’s dish!

Roman – grilled skirt steak, salsa verde, mango salsa

Aster: For me, my steak was overcooked. I liked the flavors, however.

Kierra: The presentation was sloppy, but I got a steak that was cooked properly.

Victoria: Next is Rose’s dessert!

Rose – homemade baklava with goat milk ice cream

Guy: Wow. She prepared the phyllo from scratch, and that already won me over.

Lotte: I felt that the dessert was a tad sweet, but the phyllo was impeccably done!

Victoria: Now Brandon’s dish!

Brandon – lamb ribs with homemade noodles

Frank: Brandon’s ribs were cooked nicely, but his noodles were greasy.

Chloe: Those were overcooked, limp, and swimming in oil. Just yuck.

Victoria: Next is Enrique’s dish!

Enrique – mahi mahi taco with pineapple slaw and lime sauce

Chloe: The mahi mahi was cooked nicely and I liked the tortilla a lot.

Aster: This dish was really well-executed overall. I enjoyed it a lot.

Victoria: This dish was made by Marisa.

Marisa – salami-ricotta agnolotti, mustard seed brown butter, apricot, speck pangritata

Kierra: Marisa cooked her pasta beautifully. The apricot was clever.

Frank: She managed to get creative with her flavor combinations, and the dish was nicely executed.

Victoria: Duke prepared the dish we are about to try next.

Duke – soft shell crab bao

Lotte: Wow. This was one of my favorites. The crab was fiery, and the sauce was beautiful. I really liked this dish a lot.

Aster: I felt that the bao was a bit underdone for me, but the crab and sauce were really inspired. It was nicely done.

Victoria: This dish was prepared by Jessica.

Jessica – herb embedded lasagna, mushroom ragout, garlic chips

Chloe: The lasagna was overcooked by a lot. And her chips were burnt.

Guy: I’m really disappointed. The dish was just bland. Creative, but mis-executed.

Victoria: Finally, Amanda’s signature dish!

Amanda – lamb lollipops, red wine-onion jam, parsnip puree, lamb jus

Kierra: The lamb was cooked perfectly, and I loved the combination of the flavors.

Lotte: She prepared a dish that was more simple, but perfectly done. It was solid.

Victoria: So can we decide on our scores?

Guy: We can.

In walks the competitors.

Brandon: @I’m feeling like I’m safe. @Jessica’s dish was a disaster, and she might be going home.

Roman: @I think Brandon or Jessica deserve to go home tonight.

Victoria: The lowest scoring cook will be eliminated, while the highest scoring receives immunity. Let’s start with Roman’s score!

Aster: My steak was overcooked. 6 stars.

Kierra: Mine was cooked nicely. 7 stars.

Guy: I unfortunately got an overcooked steak as well. 6 stars.

Lotte: 7 stars.

Frank: 7 stars.

Chloe: 7 stars.

Roman – 6 + 7 + 6 + 7 + 7 + 7 = 40/60

Victoria: Now we have Rose’s dish!

Aster: It was really well done, but a bit sweet. 9 stars.

Kierra: 9 stars.

Guy: I enjoyed the dessert a lot, and I was impressed. 10 stars.

Lotte: 9 stars.

Frank: 10 stars.

Chloe: 10 stars.

Rose – 9 + 9 + 10 + 9 + 10 + 10 = 57/60

Victoria: With that, Rose, you take the lead!

Rose: Oh my god! @I got a 57?! @How did I manage to get a 10 from Frank, the pastry master?! @I’m so floored right now. @I don’t even have to win the challenge.

Victoria: And now, Brandon’s dish!

Aster: It was just unpleasant to eat. 6 stars.

Kierra: 6 stars.

Guy: I enjoyed your ribs more than I disliked the greasy noodles. 7 stars.

Lotte: 6 stars.

Frank: 6 stars.

Chloe: 7 stars.

Brandon – 6 + 6 + 7 + 6 + 6 + 7 = 38/60

Victoria: Roman, you’re safe. Brandon, you are currently on the bottom.

Brandon: @Now I’m panicking. @I’m really hoping that somebody gets lower than a 38, or else I’m gone.

Victoria: Enrique, let’s see what the judges thought of your dish!

Aster: Beautiful mahi taco. I loved it. 10 stars.

Kierra: I thought that your flavors were good, but not quite hitting perfection. I wanted a bit more of a kick to be honest. 8 stars.

Guy: 8 stars.

Lotte: 8 stars.

Frank: 9 stars.

Chloe: 9 stars

Enrique – 10 + 8 + 8 + 8 + 9 + 9 = 52/60

Victoria: And next, Marisa’s score!

Aster: 9 stars.

Kierra: 9 stars.

Guy: 8 stars. The salami and speck, you should’ve chosen just one.

Lotte: 9 stars.

Frank: 9 stars.

Chloe: For your beautiful pasta, 9 stars.

Marisa – 9 + 9 + 8 + 9 + 9 + 9 = 53/60

Enrique: @So far, Rose has been crushing it. @But I hope that somebody can beat her.

Victoria: We next have Duke!

Aster: 9 stars. I liked the dish, but the bao tasted a little undercooked.

Kierra: 9 stars.

Guy: 9 stars.

Lotte: 9 stars.

Frank: 9 stars.

Chloe: You really delivered a lot of highs, so for that, 9 stars.

Duke – 9 + 9 + 9 + 9 + 9 + 9 = 54/60

Marisa: @So far, Rose is leading with 57, and then Duke, Enrique, and I all got in the 50s. @It’s not looking so good for Brandon right now.

Victoria: Next up is Jessica’s score.

Aster: Liked the idea for the most part. 6 stars.

Kierra: It was just not well executed. 6 stars.

Guy: I can’t give you more than 5 stars.

Lotte: 6 stars.

Frank: 5 stars.

Chloe: I’m personally offended by this dish, as a vegan chef. 2 stars.

Jessica – 6 + 6 + 5 + 6 + 5 + 2 = 30/60

Brandon: @I’m feeling really relieved right now. @Jessica is screwed.

Jessica: @I’m stuck with 30 stars, but I’m not scared. @Amanda’s lamb looked gross, so she’s screwed.

Victoria: Amanda, you need at least 31 to stay, and 58 to win. Judges?

Aster: Beautifully presented dish. 9 stars.

Kierra: 10 stars for something just so unforgettable.

Guy: 9 stars.

Lotte: 9 stars.

Frank: 9 stars.

Chloe: 9 stars.

Amanda – 9 + 10 + 9 + 9 + 9 + 9 = 55/60

Victoria: So let’s look at the final scores!

Scores:

Rose – 9 + 9 + 10 + 9 + 10 + 10 = 57/60 – won immunity

Amanda – 9 + 10 + 9 + 9 + 9 + 9 = 55/60

Duke – 9 + 9 + 9 + 9 + 9 + 9 = 54/60

Marisa – 9 + 9 + 8 + 9 + 9 + 9 = 53/60

Enrique – 10 + 8 + 8 + 8 + 9 + 9 = 52/60

Roman – 6 + 7 + 6 + 7 + 7 + 7 = 40/60

Brandon – 6 + 6 + 7 + 6 + 6 + 7 = 38/60

Jessica – 6 + 6 + 5 + 6 + 5 + 2 = 30/60

Victoria: Rose, you won immunity. And Jessica, you are going home.

Rose: @If I did not win immunity, I would be embarrassed. @I’m a senior, so I should be able to cook better food than the rest of these scrubs.

Jessica: I’m so embarrassed about the fact none of you liked my dish, but whatever. @It’s their choice, and they can live with it. @Bye.

Preliminary Round 2

Seniors:
-Betsy Saunders: Small brunette from San Francisco, California. Was taught how to cook from her mother, and loves to make American classics, but revised. Wants to win to showcase American food at its best.
-Vincent “Vin” Rugnetta: Half Italian, half Singaporean boy, currently living in Orlando, Florida. Is openly gay and proud. Likes to cook both Asian and Italian dishes from both his heritages. Wants to win to show his parents that he is a talented cook.

Juniors:
-Yang Yan: Tanned Chinese boy from Topeka, Kansas. Loves to cook Asian, namely Japanese and Chinese, and wants to bring both of those influences into his cooking going into the main competition. Wants to win for the title.
-Lilian Jagolta: Small, energetic brunette from Madison, Wisconsin. Loves to bake and enjoys making desserts with fresh, seasonal produce. Wants to win the money so that she can open her own bakery.

Sophomores:
-Nate Wong: Tall Chinese-Taiwanese boy from Boston, Massachusetts. Is unafraid to voice his opinion and knows how to cook classic Asian dishes. Wants to win to show that guys can cook and can cook well.
-Talia Garrett: Half Caucasian, half African American girl from Chicago, Illinois. Loves to cook small desserts and wants to open up her own bakery one day. Is good friends with fellow competitors, Marisa and Amanda, and wants to make the main competition.

Freshmen:
-Trisha Hou: An aspiring artist, originally from Montreal, Canada, but currently going to school in Pasadena, California. Wants to win the competition to show that her food is like art in itself.
-John “Jo” Chang: Slim Chinese-Taiwanese boy from Los Angeles, California. Loves to cook American food with Asian nuances. Wants to win the title so that he can open a business with his two older siblings.

Betsy: @I’m the first person walking into the Warrior Chef kitchen and I’m feeling pretty nervous. @The competition, we have eight of us, and it’s pretty intense already.

Yang: @I’m eyeing my competition, and I already think that the girls aren’t going to do very well. @Betsy looks basic, Lilian looks dumb, and Trisha and Talia both look spacey.

Victoria: Welcome to Warrior Chef! For this second preliminary round, you’ll be scored out of 60 points based on your signature dish. The highest scoring dish of this round will earn that cook immunity. The lowest, you’ll be sent home.

Jo: @I’m not feeling too confident that I can beat some of these guys. @Being one of the younger competitors, it’s intimidating.

Victoria: So just 1 hour to prepare your dishes, time starts now!

Betsy: @I’m making a chicken pot pie with a cream cheese and sour cream infused crust. @It’s something I’ve made with my grandma all the time growing up, and I know that the flavor combination will really blow away the judges. @I look down the line, and I think I’m most impressed by what Vin is doing there.

Vin: @I’m making a lamb rendang curry with homemade roti bread. @I’m blending up the spices for the rendang and getting the lamb and paste into the pressure cooker so that it’ll braise. @I know with the roti bread, I need to layer and press it until I can get it light and flaky.

Yang: @I’m preparing fried bass spring rolls with a black bean dipping sauce. @Being Chinese, we eat a lot of bass and spring rolls and black beans, so why not fuse them together and make them one cohesive dish? @I look around, and I think Nate and Jo are my biggest competition. @I want both of them out.

Lilian: @For my dessert, it’s going to be a chocolate ganache tart with raspberry compote and fresh raspberries. @I really like the flavor and I think it’s for the best that the flavors come out in just using the chocolate and the raspberries, and nothing else. @My tart is going to be a pate sucre base, using chocolate liquor to make it crunchy.

Nate: @I’m going with classic Chinese flavors and preparing a dried scallop and mushroom broth with shrimp crystal wontons, also called har gow. @I’m using the tapioca flour to create the dumpling wrappers and then for the filling, blitzing shrimp meat with fresh scallops. @I think it’ll show scallops in a completely different way and that’ll be my key to surprising everyone.

Talia: @I’m making lemon meringue cream puffs with a strawberry coulis. @For the pate choux, it’ll be stuffed with lemon pastry cream and then I’ll pipe meringue on top to torch. @My biggest competition tonight will probably be Lilian and Trisha because they are both making desserts as well.

Trisha: @I’m going to prepare black sesame macarons, ice cream, mousse, and cake. @I’m doing this quartet of black sesame because I love that ingredient and I love to bake, and this is an opportunity to show off what I can really do with these ingredients. @This is my chance to really shine and make a strong first foot in the competition.

Jo: @For me, I cook because I want to show somebody how much I care about them. @I’m preparing braised short ribs with mac n’ cheese and kale chips. @These are all foods that remind me of home and my mom cooking for me and my older siblings.

Victoria: Time’s up!

Vin: @I see Betsy’s chicken pot pie and all I can think is, ‘honey, no.’ @There is no way that I’m going to lose to that tonight.

Victoria: Your judges are:

Miriam Adjanti – chairwoman of the European Culinary Institutes

Max Hudson – renowned seafood chef from Los Angeles and Honolulu

Scott Connors – restauranteur in New York and Miami

Erwin Ko – famous Korean-fusion chef in Los Angeles

Missy Skies – Michelin starred Italian chef from New York

Chelia Van Buren – award-winning cookbook author and restauranteur

Victoria: Let’s start with Betsy’s dish!

Betsy – chicken pot pie

Missy: The actual cook on the pie was great and I loved that she did an original take on the classic with the cream cheese crust.

Erwin: I thought she played it safe, but when her execution is this good, then she is more than allowed to do that. Nicely done.

Victoria: And next is Vin’s signature curry!

Vin – lamb rendang, homemade roti

Scott: Wow. Just wow. The flavors really build up and I’m just left wanting to finish the entire plate and lick it clean.

Max: I was really impressed tonight by what he put up. So far, two really solid dishes. No complaints here.

Victoria: Next are Yang’s fried bass spring rolls!

Yang – fried bass spring rolls, black bean dipping sauce

Chelia: Just.. no. I get that I’m supposed to be the mean judge here, but the rolls were just greasy and unpleasant. I did like the sauce, however.

Miriam: He hammered the bass. I did not want to go back for another bite. That was just an insult to whatever culture that was supposed to be from.

Victoria: Then we have Lilian’s dessert!

Lilian – chocolate ganache tart, raspberry compote and fresh raspberries

Missy: The pastry was nicely made and I liked that she included two kinds of raspberries. But it needed a cream to round it out.

Miriam: It was a pretty little dessert and I would have liked it with some coffee to be honest. I still enjoyed it overall.

Victoria: And then we have Nate’s scallop dish!

Nate – scallop-mushroom broth, shrimp crystal wontons

Max: Alright, not what I was expecting when I heard you say “scallop dish,” but this was a really inventive dish overall. I liked the flavors.

Erwin: I wanted more texture in the dish, maybe some crispy shallots, but the dish was still really good and it was true, traditional Chinese cooking.

Victoria: Next is Talia’s pate choux!

Talia – lemon meringue cream puffs, strawberry coulis

Chelia: The dessert ate a tad too sweet at first, but then the lemon and strawberry do balance that out.

Scott: For me, it was nicely prepared but a little too simple for me. It almost felt incomplete, but I couldn’t fault anything on the plate otherwise.

Victoria: And then we have Trisah’s black sesame quartet!

Trisha – black sesame macarons, ice cream, mousse, and cake

Scott: This is a tough dish to rate. I loved her macarons, ice cream, and cake. But that mousse was chalky and dry.

Miriam: I was disappointed in her mousse. That was just getting stuck in my throat. But the rest of the dessert was nicely executed. The macaron, I would happily purchase.

Victoria: Finally, Jo’s family dinner!

Jo – braised Korean short ribs, mac n’ cheese, kale chips

Missy: The ribs were delicious and I liked the concept, but it lacked that sauce to really tie it all together.

Chelia: For me, it ate like Southern barbecue, so I still liked it. It was just not as inventive as some of the other dishes.

Victoria: So can we bring them in for scoring?

Miriam: Yes.

The eight contestants walk in.

Victoria: The winning cook will win immunity tonight while the lowest scoring cook will be sent home. Let’s start with Betsy’s score!

Miriam: It was a strong effort. 9 stars.

Max: You took a classic and did it justice. 9 stars.

Scott: 9 stars.

Erwin: 9 stars.
Missy: I liked the originality with the crust. 10 stars.

Chelia: 10 stars.

Betsy – 9 + 9 + 9 + 9 + 10 + 10 = 56/60 stars

Betsy: Wow! @I’m so excited that I got that high of a score! @This is incredible.

Vin: @Wait, seriously? @I’m shocked. @She got 56 for a chicken pot pie?!

Victoria: Next is Vin’s score!

Miriam: I was a huge fan. 10 stars.

Max: 10 stars.

Scott: I would not change anything. 10 stars.

Erwin: 10 stars.

Missy: 9 stars.

Chelia: 9 stars.

Vin – 10 + 10 + 10 + 10 + 9 + 9 = 58/60 stars

Betsy: @And just like that, he beat me right off the bat. @I’m feeling nervous.

Vin: Thank you. @And that’s how that’s done. @I got this in the bag.

Victoria: And now we have Lilian’s score!

Miriam: 9 stars.

Max: 9 stars.

Scott: 8 stars.

Erwin: 8 stars.

Missy: 8 stars.

Chelia: 8 stars

Lilian – 9 + 9 + 8 + 8 + 8 + 8 = 50/60 stars

Lilian: @I’m feeling a little nervous about being on the bottom, but there’s still five more people to go. @I should be fine.

Victoria: And now we have Nate’s score!

Miriam: 9 stars.

Max: 9 stars. You really did a good job on this dish.

Scott: 8 stars.

Erwin: 9 stars.

Missy: 9 stars.

Chelia: 9 stars.

Nate – 9 + 9 + 8 + 9 + 8 + 8 = 51/60 stars

Nate: Whew. @I’m safe and through to the next round! @It rocks!

Lilian: @Just by 1 point! @That’s what made this painful for me.

Victoria: And next is Jo’s score!

Miriam: 8 stars.

Max: 8 stars.

Scott: 8 stars.

Erwin: 8 stars.

Missy: 8 stars.

Chelia: 8 stars.

Jo – 8 + 8 + 8 + 8 + 8 + 8 = 48/60 stars

Lilian: @I’m sad for Jo, but now I’m safe. @Thank goodness.

Jo: @I’m feeling a little nervous now. @I’m on the bottom here. @It sucks a lot.

Victoria: Here we have Talia’s score next!

Miriam: 9 stars for an inventive dessert.

Max: 8 stars.

Scott: 8 stars.

Erwin: 8 stars.

Missy: 8 stars.

Chelia: 8 stars.

Talia – 9 + 8 + 8 + 8 + 8 + 8 = 49/60 stars

Talia: @I’m through! @And Jo is still on the bottom. @Sucks to suck for him.

Jo: @My heart is racing through my chest at this point. @It’s down to Tricia and Yang’s scores and that makes me really scared for my place here.

Victoria: The next score will be Trisha’s!

Miriam: I loved almost every component, but the mousse. 8 stars.

Max: 8 stars.

Scott: 8 stars.

Erwin: 8 stars. Your mousse wasn’t the best, but the rest did make up for it.

Missy: 8 stars.

Chelia: 7 stars.

Trisha – 8 + 8 + 8 + 8 + 8 + 7 = 47/60 stars

Trisha: Oh no! @I’m on the bottom now, and I’m feeling really, really anxious. @It’s down to Yang’s score.

Victoria: Yang, you need at least 48 to remain in the competition and 59 to beat Vin and take the lead. Judges?

Miriam: Just no. 4 stars.

Max: 4 stars.

Scott: 4 stars.

Erwin: 4 stars.

Missy: 3 stars.

Chelia: 1 star. You made me fear my job for once.

Yang – 4 + 4 + 4 + 4 + 3 + 1 = 20/60 stars

Victoria: Here are the total scores of this round!

Scores:

Vin – 10 + 10 + 10 + 10 + 9 + 9 = 58/60 – won immunity

Betsy – 9 + 9 + 9 + 9 + 10 + 10 = 56/60

Nate – 9 + 9 + 8 + 9 + 8 + 8 = 51/60

Lilian – 9 + 9 + 8 + 8 + 8 + 8 = 50/60

Talia – 9 + 8 + 8 + 8 + 8 + 8 = 49/60

Jo – 8 + 8 + 8 + 8 + 8 + 8 = 48/60

Trisha – 8 + 8 + 8 + 8 + 8 + 7 = 47/60

Yang – 4 + 4 + 4 + 4 + 3 + 1 = 20/60 – eliminated

Victoria: So Vin, congratulations! You won immunity! Yang, I’m sorry, but please return to the kitchen and leave.

Vin: @I won it and it feels good, because I’m a senior. @If anyone younger than me won, I would not be able to live it down.

Yang: Alright. Whatever. @I’m pissed. @I didn’t deserve to be eliminated and they know it. @This is bullshit.

Yang leaves the kitchen.

Victoria: And please help me welcome back the contestants from the first round!

In walks Rose, Amanda, Duke, Marisa, Enrique, Roman, and Brandon.

Rose: @I see the other seven and all I can think is, who the hell are they? @I’m going to take them down. @Bring it.

Victoria: We have tallied up your scores between both rounds!

Cumulative Scores:

Vin – 58

Rose – 57

Betsy – 56

Amanda – 55

Duke – 54

Marisa – 53

Enrique – 52

Nate – 51

Lilian – 50

Talia – 49

Jo – 48

Trisha – 47

Roman – 40

Brandon – 38

Victoria: Lilian, Talia, Jo, Trisha, Roman, and Brandon, the six of you are going to have to compete in the Eliminator Round against two incredibly strong contenders for the title. Let’s welcome the Eliminators!

In walks Courtney and Daniel, the two new contestants for the third round.

Courtney: @I see who I’m up against. @Not impressed. @I know I can knock them out of the competition.

Victoria: And to up the stakes, half of the contestants in this round will be going home.

Trisha: @Quadruple elimination? @Holy crap. @I’m trying to find a rock to hide under, because this is going to be intense.

Daniel: @That doesn’t scare me. @I’m in this competition because I’m that much better than everyone here. @I’m going to win this and the title, no questions asked.

Marisa: @All I can say is I am so relieved not to be in the bottom six right now. @Good luck to all of them, because that round sounds so brutal.

Jo: @I really don’t want to go home early, and this round is going to be the ultimate sink or swim. @I need to step it up and prove myself.

Eliminator Round (Four will be eliminated)

Seniors:
-Roman Junior: Quarter Chinese, three-fourths American linebacker from Houston, Texas. Loves to cook homey, Southern dishes and wants to prove that he has what it takes to win the entire competition; he’s highly competitive.
-Daniel Truong: Half Vietnamese, half American boy from Seattle, Washington. Has worked under some of the best chefs in the area, including chef Thierry Rautureau. Wants to win for the chefs he’s worked under and to make a name for himself.

Juniors:
-Lilian Jagolta: Small, energetic brunette from Madison, Wisconsin. Loves to bake and enjoys making desserts with fresh, seasonal produce. Wants to win the money so that she can open her own bakery.
-Brandon Keane: Lanky blonde from New York City. Is a very confident individual and enjoys cooking with bold Asian flavors. Wants to win to prove that he is a capable cook and deserves his own restaurant.

Sophomores:
-Talia Garrett: Half Caucasian, half African American girl from Chicago, Illinois. Loves to cook small desserts and wants to open up her own bakery one day. Is good friends with fellow competitors, Marisa and Amanda, and wants to open a bakery with them.
-Courtney Crnjac: Half Argentinean, half Italian girl from San Diego, California. Loves to cook with bold Asian, Latin, and Italian flavors and wants to win to show that her competitive drive cannot be stopped.

Freshmen:
-Trisha Hou: An aspiring artist, originally from Montreal, Canada, but currently going to school in Pasadena, California. Wants to win the competition to show that her food is like art in itself.
-John “Jo” Chang: Slim Chinese-Taiwanese boy from Los Angeles, California. Loves to cook American food with Asian nuances. Wants to win the title so that he can open a business with his two older siblings.

Courtney: @Walking into the kitchen, I’m feeling really to throw down. @The bottom six are weak and I know I can knock four them out just here and now.

Talia: @If I don’t bring it in this round, I’m out next. @Courtney and Daniel are strong and they’re meant to challenge us, but I’m ready to take them out of the competition.

Victoria: Welcome to the Eliminator Round. You have just 60 minutes to prepare a signature dish to keep you in the competition. Your time starts now!

Roman: @I’m preparing an Asian pork sandwich with pickled vegetables and fried lotus root chips. @Right now, I have a chance to prove that I can do better than 40 stars, and I know I can do it. @This dish better represents me than the last one, for sure.

Daniel: @I’m going to prepare pickled jicama spring rolls, stuffed with shrimp, vermicelli, cucumbers, mint, and chilies, and then a dashi espuma. @I’m going with something delicate but respectful for the seafood. @I don’t think anyone here, except maybe Courtney, is competition.

Lilian: @I’m going to prepare black currant ice cream with ricotta doughnuts and lemon curd. @I need to step it up and I know that the last dish, it lacked balance. @This time, I’m making sure to taste and really think about what my dish needs to improve it. @I have texture, freshness, tartness, creaminess, and sweetness, so it should be a really well-rounded dessert.

Brandon: @I’m going to make seared sirloin with potato puree and fried carrot chips. @I went with a really Asian dish last time, and I almost went home on that, so I’m dialing it back and going with something that I think should be able to work. @I see the other dishes, and there’s half dessert, half savory. @Literally all of the girls are making pastry tonight. @I’m making real food.

Talia: @I’m preparing a rhubarb financier with beet-strawberry ice cream, and an almond-oat brittle with rhubarb-strawberry-beet compote. @I see that Lilian and Trisha are occupying the ice cream machines right now, which makes me nervous, but I am just focusing on the mise en place and getting that done first.

Courtney: @I’m making a cherry mousse with meringues and chocolate soil. @I’m making the meringues, because I think that’ll be delicious. @I grab salt, and that’ll be my secret ingredient to making my dessert pop. @None of the other contestants phase me. @I’m just that much better than they are. @I am a competitive dancer, I work five jobs, and I’m on honor roll. @I live for the challenge.

Trisha: @I’m preparing a sticky toffee pudding with brueleed figs and a buttermilk sorbet. @I want the buttermilk because that’ll be a delicious addition and it’ll cut through the sweetness. @The judges liked my cake and ice cream last time around, so I know that making a cake and a sorbet will definitely go over well.

Jo: @I’m preparing fried sweetbreads in a miso-honey glaze and a roasted corn slaw. @The last time, I made a dish that was good, but not amazing. @I’m hoping that pushing myself with the sweetbread will really work in my favor and that it’ll set me apart. @I’m excited to see the dish and flavors come together.

Victoria: Time’s up!

Talia: @I’m freaking out because I managed to get everything done. @It feels amazing!

Daniel: @I’m an Eliminator, and I’m going to kick some major butt tonight. @Let’s do it.

Victoria: Your judges for this challenge are:

Ashlee Pou – former Warrior Chef runner-up

Sophia Pham – former Warrior Chef runner-up

Karen Laverre – Warrior Chef 1 third place finalist

Lucas Powers – Warrior Chef 1 fourth place finalist

Fanny Robinson – Warrior Chef 1 fifth place finalist

Tadashi Hamilton – Warrior Chef 1 runner-up

Victoria: Let’s start with Roman’s dish!

Roman – Asian pork sandwich with lotus root chips

Sophia: Babes, I knew what he was trying to make and that’s why it’s such a disappointment. This was just boring at best.

Ashlee: Babes, it definitely did not knock my socks off. I was put to sleep. Did he drug the sandwich? Either way, it was not particularly amazing or memorable.

Victoria: Next is Daniel’s dish!

Daniel – Pickled jicama spring rolls, dashi espuma

Lucas: Wow. Just wow. This really blew me away. The flavors and textures were there and it was inventive.

Fanny: I think he nailed the textures he was going for. I wish that there were more hot components, but it was still nice.

Victoria: Next is Lilian’s dessert.

Lilian – Black currant ice cream, ricotta doughnuts, lemon curd

Karen: The ice cream was flawless and so were the doughnuts. The lemon curd was a clever combination.

Tadashi: I really was impressed by her dessert. This is something that could easily win this round. Those fritters were perfectly done.

Victoria: And now we have Brandon’s sirloin dish!

Brandon – Seared sirloin, potato puree, fried carrots

Tadashi: Sirloin was cooked beautifully for me. But the dish ate really dry without a sauce and the fried carrots were a headscratcher. Why those and not more potato?

Fanny: The carrot chips weren’t even good, and you got lucky. My sirloin was overcooked and gray.

Victoria: And next is Talia’s dessert!

Talia – Rhubarb financier, beet-strawberry ice cream

Ashlee: Babes, the financier was on-point. Fruit based desserts normally don’t excite me, but the strawberries and rhubarb and beet really come together perfectly.

Karen: The almond brittle for texture was a nice touch and the flavors were great. I’m really happy with this dessert. It was possibly the best dessert I’ve ever tasted.

Victoria: Now we have Courtney’s dessert!

Courtney – Cherry mousse, meringues, chocolate soil

Sophia: Babes, this was just an abhorrence to chocolate and desserts in general. It was not mind-blowing. I found it rather offensive.

Lucas: Don’t know about abhorrence or offensive, but it’s not particularly amazing compared to the other dishes. But it was still a tasty bite.

Victoria: Next is Trisha’s dessert!

Trisha – Sticky toffee pudding, bruleed figs, buttermilk sorbet

Fanny: The cake was nicely baked and the buttermilk sorbet was delicious. I really enjoyed the flavors.

Tadashi: This was honestly a strong dessert to go up against. Every component she put it up was nicely done. The bruleed figs were a great contrast!

Victoria: So the last dish belongs to Jo.

Jo – Fried sweetbreads, miso-honey barbecue glaze, roasted corn slaw

Lucas: The flavors were there, the textures were there, and he’s only like what? 14? 15? And he prepared sweetbreads in probably the best way I’ve ever had them.

Fanny: If this is the type of food he makes, I would happily dine at Jo’s restaurant. I really enjoyed the texture of the sweetbreads, the glaze, and that slaw. It came together.

Victoria: So can we call them back in for scoring?

Tadashi: We can.

In walks the eight contestants.

Victoria: Unfortunately, half of you are going home tonight. Let’s start with Roman’s score first.

Ashlee: Babes, it was just boring. 6 stars.

Sophia: 6 stars, babes.

Karen: 7 stars.

Lucas: 7 stars.

Fanny: 7 stars.

Tadashi: 7 stars.

Roman – 6 + 6 + 7 + 7 + 7 + 7 = 40/60 stars

Roman: @I got 40 stars. @I’m not feeling too hot.

Victoria: Next up is Daniel’s score!

Ashlee: 10 stars. babes.

Sophia: 9 stars, babes.

Karen: 9 stars.

Lucas: 9 stars.

Fanny: 9 stars.

Tadashi: 9 stars.

Daniel – 10 + 9 + 9 + 9 + 9 + 9 = 55/60 stars

Roman: @Holy shit. @He just blew my score out of the water.

Daniel: @And this is why I am an Eliminator. @I’m that good of a chef.

Victoria: And now we have Brandon’s score!

Ashlee: 3 stars for a gross, overcooked piece of shoe leather.

Sophia: It was dry and boring. 3 stars.

Karen: 3 stars.

Lucas: 4 stars.

Fanny: 4 stars.

Tadashi: My steak was cooked nicely. But the rest was really dry. 6 stars.

Brandon – 3 + 3 + 3 + 4 + 4 + 6 = 23/60 stars

Brandon: @Fuck. @I’m definitely screwed right now.

Victoria: And next is Courtney’s score!

Ashlee: 7 stars.

Sophia: 7 stars.

Karen: 7 stars.

Lucas: 7 stars.

Fanny: 7 stars.

Tadashi: 7 stars.

Courtney – 7 + 7 + 7 + 7 + 7 + 7 = 42/60 stars

Courtney: @Right now, I’m in second place. @Brandon and Roman are definitely not going to stay tonight. @They’re both going home.

Roman: @I’m starting to think that my place is going to go to one of these Eliminators, and I really hope that doesn’t happen.

Victoria: Now let’s go into Lilian’s score!

Ashlee: 10 stars.

Sophia: 9 stars.

Karen: 10 stars.

Lucas: 9 stars.

Fanny: 9 stars.

Tadashi: 9 stars.

Lilian – 10 + 9 + 10 + 9 + 9 + 9 = 56/60 stars

Lilian: Wow! @I can’t believe I just beat both Eliminators. @This is a huge surprise to me. @I just guaranteed myself a spot in the main competition!
Brandon: @Crap. @I’m out.

Victoria: Brandon, unfortunately, that takes you off the top four scores, and your time in this competition is over. Please return to the kitchen and leave.

Brandon: Okay. @My second chance was a flop. @I’m feeling embarrassed about this.

Brandon leaves the kitchen.

Victoria: Trisha, your score is up next! You need at least 41 stars to possibly remain in the competition.

Ashlee: 10 stars.

Sophia: 10 stars.

Karen: 10 stars.

Lucas: 9 stars.

Fanny: 9 stars.

Tadashi: 9 stars.

Trisha – 10 + 10 + 10 + 9 + 9 + 9 = 57/60 stars

Trisha: What?! @I just took the lead with my dessert! @This is amazing!

Victoria: Roman, that means that you will be going home too. Please leave the kitchen.

Roman: Alright. *to the other competitors* Good luck.

Roman leaves the kitchen.

Victoria: Jo, your score is up next. To stay in the competition, you need at least 43 to stay in the top four scores.

Ashlee: 9 stars.

Sophia: 9 stars.

Karen: 10 stars.

Lucas: 10 stars.

Fanny: 10 stars.

Tadashi: 10 stars.

Jo – 9 + 9 + 10 + 10 + 10 + 10 = 58/60 stars

Jo: Thank you. @I just beat Trisha’s score, and now I’m in the lead! @I’m feeling really good about the fact that I put so much thought into my dish and it came through.

Victoria: Courtney, I’m sorry. Please leave the kitchen.

Courtney: Okay. @I can’t believe I’m going home. @I don’t deserve to be eliminated. @My dish was flawless and the judges couldn’t see that. @I’m an Eliminator. @It was my job to kick these losers out of the competition, not the other way around.

Courtney leaves.

Victoria: Talia, you need at least 56 to beat Daniel’s score and remain in the competition. Judges?

Daniel: @At this point, I think Talia’s going home. @She can’t beat me. @I’m here to kick these guys out of the competition, and I’m going to deliver on that promise.

Ashlee: 10 stars.

Sophia: 10 stars.

Karen: 10 stars.

Lucas: 9 stars.

Fanny: 10 stars.

Tadashi: 10 stars.

Talia – 10 + 10 + 10 + 9 + 10 + 10 = 59/60 stars

Talia: Thank you! @I can’t believe my eyes. @I literally went up 10 points from my last score. @This is unbelievable. @And I got a higher score than Vin did! Oh my God!

Victoria: Here are the final scores!

Talia – 59/60

Jo – 58/60

Trisha – 57/60

Lilian – 56/60

Daniel – 55/60

Courtney – 42/60

Roman – 40/60

Brandon – 23/60

Victoria: Talia, congratulations. You won immunity going into the main competition! And Daniel, unfortunately, your score was not in the top four, so you’re going home

Daniel: What? @I don’t think there’s ever been an instance where not even one Eliminator made it through to the main competition. @I can’t believe it.

Daniel leaves the kitchen.

Lilian: @I can’t believe it. @The four of us are all original competitors, and we managed to stay in the competition. @This is great!

Trisha: @I’m so happy right now. @I really hope that the four of us make it to the finale together. @This round was magical. @Just getting a 57/60 from the judges is enough of a reason for me to be really happy.

Talia: @Being immune rocks. @I know I’m not going home now and I can take much more risks in the main competition for that first round. @Let’s do this! @I’m ready to finally be crowned Warrior Chef!

How it is: Chapter 18

“Wait, so you’ve been eating take out this whole time?” Justin eyed Timmy as the two were eating lunch together at a small diner in Chelsea. “Yeah. I don’t want to bump into Valerie or Tarou.” He sighed. “You’re still avoiding both of them?!” “Well, yeah. Since a ton of people hate me now, it’s hard to leave my dorm without getting death glares.” He sighed. Even when he goes to class, Timmy would face plenty of angry and dirty looks and people whispering threats at him. He did not feel safe whatsoever. Between the entire school of performing arts, Asian community, and the LGBTQIA community being mad at him, there were only few people who would treat Timmy mercifully. And by mercifully, Timmy meant outright ignore him. “You really need to talk to Tarou. I know you’re getting stressed, but avoiding him is only making the situation worse. A lot worse.” Justin wanted Timmy to just talk to Tarou, not even to mend their friendship, but to help his current living situation. To be in constant fear and hiding, that was no way to live. “I… I’ll think about it.” Timmy sighed. He could tell that Justin was getting visibly worried, and Misaki’s words were just ringing through his head. The way he was acting, it was causing those around him to worry. It was a cycle that he needed to break. He needed to stop acting in such a way that made others so stressed and concerned. He did not want to be a source of discomfort to those around him.

Walking to the curb, Timmy called an Uber for himself. He was feeling nervous at this point. Thinking about Tarou made Timmy feel like his stomach was twisting itself into knots. “You Timmy?” The driver, a gruff middle aged man looked through the window of the car. “Yeah.” He nodded shyly before getting into the passenger seat. Driving back, all Timmy could think about was hiding his face and avoiding being seen by anyone. ACU has made active efforts of alienating him, ranging from Alice ignoring him when they see each other in the engineering building to Gary glaring at him through the windows of the dining hall. At this point, Timmy did not feel safe. Nor did he know what to do. It was either live in fear and hiding from judgement, or confront Tarou, something he did not feel comfortable doing. He was afraid about what Tarou would do to him. Everything Tarou was saying and doing, it was unexpected. The Japanese boy Timmy grew up with, he was this young, unassuming, and loyal person. Since when did somebody so reserved and calm become so sporadic, overbearing, and dramatic in general? The Taiwanese boy sighed to himself, keeping his eyes to the floor. There was a looming anxiety bubbling in him. “What the hell do I do?” It was a question he had been asking himself for weeks now. And the answer was somewhere behind one of two really hideous doors. Timmy started to ponder why Tarou’s sexuality mattered so much to him. A large portion of this discomfort stemmed from all of those times Tarou insisted he was not gay, and how it felt like he was being lied to by his own best friend.

“He’s gay!” Two male eighth graders were mocking an already teary-eyed sixth grade Tarou. The 11 year-old was being made fun of for being on the effeminate side. “I’m not!” The chubby Japanese youth whined, trying to defend himself verbally, albeit poorly. No matter what the boy did, the two bullies continued to taunt him, kicking dirt at the younger’s face. “Hey, cut it out.” Timmy growled, walking up to them. He noticed his best friend laying on a tree, sobbing quietly as the two older boys continued to spew insults. “Oh, look, Glenn! It’s his boyfriend!” One of them laughed. “Yeah, Brent! What’s he going to do? Kiss us?” Glenn returned. “No. But you guys can kiss my ass!” Timmy shouted, kicking Brent straight in the stomach. “Oomph!” The 13 year-old groaned as he fell over. “You little punk-” Before Glenn could finish his sentence, Timmy punched him in the throat and proceeded to kick him in the groin. The older boy was on the floor, sputtering in fetal position on the grass. “Do that to my best friend again, and you’ll get worse treatment next time.” Timmy glared at the two before turning to Tarou. “What did they do to you? Are you hurt?” The boy wiped his tears and shook his head sheepishly. “They were just calling me gay.” He sighed. “But you’re not, right?” The Taiwanese boy looked at him, concerned. “No, I’m not.” Tarou shook his head. Little did neither of them know at the time, Tarou’s interest in males did not spur until high school. “What the hell happened here?!” Valerie ran up to the two of them, noting the two half-conscious teenagers laying in the dirt. “Timmy was protecting me. They were being bullies and calling me names.” Tarou admitted, half afraid that Valerie the hall monitor would tell on them. “Oh geez.” She shook her head. “Look, you’re my friends, so I’ll let this one pass. But please, Timmy, no more karate-chopping people.” She crossed her arms. “Now hurry up and get out of here. We can’t have you at the scene of the crime.” Thanks, Val!” The two quickly left the area. “And you two, if you try to say anything, I’ll tell the principal that you guys were trying to sexually harass me!” She frowned at Brent and Glenn. “We are going to say that this was you two trying to breakdance and failing epically.”

“Personally, I don’t know how I feel about gay rights and gay marriage.” Timmy admitted. He was in ninth grade now, and in his social studies class. They were discussing equality in gender roles and the topic of gay marriage arose. Timmy and Tarou were together, having a side conversation from the class’s discussion in the back of the room. “What do you mean?” Tarou raised his eyebrow skeptically. At this point, the Japanese boy was already slim and lanky, his features appearing more photogenic in general. This discussion was clearly unsettling to the aspiring model, who was just beginning to discover his sexual interests in men. After his first photo shoot, Tarou had been sneaking peeks at several of his male co-workers, and he found himself entranced by their physiques. “Well, I think that there’s a reason a man and woman can get married. And that stems from the fact that they can have children together. There’s no reason for same sex marriage, because these couples can’t have kids anyways, so why do they need marriage?” Timmy’s logic was that marriage was needed for parents to feel even more attached to each other and their children. Tarou was dumbfounded. That sort of logic made zero sense to the Japanese boy. But he could not bring himself to say anything at that point in time. But it was at moment that Tarou knew coming out to Timmy was not a possibility. He felt uncomfortable knowing that somebody could think in such a narrow-minded way. Timmy did notice Tarou’s discomfort, but could not take back the impact of his words. That was the way he was taught to feel. The Taiwanese boy always tried to rationalize emotions with logic and practicability, even when there were feelings and sensations beyond science and reason.

Warrior Chef 1: Afterword

Hopefully, you all who read the series actually enjoyed it. It must be strange seeing written text in paragraph form if you were reading through all of those previous Warrior Chef rounds before reading this, isn’t it?

Anyways, I started writing Warrior Chef 5 years ago. Fun fact, even though what I published on this site was listed as Warrior Chef 1, it is technically the third installment to receive that title. The original Warrior Chef 1 was written 5 years ago, and I continued writing until Warrior Chef 20 and then took a break once I graduated high school. I resumed in college, and decided to restart back at 1 again. That time, I wrote until Warrior Chef 24 before deciding to take a break yet again. And here we are, with a new installment of Warrior Chef. Despite this, I have kept a couple things from the previous two series, being that the judges are all the same as they were in the previous 44 Warrior Chefs, and the terminology remains the same.

When it came to writing this particular season, I did not necessarily know who I wanted to win. Vanilla was actually inspired by Oerba Dia Vanille from Final Fantasy XIII, while Fanny was inspired by Fang. Tadashi was inspired by Tadashi from Big Hero 6, hence why he was such a reliable person and why the finale took place in San Francisco. Karen was inspired by both one of my close friends and chef Karen Akunowicz from Top Chef (when I wrote this, Top Chef season 13 was playing). Lucas was inspired by this guy I had Real Estate Law with, and he was a really driven young man. I debated heavily between Lucas and Tadashi, but decided ultimately that Vanilla should be the winner, because her story was very unique and her cooking style, being Australian and dessert-inspired, was something that stood out amongst the other competitors.

Below is the final scoreboard of the final 13 (I’m counting Olympia for winning the first Redemption Round)

Screen Shot 2017-06-07 at 1.40.04 AM

How it is: Chapter 17

That same day, Tarou was at work with Misaki, talking about the former’s current living situation after they finished another photo shoot. “So you two aren’t living together anymore?” The older model frowned. She was surprised to hear that Timmy had problems with Valerie and Tarou. “Yeah, and that’s why I’m living on Valerie’s floor at the moment.” The male model nodded. “I see, I see.” Had Timmy not been such a close friend of her boyfriend’s, Misaki would have most likely used her one favor from the yakuza to call a hit on the Taiwanese boy. Just the thought of somebody being that immature, inept, and cowardly, he was asking for at least, a slap to the face. Shaking off her dark, violent thoughts, the older girl looked at her friend. “I think Timmy is a complete and utter coward. Just the way he treated Valerie, it was sickening. Then to hear from you that he called her a skank or slut or whatever, that was uncalled for. And that’s just his beef with Valerie. The way he treated you was completely rude. It was homophobic of him to say that your sexuality made him uncomfortable. It’s not like you made advances on him, did you?” She looked at him, nervously. If Tarou had indeed acted with romantic intentions, then this situation could get very ugly. “I saw him more as a little brother or a son, but for him, he only saw my sexuality when that became a topic. He could not shake the thought or fear that I might be romantically interested in him. And his uneasiness towards it, it made me question my own feelings towards him as well. But seeing him act that way, it just reaffirms that this is why I saw him as a little brother or a son. It’s because he is less emotionally mature than I am.” Tarou summarized. “I see. And it makes sense. Him not knowing how to react to and live with somebody like you, it caused him to act really irrationally.” The reason why Misaki was able to make such detailed observations was because she was a psychology major in college, before deciding to become a model full time and abandon the psychology path entirely. There was something about being able to observe others and understanding their intentions and interpretations of life that piqued her interest.

After heading out of the agency, Misaki and Tarou were having dinner at Tarou’s favorite restaurant, Ngam; Tarou and Misaki both adored the chef, who was a model herself, and just enjoyed the elegant takes on Thai cuisine served at the establishment. Tarou sighed, feeling a little uneasy. Even though he was at one of his favorite restaurants, he was not feeling hungry. He was worried about what was happening to Timmy. “Hey, what’s wrong?” Misaki looked at him, visibly concerned. Tarou had been spacing out for a while. It was unlike Tarou, especially when he was a former fat kid, to leave a meal virtually untouched. “I’m just out of it. I’m still getting over what Timmy said about Valerie and how he outed me like that.” Tarou sighed. He did not think that anything could hurt him. But he wrong. Timmy’s words hurt. Seeing her friend this way, Misaki could not bring herself to feign smiling anymore. “Look, you two need to talk. Do you want me to tell Justin about the whole situation?” She offered. Tarou shook his head. “He’s not ready. I don’t think he’ll ever be ready to be confronted. He’s a fucking coward.” The model scowled. He was angry at this point. What did he ever do to deserve this treatment? It was not his fault he was born bisexual. Timmy’s immaturity, it was just ridiculous. Tarou was in disbelief that somebody he looked up to, somebody he grew up with, could have come along so little in life. Slowly, Tarou began to piece together the dots: his involvement with Timmy, or specifically, his smother of Timmy, had caused the Taiwanese boy to become so sheltered and immature. All of this time I tried to protect him, I only caused him harm. He started to realize. Yet, Tarou did not resent himself. How was he supposed to know that this sort of overbearing behavior was okay? He was still a student himself. He had a lot left to learn.

“Hey, what’s wrong,, babe?” Justin looked at a distraught Misaki. She was still shaken by Tarou’s recent behavior and attitude. It was later at night, and the couple were in their apartment. “It’s just frustrating. These guys, they’re legally adults. But they still act like such sulky teenagers.” She frowned. It was bothering her how badly affected both of these boys were acting. “I get how you feel. Timmy’s life has been going to shit because of this. Word got out about how he acted, and he got kicked out of ACU.” Justin explained. “Huh?” Misaki looked at him, perplexed. “Yeah, he just texted me. It did not sound pretty. Apparently, there were over two hundred protestors boycotting an eboard meeting because of him.” “Whoa.” The model was not sure how to feel about this. On one hand, it was amazing to see that this many people cared about Tarou, or at least, what Tarou stood for. On another hand, Timmy was only 18, and he is being punished for being inexperienced, rather than narrow-minded. Misaki knew that even though he was immature, Timmy was not a bad person. He just was sheltered, therefore naive. “How’s he taking the end-result?” She looked at Justin, greatly concerned. “Not well. He told me he needed time alone.” Justin sighed, crossing his arms. He wanted to help Timmy, but he did not know what to do either. Whenever he got like this, Timmy would be impossible to reach. The Taiwanese boy would shut himself off from society. It was unpleasant to say the least. “What should we do?” He looked at Misaki, who was equally at a loss. “I think we need to talk to Timmy. And let him know what Tarou is feeling. Even if he is not ready to talk to Tarou, he needs to understand what’s going on.”

A week had passed since Tarou had been kicked off ACU board. The boy had shut himself into his room, only leaving for class. He felt mortified. Being removed from the club was already humiliating. He felt as if all of his hard work was unraveled in just a manner of minutes. Looking at Tarou’s empty bed, the Taiwanese boy felt himself flush with anger. Unable to contain himself, he slammed his fist into the stripped mattress. It bounced slightly as he left a deep impress in the fabric. “Fucking shit.” He cursed underneath his breath, ignoring the stinging in the side of his palm. He just needed to get off some steam. The thought of Tarou, it was concerning, yet aggravating. Why did somebody feel the need to be so controlling over him? He felt like he could not even breathe. Tarou was suffocating him. Ignoring the smell of the rotting pizza boxes piling up on his floor, the boy tried to drift off to sleep, or at least humor the notion: how can anyone sleep when they feel so constantly scared? Suddenly, Timmy’s phone started buzzing, much to the boy’s shock. It was Justin. “Hello?” He answered hesitantly. “You. I need to talk to you.” It was a woman’s voice. Misaki’s to be exact. “Uh…” The boy debated hanging up his phone, but he could not bring himself to. He feared the exact repercussions of angering Justin’s girlfriend. “Tarou’s devastated. I know you don’t care because you’re a heartless son of a bitch, but you need to know that the way you treat people, it needs to change. The fact that his sexuality made you uncomfortable, and on top of that, you treated him like crap when he was one of your closest friends! You pushed him away for a group of next to complete strangers, when he would have done anything for you. Do you not feel any shame for that?”

Timmy was not quite sure how to feel. Misaki, unlike the majority of his friends in the Asian community, was extremely upfront and direct. She did not sugar coat her words or statements. The Taiwanese boy was just taken aback, because of how unused to this treatment he was. “Well?” Misaki pressed again. She was still on the phone with him. “I’m just… I just need time. He’s exhausting. Looking at him, it just brings up a lot of anxiety and stress for me. I can’t feel safe or comfortable. I-I-I-” Timmy felt himself starting to break down into tears. There were too many emotions for him to process. Being around Tarou just made him extremely uncomfortable, and trying to unravel and comprehend everything Timmy was feeling at the thought of him, it was exhausting. “Look, I’m sure you’re not a completely shitty person. But you are being really selfish by not considering how your actions affect those around you. That’s the bottom line for what I’m trying to convey here. I believe that you and Tarou, you guys can make up and work it out. It might take time, even therapy, but I know you guys can do it and salvage your friendship.” Misaki reassured him. Timmy could hear what Misaki was saying, but he was still trying to recompose himself. He’s had more emotional meltdowns in the past two weeks than he has ever had in his entire life. He did not want to make a habit out of this behavior.

“Do you think I was being too harsh on him?” Misaki looked at Justin as she hung up the phone. “Well, you were definitely blunt. And honest.” Justin smirked. “But don’t worry about it too much. Somebody needed to tell him to be more considerate.” He sighed. As much as he cared about Timmy, Justin knew that the Taiwanese boy was old enough to be responsible for his own actions and decisions. He needed to take responsibility for the way he was treating others, or at least the way he was communicating with them. “Well, at least you agree that Timmy’s being a little pussy ass bitch.” Misaki sighed. As a model, she is used to dealing with passive aggressive, fake, and two-faced behavior all the time. Timmy’s attitude reminded her of that, and if she could stop another young adult from becoming like one of those monsters she works with, then the model would do whatever she can to end the vicious cycle. “Well, it looks like it’s getting really late. Let’s go to bed, babe.” Justin yawned, stretching his arms. “Yeah, let’s do it.” She sighed, getting up from their couch, and heading off to their bedroom.