Warrior Chef 2: Finale Part 2

Victoria: This is it! The Warrior Chef finale! Tonight, three cooks will be competing head to head to head for the title and grand prize of $100,000! First, Amanda Bolen! A French American from Charleston, Massachusetts, Amanda has been a competitor from the very beginning! With consistently strong dishes throughout the season, she has shined in challenges, winning back to back challenges right before the finale! And then we have Vin Rugnetta! The half Italian, half Singaporean curry king from Orlando, Vin has been on top of the most challenges this season, and has delivered complex and ambitious concepts in reach and every round! Finally, we have Rose Fu! A half Montenegrin, half Chinese Brooklyn native, Rose’s ambition and talents cannot be denied! She has continued to deliver delicious plates in each round, and has rightfully earned her spot in the final three! Tonight, one of these cooks will be crowned Warrior Chef! Who will it be?

Rose: @Walking into the kitchen, I feel like I have the most to prove. @Vin and Amanda got immunity and avoided the elimination challenge in the last round, so I need to show them that when I play to win, I win.

Vin: @Rose, Amanda, and I, we are the three strongest cooks here. @Amanda is insanely talented, Rose is phenomenal, and it’s looking to be a battle of the titans.

Amanda: @I’ve made it this far, and I know that my amuse bouche is going to be awesome. @I really hope that I can execute it like how I planned it.

Victoria: Welcome to the final round. For this first creativity challenge, you’ll have 20 minutes to prepare an unforgettable amuse bouche. The best cook will gain an advantage going into the elimination, but the worst cook will be sent home.

Vin: @This is definitely the worst challenge to lose. @It’ll always haunt you, whether or not your three course meal could have won you the title.

Victoria: 20 minutes, time starts now!

Rose: @My concept is compressed plums with a homemade pickled and fried feta cheese and some micro basil. @I think making my own cheese will be a phenomenal feat, and if I can pull it off, then bye, bye, Vin or Amanda. @I want to go against Vin, because we’ve been friends from the very beginning.

Vin: @I’m making a curried shrimp puff with pandan-coconut coulis. @This is an amuse bouche, so I want the flavors to really entice you and stand out. @I think that Rose will try something fresh, and Amanda will go delicate, so I have to do something that will take the focus away from their dishes.

Amanda: @I’m doing a blood orange cured salmon belly with crispy speck and chervil. @I see that Rose is going to make her own cheese, so I need to make sure that my salmon tastes delicious. @I really don’t want to leave right now. @That’s for sure.

Vin: @If I get sent home tonight, before the final meal, I’ll be so angry. @I already have a game plan, and I’m ready to kick some major ass tonight.

Victoria: Time’s up!

Rose: @I know I nailed this dish. @I’m looking forward to cooking my final meal.

Victoria: Your guest judge for this challenge is Warrior Chef house critic, Ashlee Pham!

Ashlee: Babes, I’m back…. and I don’t recognize any of you. I guess none of the Eliminator Round cooks made it this far. Awkward.

Vin: @Ashlee is a talented chef, and at the age of 18, she had already worked at a three star Michelin restaurant as a chef de cuisine. @But I know that I can impress her.

Ashlee and Victoria taste the amuse bouches.

Victoria: Ashlee, who impressed you the most?

Ashlee: Babes, it was tough. But Rose, babes, you made your own cheese, pickled it, and fried it. That was brilliant and you won it for me, babes.

Victoria: Congratulations, Rose! You won a huge advantage going into the Elimination Challenge! Trust me, you want this one.

Rose: Thanks! @I won and now I get to pick my sous-chefs first. @I’m stoked.

Victoria: Ashlee, who failed to impress you?

Ashlee: It was tough, babes. You both can cook really well, and smash it out of the park, babes. It was a close call, but babes, the weaker dish was made by… Amanda. The dish was just a little too clunky. The chervil, too large on the plate, babes.

Victoria: Amanda, unfortunately, that means you will not be Warrior Chef.
Amanda: Okay. @That…. sucked. @Honestly, words can’t describe how disappointing it is to hear that.

Victoria: Now it’s time for the final challenge!

In walks Jo, Nate, Talia, Marisa, Duke, Trisha, Enrique, Lilian, and Betsy.

Victoria: Rose, you won the advantage of choosing your first sous-chef before Vin.

Rose: Hands down, Amanda. @She provides precision and I know that she can nail my menu. @I know she’s got this.

Amanda: @I just got eliminated, but I need to shift gears. @Rose is relying on me to help her win. @It’s going to be rough.

Vin: I’m going with Nate. @He’s strong and definitely better than Jo, so it makes sense that I’d go with him.

Nate: @I’ll try my best for Vin. @He is a strong cook, but he didn’t really have a chance to shine on his own. @This is his time to do just that.

Rose: My second pick is going to be Talia. @She’s a solid cook. @I hope that she carries me to the finish line.

Talia: @Rose is a great cook, so I’m going to try my best for her.

Vin: I need a pastry cook, so Trisha, come on down!
Trisha: Thank you! @I wasn’t expecting him to choose me, but I’ll try to make the best dessert in Warrior Chef history just for him.

Victoria: 1 hour, three courses, time starts now!

Rose: @My advantage over Vin is that I have actually won individual challenges. @He has not since the preliminaries. @I’m going to be the best tonight because I can stand on my own two feet. First course is scallops with chickpea puree and tempura-fried peppers. *to Amanda* You can do that one. For the main course, it’s duck bao with spicy apricot sauce and crispy leeks. *to Talia* I want you doing everything on that. I’ll give you my bao recipe and just follow that religiously. @For my dessert, it’s tespixhe, a traditional Montenegrin dessert which is like a cookie meets a cake, and I’m making a rum raising ice cream to serve with that.

Talia: @I’ve never made a bao dough before, but I’m getting that started first just to guarantee that I can nail it for Rose. @I refuse to be the reason she loses the title.

Amanda: @I think that her menu is strong, but a bit unusual. @I think she has a strong shot at being Warrior Chef.

Vin: *to Trisha* Handle the panna cotta, poached pears, and sorbet. @The dessert is honey panna cotta with ginger poached pears and pandan sorbet. For the appetizer, it’s going to be steamed fish cakes with spicy peanut sauce. The entree is pork vindaloo with coconut black rice. @I’m having Nate do the fish cakes and rice while I handle the pork vindaloo and the spicy sauce. @I know that I can bring the heat, and I’m going to nail this three course meal.

Trisha: @I get the panna cotta base going as well as the sorbet steeping. @I’m feeling great about the dish because it’s really cool. @Vin’s menu sounds delicious. @I would happily eat all of it!

Nate: @The fish cakes, I’m blending up mackerel and steaming and grilling them in banana leaves. @For the black rice, I’m just getting that going with the coconut milk in a pressure cooker to get it puffed and cooked through.

In the judges room:

Victoria is sitting with house critics, Aster Walker, Erwin Ko, Miriam Adjanti, Ashlee Pham, and Frank Torres.

Miriam: I’m excited. Vin and Rose are strong, strong cooks. They both deserve to be here in the final two.

Erwin: Vin’s menu is super traditional Asian-Singaporean food. I’m excited about it. Rose, she’s got influences from China and Montenegro. I’m impressed.

In the kitchen:

Rose: @At this point, time is winding down.
Amanda: @I get the peppers out of the frier and sprinkle salt on them, and drain them on the towel. @I get everything plated, and it feels good.

Rose: @Amanda delivered tonight and this is why I’m going to win the title.

Nate: @I get the cakes onto the plate, and Vin follows me with the sauce. @I see what Amanda and Rose prepared, and I’m feeling like this dish is a little sparse. *to Vin* What else can we do?

Vin: I got it. Let’s make roti. @I’m going to prepare a quick roti, while Nate plates up the entree, and the roti will go onto the appetizer as well. @I just want things to dip into the peanut sauce.

Rose: @I see that Vin is putting together roti bread in less than 10 minutes. @He’s crazy. @I don’t think that the roti will make much of a difference.

Vin: @Time’s winding down, and I pull the bread out of the frier and it looks amazing, so I’m going through with plating it up.

Victoria: Time’s up!

Trisha: *to Vin* Congratulations!

Vin: *to Trisha and Nate* You two rock! @I’m proud of my team. @They did a great job!

Rose; *to Amanda and Talia* Thank you both so much.

Talia: @I think Rose is going to win this. @She’s done such a great job so far and she deserves to be Warrior Chef.

In the judges’ room:

Victoria: Here are the first courses!

Rose – seared scallops, chickpea puree, tempura fried peppers

Vin – fish cakes, spicy peanut sauce, and roti

Erwin: The scallops are delicious, the puree was the best hummus I’ve ever tasted, and her peppers were addictive.
Ashlee: Babes, I just loved his sauce. The roti was phenomenal and so were the fish cakes. I just wanted more of a connection for the two other than the sauce.

Victoria: So who won this course?

Aster – Rose

Erwin – Rose

Miriam – Rose

Ashlee – Rose

Frank – Rose

Victoria: It was unanimous. That’s amazing.

Frank: They both made tasty food, but the dish Rose prepared had more cohesion.

Victoria: We have the next dishes coming up next!

Rose – duck bao with spicy apricot sauce and crispy leeks

Vin – pork vindaloo with coconut black rice

Miriam: Rose’s duck bao, her duck was cooked nicely, but the leeks were greasy. The bao were tasty, however.

Aster: Vin nailed that pork vindaloo. He’s made incredible curries, and like his sauce in the appetizer, this delivered on heat and flavor. It was complex and deep.

Victoria: So who won?

Aster – Vin

Erwin – Vin

Miriam – Vin

Ashlee – Vin

Frank – Vin

Victoria: Wow. Again, it was a clean sweep. Why was that?

Ashlee: Babes, the greasy leeks killed Rose’s dish for us.

Victoria: And we have our desserts!

Vin – honey panna cotta, ginger poached pears, pandan sorbet

Rose – tespixhe with rum raisin ice cream

Frank: The panna cotta was delicious and I liked the poached pears a lot. The sorbet was a tad icy, but the pandan comes through.

Miriam: I enjoyed Rose’s ice cream a lot. Her tespixhe, I’ve never had this before, but it was a bit dense and chewy, but got stuck on my teeth. But the flavor was great.

Victoria: So can we decide on our favorite desserts?

Ashlee: Babes, we can.

In walks Rose and Vin.

Rose: @I’m feeling great. @I think I won the title. @I saw Vin’s meal, and it was boring. @Curry again. @He’s repetitive and like a broken record. @Try something new for a change. @I know that I won this.

Vin: @Rose is phenomenal, but I know I am Warrior Chef. @I led my team to victory and I look a risk. @I’m going to win this.

Victoria: Thank you both for two phenomenal meals. Tonight, it was a heated battle. Rose, you swept the first course. Vin, you came back with a vengeance in the entree. Dessert is what determined who won. And with a clean sweep in dessert, the Warrior Chef is…. Vin Rugnetta!

Confetti rains down as everyone cheers for Vin.

Rose: *to Vin* You earned it. @I’m not even angry. @Vin was a talented, talented cook and he definitely was the Warrior Chef. @In my heart, I’m Warrior Chef as well, but he just had a better day than me. Congrats, Vin!

Vin: Oh my god! @I won! @I won Warrior Chef! @It feels so surreal to be the winner. @I didn’t think I could come so far and all of my hard work just paid off in the end. @So many of us went into this competition, knowing only one of us could win. @And I was that one in the end. @It feels amazing. @Words can’t describe how happy I am right now. @Being crowned Warrior chef, it just doesn’t feel like this actually happened. @I’m going to wake up tomorrow and still feel like this is a dream. @I’m Warrior Chef!


Warrior Chef 2: Finale Part 1

The final four arrive at Haneda Airport, and are taken by car to their hotel in Tokyo.

Rose: @The car ride is long, and I’m just glad that Vin and I are together in this car. @We’re just having a ball.

Vin: @Rose is the BFF I already have because everyone loves me, and she’s definitely the strongest cook in this season after me. @I think that my food will always get to the end of the competition. @I’m feeling determined to win now that we’re here.

Amanda: @I’m stuck with Jo, and it’s awkward and tense. @In the last challenge, Rose, Vin, and I all thought that he was going home.

Jo: @I know they don’t like me. @They’re all crazy and psychotic. @Look at Vin. @He’s self-absorbed. @Rose is really bitchy, and then we have Amanda, who is boring. @I just want kick all of their asses at this point, and take home the title.

The final four finally arrive in the kitchen of the Tokyo Skytree, where they are greeted by Victoria.
Victoria: Hi, finalists! So let’s get into your first challenge. We want to see how consistent but inventive you can go with sushi.

Jo: @I love sushi. @I think I can nail this one.

Rose: @I hate sushi. @I prefer cooked fish. @But I expected a sushi challenge going to Japan and all, so I brushed up on it. @I can be a whiny bitch, but at least I do my homework and know what I’m talking about. @I’m not an idiot.

Victoria: So for this challenge, you’ll be working in teams of two to prepare 20 portions of an identical sushi dish. Please draw knives!

Jo – 1

Rose – 1

Amanda – 2

Vin – 2

Vin: @I’m stoked to be with Amanda, because she’s a strong, strong cook. @We’ve got this one.

Amanda: @I don’t feel strong with my sushi-making skills, but I did brush up on them just in case. @I honestly don’t know if any of us are good at making sushi.

Rose: Fuck me. @I’m stuck with him. @The brat. @I’m so angry right now.

Jo: @Rose looks unhappy to be with me. @Why are they suddenly ganging up on me like that? @They’re such bullies.

Victoria: This is a challenge you want to win! The winning team will move into the final round of the competition, while the losing team will fight it out in the elimination challenge, where only one of you will join the final three.

Vin: @This challenge, it’s definitely like a sudden-death challenge. @I don’t want to lose, because Amanda is strong. @Going head to head with her in this kind of setting, it would be difficult.

Rose: @I think I’m screwed in this first challenge, because of how immature Jo is. @In team challenges, he does not take well to pressure, nor does he take ownership or responsibility when things go wrong. @That being said, I know in the elimination challenge, I can demolish him, so I’m not worried.

Victoria: You have 45 minutes, and your time starts now!

Jo: *to Rose* Let’s do tuna.

Rose: @Jo wants to do tuna. @That’s boring as fuck. @But again, I actually want to tank this challenge. @The thought of Jo making it into the final challenge makes my stomach sick. Sure, let’s do that! @So I go along with it. @He’s not going to take ownership if this dish goes to shit anyways.

Jo: So let’s do tuna nigiri with freshly grated wasabi, homemade ponzu, and I think we’ll be good. @I’m feeling great about our dish! @It’ll be easy to handle. @I’ll break down the salmon and portion it while Rose does the rice, wasabi, and ponzu.

Vin: *to Amanda* Should we go ham on this one? @I’ve been watching a lot of Iron Chef: America, and I remember Masaharu Morimoto doing this stain-glass roll. @I managed to talk Amanda into doing that exact dish.

Amanda: @The trick is that you have to make rolls, cut them into quarters, and basically do a roll, inside another roll, with another roll. @Oh, and we are tempura frying it. @So our dish is a yellowtail and arctic char stain glass sushi with blanched asparagus, and then prosciutto, and a prosciutto-asparagus foam.

VIn: We got this. We f*cking got this.

Amanda: Yeah, we do!

Rose: @I don’t even pay any attention to the rice. @I’m just going to let it sit there and burn. @The ponzu, I don’t add any citrus or vinegar. @It’s straight up soy. @I’m just going to sit there and watch time tick down, and enjoy myself.

Vin: @Rose is a bit evil for doing that, but thanks for the win, I guess?

Rose: @I really don’t want Jo to be Warrior Chef, and if it means I’m tanking my own shot at the final challenge, that’s what it’ll take.

Jo: @I see that we have 5 minutes left, and our rice is burnt. Crap. @I’m feeling under the weeds right now. @Rose is being a lazy bitch, and it’s harming our team.

Victoria: Time’s up!

Jo: We’re serving sashimi. Crap.

Vin: @Our team made a phenomenal sushi dish. @Hello, final three.

Victoria: Your judge for this is Namie Bethany-Amai!

Namie: Hi, everyone!

Amanda: Holy hell. @She was a sous-chef and former idol and model at the age of 17, and she was recently the executive pastry chef for a Michelin starred restaurant in New York. @She’s a phenomenal chef, and I’m freaking out on the inside.

Namie: These kinds of challenges, I totally get how hard they can be. I’ll try my best to judge this fairly.

Namie and Victoria taste the dishes.

Victoria: So how did each team do?

Namie: Surprisingly, this was one-sided. I was expecting it to be closer because it was the final four, but I guess my judging was made easy. Rose and Jo, it’s like you guys didn’t even try. There was definitely tension in your teamwork, and hopefully the next challenge will be a chance for you two to sort it out, head to head. Vin and Amanda, your sushi dish was phenomenal and it shows why you two earned the right to be in the final three.

Victoria: Congratulations, Vin and Amanda! The two of you are exempt from the next challenge and will be in the final three!

Vin: Thank you! @We won! @That’s awesome! @Namie loved our dish and it feels great. @Amanda and I are officially in the last round.

Amanda: @I didn’t think we would be in the final round, and I didn’t think that I would win my place on sushi of all things! @Vin and I are over the moon right now.

Amanda and Vin leave.

Victoria: Rose, Jo, the two of you have to face off in this elimination challenge. In the last challenge, you two prepared tuna sashimi. In this sudden-death challenge, we want to see you guys prepare the tuna in a cooked dish. You have just 35 minutes to stay in the competition, and your time starts now!

Jo: @I’m pretty pissed at Rose at the moment. @She sabotaged me and for no real reason. @For my dish, I’m preparing black garlic marinated tuna with cucumber and avocado. @I’m going to sear the tuna to finish it, and prepare an avocado mousse and pickled cucumber ribbons. @I’m hoping that the flavors really do come through, because I want that tuna to almost taste like a steak.

Rose: @Jo got lucky to get this far. @I really think that Talia and Nate belong here over him. @For my dish tonight, I’m preparing a play on riblha corba, which is Montenegrin fish soup with rice. @I’m going to do a tuna confit aranchini, and then a concentrated fish-butter sauce, and a seared tuna with celery-lemon-tomato salad. @I know I can knock Jo out, and when I do that in just 35 minutes, he’ll regret ever crossing me.

In the stew room:

Vin: *to Amanda* Who do you think will join us?

Amanda: *to Vin* Honestly, I think Rose will. @Rose is a strong, strong cook. @She’s been extremely consistent, and anyone would have a difficult time going against her.

Vin: @I hope Rose makes it through. @It’s because of her that Amanda and I guaranteed our spots in the finale. @I hope karma doesn’t come back to bite her for doing that.

Amanda: @At this point, I need to start thinking about my final menu, who I want to be my sous-chefs, and that amuse bouche challenge. @These are the things I need to focus on, since I know beyond a reasonable doubt that this is going to be my immediate future. @If I don’t step it up, Vin and Rose will definitely take me out.

In the kitchen:
Rose: @I get the aranchini mixture out of the blast chiller and start breading and frying those. @I taste the sauce, and it’s a little too fishy, so I hit it with more white wine and lemons to kill that. @I know that I am a better cook than Jo. @His dish is really boring.

Jo: @I check on my tuna, and it’s looking good. @I slice into it, and the color is where I want it to be. @Rose’s dish, it sounds complicated and confusing, just like her. @I hope she goes home. @She really fucked me over in the last challenge.

Victoria: Time’s up!

Jo: @Rose is a sorry human being. @Goodbye, Rose. @I’ll see you go home tonight, and then kick Amanda and Vin off next.

Rose: @Jo’s delusional if he thinks he’s better than me. @I’m going to win this elimination challenge.

Victoria: Your judges are:

Namie-Bethany Amai

Vanilla Cuylenberg – Warrior Chef winner

Tadashi Hamilton – Warrior Chef runner up

Victoria: So let’s start with Rose’s dish.

-riblha corba deconstructed

Vanilla: I just loved the different textures she achieved with that tuna. The confit in the aranchini was delicious and I enjoyed her sauce and salad a lot.

Tadashi: This is the cooking she needs to show at this stage in the competition. I really loved her flavors that she developed in that sauce and in the aranchini.

Namie: If she cooked like this in the last challenge, she would have won hands down. The fact she had less time and one less person, and produced something like this, it shows that she is a better chef than she lets on.

Victoria: And our last dish is Jo’s!

-black garlic marinated tuna with cucumbers and avocado

Namie: This dish had good flavor and texture in it. The thing I’m noticing with Jo is that he doesn’t necessarily go for a complicated or ambitious concept, but the flavors work.

Tadashi: The last time I had a dish by Jo, he nailed it with this shortrib with mac n’ cheese and kale chips. This dish, it shows that he has learned finesse, but still prepares food that people would want to eat. It was delicious, but a bit heavy on the black garlic.

Vanilla: Jo didn’t necessarily impress me the last time I tasted his food, and unfortunately, he had a hard dish to follow with Rose’s. I just felt like it was alright, but not necessarily amazing or final three-worthy, just because Rose had so much flavor and technique developed in just 35 minutes, while he did something that would have impressed me if he did that in 15 minutes, but definitely not 35.

Victoria: So it sounds like we have our third finalist.

In walks Rose and Jo.

Victoria: Unfortunately, one of you is going home, while the other won the elimination challenge and will join Vin and Amanda in the next round.

Rose: @I know I won this. @I saw Jo’s dish. @It was boring.

Victoria: Rose…. congratulations! You won the elimination challenge and you remain in the competition. And Jo, please leave the kitchen.

Jo: Thank you for the opportunity to compete and making it this far was already good enough for me. @I tried my best and that’s what counts the most. @I’m proud of my progress and I think that Vincent, Amanda, and Rose are the best three cooks. @But being that close, it still hurts. @I want another chance to prove myself. @For sure.

Rose: @Seeing Jo leave the competition, I’m feeling great about my odds in the finale with Vin and Amanda. @Jo has been able to pull out some strong dishes this season, but he was lucky, in my eyes. @I can really shine that much brighter amongst people who actually cook consistently well.

Mariko: Rose, you’ll be in the final round with Vin and Amanda!

Rose: I’ve got this. This title is going to be mine. @I’ve been strong since the very beginning. @I know that Vin and Amanda are going to be in danger against me.

Warrior Chef 2: Round 7

Rose: @I can’t believe I almost got eliminated in the last round. @Talia getting sent home was a bit surprising, but we’re in the final five now and I refuse to go home.

Amanda: @Talia was one of my closest friends, so seeing her get sent home was really hard for me. @I need to win it for her and Marisa.

Victoria: So for this creativity challenge, you’ll be working with a very challenging ingredient! I hope you’re prepared for it!

A cart is wheeled in, carrying eels.

Nate: @I see the eels, and they are terrifying.

Victoria: Eels, the skin is inedible and the blood is poisonous, so you guys have your work cut out for you. You have 1 hour to prepare an eel dish. This challenge, you want to win it. The winner automatically gains immunity and will earn a spot in the finale in Japan! Your time starts now!

Amanda: @Somehow, I know what to make with the eel. @I’m going to deep fry it. @I’m making capitone fritto, which is floured and fried eels, with a lemon-pepper reduction and arugula. @I’ve eaten that before when I went to Italy with my mother, and it was the first time I had ever even tried eel.

Nate: @For my eel dish, I’m going to prepare a grilled eel with a shortrib sauce. @I’m taking the bones out of the shortribs and the eel and frying those, then pressure cooking them with plum wine to finish. @I’m going to also make some crispy shallots to top the eel with. @I think this is a clever dish, because I’m making a really flavorful sauce. @I think it’ll be great!

Jo: @When it comes to Creativity Challenges, Nate, Rose, and Amanda have been really strong. @But this is eel, and I know eel. @I’m going to prepare an eel bento box. @It’s something I’d like to eat, and I know it’ll be delicious. @If I can execute the eel, and the rice and the pickled vegetables and sauce, then I know it’ll be a real winner.

Vin: @I’m going to make curried eel with eel balls and a lemon-caper rice. @I’ve never really worked with the eel before, and it’s definitely weird. @I have to hammer a nail through the head onto a cutting board, and then peel off the skin, which is like a wet piece of rubber. @It’s just uncomfortable and gross, but you go to do what you got to do to win that spot in the finale. @I want to be in the finale. @I’ve made it this far, and I’m only going to keep going further and further until I win the whole competition.

Rose: @I’m making eel roulade with fennel and coriander gremolata. @I’m going to marinate the eels in milk, roll them up, and deep fry them. @I’ve been a really strong competitor this entire season, so I’m not going to let being on the bottom of the last challenge shake me. @I’m going to win this and prove that my Montenegrin and Chinese dishes will reign supreme.

Victoria: Time’s up!
Amanda: @I step back, and I like my dish. @I notice that everyone else went with some Asian influences, and that might work in my favor.

Nate: @I tasted my sauce and it was delicious. @I think just for that sauce alone, I’m going to win immunity.

Victoria: Your guest judge is house critic and seafood king, Max Hudson!

Jo: @The last time Max was a judge, I won the challenge with my soft shell crab. @I think that I might be in luck today, since I know he likes my food.

Victoria and Max taste the dishes.

Victoria: So Max, how did they do?

Max: I can say that this is the strongest final five I’ve had to taste for. Eel is a tough ingredient, and everyone cooked it well and made strong dishes.

Rose: @That makes me very nervous, because I wanted an easy win.

Max: For my top three, let’s start with Jo. You prepared a beautiful bento in just 30 minutes. That needs to be commended because everything was delicious. Nate, your sauce was complex and elegant and I might pair all of my short ribs with eel from now on. Amanda, I just fell in love with your capitone fritto and like Nate, you showed me something I had never had before. Overall, the best dish was made by… Amanda.

Victoria: Congratulations, Amanda! You won the creativity challenge and you’re guaranteed a spot in the finale!

Amanda: @I can’t believe I won the eel challenge. @This is ridiculous! Thank you! @I’m so excited to win the challenge. @It’s just sinking in that I’m going to Japan and that I’m going to be in the final four!
Rose: @Amanda has been my biggest threat after Vin, and I expect us to be the final three. @There’s no way that we won’t be.

Victoria: And now for the elimination challenge! We want to see humility. So for your elimination challenge, you must prepare a dish inspired by your most embarrassing food-related moment in life. You have an hour, time starts now!

Nate: @When I was younger, I was a chubby kid. @I loved eating french fries, so I decide to go with that. @I’m making thrice cooked chips with stuffed pork chops. @I’m stuffing the pork chop with a bacon-mushroom bread pudding, and I’m making an apple ketchup to go with the fries and tie it all together. @I’ve done really well so far, and I really want to make it to the final four.

Amanda: @Most embarrassing food-related memory? @That’s a really specific requirement for this challenge. @For mine, I’m thinking about how when I had to get pied for a fundraiser, and that was definitely a “humble pie” moment. @I’m preparing a stewed rhubarb tart with blood orange meringue, and an elderflower-strawberry gelato. @I’m still determined to win this challenge, even though I have immunity, because I don’t want to lose steam. @The title is just a few challenges away, and I want to know that I can give my A-game at any given moment.

Jo: @Tomatoes are definitely something that stir up bad memories. @I have a really bad gag reflex to cherry tomatoes, and I decide that I’ll go with that. @I’m preparing a roasted tomato and shrimp pasta dish. @I’m making the noodles from scratch, the tomato sauce from scratch, and I’m going to grill up the shrimp as well. @I’m feeling great about the dish conceptually, but I’m slightly nervous, because I can’t taste the sauce without it triggering bad memories.

Vin: @Jo can’t even cook tomatoes. @How does he expect to be a Warrior Chef? @My most embarrassing food memory would be when I was on the beach and a coconut fell on my head. @I’m going to make a curry coconut and fish broth with fried mackerel heads to represent this moment. @I’m feeling great about the dish, and I think it’ll be my chance to shine and win this challenge.

Rose: @When I found out that I was lactose intolerant, that was a fun day. @I grab mozzarella cheese, and I’m going to inflate it into a balloon to represent… that. @I’m going to stuff the cheese balloon with a mushroom duxelle foam, and then I’m going to make a beef carpaccio to go underneath that, because I need to figure out how I can make all of these components go together. @I see what Jo is going, and I’m not too impressed. @At this stage in the competition, shrimp and pasta is boring.

Vin: @At this point, I think Jo might be the one going home. @His dish, Rose and I were talking about it, and neither of us are terribly impressed. @He’s definitely not going with us to Japan.

Nate: @I check on my pork chops, and they’re dry. Crap. @Stuffing them like that was a mistake. @I look at the time, and there’s only five minutes left. @I can’t re-do them. @I just have to roll with it, and hope somebody else made a bigger mistake.

Victoria: Time’s up!
Amanda: @I’m surprised I made the only dessert here. @I see that Vin made another curry, but he always manages to make each one with different things. @I honestly think that Vin might be the strongest cook here.

Rose: @I think my balloon is epic. @I’m confident that I’ll be going to Japan.

Victoria: Your judges are:

Erwin Ko

Aster Walker

Miriam Adjanti

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

-mozzarella balloon, mushroom duxelle, beef carpaccio

Miriam: I loved her carpaccio. The flavors she packed onto the beef was great and the exploding balloon was a clever touch.

Erwin: I get her inspiration and it was a bit.. unsettling, but she met the brief and delivered us a great dish.

Victoria: Next we have Jo’s dish!

-tomato and shrimp tagliatelle

Erwin: Jo’s always cooking comforting dishes, and this one was no different. The sauce was good and I liked the shrimp. But in terms of technical execution, he had an hour, and that’s all he produced.

Aster: The sauce was good, but it was not complex and he had a lot of time to develop his flavors. I’m feeling a bit underwhelmed. It wasn’t bad, but it’s forgettable.

Victoria: And next is Vin’s dish!

-curry coconut broth with fried mackerel head

Erwin: Wow. Just wow. The flavor in that broth was phenomenal. I just love how the heat builds up but just slowly fades. The crunchy mackerel head was delicious.

Miriam: I really loved the mackerel head. It was an unexpected surprise and I enjoyed biting into it. The curry was phenomenal, and I just wish that he had a grain to soak up the delicious broth he prepared.

Victoria: This dish was made by Nate!

-thrice cooked chips, stuffed pork chop, apple ketchup

Aster: The chips were cooked brilliantly, and I loved the ketchup. The pork chop, it was dry. I loved his take on pork and apples, and the deep fried and stuffed references, but I just had a hard time chewing on the chop.
Miriam: It was leathery and dry. I just did not like the texture of the pork whatsoever. He had the potential to make a wonderful dish, but the pork definitely let him down, and it was the focus on his plate.

Victoria: And finally, Amanda’s dessert.

-rhubarb tart, blood orange meringue, elderflower-strawberry gelato

Miriam: Amanda’s tart, the pastry was textbook and the rhubarb, stewed like that, it was phenomenal. I loved that. The blood orange meringue was fluffy and creamy, and the gelato had a wonderful flavor running through it.

Erwin: Out of everything I’ve tasted from Amanda, this was by far my favorite. She nailed every component of the tart and it was beautiful to look at. Her story was a clever choice, because it worked so well with her dish.

Victoria: So can we decide on our final four?

Aster: We can.

In walks Rose, Vin, and Amanda.
Victoria: The three of you…. are going to the finale, if that was not already made obvious by Amanda being here! Congratulations!

Rose: I knew it.

Vin: So did I.

Everyone laughs.

Erwin: Rose, your lactose intolerance story was hilarious and while it was a bit off-putting to hear that before eating, it tied into your dish really well. A bit too much, given the visual of a meat flower and brown stuff, but I loved it.

Rose: Well, as long as you guys liked it. That’s what matters to me.

Miriam: Vin, your curry had such deep, deep flavors, and I just really loved the texture of the fried mackerel head. I just loved your dish and your story about getting hit on the head with a coconut, you tied it into this really well.

Vin: Thank you for enjoying me getting hurt.

Aster: Amanda, your story was about being pied and having to eat humble pie. Your humble pie was delicious and it certainly was not just a simple pie. You nailed the textures and the flavors. It was gorgeous.

Amanda: Yay! @Being on top even though I had immunity means a lot. @I hope that I can win this challenge and seal back to back wins.

Victoria: Miriam, please announce the winner tonight.

Miriam: We had a hard time agreeing to a winner, but the best dish by a hair belonged to…. Amanda.

Victoria: Congratulations, Amanda! You swept the final round going into the finale! Well done, Vin, Rose, and Amanda. The three of you are safe and can stay to the side.

Amanda: @Winning back to back challenges is a great feeling. @I knew that I had what it took to get this far, and I made the finale!

Vin: @Amanda, Rose, and I are the top three. @One of us is going to be Warrior Chef. @It’s just a manner of who.

The top three stand off to the side as Nate and Jo walk in.

Victoria: Unfortunately, the two of you are on the bottom, and only one of you can join Rose, Vin, and Amanda in the finale in Japan.

Rose: Personally, I want Nate to join us. He’s cute, and I really like looking at him.

Everyone looks at Rose as she shrugs.
Rose: Just stating facts.

Vin: Honestly, I agree with Rose. I’d rather have Nate in the finale. Just because he’s been pretty consistent.

Nate: @Hearing them say that, it’s reassuring. @But it’s up the judges at this point.

Erwin: Nate, you had a great concept, but the pork was really dry. We loved your story and your other components, but the protein was not cooked well.

Miriam: Jo, you made a decent dish, but we did not like the story and your concept was not terribly inspired. You definitely played it safe.

Jo: I’d beg to differ. Shrimp and tomatoes, I don’t really eat either of them, and I think that it shows how much of a risk I’m willing to take, cooking things I can’t taste.

Amanda: @It seems like Jo is going to stay, because he did not make any real errors. @But it can really go either way.

Victoria: The person going through to the finale is…. Jo. Nate, I’m so sorry, but please return to the kitchen and leave.

Rose: F*ck. F*ck me in a bag. @Really? @Really. @Just no.

Erwin: There were just too many errors on that plate.

Jo: @I’m shocked. @I genuinely thought that I was going home. @This is tough. @I almost feel like I don’t belong in the finale at this point.

Nate: *to Vin, Rose, Amanda, and Jo* Good luck, you guys. @I’m feeling gutted. @I don’t think I deserve to be going home. @I’ve been super consistent and strong throughout the season, and instead I’m going home. @It sucks. @I knew that if I made it to Japan, I had a real shot at the title. @I think that Vin or Amanda will win this. @Both of them are really phenomenal cooks.

How it is: Conclusion

How it is is a story series that I wanted to do because it is based on college. As my final chapter of college comes to a close, I figured it would be a perfect way for me to transition into adulthood and forget about my student life.

Originally, the story was titled “Just The Way You Are” and was inspired by Koda Kumi’s song by the same name. The song encompassed the idea of self-loving and friendship, but the story I was writing sort of shifted away from that theme. Therefore, I changed the title towards the middle of writing it to “How it is”, a song by Kaskade, which is a fairly sad song, but it hit the nail on the head when it came to the story’s overarching theme of acceptance and how it is not always an easy road to traverse. In a lot of ways, this story shared themes with Road Movie, but I wanted this to be less romantic, and more platonic. I did not want any of the characters to be in relationships for that reason.

Tarou’s original name was Subaru, but I changed it mostly because I felt like Tarou sounded more humble, and that would be reflective on how Tarou was not always this suave and charming person outwardly. A lot of his personality traits were actually based off of several of mine, specifically ones that I was told to be ashamed of: being a “follower” and being really caring and protective of others specifically.

Valerie was originally named Melody, but I changed it simply because the name did not suit her personality. I feel like somebody named Melody would be artsy and soft-spoken, while somebody with a name like Valerie would be more direct and focused. Her hospitality and cooking background made her a much easier character for me to write for, compared to Tarou’s performing arts and Timmy’s computer engineering backgrounds, which I had to do some research on to better understand the curriculum.
Timmy was inspired by a couple people who actually mistreated me in the past. I have met a lot of Timmy Li’s in the past and while it is annoying that in real life, most of them never come around or have the balls to be confrontational, this is a story, so I figured I would end it on a happier note with Timmy coming around and accepting his mistakes, rather than running away from them like the person who inspired this character did.

The idea of doing three main characters was a bit of a challenge, and in retrospect, I do feel as if Timmy and Tarou were squished into one plot while Valerie had her own separate plot for the majority of the story. I struggled with balancing the three characters equally, and in the end, I feel like Timmy got the short end of the stick in terms of written-down character development. While the readers can tell that he changed his perspective, they don’t necessarily see how he began to come around, something I wish I could have done a better job at.

I was initially worried that there were too many cameos or nods to my other works; Valerie and Janice competed in my unpublished story series, Warrior Chef, while Logan Photography is an obvious nod to Dakota Logan from Road Movie. However, since I hardly mention the name of Tarou’s modeling agency and I never published the 30+ installments of Warrior Chef that I have written over the past 5 years, I figured it would be okay to include those.

How it is was a difficult story for me to write because a lot of these events were inspired by recent things that have happened to me, and I was questioning if I would be emotionally or mentally strong enough to write this. In the end, I decided to do it because it was a story I need to tell for my own mental health. Hopefully the story invokes hope and helps people understand that others may come off a certain way, but it is all in perspective. Open minds open doors, so to speak.

Warrior Chef 2: Round 6

Amanda: @The mood is definitely somber today. @Marisa was a good friend, and a great person in general, so seeing her go home was hard. @I know Talia and I are both taking it really badly.

Talia: @I just need to try my best from here on out. @Every time I cook, I need to know that I’m trying my best for myself, and for my friends.

Victoria: Hi, everyone! So for today’s creativity challenge, we want to see what you guys can do with… chicken and waffles. The winner of this challenge will not receive immunity, but they will have a huge advantage going into the next elimination. You have just 30 minutes, and your time starts now!

Rose: @I don’t eat chicken and waffles. @That’s… not really my kind of food. @For my dish tonight, I’m preparing chicken liver pate with a celery-pepper slaw and an orange and tahini waffle. @I think that doing pate instead of fried chicken, it will be something more in my wheelhouse.

Vin: @For my dish tonight, I’m going to make a grilled chicken with waffle fritters and a curry infused barbecue sauce. @I’m taking a risk combining the curry with barbecue, but I think that the smokiness and sweetness will work well with the spices. @The waffle fritters, I’m going to deep fry cornmeal batter, then press it in a waffle iron to finish it.

Nate: @Right now, I’d say that Vin, Rose, and Amanda are the three strongest cooks here. @I want to knock them out, one by one. @I’m preparing a blanched partridge with scallion waffle and a sweetened soy syrup. @I’m going to blend dim sum with chicken and waffles, and that’s going to be my innovation.

Amanda: @Nate’s doing Chinese fusion, and I think that’s pretty cool. @I have to think back to my own French roots, and dig up something from there. @I love using garlic, and I decide to prepare a garlic and chicken liver mousse with a honey infused crepe and some crispy chicken skin to garnish. @I’m worried because I’m up against Rose, who is also making a pate type of thing, but I just have to make mine better.

Jo: @For my dish tonight, I’m going to prepare chicken stuffed waffles. @I’m making a farce and then I’m going to put that in the batter when I griddle it. @I’m serving that with a spicy mango-pineapple chutney, because I want there to be lots of flavors that will help the chicken taste like something.

Talia: @If I lose a chicken and waffle challenge, I’m going to be pissed. @This is my chance to show that I can make a winner out of this kind of dish. @I’m making waffle battered chicken skewers with a spicy maple-tomato relish. @I know that Vin is doing a waffle-fritter too, but mine is going to be better, because I’m using buttermilk in my batter, as well as beer, just to make it super light and crispy.

Victoria: Time’s up!

Amanda: @I can see that my dish is too simple. @I think that Rose’s dish, compared to mine, it’s gorgeous. @I’m really jealous of her concept right now.

Rose: @Amanda clearly tried to copy me and it failed. @She’s not going to ever beat me in this competition.

Victoria: Your judge is Warrior Chef house critic, Kierra Johnston!
Kierra: Hi, guys! I love seeing classics revamped and in food journalism, you’re always looking for innovative dishes. I’m looking forward to trying your new takes on such an iconic part of southern comfort food.

Kierra and Victoria taste the dishes.

Victoria: So Kierra, how did they do?

Kierra: Overall, nobody produced a bad dish. I thought that three of you were just slightly more creative. Rose, the pate was clever and delicious, and I thought the way you embraced that waffle, and used tahini and orange, it was brilliant. Talia, you battered the chicken in waffles, and I’ve never seen deep fried skewers like that before. Your relish was brilliant too. I just couldn’t get enough. Jo, the chutney, I could bottle that. The idea to stuff the farce into a waffle was hilarious, and I just loved that you really went for it in this challenge.

Jo: @Honestly, it felt more like she was laughing at my dish rather than laughing with it. @But I still have a one in three shot here.

Victoria: Kierra, who won?

Kierra: Three great dishes, but the best one definitely belonged to… Talia!

Victoria: Congratulations, Talia! For winning this, you will receive a huge advantage going into the elimination challenge!

Talia: @I almost won a challenge making chicken and waffles, so if I did not win this challenge, then I would be disappointed. @I got my redemption on this and getting that huge advantage in the next challenge rocks!

Victoria: So now for the elimination challenge! In teams of two, you will prepare a dish fit for royalty. Talia, this is where your advantage kicks in. You get to decide the pairs.

Talia: Crap. @Honestly, everyone here is really strong, and we have all won at least one challenge. @I have to think about the personalities, because from a cooking-skills perspective, we are all dead even. *to Victoria* Is this a double elimination?

Victoria: No, the weaker performer on the weakest team deemed by the judges will be sent home.

Talia: Oh okay then. For myself, I’m going to pick… Rose. @It was honestly between her or Amanda, but I think Rose has had more successes in team challenges, and it makes more sense.

Rose: Awesome. @Talia’s been really inconsistent this season. @She’s had highs and lows, and I don’t like the fact that I can’t fully trust my own partner.

Talia: Amanda, I will pair you with… Nate. @I think Nate’s a strong team player, and I want Amanda to stay in the competition. @By not putting me and Amanda on the same team, I am lowering the odds that one of us is going home.

Amanda: @I’m happy working with Nate, but slightly surprised that Talia did not want to work with me. @I’m sure she had a good reason for it.

Nate: @Amanda is strong, so am I. @I think we are going to be a great team. @Bring it on. @I’m already thinking about what kinds of royal dishes we can make.

Victoria: And that means, Vin and Jo, you two are together!

Talia: @Vin’s strong, Jo’s relatively strong, but I’m hoping Jo’s immaturity will sink their team and send Vin packing. @I want Vin out of the competition, because I think he’s probably the biggest threat.

Vin: @I’m stoked to be working with Jo, because he is consistently strong. @I don’t think there was really any strategic choices that Talia can make given how strong the six of our were, but I’m interested in seeing how this challenge will play out.

Jo: @I’m not quite sure what the logic was here, but I’m hoping that I’m going to win the challenge with Vin. @That’s be great!

Victoria: You have just 45 minutes, and your time starts now!

Rose: @I want to prepare breakfast in bed, and I want it to be purple to fit the idea of royalty. @I’m making ube infused Japanese hotcakes with birch syrup and a creme fraiche sorbet. @I’m going to nail this challenge because that’s what I always do.

Talia: @Rose’s idea is awesome and I’m going to help her execute the syrup and the creme fraiche sorbet. @I’m feeling good about our team and our concept. @I see the other dishes and I’m not too worried. @I think we’ll win this.

Vin: @It’s a dish fit for a king. @Jo and I only have 45 minutes, and that means we can’t do some sort of extravagant whole roasted animal. @We are going to prepare a roasted lamb rack with fondant parsnips, a mint-spring pea chutney, and a port jus.

Jo: @I’m going to handle frenching and cooking the rack while Vin does the chutney and the parsnips. @I think that our dish has the potential to really wow the judges, but I think it also comes down to what the judges taste from the other teams. @I think that this final six, it’s one of the strongest final sixes in Warrior Chef.

Amanda: @Nate’s Chinese and I’m French, and we both love cooking with duck. @So we are going to make a quick duck confit with a savory coconut flan, five-spice and orange butter, crispy duck breast, and duck fat vinaigrette with escarole.

Nate: @I’m handling the duck butchery and the butter sauce. @Amanda got the confit going ASAP and she’s working on the flan while I start rendering off the duck fat. @I’m feeling good about our dish.

Vin: @I see that Amanda and Nate are doing duck two ways, and I realize that we need to step up our game as well. @So I grab the pressure cooker. @I’m going to confit the lamb breasts and add that onto our plate.

Jo: @Vin’s adding a new component to our dish, and I’m worried we have a lot going on, but at the same time, I’m more focused on tasting everything just to make sure it all goes together. @I see that Talia and Rose are going with a breakfast theme, and it’s… not really what I’d do personally.

Rose: @I check the hotcakes, and they are fluffy. @I added in three egg whites, whipped stiff, and that did the trick. @Talia’s syrup tastes great, and I know that we are going to demolish the competition.
Jo: @I realize what our dish is missing. @So I run to the fridge, and I found them! @Black truffles. @I’m going to shave these over the parsnips to add more flavor. @I’m also making sure to hide them from Nate and Amanda, because I don’t want them to use any truffles on their plate.

Vin: @I see that Jo has a lot of truffles, and he’s hoarding them. *to Jo* Did you take all of them?

Jo: Yeah.

Vin: Okay, that’s not cool. *Grabs two of the five truffles* Nate, catch!

Nate: @Vin throws this black blob at me and I catch it. @It’s a truffle. @We don’t really need them in our dish, but it was a nice thing for him to do.

Vin: Talia, here!

Talia: @I don’t need truffles, because we are making a dessert, but that was nice of him to think of us.

Vin: *to Jo* I get the need to win, but you don’t screw over people like that.

Jo: @I feel like crap right now. @I don’t even know who I’m supposed to apologize to in this situation. @It’s just embarrassing.

Victoria: Time’s up!

Vin: @I’m feeling great about the dish, but I know Jo feels bad about the whole truffle-hogging situation. @It’s definitely awkward.

Victoria: Your judges are:

Aster Walker

Miriam Adjanti

Erwin Ko

Victoria: Let’s start with the dish by Rose and Talia!

-ube infused Japanese hotcakes with birch syrup and creme fraiche sorbet

Aster: The hotcakes were fluffy and I get that the purple color represented royalty. I felt that the sorbet in this case, it didn’t work with the dish. It was a cold sorbet on warm pancakes, and you get this mess on a plate.

Miriam: I agree about the sorbet. It just melted by the time it got to us, and with the syrup, it was too sweet and overall, this dish felt juvenile. It had the potential to be good, but it just veered off too much with the syrup and sorbet.

Victoria: And now we have Vin and Jo’s dish!

-roasted lamb rack, confit, truffled fondant parsnips, mint-spring pea chutney, port jus

Erwin: This… was phenomenal. The confit, I was impressed that they got the lamb shoulder so tender. The flavor of the rack was great and the parsnips and chutney and port all worked together so nicely.

Miriam: They thought through every component of the dish and I’m just in love the nuances. The mint chutney had spices in it that worked with the lamb, the truffle in the parsnip worked, and I’m surprised that it all worked together.

Victoria: And finally, we have Amanda and Nate’s dish!

-duck confit and breast, coconut flan, five spice-orange butter, vinaigrette, escarole

Aster: The duck confit was not as cooked as it should have been. But I loved the breast and the coconut flan a lot. The butter worked, but I wanted less oil on the plate. There was a lot of fat on the dish.

Erwin: I felt like there were hits and misses on the dish. I liked almost every component except for the confit. But the best thing on that dish was the escarole in the duck fat vinaigrette with crispy duck skin. That, I could eat every day for every meal. As a dish fit for royalty, they definitely plated an extravagant concept, just with mistakes throughout.

Victoria: So can we decide on which team won and which dish was on the bottom?

Erwin: Yes.

In walks Vin and Jo.
Victoria: Tonight… the two of you won the elimination challenge! Congratulations!

Vin: @I finally won another elimination challenge and it feels great! @Knowing that I could win something this far into the competition shows that I am a consistently strong cook. @This rocks!

Jo: @This is my third elimination win and fourth win overall. @I’m really proud of myself for getting this far in the competition, but I know that the finale is close.

Vin and Jo leave.

In walks Rose and Talia.

Victoria: Unfortunately, the two of you are on the bottom with the weakest dish, and one of you is going home tonight.

Talia: @This sucks so badly. @How did my advantage go to shit?

Miriam: Who prepared what?

Rose: I did the hotcakes.
Talia: I prepared the sorbet and the syrup.

Erwin: Well, that makes this easy. Victoria?
Victoria: Talia, please return to the kitchen and leave.

Talia: Alright. @I’m really pissed that I’m going home next @I expected to win the competition and it just didn’t play out that way for me. @I’m feeling angry and robbed. @I deserved to go much further in the competition.

Talia leaves.

Erwin: It was an obvious decision. Rose, you prepared beautiful pancakes. It just came down to Talia’s components hindering them.

Rose: Alright.

How it is: Chapter 25

“It feels weird to be done already.” Tarou sighed, as he was putting away his things into boxes. Out of everyone, he finished his finals first, being done by the second day of finals. Valerie was finishing the day after tomorrow, and Timmy finished on the last day. Because he was spending the entire summer in Japan, he wanted to go back home to Queens to spend time with his family before heading out, so he was moving out earlier. “Wait, what’s this?” Tarou felt his phone vibrate. It was another email. “Wait, the program… oh shit.” He frowned. He misread the email. His offer was not just for the summer. It was from this summer until the following summer: he would be in Japan for an entire year. “Oh crap.” Hastily, he looked through the documents. He had already submitted his compliance for this. “Well, this is awkward.” He sighed. “Uh….” Thinking it over, the model decided he needed to commit to this. He could come back to school whenever, but working for Vogue, this could honestly propel his career to greater heights than he could have ever imagined. Tarou Shimizu, international supermodel, it was starting to sound increasingly like a possibility. Grabbing a pen and paper, he wrote a goodbye note to Timmy and Valerie. “Bye, guys.” He whispered, heading out.

“Ugh. He what now?” Valerie read Timmy’s text. She had finished her finals and finally turned back on her phone. Tarou was leaving for Japan for the next two years. That was the gist of what Timmy had said in his message to her. “Oh… well shit.” She whispered to herself. Unlike Tarou or Timmy, she was not going back to Queens at all after school. She was heading straight to compete on Warrior Chef: All Stars. Packing up her things, the Singaporean girl smiled to herself. It felt bittersweet to be leaving, but at the same time, this was her chance to do things right. “Redemption, here I come, hopefully.” She was ready to dive into the great unknown and finally be crowned Warrior Chef. “I’m ready to do right by everyone who has ever helped me get this far.” She smiled, putting her boxes into the moving van. Grabbing her suitcase and knife bag, she got into the taxi. “Where to” The driver looked over his chair at her. “JFK , please.” She smiled. “You got it, little lady.” And with that, Valerie left campus. Freshman year was on the lonelier side in terms of school friends, but the work friends she made were irreplaceable. Janice, I’m going to do my best to make you proud of me. Valerie smiled.

“It feels so empty.” Timmy yawned, finally returning to his room. He had finished his last final at this point. There was a sense of awkwardness, seeing Tarou’s emptied half of the room. It almost reminded him of their conflict. “No, it’s all in the past. We’re friends again.” The Taiwanese boy reassured himself, referring to the note the model had left for him. “Now, it’s time to get everything packed.” Timmy was going to be staying at an off-campus apartment during the summer, so he needed to first move all of his things into the apartment. Then he was going to spend some time at home before summer school begins. They were each going their own separate ways, yet Timmy did not feel sad. He felt excited about the opportunities still to come. Just because a couple doors closed does not mean that the entire world closed him off. ACU and TASA might have dropped him as an officer, but that does not mean it is the end of his college life. There were still many people yet to be met. To be befriended. Timmy, for the first time since he stepped foot into NYU, could not help but feel excited.

Arriving at the hotel where the All Stars contestants would be staying, Valerie got another text. It was a delayed message, an image of exactly what Tarou had written. Reading through it, the girl could not help but begin crying. “Oh, Tarou. Timmy. I’m going to win this for both of you. I swear on it.” She fought to not sob. “Oh, so this is our competition? Nice to meet you, newbie.” Valerie turned around, and saw the first of her competitors for the new season. “I’m sorry you have to see me this way. I swear, I’m not a big baby.” She insisted, wiping away the tears that had formed around her eyes. At the same time, Tarou was boarding his plane to Japan at the John F. Kennedy Airport. “Next stop, Narita Airport. Tokyo, here I come.” He whispered to himself, excitedly. Even though he was seated in the middle seat, the Japanese boy did not mind. He was too eager about what awaited him on the other side. He did not know what the future had in store for him. But the chance to become an internationally recognized model, that was incredible. Timmy was currently riding the bus on his way back to Queens. He was sitting alone, at the window seat, watching the city melt into the distance. In his hand, held tightly, was the paper Tarou had left for him. The Taiwanese boy was rereading it one last time before putting it away for good. The Taiwanese boy did not like to cry, but how could he not at what his best friend, the aspiring international model had written?
“Even when I was a fat, chubby little midget, I still had the two of you in my life. I am the person I am because of the friends I made, especially the two of you. Timmy, you’re going to be the best man at my wedding, whether you like it or not. We are more than just brothers, and nothing will ever change that. Valerie, your desserts always bring a smile to my face, but they also bring a smile to everyone around you. You will be successful in your future, because nobody can stop you at being yourself, and you are amazing. You guys mean the world to me, but I think we can all learn to be less sensitive about the little things. We don’t need to over think or overanalyze whenever somebody is acting weirdly or in an off-putting manner. If we have problems, we need to speak them and find ways to sort them out. And we shouldn’t worry about growing apart. Just because we are doing different things, and we do not know the next time we will see each other, we should not be sad or hung up about it. We can let things play out as they are, and roll with them. We’re simply living life. That’s how it is.”

-Tarou Shimizu

Warrior Chef 2: Round 5

Marisa: @We’re down to seven now, and I’m feeling really bad. @I keep scrapping by in the elimination challenges now, and it makes me feel uneasy. @I’m supposed to be in this competition to win the title for my mother! @I can’t keep dropping the ball here.

Talia: @Amanda, Marisa, and I have been doing alright in the season so far, and I’d love to think that one of us is going to be Warrior Chef. @But Vin and Rose are the power couple of this season and they’re going to be hard to take down.

Rose: @I’m not happy coming in second all the time. @I want to prove that I can come in first. @I sense it tonight. @I’m going to win. @I have to win.

Victoria: Hi, everyone! So for today’s creativity challenge, we want to see you guys make savory dishes out of coffee and cream! 25 minutes on the clock, starting now!

Vin: @I decide right away I want to prepare a coffee infused crepe with homemade sour cream, caramelized leeks, and pancetta-sauteed mushrooms. @I want to make sure that I can get the cream made in time, so I’m going to sous-vied the buttermilk with the cream and let that culture in the water bath. @I’m taking a risk here, creating my own sour cream, but if it pays off, then I’m going to win the challenge for sure. @I love eatings crepes and after seeing Amanda take out the win in the last creativity challenge with one, it’s my turn to show that I can make them better than she can.

Rose: @Vin is doing a sous-vied dish, and I’m thinking about what I can do to really show off. @I’m going to do a coffee crusted snapper sashimi with an olive oil and spring pea ice cream. @I’m going way out of the box on this one, because I know how to make this dish work. @I’ve won challenges in the past with my ice creams, so why not again? @This time, I’m using liquid nitrogen and a stand mixer, because I don’t want to add too much sugar into the ice cream base. @Additionally, I’m breaking down the fish by hand and curing it in salt and coffee before I slice it. @Have I done this before? @No. @But I’m here to prove that I’m the head bitch in charge, so I’m going to establish that I am. @We have four girls running around the kitchen, and I’m the strongest one.

Amanda: @For this challenge, I’m going to make coffee infused pasta with a ground beef ragout, which I’m going to finish with an herb scented cream. @I’m grinding up my own beef from scratch, because I want there to be a nice 85:15 meat to fat ratio. @In the last challenge, my pasta was well-received, so I’m going to do another pasta this time, but infusing the dough with coffee to make it have a nicer elasticity and flavor. @Rose looks like she wants to kill somebody. @She keeps coming in second place, and it must be rough on her.

Talia: @Amanda is taking a risk, but I’m going to do something I know how to handle. @It’ll be a coffee crusted steak with creamy mashed potatoes and roasted carrots in garlic and anchovies. @I’m taking the risk of pairing anchovies with coffee, but if it works, then I’m going to win immunity tonight. @I know I can cook a steak and mash potatoes, so that won’t be the major issue tonight. @Hopefully my dish is going to be so well-received that it’ll just blow the judge out of the water.

Jo: @I’m really nervous because I don’t like coffee, and I don’t like cream. @Put the two together, and I’m very unhappy. @I’m making coffee crusted salmon with creamy potato mash. @I’m not good with this kind of challenge, because I’m not really inspired by the ingredients and we only have 25 minutes. @But I’m hoping breaking down the salmon will earn me back some extra points here.

Nate: @I’m stoked to have coffee, because I’m from Boston. @They don’t just call us Beantown for no reason. @I’m making a savory coffee churro with an anchovy cream vinaigrette, mache, baby kale, and charred gem romaine with shallots. @It’s a panzanella basically. @I’m excited because I think that this combination will work in my favor. @I’m doing the churro inspired by a Chinese dish, and it’ll just be blending together cultures into something almost entirely new.

Marisa: @Nate is doing some weird churro salad, and I’m just thinking about what I can pair the coffee with. @I decide on a coffee and pancetta risotto with raclette cheese to finish it. @I’m also finishing it with some heavy cream, just to incorporate the ingredient. @I’m worried about the dish holding up, because risotto is temperamental, and on top of that, I just don’t want my risotto to be very muddled between the cream, coffee, and cheese. @I’m a lot of ingredients in there.

Victoria: Time’s up!

Nate: @I’m looking at my dish and I know I nailed this one. @Give me immunity, already. @I earned it.

Victoria: Your judge for this challenge is food critic Kierra Johnson!
Kierra: Hi, everyone! I’m excited to see what you all have planned with such a classic combination. This is going to be a fun challenge to judge.

Talia: @She’s from the Midwest, and so am I. @I really want to impress her tonight. @That would be a dream come true for me.

Kierra and Victoria taste the dishes.
Victoria: So Kierra, how did they do?

Kierra: Overall, no bad dishes tonight. I did have a top three, however. Nate, the panzanella with coffee churro was clever and the cream in the vinaigrette was definitely a unique touch. Vin, the crepe was delicious and I loved the leek and creme fraiche. And Rose. The combination of peas, cream, coffee, and fish, it was not something I expected to work. But you converted me on that. I was blown away.

Rose: @I think it’s between me and Vin for who won this one. @Nate made an interesting salad, but it’s a salad. @Vin and I both pushed the envelop.

Kierra: And the best dish was made by…. Rose.

Victoria: Congratulations, Rose! You won immunity going into tonight’s elimination!

Rose: Thank you. @I knew it. @I knew I was the winner. @If they said I wasn’t, then I’d be shocked. @I pushed myself so hard.

Nate: @Rose is strong competition, so I want her out. @But maybe next round, since she’s got immunity tonight. @Damn it.

Victoria: And now for the elimination challenge!

A knife block is placed in front of the cooks.

Victoria: Everyone, please draw knives!

Rose – vegan

Vin – carb-free

Nate – lactose-free

Amanda – vegan

Marisa – lactose-free

Talia – carb-free

Jo – vegan

Victoria: So for this challenge, you’ll have to either prepare a vegan appetizer, carb-free main, or lactose-free dessert.

Marisa: @I have to prepare a lactose-free dessert. @This will be interesting. @I’m trying to think of what I can prepare without any dairy.

Rose: @Vegan? @No thanks. @I’m cashing in my immunity. @I don’t even care. @I’ll watch you guys suffer while I just laugh.

Victoria: 45 minutes on the clock, starting now!

Nate: @I have to prepare a lactose-free dessert. @I’ve got this one in the bag. @I’m Chinese! @I’m making an almond milk panna cotta, inspired by almond jelly, with lychee-coconut sorbet and some caramelized pineapples sprinkled with black sesame seeds for crunch. @I’m confident that this is going to be my first elimination win.

Vin: @I have carb-free main. @That kind of sucks, because I can’t use rice. @I decide to prepare a curried pork chop with a fennel and orange salad and raisin chutney. @I’m hoping that the raisin chutney will make my dish substantial, without there needing to be a carb on the plate.

Amanda: @I have to make a vegan appetizer. @I immediately think about making gazpacho. @I’m going to prepare a green grape, marcona almond, and shallot gazpacho. @I’m going to use the liquid nitrogen to chill it down. @I need to keep taking chances here, because that’s how I’ll improve as a cook in this competition.

Marisa: @Lactose-free dessert. @Crap. @That means no dairy. @Almost every dessert I can think of making, it needs butter or milk or cream. @I decide to make an olive oil and meyer lemon cake with a fresh fruit salad and some coconut milk foam. @I’m going to use the canister to help froth up coconut milk for a creamy finish.

Jo: @Vegan appetizer. @That’s rough. @I’m making mushroom dumplings with grilled Chinese broccoli and edamame salad. @I’m hoping that what I lack in meat, I can make up for with the flavors of the vegetable and developing those.

Talia: @Carb-free entree. @No pasta, no pancakes, no waffles, no love. @I’m not excited about this. @I decide to make a pine nut “rice” in place of normal rice. @From there, I’m going to prepare a jambalaya with pine nut “rice.” @I know that the texture will be there, so it’s going to come down to the flavors.

Rose: @I’m not going to try tonight. @I have immunity and I’d rather just relax and not think about the challenge. @I’m going to make myself some Eggs Benedict, because I’d want to eat that in honor of Duke getting sent home. @Show the world a proper hollandaise sauce, aka one without olive oil.

Victoria: Time’s up!
Marisa: @I see my foam is separating on the plate and I’m feeling bad about the dish. @I might be going home tonight.

Victoria: Your judges are:

Erwin Ko

Aster Walker

Miriam Adjnati

Victoria: Let’s start with the vegan appetizers!

Rose – none

Amanda – green grape gazpacho

Jo – mushroom dumplings with edamame salad

Erwin: I’m disappointed that Rose did not put up a dish. She had immunity, and she basically tossed it away.

Aster: Amanda’s gazpacho was delicious and I loved the flavor and texture she achieved. I forgot it was vegan. The marcona almonds helped with the texture.

Miriam: Jo’s dumplings were nice and I really enjoyed those. But the salad he served on the side, it was bland and the Chinese broccoli was raw and unpleasant.

Victoria: Now the carb-free entrees!

Vin – curried pork chop, raisin chutney, fennel salad

Talia – jambalaya with pine nut rice

Erwin: Vin’s pork was cooked immaculately. It was succulent, juicy, and it glistened. The curry spices he used worked really well. I loved the chutney, which was sweet and tangy, and the fennel had a wonderful texture.

Miriam: I liked where Talia was going and using the pine nuts in place of rice was ingenious. But the flavor of the jambalaya was bland. No heat, hardly any salt. She could have made a good dish, but she dropped the ball.

Victoria: And finally, our lactose-free desserts!

Marisa – meyer lemon-olive oil cake, fresh fruit salad, coconut foam

Nate – almond panna cotta, lychee-coconut sorbet, caramelized sesame pineapples

Aster: The cake was moist and I loved the flavor of that cake. But the rest of the dish was haphazardly plated. The salad was not really dressed or cut properly, and the foam was split and you could taste something oily about it that ruins the rest of the dessert.

Erwin: Nate’s panna cotta was delicious and I loved the sorbet he topped it with. The caramelized pineapple on its own with the black sesame was my favorite bite of the whole day.

Victoria: So can we decide on who won the challenge, and who’s going home?

Miriam: Yes.

In walks Vin, Nate, and Amanda.
Victoria: The three of you impressed the judges, and tonight, one of you won the elimination challenge!

Vin: @I’m feeling like it’s my time. @I’ve got to win this one. @My dish tasted really good and that chutney was bomb.

Nate: @I’m on top with Amanda and Vin, who keep taking all the wins. @I need to snag one. @This is my time. @I swear upon it.

Amanda: @I’m stoked to be on top with my gazpacho. @I knew it was the right choice and the judges agreed!

Victoria: Aster, who is our winner?

Aster: We all loved your dishes, but the best one was made by…. Nate!

Victoria: Congratulations, Nate! You won the elimination challenge!
Nate: Thank you! @I’m excited that I won the challenge and beat Amanda and Vin. @I knew I had it in me.

The top three leave.

In walks Marisa and Talia.

Victoria: Unfortunately, one of you is going home tonight.

Marisa: @Hearing that it’s between the two of us, it’s not easy. I don’t want her to go home, but her leaving means me staying.

Miriam: If we could, we would have eliminated Rose for doing nothing, but she had immunity. Marisa, the coconut foam ruined your dessert. Talia, the dish was bland and underwhelming. It was a tough decision.

Victoria: Marisa, please return to the kitchen and leave.
Maria: *to Talia* Good luck, okay? Make it to the finale for me. @I’m feeling horrible about being eliminated. @I thought I made the most of the challenge and that I tried my best. @But my best was not enough and it sucks to hear that.

Talia: @Seeing her go is rough. @She’s one of my closest friends and I did not think saying goodbye to her would be this hard. *tears up*

How it is: Chapter 24

“Last push! We’re almost done! This is the final ticket, everyone!” Janice chanted. “Yes, chef!” Mako rushed the black cod to the pass. “Behind, behind!” “Chef, I’m following with the garnish!” Jackie shouted, holding a small pan with hen-of-the-woods mushrooms. “Okay, service please!” Janice handed the completed dishes off to the services. “Yes! Last ticket! Can we start breaking down our station, chef?” Jackie looked at her, eagerly. “Yeah, go for it!” She smiled as the line cooks started cleaning up. What sucked about being on pastry was that Valerie had to wait for all of the savory dishes to be sent up before she could even start plating her own desserts. So she had to watch the other cooks clean up while her pastry team awaited the tickets. “Okay, so we have three panna cottas, one black forest, followed by two chiffon cakes and three rhubarb doughnuts.” She began listing off the dessert orders after what felt like an eternity to the pastry cooks. The wait was at first annoying for Valerie, but she eventually got used to it. “Alright, let’s go team!” It was her last service as executive pastry chef before she had to take her leave of absence for Warrior Chef: All Stars. She wanted this last service to end with a bang. “Yes, chef!” Megan and Daphne chanted.

“I like how your best service ever was also your last.” Janice laughed. She was proud of how far Valerie had come under her wing. “Thanks, chef.” Valerie beamed. It was bittersweet, leaving the restaurant. “We also have something for you!” Megan, Joseph, and Daphne walked into the walk-in pantry. “Close your eyes, okay?” Jackie laughed. “It’s going to be a surprise.” Mako teased. “Here it is!” The three chefs walked back out, carrying a large cake. “Holy crap!” Valerie was taken aback. She was expecting a good-bye gift of some kind, but she did not think it was going to be an entire multitiered layer cake. “When? How? What?” She never once saw that cake in the kitchen. When did anyone have time to make or even store it?” “We had it stored in Janice’s fridge in her office, originally. But then we moved it into the pantry when you weren’t looking.” Joseph laughed. “Congratulations, kiddo. You’re going to kick some major ass on Warrior Chef. Bring it home for us, okay?” “Will do!” She was almost crying at this point. “Come on, now is not a sad time! Let’s all eat some cake and celebrate!” Janice began pouring champagne into the wine flutes. “Wait, I’m underaged-” “It’s only to toast. Besides, you’re a college student. Live a little!” Jackie chuckled. “To Valerie! May your future in our industry be a bright one!” They all clinked glasses. The team at Wish has been like a family to her. Valerie, trying her best not to cry, drank the bubbly white wine, ignoring the slight burn of the alcohol.

Meanwhile, Tarou and Timmy were in the library, studying for their final exams. The school year was wrapping up and that meant that they had to sit down and begin memorizing every little detail from each lecture and powerpoint that the school provided them. Somehow, both of them were doing well in school, despite all of the external drama in their lives, but that did not mean that they could slack off now. “Finals, finals, fucking finals.” Tarou rolled his eyes. This was only the second “college finals” season he was experiencing, and like with his first time in the fall, it was just as unpleasant. Last semester, Tarou and Timmy had to pull all-nighters to land on the Dean’s List, and because of how little of a focus school had been for both of them this semester, it felt that much more daunting for them to study and perform consistently regardless. Realistically, it was the stress affect both boys. But they both knew once their finals were behind them, that was one less thing that either of them would have to worry about.

“It feels like it’s been forever that the three of us were studying together.” Nate sighed. He was with Timmy and Jeffrey, in a classroom that they rented out to continue studying. It was the next day, and finals were just two days away at this point. “But yeah, how have you been doing?” “I’ve been good.” Timmy smiled. “I heard about all of that Asian community drama from Gary.” Jeffrey frowned. The two of them were in the same fraternity. “Are you okay?” “Yeah, it’s all good now. It sucks that I’m no longer on e-board for any clubs, but at the same time, I have time to focus on my academics and myself.” He smiled. “That’s a great way to think. Also, Vincent was telling me the other day. You haven’t really been volunteering lately, have you?” Nate pointed out. Nate was double majoring in computer engineering and business, so he had classes with Timmy, Jeffrey, and Vincent. “Oh, shoot, you’re right.” Timmy gasped. He had completely forgotten about Y.E.S. Between all of his personal drama and ACU, he lost touch of the things he was genuinely passionate about: helping others. “Well, I’m here all summer, so I’m definitely going to volunteer there more often.” Timmy chuckled. “I’ll be sure to let Vincent know. I didn’t realize that he missed me.” The Taiwanese boy joked. “Yeah, say it exactly like that to him. I’m sure he’ll be real happy.” Nate rolled his eyes.

“Alexa, how do you feel about Lodging?” Valerie was referring to the course the two of them were currently enrolled in. “I’m thinking we’re fucked, but that’s just me.” A slim African American girl laughed. She was one of Valerie’s few friends at NYU. They were currently studying for Lodging, but had no idea how to study for it because the professor had been not teaching the correct material for the entire semester; rather than talking about hotels, he instead focused on architecture and hotel design, despite testing them on hotel terminology, making the class unusually difficult. “Well, I’m sure you’ve got this. Ms. Valedictorian.” The Singaporean girl poked fun at her. Alexa currently had the highest GPA out of anyone in the hospitality school, and one of the top five highest overall at NYU. “This is what I love about having smart friends. You make me want to get smarter so that I’m not the dead weight in this friendship.” Valerie laughed. “Oh, shut up. You’re great company.” Alexa insisted, beaming. “Everyone in Hospitality tends to be fake. You’re the most real person in this school.” “Aw, thanks, boo.” Valerie chuckled. Being around Alexa was fun, because despite her intellect, she was good company to have around between her great humor and love of baking.

“Tarou, can you read that book a little slower? I want to take pictures.” Sarah looked at the model, holding up her phone. “Uh… I’m trying to study.” The model pointed out. “Sh! You look so cute like that! Hold that face for me, please?” The Japanese male just rolled his eyes at the remark. Finals season was going to suck if it was going to be this unproductive. He was with Enya, Sarah, and Melissa at the performing arts library. And naturally, the three girls were busy fawning over the model and not taking their studies seriously. “How is it that the three of you made it on Dean’s List last semester like this?” He sighed. “It’s because we actually pay attention in class. Work hard, party harder.” Enya grinned cockily. “Yeah, you just need to spend more time with us, and understand our ways.” Melissa eyed Tarou, who rolled his eyes.

Warrior Chef 2: Round 4

Marisa: @I’m walking into the creativity challenge feeling hopeful. @I’ve been on top of the creativity challenges, and if I can earn immunity, then I can breathe easier in these elimination challenges.

Rose: @Right now, the competition is pretty divided. @I want to prove that I am a strong enough competitor to win the title.

Vin: @Rose and I have been consistent with the elimination challenges in that we keep kicking major ass. @I think that she and I will make it to the end. @No question.

Victoria: Hi, everyone! For today’s creativity challenge, we want you guys to prepare the perfect dish using… eggs!

Marisa: Ah, yeah!

Amanda: *to Talia and Marisa* What are the odds?! @This is great. @I’m shaking because I just want to get into the kitchen and start cooking.

Talia: @Amanda, Marisa, and I all love brunch, so we’re excited. @One of us better take out the win tonight, because we all know how to make delicious brunch dishes.

Nate: @I hear that eggs are the theme and I’m stoked. @I know how to make a delicious egg dish. @I want immunity again, because sitting out of the last challenge was hilarious.

Victoria: You have just 30 minutes, starting now!

Marisa: @There are eight people left and that makes me nervous. @For my dish tonight, I decide to prepare a sabayon with floating islands. @It literally takes the two best components of an egg and puts them on the center stage.

Amanda: @I’m making a crepe stuffed with a poached egg, topped with crispy prosciutto, and then roasted mushrooms. @I think that the dish shows good techniques and a range of textures.

Talia: @I’m making shakshuka. @I love shakshuka and it’s the perfect egg dish. @I don’t want to take the easy way out and make an egg based dessert, because it’s so obvious. @I want to feature the eggs in a way nobody would expect, and that’s in spicy tomatoes with herbs.

Nate: @I’m making a savory steamed Chinese custard with ground minced pork and because I don’t have time to make rice, I’m going to make orzo instead. @I’m going to heavily season the minced pork with spices just to give it a nice kick.

Jo: @Nate’s making a steamed Chinese custard and I know I can’t do that for my dish or else we’d get compared. @To be honest, creativity challenges aren’t my biggest strength. @I do a lot better with the eliminations. @For this dish, I’m making a quail egg shuu mai dumpling. @I think it’ll show a lot of ambition.

Vin: @Jo, Rose, and Amanda are my biggest competition. @Everyone else, they’re on their way out, one by one. @For my dish, I’m going to prepare a crab scotch egg with a truffled uni foam. @I love scotch eggs, and I know that I can nail the cook on mine effortlessly. @The yolk will be runny.

Rose: @I’m making a rose-pistachio ice cream with lemon curd and a cardamom meringue. @I want to show off a lot of techniques using my eggs, and I want there to be textures and flavors. @Vin and I keep coming out on top of challenges, but neither of us have won anything recently. @That needs to change soon.

Duke: @I’m making a pasta carbonara. @The sauce is made from egg yolks and I’m making my own pasta from scratch, so I know that I’m going to be making a real crowd pleaser tonight.

Victoria: Time’s up!

Vin: @I know that my scotch egg is awesome. @The combination of flavors will set me apart from the rest of the competition.

Victoria: Your judge is house critic, Lotte Amazo!

Lotte: Hi, everyone! I love cooking with eggs and I’m looking forward to tucking into some delicious bites.

Victoria and Lotte taste the dishes.
Victoria: Lotte, how did everyone do?

Lotte: Everyone did extremely well. Overall, I had four favorites. Marisa, the floating islands put the eggs to the forefront and I loved the flavors. Amanda, the crepe was ingenious and stuffing it with the poached egg was inventive. Talia, the shakshuka showed your confidence in cooking the eggs perfectly. And Vin. The scotch eggs with crab and uni and truffle was decadent and enticing.

Vin: @It’s me and the three brunch girls on top. @I think my dish was unique and it’s not brunch, so that better count for something.

Victoria: And who won?
Lotte: Four great dishes, but it was an easy pick for me. Amanda, you managed to utilize those eggs the most inventively!

Victoria: Congratulations, Amanda! You won the creativity challenge and immunity!
Amanda: Oh, my god! Thank you!

Victoria: Now for the elimination challenge!
The final eight are taken to a pier.

Rose: @I see that we’re by the ocean and I want to vomit. @I hate the smell of the sea. @It’s so gross.

Victoria: For the elimination challenge, we want you guys to prepare a dish using freshly caught shellfish!

Jo: @I’m stoked. @I’m a boy scout and cooking in the wild is my forte. @I won the last elimination challenge and I want to win this one too.

The contestants are handed cages, which they are to then lower into the water.

Marisa: @I’m terrified. @I have to cook with whatever ends up in that cage. @What if I get something I never worked with before? @I don’t know what to expect.

Nate: I got shrimp! @I got shrimp and I’m stoked. @This is the best case scenario for me. @I know I can win the challenge.

Vin: I got shrimp!

Rose: I got crabs!

Everyone laughs.

Rose: Shut up! @I caught crabs and it’s a great feeling because it’s not the STD. @Always use a condom, kids.

Marisa: I got shrimp!

Jo: Crabs!
Duke: Lobster!
Talia: Lobster!

Amanda: Shrimp! @Catching my own shellfish was insane. @I’m sad that I did not get any clams, but those require special equipment.

The contestants are taken back to the kitchen.

Victoria: 1 hour, time starts now!

Jo: @I decide to prepare Singaporean chili crab with steamed buns. @Right now, I want to keep this momentum going. @We have eight really strong competitors here and if I am going to be Warrior Chef, then I need to prove it. @Being the youngest of three siblings, I was always seen as the baby who could not do anything on his own. @Winning this, literally by myself, it would show my family that I can be an independent person.

Vin: @I see Jo is making Singaporean chili crab and that’s ballsy when I’m his competitor. @I know how to make that dish a million times better than he could even dream, without a doubt. @I decide to make a coconut curry shrimp with shrimp butter rice. @I have been on top of a few challenges, but I want to keep winning them. @To be the first male winner, and the first gay winner, and lastly, the first Asian winner, it’ll send a strong message to everyone out there that you can be successful, no matter what gender, race, or sexuality you are. @I want to be the guy to do it.

Nate: @I have shrimp and I’m going to prepare a spicy marinated shrimp with umami mushroom noodles. @I’m going full-on Asian because I’m confident in my flavor profiles. @Rose, Jo, Amanda, and Vin are my biggest competition, but I’m determined to prove that I’m better than all four of them. @To win Warrior Chef means that I can be the first Chinese winner, and I would love to show the world how delicious modern Chinese food can actually be. @These guys are tough, but I’m here to bring it.

Rose: @Nate, Vin, and Jo are all making Asian. @I need to stand out, so I’m not going to do that. @I have crabs. @Not the sexual ones, pervs. @I’m making a crab stew with a bouzzarra sauce base. @It’s an onion and tomato based sauce, popular in my Montenegrin upbringing. @I’m going to make sure that the crab shells go into my broth to help enhance that flavor profile.

Amanda: @I need to prepare a dish using shrimp. @I’m going classic shrimp scampi with plenty of butter, lemon, capers, and of course, garlic. @I’m making my pasta from scratch and I’m going to infuse the butter with the shrimp shells to enhance the flavor. @Marisa and I both have shrimp, but I didn’t actually know that she wanted to do scampi until we started cooking. @I told her to just do scampi as well, but she insisted that she needed to be original here. @I’m slightly worried for her.

Marisa: @Amanda is making shrimp scampi, which sucks because I wanted to do that! @I just need to focus on my flavors and deliver something original, or else I’m going to feel like an idiot for not doing scampi myself. @I decide on prosciutto wrapped shrimp fritto with a shrimp shell based agro dulce sauce, which I know will work with the shrimp. @Elimination challenges have been my struggling point, but I haven’t been sent home yet, and I plan to make it to the finale.

Talia: @I got lobster. @If I fuck this up, then that’s embarrassing, because it’s a. expensive, and b. something that can be used in so many ways. @I’m going to make a fried lobster tail with a lobster butter sauce and spaetzle. @I’m thinking that the spaetzle swimming in that lobster butter will be phenomenal. @I’m the only African American contestant left, and I want to be the first African American winner here. @To represent for the black community, it would be phenomenal. @I know I’m a great cook, so let’s do this.

Duke: @Everyone managed to grab the butter before I got to the fridge, so I’m freaking out. @I have lobster and I wanted to make a lobster eggs benedict. @I decide to go through with that, but using olive oil in my hollandaise instead and hoping it still comes out the same way. @I’ve managed to come this far in the competition, but I still haven’t won anything. @I know that there’s a phenomenal cook inside of me, somewhere, and it’s my job to cook to that level and bring him out to the playing field.

Victoria: Time’s up!

Duke: @I step back and I see the hollandaise is splitting. Fuck! @I’m so screwed.

Victoria: Your judges are:
Max Hudson

Thyme De Lys

Frank Torres

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

Jo – Singaporean chili crab with steamed buns

Marisa – prosciutto wrapped shrimp fritto with shrimp shell-agro dulce sauce
Amanda – shrimp scampi

Frank: Jo’s chili crab was delicious. I just loved how the heat kept on building. The bun was light and fluffy and the combination was great!

Max: With Marisa’s dish, I did not like how the shell flavor made the sauce very shrimpy but in an unpleasant way. Her shrimp were cooked nicely though.

Thyme: Amanda’s scampi was incredibly simple. But the flavors were fantastic and she cooked that pasta excellently.

Victoria: And now the dishes by Vin, Rose, and Nate!

Vin – coconut curry shrimp with shrimp butter rice

Rose – crab stew with bouzzarra sauce base

Nate – spicy marinated shrimp with umami mushroom noodles

Max: Vin cooked that shrimp perfectly and his shrimp butter rice was phenomenal. I just was blown away by the amount of flavor in that curry alone.
Frank: The stew Rose prepared was rustic and hearty, but the sauce she used added such a depth of flavor. I loved it and I finished all of mine.

Thyme: Nate’s shrimp were the best cooked piece of seafood I have received so far. The actual flavors in the noodles were really nice.

Victoria: Finally, we have Duke and Talia’s dishes!

Duke – lobster eggs benedict

Talia – fried lobster tail with lobster butter sauce and spaetzle

Frank: Duke prepared the egg perfectly but the lobster on his dish was very rubbery. That and the hollandaise, it was split. I was not happy.
Thyme: The fried lobster tail Talia prepared was just clunky and out of place. The sauce was mild in lobster flavor overall.

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

Max: Yes.

In walks Jo, Vin, Rose, and Nate.

Victoria: Tonight, the four of you prepared the best dishes of the round, and one of you won the challenge!

Rose: @Of course Vin and I are on the top. @The two of us never fail to impress the judges consistently. @He’s going to be my biggest competition once we both reach the finale. @I need to watch out for him.

Nate: @Being on top proves to everyone that I’m not going home and that I am not a bad cook. @Suck it!

Victoria: Max, please announce tonight’s winner!

Max: Tonight, we had a lot of good dishes, and pinpointing the best one was the biggest challenge. But the best dish was made by…. Jo.

Victoria: Congratulations, Jo! You won the challenge!

Jo: @Winning back to back eliminations is a huge boost to my confidence. @I feel great about my chances at making it to the finale. @I know that there is a Warrior Chef in me.

Vin: @I’m pissed because I thought I had it. @But whatever. @Jo can have this one, I guess. @I’ll be the winner in the end.

The top four leave.

In walks Marisa, Talia, and Duke.

Victoria: One of you is going home.

Thyme: Marisa, we loved the shrimp but hated your sauce. It was too shrimpy. Talia, the lobster tail was superfluous and actually ruined your dish. Duke, you cooked the egg well, but we got rubbery lobster and a split hollandaise.

Marisa: @I’m shaking so much. @Talia and I are really good friends, and at this point, Duke has never been on the chopping block. @I think one of us is going home.

Talia: @I’m really hoping that they call Duke’s name, but I don’t want to rely on him making a crappy dish for me to stay. @I want to be in this competition because I earned the right to stay.

Duke: @I failed on a lobster dish, and I genuinely feel bad for serving that to the judges. @Talia and Marisa are scared, but it might actually be my time to go. @I really don’t want that, but I can’t control that decision.

Victoria: Duke, please return to the kitchen and leave.

Duke: Alright. I accept that result and respect the decision. @I’m leaving Warrior Chef feeling pretty let down. @I expected to do well, but I did not really get any momentum after the preliminaries. @I think it was my time to go. @It felt right.

How it is: Chapter 23

“Hey, Val, do you have a moment?” Tarou noticed the Singaporean girl walking down the street and ran up to her. “Hi, Tarou. Actually, I needed to talk to you too.” She sighed. “Can we maybe go somewhere… more private?” The model suggested. “Yeah, that’s actually better for what I need to say too.” At that remark, Tarou could feel a creeping sense of discomfort boiling in his stomach. Was Valerie going to confess to him? Meanwhile, the pastry chef already could tell from the model’s facial expressions that Timmy did tell him; he most likely assumed that she was going to tell him about her feelings. But that could not be any further from what she was going to do in reality. After making their way into a nearby building, the two looked at each other. It was an intense silence. “So do you want to go first?” She gestured to him. “Nah, you look like you have something to say, and that you’ve thought about it for a while. Please tell me.” Tarou insisted. He wanted her to confess first so that he could at least hear her out. “So for a long time, I had a crush on you. Since high school, honestly. But after everything we have been through, I don’t have any romantic feelings for you anymore. So I just wanted to let you know that I still value you as a friend, but I feel like we are better off staying friends, and nothing more.” The model was dumbstruck. Save for the first sentence, that was not what he was expecting the pastry chef to say. “What did you have to say?” She looked at him expectantly. Truth be told, she was expecting him to reject her as well, so Valerie was relieved that they could meet a mutual agreement on this.

“Well, I was basically going to say that we should stay friends, and that Timmy told me about how you felt about me. But now I’m curious, what’s with the sudden change of heart?” “Well, I thought about it. A lot. And I even talked about it with chef, and she told me that I need to be blunt and think not about the emotional aspect of it, but rather, how this would affect us as friends. And the more I thought about it that way, the less I found myself attracted to you romantically.” She shrugged. “I see… well, I’m just glad we were able to sort out this awkwardness.” Tarou chuckled nervously. Despite everything, it still felt a little weird. “Look, Tarou, I think of you and Timmy as goofy brothers. You guys are two of my closest friends, and sometimes, that closeness can be a weakness for me. It makes the little things we do and say affect me on a much bigger scale.” She confessed. “But at the same time, it’s all in perspective. I feel like if you guys don’t see it that way, then I have no reason to either. We can be close without being so greatly affected by each other.” “Yeah, we can. And we will.” Tarou smiled in agreement. The two hugged it out and walked out. “So where were you heading?” “I was going to a study session.” Valerie sighed. Finals were coming up, and especially with all of the recent events, she needed to catch up on her studies. “Oh, don’t be late! Run! Run!” Tarou ushered her away. “Okay, I’m running!” She laughed, darting off.

“How did it go?” It was just a couple hours later, and Tarou was meeting up with Timmy for lunch. “It went well. We talked it out, and she was the one who told me that she was not interested in being in a relationship anymore.” He pointed out, much to the surprise of Timmy. “Wait, really?” He could not believe what he was hearing. “Yeah. She admitted she had feelings, but after thinking it over, she decided against acting on them because she did not want to affect our friendship.” Timmy had to give Valerie a lot of credit for that sort of maturity. Yeah, that was the reason why he fell for her to begin with, and hearing that made it harder for him to accept that they could not be together, but he had to respect their friendship before trying to compromise anything any further on his part. “You! You little motherfucker! How dare you bully our precious Tarou!” The two boys were startled to see an enraged Enya, Melissa, and Sarah storm up to their table. “You saw what I did to that table! And I can do much worse, you little bitch-”

“So it’s okay not to hate him anymore?” Melissa, frowning, sighed. She was hoping to snap somebody’s neck today. “Wait, I thought you said that you told all of your friends!” Timmy glared at Tarou. “Oh, I meant as in the people I was on board with.” He looked back at his friend before pulling him into a close huddle. “Plus, would you really consider those three my friends? They’re terrifying!” He noted in a hushed whisper before turning around to look at the disgruntled Melissa, who was being comforted by Enya and Sarah. “It’s okay, we can go to the gym and rent a punching bag.” Sarah suggested. Tarou smirked. “Yeah, so the two of us made up. The three of you are more than welcomed to sit and eat with us though.” The model offered. “Well, let me think about it…. fuck yeah, we’re sitting with you!” Enya laughed, as the three grabbed chairs and placed their bags down. It felt a bit weird for Timmy at first, being so close to people who previously wanted to slaughter him. “So, Tarou, what are your plans for the summer?” Enya looked at him, eagerly. “I’m going to be modeling in Japan.” He smiled. “OMG! I’m going back to Korea for the summer! You better visit me! I mean, either way, I’m definitely going to visit you!” She squealed excitedly. “Wait, no fair! We’re both going to visit you too, Tarou!” Sarah and Melissa chimed in. Timmy tried not to laugh as Tarou fought to hide his horrified expression. “Uh…. sure?” He shrugged. “Yay!” They all cheered.

“You really need to tell them that you’re not into any of them, or else they’ll continue to pester you.” Timmy frowned. “Yeah, but Mel scares the shit out of me. She broke a table in half with her foot. That’s just one foot. Imagine what she can do with two and two hands. I doubt my spine would even be in two pieces after I reject her feelings.” He shuddered. Sadly, Tarou had a point. “Well, I’m sure it will work itself out. Maybe?” “Honestly, I’ve just come to live with it. It’s not the worst thing, having your own fan club. Honestly, it’s funny.” He chuckled, trying to ignore the awkward moments where the three girls would make him greatly uncomfortable with their remarks and advances. “Well, whatever floats your boat, I guess.” Timmy shrugged. The two laughed as they finally walked back to their dorm. Finals were coming up, and it felt like this semester went by too quickly. But at least they were able to finish the year with their friendship still intact. “It’s really been a crazy first year. Hopefully, it’ll get better next year, right?” Timmy chuckled. “Better as in easier, or less drama?” Tarou snorted. “Hopefully both.” The computer engineer groaned. “At least your major will get you a high-paying job.” The model pointed out. “Well, if you become a supermodel, then same applies for you too, you know?” The Taiwanese boy smirked. “Let’s see how this first international gig goes, okay? I’m not going to rush into any conclusions, especially when modeling is just a side hobby to make money.” The Japanese male laughed. Although truth be told, he was excited to be going to Japan for the summer. This was going to be a whole new adventure for him.