Warrior Chef 5: Finale Part 1

The finalists land in Barbados, where the finale will take place.

Tiffany: @I’m the first person to walk into the kitchen and boy, it’s my challenge to win. @We are in the finale, and I know that I’m going to be the Warrior Chef now.

Kenny: @Two guys, two girls, and all four of us are strong cooks. @I’m nervous to see what’s going to happen.

Mariko: Welcome to the finale! For today’s creativity challenge, we want to see you guys make a dish using…. uni. For this challenge, it’s a Sudden Death challenge. The weakest performing cook will potentially be sent home. We have a twist for this one, but we won’t reveal it until after the weakest performing cook is decided.

Colt: @That’s awkward. @The weakest cook will be potentially kicked off. @I’m nervous about the twist, but it might be something insane like cooking against a previous winner for your survival, and I’m not sure if I would want to cook against Tadashi Hamilton or anyone else like that.

Mariko: You have just 30 minutes, and your time starts now!

Kaity: @I run to the station and I see that we have the orange tongues and the whole uni. @I decide to use the whole uni because it will be fresher. @I managed to practice cooking shellfish during the break before the finale, but I never touched uni before. @If I can get it open, I’m going to prepare an uni risotto with fresh uni and grilled ramps. @But then I see we have no ramps, so I grab the okra, and I decide to use that instead. @I have never cooked with okra before, but it’s the finale and I need to take a risk.

Colt: @I’m going to make an uni custard with lobster meat and uni vinaigrette to go with a cabbage slaw. @I’m setting the uni custard into the uni shells, and that’s the risk I’m taking for this challenge. @If I can nail it, then I’m definitely going to win the challenge tonight. @Since I’m not guaranteed an elimination if I screw this up, then I’m feeling okay about taking a risk tonight. @Out the everyone left, nobody is necessarily weak, but I think that both girls are the weaker cooks left. @I would not be surprised if Tiffany or Kaity wound up on the bottom tonight.

Tiffany: @Colt, shut the hell up. @I’m here, and I’m winning. @I’m going to make an uni melt with uni mayo and an uni sabayon to act as a vinaigrette with a frisee lardon salad. @I’m taking a risk, making basically a whole brunch-lunch meal, but I’ve got this. @My flavors and technique have gotten me this far, and they have gotten me a total of four wins. @I am not a pushover in this competition.

Kenny: @At this point, I’ve got five wins, Colt has five wins, Tiffany has three wins, and Kaity has three wins. @They’re all honestly strong, but I want to win the next four challenges and prove that I am the best one here. @Being number one would validate all of those years I spent working my ass off in both the stage and the kitchen and it will show everyone that with hard work comes great reward. @For my dish, @I’m making an uni angel hair with uni on top. @I’m making a beurre blanc and blending in uni butter into it to make it rich and velvety. @It should be good.

Mariko: Time’s up!
Kaity: @I feel good about my risotto. @I see the Tiffany made a brunch dish using the uni, and Kenny prepared angel hair pasta. @I’m hoping that using the okra will pay off big time for me.

Mariko: Your judge for this challenge is Warrior Chef winner, Lauren Wilson!
Lauren: Hi, everyone! Making it this far, it means that you all have promising careers in the industry ahead of you. But I can’t wait to see what you guys have managed to prepare using uni, which is one of my personal favorite ingredients!

Lauren and Mariko taste the dishes.

Mariko: So Lauren, how did they do?
Lauren: I have three standout favorites, actually. Tiffany, the uni melt and the uni salad were both delicious on their own, and they worked together flawlessly. I loved the different textures I got from your dish. Colt, the uni custard was presented nicely and the lobster worked well off of that. You did a nice job taking that kind of risk in just 30 minutes. And…

Kenny: @I’m hoping she says my name, because if she doesn’t, then I’m in the cook-off and I don’t want to be there.

Lauren: Kenny. You cooked the pasta nicely and I loved the uni beurre blanc. Nice flavors and it was a very strong showcasing of the uni.

Kaity: @My heart sinks. @I’m so screwed.

Mariko: Lauren, so who won?

Lauren: We had three great dishes, but the best by far was…. Tiffany’s.

Mariko: Congratulations, Tiffany! You won the creativity challenge and a huge advantage going into the elimination challenge!

Tiffany: Finally! Finally! @Winning this challenge feels so good. @I know that I’m a strong cook and even though I’m against Colt and Kenny, I can beat them down the line.

Kaity: @I was the only person on the bottom and it was a Sudden-Death Challenge. @Does that mean that I’m going home?

Lauren: Kaity, the risotto was a bit undercooked and the okra made it slimy. That just didn’t work for me tonight.

Mariko: Kaity, you’ll be up for elimination. However, the person you will be cooking against is not one, but three people! Help me welcome some familiar faces!

In walks Laguna, Jeanne, and Chloe.

Kaity: @Sh*t. @I see Laguna, and I’m so happy to see him, but then I realize that these guys were eliminated. @And since I’m up for elimination, that must only mean one thing. @Crap.

Mariko: The four of you will be cooking for Kaity’s spot in the competition.

Chloe: @I’m baaack. @And I’m ready to whoop some ass. @Bring it, boo.

Jeanne: @I definitely was eliminated too early. @Having a second chance at the finale, this is awesome. @I’m going to bring it and take home the title.

Mariko: For this sudden death challenge, we want to unleash the kraken!
A cart is wheeled in, carrying squid and calamari

Laguna: @It’s seafood again and I’m stoked. @I know what to make right away.

Kaity: @Calamari is Italian and I feel comfortable with that. 

Mariko: 30 minutes, one calamari dish. And your time starts now!

Kaity: @I’m going to make a lamb chorizo stuffed squid with mint-coconut pesto and puffed black rice. @I’m confident in my dish because it’s something I’ve been trying to do for a long time, and I finally get to do it. @I’m cooking for my life here, and if I don’t win, then somebody else is going to snatch my spot in the finale. @I can’t afford for anyone, even Laguna, to take that opportunity away from me. @I need to be Warrior Chef. @That title has my name on it.

Laguna: @Four cooks are competing in this, and I think we are all strong when we put our best foots forward. @Jeanne is a major threat when she can actually cook. @But I’m focusing on my own food at this point. @I’m preparing a grilled calamari steak with squid ink pasta and a lemon-basil sauce. @A second chance like this is amazing and I know that I was eliminated too early. @I’m sorry, Kaity, but I need to take the spot from you and win it for me.

Jeanne: @I’m going to prepare karaage squid with a black bean and mint infused butter sauce and chilies. @It’s 30 minutes, so I’m just thinking about what I can do that is practical and I’m battering and frying the squid tentacles. @For the bodies, I decide to grill those and make them act as the base for the karaage to sit on top of. @Chloe, in my eyes, she’s the weakest cook, so I am not even remotely worried about her.

Chloe: @I’m making tomato stewed squid bodies, charred tentacles, squid ink cavatelli, and garlic-herb crouton. @I need to show everyone here why I’m back and that’s to kick these guys’s asses, and then them guys’s asses. @Tiffany and I were originally going to make the final two together, and now it’s my chance to make it possible. @I’m here and here to win.

Tiffany: *to Chloe* You got it, girl! @Chloe and Tiff in the finale? @Hell, yeah I want that! @Better her than Jeanne or Laguna, for sure.

Kenny: @None of them are weak cooks. @Honestly, this was the strongest group of cooks we have ever had in Warrior Chef, and I just don’t want any of them to come back. @Can’t they all just stay eliminated?

Colt: @At this point, the three of us are nervous. @Personally, I hope that Kaity keeps her spot, because she earned it over somebody like Jeanne or Chloe, who did not even come close to the finale to begin with. @Laguna coming back, he’s actually a real threat. @If he’s back in the main competition, it will be that much harder to get the title.

Mariko: Time’s up!

Kaity: @I think I nailed my redemption dish. @I really hope I send the other three packing here tonight.

Mariko and Lauren taste the dishes.

Mariko: So Lauren, who did not deliver a good squid dish tonight?

Lauren: Jeanne, your dish was beautifully presented but the textures and components made no sense together. That entire grilled calamari steak on the bottom was bizarre.

Mariko: Jeanne, you may leave the kitchen.

Jeanne: Thank you. @I’m angry. @I didn’t deserve to be eliminated a second time like this. @I know I’m stronger than the rest of them by far.

Lauren: This is where it got tougher. Chloe, the stewed bodies were great and I liked that you used the squid three ways. But the tentacles were disjointed with the rest of the dish and did not belong there.

Mariko: Chloe, you can leave the kitchen as well.

Chloe: Alright. *to Laguna* Good luck! @I didn’t expect to even be invited back but at least I proved that I deserved to be here over Jeanne.

Lauren: Laguna, the steak was delicious and so was the pasta. Your usage of herbs paid off in spades here. Kaity, the surf n’ turf you prepared showed ballsiness and had you cooked like that in the uni challenge, you would’ve been safe for sure.

Mariko: So Lauren, who won?

Laguna: @At this point, it’s close. @It might be a reversal of fate this time around, and I might safe. @I’m hoping for that.

Kaity: @It’s down to both of us yet again. @If I get to keep my finale spot, that would be amazing, but Laguna’s a strong cook, and he deserves it just as much.

Lauren: Two strong dishes, but for me, it came down to who prepared the squid better. Kaity, the lamb slightly overpowered the squid. And that’s why, Laguna, you won this one for me.
Mariko: Congratulations, Laguna! You are re-entering the finale! And Kaity, I’m sorry, but your time here is over. Please return to the kitchen and leave.
Kaity: Thank you. *hugs Laguna* You honestly deserved it. Congratulations.

Laguna: *to Kaity* I’ll win it for you.

Kaity: @It’s bittersweet to be going home, but I lost to somebody who I have immense respect for and I think Laguna earned his spot rightfully. @I’m proud of myself for coming this far and I don’t have any regrets, well, other than winning the title.

Laguna: @It feels great to be back! @If I didn’t make the finale, it would have haunted me, but I’m here and I’m ready to claim the title. @Bring it.

Mariko: So everyone, this is the first of two rounds in this finale. Whoever does not make it past here will not be competing for the title.

Tiffany: @The end is near and that is awesome. @I’m stoked that I have an advantage too. @I’m going to be the first African American winner. @I can sense it.

Mariko: For this challenge, you’ll be cooking in head to head cook-offs. And the themes of your cook-offs will be three traditional dishes from Barbados.

A cart is wheeled in, carrying fish cakes, cassava pone, and conkies.

Mariko: Tiffany, you won the last challenge, so you will be deciding who will be paired with who, and which of these dishes they will be preparing. The two winners go straight to the final round. The two losers will be cooking head to head making the dish Tiffany did not yet select.

Tiffany: @This is pure strategy and I love it. Kenny, I want you to go up against Colt, and you two will have to cook the cassava pone. @That’s a dessert. @I think Colt will knock out Kenny with that and that’s one less contender I have to worry about.

Kenny: @I’m going against Colt, who in my eyes, is the strongest cook here, and it’s dessert. @I might as well just pack my bags, right?

Colt: @I’m stoked that Tiffany set me up, but if I don’t win this challenge, then I basically deserve to be eliminated tonight.

Mariko: So Tiffany, you’re up against Laguna. What’s the dish you want to cook?

Tiffany: Fish cakes.

Laguna: What?

Kenny: Oh sh*t. @She did not just go there.

Colt: @Tiffany wants to cook seafood against Laguna. @That’s the dumbest idea I have ever heard.

Tiffany: @I know I can beat Laguna at his own game, so I’m going to beat Laguna at his own game, simply put. @Bye bye, boo.

Mariko: So Colt and Kenny will be cooking cassava pone, Tiffany and Laguna will be cooking fish cakes, and the losers of each round will have to prepare conkies to remain in the competition. You have 45 minutes to prepare your dishes, and time starts now!

Tiffany: @I’m making green curry fish cakes with lime aioli and coleslaw. @I’m going to use salt cod, smoked salmon, and lump crab in the cakes because I know that will be fucking delicious, and I’m using avocado in my aioli because that will give it the texture it needs to stand up to all of the fish. @Laguna claims he is the seafood king, but let’s be real here, I’m a much stronger cook than he is.

Laguna: @I’m going to make banana leaf wrapped fish cakes with a charred leek emulsion and a chili-shallot vinaigrette. @Tiffany made a dumb mistake and I can’t wait to see her eat her own mistake and have to cook with conkies, whatever the hell those are. @I’m going to use snapper and mackerel to make the fish cakes so that we have a strong fish flavor, but not too strong to the point it overwhelms.

Kenny: @I’m going to prepare cassava pone, which is a cake made with the cassava root, coconut, spices, brown sugar, and butter. @I know that Colt and I are both using similar recipes, but to stand out, I’m making a coconut-elderflower gelato that I know will win over the judges. @Colt is the dessert king of this season and he continues to nail excellent desserts. @If I can beat him at his own game, then I definitely have earned a spot in the final challenge.

Colt: @Kenny’s been my biggest competition since day one of the main competition. @If I can beat Kenny, the title is as good as mine. @I’m going to prepare the cassava pone using palm sugar to add more flavor, and then I’m going to take candied palm seeds and use those in the cake as well for another delicious texture. @For my garnish, shaved coconut and coconut mousse.

Tiffany: @I form the cakes and get those into the frying pan. @Laguna’s doing steamed fish cakes and I’m doing fried and I realize that neither of us are really following traditional fish cakes in Barbados. @But I know my flavors will demolish Laguna’s.

Laguna: @Tiffany’s dish looks like it’s a mess. @If I lose to Tiffany tonight, then that would honestly suck. @I think she’s not terribly good or bright, so beating her should be a cakewalk. @I think it’s going to be an all-male finale this season, and that’s awesome, given how only four guys even made it to the final twelve this time.

Colt: @Laguna is a wildcard, because he is strong, but inconsistent. @Tiffany is arguably stronger, but I think the finale will come down to Kenny and I. @That entire other match-up, that’s not the two strongest cooks. @My match-up, this is what the next round is going to look like.

Mariko: Time’s up!

Tiffany: @I feel great about my dish. @I know that I’m going to be the winner tonight. @Laguna’s fish cakes look boring.

Colt: @Kenny and I went head to head with desserts and I’m just hoping that the cassava pone came out better than his.

Mariko: Your judges are:

Aster Walker

Erwin Ko

Lauren Wilson

Mariko: Let’s start with the fish cakes by Tiffany and Laguna first!

Tiffany – green curry fish cakes with lime aioli and coleslaw

Laguna – banana leaf fish cakes, charred leek emulsion, chili-shallot vinaigrette

Erwin: The green curry fish cake, I question the usage of the salmon in there, but the flavors were really delicious. I loved that there was avocado there to cut the heat of the curry and the flavors worked.
Lauren: The banana leaf fish cakes were really authentic and reminded me of when I visited Thailand with my parents. The emulsion was… gross. Honestly, it was like smearable ash. I hated it.

Mariko: Who won this match-up?

Aster: The green curry cake. The flavors of it just worked a lot better.

Erwin: I agree with Aster.

Lauren: I third that statement.

Mariko: Well, then that means that Tiffany won this match-up and Laguna will have to cook again!

Erwin: Alright then.

Mariko: Now for the next dishes! It’s cassava pone, prepared by Colt and Kenny!

Colt – palm sugar cassava pone with coconut crumble

Kenny – cassava pone with coconut-elderflower gelato

Aster: The palm sugar in the cassava pone was delicious and I really enjoyed the coconut crumble that was paired with it. Both cakes had the perfect texture.

Lauren: The gelato actually worked a lot with this cake and I just was impressed that this cook had the time to prepare a completely foreign cake and make ice cream.

Mariko: So can we decide on a winner for this match-up?

Aster: I have to go with the coconut gelato paired cassava. It was delicious.

Erwin: I’m going to put my vote in for the palm sugar cassava pone, because I really enjoyed how the palm sugar elevated the cake and the cake was the star.

Lauren: I think that the same can be said with the addition of the gelato, which is why I’m casting my vote for the gelato-paired cassava pone.

Mariko: So it looks like Kenny won this match-up! And up for elimination would be Colt and Laguna!

Erwin: This is going to be an interesting cook off.

In walks Tiffany and Kenny.
Mariko: Tonight… the two of you won your match-ups, the elimination challenge, and you’re both through to the final round! Congratulations!

Kenny: Thank you! @Winning the elimination challenge felt amazing, because I cooked a dessert up against Colt and still come out on top! @Being able to compete for the title of Warrior Chef feels surreal and I’m still processing it.

Tiffany: @I knew I would win. @All of these fools doubted me, saying that I was stupid for choosing fish cakes and going up against Laguna. @But I knew that I was going to be the winner of that match-up. @Next stop, the very top.

The two leave.

In walks Colt and Laguna.

Mariko: Only one of you can join Kenny and Tiffany in the final round. For this last cook off, you guys will have 75 minutes to prepare conkies! And your time starts now!

Colt: @I’m still processing how Laguna and I both lost in our specialties. @But at the same time, I’m cooking for my life and that’s just terrifying. @To win Warrior Chef would be life changing because it validates my choices in wanting to become a pastry chef and putting football behind me. @For my dish, I’m making a sweet conkies with coconut, pumpkin, and raisins, and I’m serving that with a coconut-rum custard. @I got to win this challenge tonight, or else that’s it for me.

Laguna: @I’m pissed because Conkies are basically a cornmeal based thing that’s wrapped in a banana leaf. @Kind of too soon for me, since I’m here because of a banana leaf dish. @I’m going to make a savory conkies, in the fashion of a tamale, but I’m going to pair it with shrimp because that will be a great way to incorporate seafood in with the corn. @I just came back into the competition from a sudden death cook-off, and now I’m in another one to get into the final round. @I need to beat Colt tonight. @He’s my toughest competition, and getting rid of him right before the end is exactly how I plan on intimidating the rest of the competitors.

Tiffany: @I know that Colt is going to knock out Laguna. @There’s no way that Colt is going to be beaten by that surfer dude. @He’s way too strong of a competitor to lose like that. @I’m just thinking about what kind of dishes I’m going to make for the finale, since that’s coming up soon.

Kenny: @At this point, I’m stoked because I’ve won the most amount of challenges out of everyone here and it feels amazing. @I hope that Laguna can knock Colt out, because I can definitely take down Laguna in the finale, and if Colt is my sous-chef, he can make my team’s dessert.

Laguna: @I check on the shrimp and it’s overcooked. @I have to throw it. Fuck. I can’t use them. @Now I just have a corn conkies, and I’m not sure if that’s going to cut it at this point. @But time is winding down, so I decide to focus on making a dipping sauce using chilies, oil, onion, shallot, ginger, and garlic. @It might be my saving grace tonight.

Colt: @Laguna’s making a sauce for his conkies, and I’m already a step ahead of him in that case. @My coconut custard is in the fridge, thickening. @The conkies are in the steamer, and I go to check on them, cutting one open. Completely raw in the middle. Shit. @I put them back into the steamer, with just 5 minutes left on the clock. @I finally decide “screw it” and I open up the conkies, scoop them and fry them off in the deep frier. @I just got to get them cooked at this point.

Laguna: @The conkies, I unwrap mine and they are undercooked. Crap. Fuck. @Nothing is going to plan. @I want to deep fry mine, but Colt is already at the frier. @So I’m going to pan fry them in the leaves, just to help get some more heat and steam inside of them. @There’s nothing else I can do at this point.

Kenny: *to Tiffany* I can’t watch. @I’m too nervous at this point. @Both of them are struggling and I don’t know if either of them will finish on time.

Tiffany: *to Kenny* Don’t worry, boo. I’ll watch for both of us. @I don’t care which one of them goes home. @Just bring the other one to slaughter- I mean, the final round, with me. @It doesn’t matter who joins me. @Oh, and Kenny. @Forgot about him already.

Mariko: Time’s up!

Laguna: *to Colt* Good luck, man.

Colt: *to Laguna* If I lose, you better win it all.

Mariko: Alright, so here are the dishes!

Laguna – savory corn conkies with chili sauce

Colt – sweet potato and raisin conkies with coconut-rum custard

Lauren: Laguna’s conkies were cooked nicely and I really enjoyed the chili sauce that added a good amount of heat. It was a great bite.

Aster: Colt’s conkies, I was not sure how to feel at first. The texture was great and I loved the coconut and rum custard a lot. That made the dish pop for me.

Erwin: My biggest issue with Colt’s dish is that it was not entirely cooked in the banana leaves. However, Laguna made a tamale, essentially. Both dishes, they tasted good, so I’m at a loss at how to judge this.

Mariko: So can we decide on our last finalist?

Erwin: We can.

In walks Laguna and Colt.

Laguna: @The chance to be Warrior Chef is so close. @I really want to make it to the end and win the title. @Being cut now would suck so much.
Colt: @Laguna is one of the strongest cooks in the competition, so to lose to him, it would be an honor, but at the same time, I want to win the title badly. @That’s the priority here.

Mariko: Tonight, only one of you can advance to the final round with Kenny and Tiffany. The judges were split on how to vote for this match-up. It came down to taste and how closely both of you were to cooking conkies. Laguna…. please return to the kitchen and leave. Colt, congratulations! You’re through to the final round!

Laguna: *to Colt* You killed it. Congrats, bro.

Colt: *to Laguna* Thanks, man. I’m going to win it for you and everyone else.
Laguna: @Leaving Warrior Chef, I feel a bit annoyed. @I just got back into the competition and they’re kicking me off right away yet again. @I know that I can be a winner of this competition, but this season was not my time. @Maybe in another season, I’ll finally get to come back and be crowned the winner. @But for now, I wish Colt, Kenny, and Tiffany the best of luck. @It’s going to be an epic showdown.

Laguna leaves the kitchen.

Colt: @I’m still shaking because it was that close of a call. @I almost got sent home. @Tiffany and Kenny probably think that I’m going to be an easy target in the next round, but I’m determined to prove them wrong. @Bring it. @I will be Warrior Chef.

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