Warrior Chef 3: Finale Part 2

Michele: This is it! After nine grueling eliminations, we are down to the top three best cooks in the competition! Phung Pham! The sassy Vietnamese from Cambridge, Massachusetts. Phung has managed to win a whopping seven challenges and continuously impress the judges in both her attitude and ability to cook incredible dishes. Lauren Wilson! The girl from Hawaii who has managed to wow everyone with her skills in both Hawaiian cooking and desserts. And Kira Taso! A prodigy working in Michelin starred restaurants, Kira’s techniques and finesse has put her on top of several challenges. Tonight, one of these three wonderful young women will win the title of Warrior Chef! Who will it be?

Kira: @I’m feeling like a bit of the underdog tonight, because I scrapped my way into the final challenge. @But I’m here, I’m ready to win the title, and I have a kick-ass menu.

Phung: @I know that I’ve got this one. @That title is so mine. @The Phung Dynasty shall never end.

Michele: Welcome to the last round! To start this round off, your final creativity challenge! You guys have just 30 minutes to prepare an amuse bouche! The winner of this challenge will be allowed to choose their sous-chefs first.

Lauren: @Michele didn’t say that the losing cook is going home, which is something that normally happens. @I’m slightly shocked to hear that, but I’m not complaining, because I’m only cooking to win, and not to survive for this challenge.

Michele: So 30 minutes, one amuse, time starts now!

Phung: @I decide for my amuse bouche, I’m making banh xeo spring rolls. @It’s the Vietnamese pancake, lettuce, spring roll wrapper, shrimp, and pork. @For the vinaigrette, I’m going to use molecular gastronomy to make it into caviar to top my dish. @That will set me over the edge. @I know molecular shit, so bite me.

Kira: @For my amuse bouche, I’m going to make whipped foie gras with plantain chips and curry salt. @I want to do something with the plantains because they are a really delicious ingredient. @Three Asian girls in the finale of Warrior Chef. @It’s pretty awesome to know that one of us is going to be the winner tonight.

Lauren: @I’m making a grilled chicken heart with lemon ponzu. @I’m keeping the components limited to two. @The heart needs to be cooked nicely and the ponzu, I’m making my won to show some technique. @And I’m garnishing with the chicken skin for a good texture on top.

Michele: Time’s up!

Kira: @I’m feeling good but then I see that Phung used molecular gastronomy to make spheres and that’s awesome. @She might have just stolen the advantage.

Michele: Your judge for this challenge is Warrior Chef runner up, Rose Fu!

Rose: Hi, everyone! I’m excited to taste your food!

Lauren: @Rose is Montenegrin, and she loves organs, so this might be an easy win for me. @I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Rose tastes the amuse bouches.

Michele: So Rose, which were your favorites?

Rose: Kira, the foie gras butter was awesome. I loved that one with the curry salt. And then the roll by Phung. Inspirational. Brilliant. I really loved it. And Phung, you made the best amuse bouche.

Michele: Congratulations, Phung! You won the last creativity challenge and a huge advantage going into the elimination challenge!

Kira: Drat. @I wanted to pick my sous-chefs first, but oh well. @Phung got the advantage instead.

Lauren: @At this point, I’m just shocked that they didn’t eliminate me for coming in last in that challenge. @In the past two seasons, Amanda and Karen were, so I was expecting that to happen to me.

Phung: @I think this is dumb that Lauren gets to stay, but whatever. @She has to work with the people Kira and I don’t really want, so she’ll sink herself by working with them.

Michele: For the elimination challenge, you need to prepare the best three courses of your life. And you’ll need some help to do it.

In walks Teddy, Elizabeth, Taylor, Jaenice, James, Cherry, Gabe, Henry, and Justin.

Michele: Phung, you get first pick.

Phung: Justin. @Obvious reasons why I’m choosing Justin: he doesn’t suck and he works hard. @No brainer.

Justin: @I’m nervous working with Phung because she’s got a volcanic personality. @I just need to bear with it. @It’s no longer my ass on the line anyways.

Michele: Kira, for having the next best amuse, you choose second.

Kira: Henry. @I think Henry will be a supportive sous-chef, so I’m glad choosing him.

Henry: @Kira is probably the most level-headed of the three, so I’m good with that.

Lauren: Cherry. @I’m surprised nobody picked her, but I’m not complaining. @Cherry and I won a challenge together, so we will win this one together too.

Cherry: @Lauren and I are going to kick Phung’s ass. @For sure.

Phung: Jaenice. @She did really well in the beginning of the competition and I know we will crush this.

Jaenice: Oh, hell, yeah! @I want to nail this for Phung. @We are going to curbstomp these bitches and break their teeth.

Kira: Gabe. @He likes to bake, I have a dessert on my menu, so I’ll give him my dessert so that I can focus on the savory dishes.

Lauren: Taylor. @He’s honestly the only semi-competent one left. @Definitely beats James, Teddy, or Elizabeth.

James, Teddy, and Elizabeth leave the room.

Teddy: @I’m not feeling butthurt about not being picked. @I was eliminated first, so I definitely expected it.

Michele: So you have just 1 hour to prepare your best three dishes and your time starts right now!

Lauren: @I’m working with Cherry and Taylor, and I’m feeling good about this, even though I had to pick my sous-chefs last. @For my first course, Taylor is going to be preparing the spam fried rice cakes with crab salad and avocado crema. @I’m working on the main course, which is braised oxtail with homemade noodles and black garlic broth. @And for the dessert, Cherry is preparing chicory coffee panna cotta with caramel chocolate ganache and mini malasadas. @I’m going to help her on the dessert because my main course is basically all the pressure cooker.

Phung: @For my first course, I’m making “Shaking Beef” tartare, which is the raw beef with “Shaking Beef” seasonings, a homemade baguette, and minted tomatoes. @For the second course is oil poached snapper with lemongrass butter sauce, grilled squid, and pickled vegetables. @My dessert is misugaru doughnuts with red bean filling and a miso-coconut creme brulee. @I’m having Justin handle the tomatoes and the creme brulee, I’m going to do the baguette and most of the proteins, and Jaenice and on the doughnuts, sauce, squid, and the pickled vegetables.

Kira: @For my menu, I’m starting with shave fennel, seared scallops, and pepper-lemon reduction. @The second course is brown butter basted halibut with blueberry gastrique, artichokes, and basil foam. @For my dessert, vanilla cake with cider-apple spheres, salted caramel, and goat cheese ice cream. @Gabe is doing the entire dessert on his own. @Henry is on the first course, while I’m on the second, with Henry helping Gabe once he finishes his own course.

Jaenice: *to Phung* How do I make the sauce for the main course? And how long does squid take to cook? And should I do the sauce first or the pickled vegetables? I’m really lost here. How do you want me to cut the squid? Or not cut it? Grill it whole?

Phung: @Jaenice is a complete fucking moron. @I love her to death normally, but she doesn’t know how to make the sauce or the grilled squid, so I need to help her and then focus on getting that baguette made too. *to Jaenice* FUCKING GET THE FUCKING PICKLES GOING! FUCK!

Jaeince: @Phung is unleashing World War Phung on Justin and I right now and it’s really bad. @I’m just trying to make her happy at this point.

Justin: @I’m just trying to focus on my creme brulee because it takes the longest to prepare. @The biggest challenge about working with Phung is that she’s a dictator.

Kira: @I hear Phung screaming her head off and I am so glad that Henry and Gabe aren’t doing that or making me act that way. @The cake is looking good from Gabe’s station and Henry’s sauces are coming up correctly. @We are one cohesive unit!

Lauren: @I taste the broth for the oxtail dish and it is great. @The panna cotta is in the fridge setting up, and the crab salad prep is ready for it to just get tossed. @I’m glad that my team isn’t butting heads with each other, unlike Phung’s team.

Taylor: *to Cherry* I’m so happy we’re not on Phung’s team right now.

Henry: @She scares me. @I’m going to have nightmares about her face from now until the end of time.

Phung: I SWEAR TO FUCKING GOD! I’M GOING TO SHOVE YOUR HEAD INTO A DEEP FRIER!

Jaenice: @Uh, I want to not make the doughnuts now. @I fear for the safety of my head. @That’s reasonable, right?

In the judges’ room:

Michele is sitting with Warrior Chef winners Vanilla and Vin, alongside finalists Karen, Tadashi, Amanda, and Rose.
Vin: It feels great to be on this side of the table, judging them.

Karen: I still remember getting to the final three, and not being allowed to cook. It was heartbreaking because I was that close!
Amanda: *to Karen* I feel the same. We both were cut in the same kind of challenge!

Vanilla: I loved the experience and I hope that they all bring their best. I’m excited to see what these finalists have to bring.

Michele: Ooh, looks like the first courses are up! Here they are!

Phung – “Shaking Beef” tartare with homemade baguette and minted tomatoes

Kira – shaved fennel, buttered scallops, pepper-lemon reduction

Lauren – spam fried rice cakes with crab salad and avocado crema

Karen: For the tartare, it was bland. I was impressed by making a baguette in less than an hour, and the tomatoes were tasty, but the tartare needed more flavor.

Vanilla: The scallop dish was way too simple. They had an hour, and that’s what they brought up? It was very underwhelming.

Vin: I felt like the crab dish showed the most technique out of the three. I liked the crispy rice, the crab salad was refreshing and the avocado was a nice contrast.
Michele: Who won this round for you guys?

Vanilla: Definitely Lauren.

Vin: Lauren.

Tadashi: Lauren.

Rose: Lauren.

Karen: Lauren.

Amanda: Lauren.

Michele: Wow! A clean sweep!

Karen: Kira’s was too simple and Phung’s was bland.

Michele: And we have the entrees!

Lauren – braised oxtail with homemade noodles and black garlic broth

Phung – oil poached snapper, lemongrass butter sauce, grilled squid, pickled vegetables

Kira – brown butter basted halibut, blueberry gastrique, artichokes, basil foam

Amanda: The oxtail was unctuous and fell off the bone. The noodles had a nice bite to them and I loved the black garlic broth a lot.

Vin: The poached snapper was undercooked and like sashimi in the center. And the squid was rubbery and overcooked. It was all inedible.

Tadashi: The halibut was cooked perfectly and I loved that sauce and the artichokes. Out of the three dishes, this one pushed the envelope the most.

Michele: And who made the best entree?

Vanilla: Kira.

Vin: Lauren.

Tadashi: Kira.

Rose: Kira.

Karen: Kira.

Amanda: Lauren.

Michele: So Kira took the second course!

Karen: I was split between her and Lauren’s dishes, but Kira did take more risks and they paid off more.

Michele: And now, the desserts!

Kira – vanilla cake, cider-apple spheres, salted caramel, goat cheese ice cream

Lauren – chicory coffee panna cotta, caramel chocolate ganache, mini malasadas

Phung – misugaru-red bean doughnuts with miso-coconut creme brulee

Vanilla: Wow. Just wow. Kira’s dessert, the cake was light and airy and I loved the cider spheres and how they exploded in your mouth. The ice cream gave the dessert a nice tang of goat cheese. It was great!

Rose: Lauren’s panna cotta was tasty and I liked the mini malasadas that she garnished it with for texture. That was very inventive.

Amanda: Phung’s doughnuts… they were phenomenal. She messed up in her first two courses, but her dessert was stellar.
Michele: And can we make a vote on the desserts?

Vanilla: Honestly, if I had Lauren’s app, Kira’s entree, and Phung’s dessert, I would be so happy right now.

Vin: It’s unanimous that Phung took the third course, and that’s where the problem is. Lauren took the first, Kira took the second, and Phung took the third.

Rose: But look at it as a progression. I’d eat Kira’s meal again over Phung or Lauren’s because it was very elegant and smartly done.

Karen: But when you go individually, Lauren’s three dishes were either the first or second strongest in each meal.

Amanda: I just think that no matter what, we can agree that Phung is out of the running. Her meal was the weakest of the three. Agreed?

Vin: Yeah, I think that’s reasonable. But it’s between Lauren and Kira, and that’s where it gets dicey.

Rose: I still stand behind my vote for Kira. She did an phenomenal job.

Michele: So can we finally agree on a winner?

Amanda: Yes, we can.

In walks Phung, Kira, and Lauren.

Michele: Tonight, the three of you prepared really phenomenal meals. But only one of you can be crowned the winner. The judges have voted, and one of you is already out of the running.

Phung: @I think it’s Kira. @Her first course was an epic fail.

Michele: Unfortunately, Phung, you are not Warrior Chef.

Phung: FUCK! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! @I WON 8 CHALLENGES AND I STILL COULDN’T WIN?! @WHAT THE ACTUAL HELL?!

Lauren: @That’s actually a huge shock going into this round, but seeing how she treated her teammates, it makes sense.

Kira: @It’s down to me and Lauren now. @I’m feeling nervous. @I want this so badly.

Michele: Kira, you had a really strong entree and dessert. Lauren, the judges felt like your meal as a whole, there was a lack of progression. But each dish individually was very strong.

Lauren: @Should the meal be considered as a whole? @I don’t know if it should, but I know if it didn’t count, then I won this.

Kira: @I’m nervous because they made it sound like my first course was a disaster.

Michele: Lauren…. you are Warrior Chef! Congratulations!

Lauren: Wait, what?!
Confetti rains down as everyone congratulates her.

Lauren: I won?! @I can’t believe it! @I’m Warrior Chef!

Michele: You won the title and the cash prize of $50,000!

Lauren: Thank you. @I’m in disbelief that I won the prize. @I knew I had strong dishes and that my passion was there, but it just feels surreal right now. @All of that hard work, and this incredible journey, it’s paying off right now!

Kira: @Being so close is probably what hurts the most about losing. @I hope I get a chance to redeem myself, because I know I can take that scallop dish and make it a winning dish. @But kudos to Lauren to winning the title. @She’s talented, strong, determined, and she deserved it a lot.

Lauren: @This competition was easily the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. @But being crowned the winner of Warrior Chef, it feels unreal. @It was a long journey, starting from peeling those russet potatoes, but now I’m here and I’m the champion! @I’m Warrior Chef!

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