Warrior Chef Redemption: Announcement

Since I have concluded Warrior Chef 3 for quite a while now, I had been focusing on writing more Warrior Chef series since then. For the fourth installment of this series, I wanted to do something a little different. I wanted there to be a Redemption competition. For this upcoming Warrior Chef, I will be featuring all previous contestants who have lost the title and are coming back for a second chance. Below is the list of the competitors who are vying for the title yet again! I have linked the rounds that they previously were eliminated in, just so that you can catch up to their respective seasons, as well as listed their total challenge wins from their previous runs.

Warrior Chef 1

Tadashi Hamilton – runner up (3 creativity, 6 elimination; 9 wins)

Karen Laverre – 3rd place (4 creativity, 2 elimination; 6 wins)

Lucas Powers – 4th place (3 creativity, 2 elimination; 5 wins)

Fanny Robinson – 5th place (2 creativity, 1 elimination; 3 wins)

Warrior Chef 2

Rose Fu – runner up (4 creativity, 2 elimination; 6 wins)

Amanda Bolen – 3rd place (4 creativity, 2 elimination; 6 wins)

John “Jo” Chang – 4th place (1 creativity, 3 elimination; 4 wins)

Nate Wong – 5th place (1 creativity, 1 elimination; 2 wins)

Warrior Chef 3

Phung Pham – runner up (3 creativity, 5 elimination; 8 wins)

Kira Taso – runner up (4 creativity, 1 elimination; 5 wins)

Justin Chiarello – 4th place (1 creativity, 1 elimination; 2 wins)

Henry Parker – 5th place (0 creativity, 0 elimination; 0 wins)

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betrayal: realization

The concepts of trust, faith, and loyalty, I used to think of them as weaknesses. Shackles that kept me from being a better version of myself, in the form of relying on others and hoping that they can help me when I most need it. In this sort of world, people only ever remember the negatives, specifically when people hurt or backstab them. We hardly ever acknowledge the people who do pull through and give us hope in the world. And trust me, no matter how much you try to deny that there has been a person like that in your life, you will find that somebody, even for a fleeting moment, has pulled through for you when you needed it most. That sort of kindness, it is important to carry it forward. However, this post is not about cherishing those good-willed gestures. This is about betrayal, and why people act in such a way that it hurts you deeply.

It is one thing to put all of your trust into somebody, but when that person goes out of their way to disappoint you, whether it be distributing your secrets to other people behind your back, throwing you under the bus by using your secret as the excuse for a mistake or poor performance, or just refusing to be there consistently when you need them most, it really sucks. Simply put. Being told that somebody who you took the time to care for and emotionally invest in that they are stabbing you in the back in the way that they are, it hurts. But the main reason why is simple: on a subliminal level, you felt so emotionally attached and invested into the person that you want to see a return on that investment. You want them to come through for you in the same way that you have come through for them. So when they do not reciprocate or respect your gestures or actions, it hurts.

Now that honestly sounds shallow, almost manipulative, and materialistic, but it holds a lot of truth. Maybe when you swap out a word or two there. I refer to what a friendship consists of as an emotional investment, which comes off as cold and business-like, but try replacing that with more sentimental vocabulary, such as memories, moments, time together, etc. It automatically makes sense to you. Those memories you shared together in your relationship, you hoped for the sake of those that the person you relied on would help you. But that is not always the case. Some people, they will pull through and those are the friends you want to keep close to you. The ones that just drop the ball and never come through, even when it is a simple request, they are not worth any of your emotional investment or time. Yes, it will be hard to cut them off from your heart, and that sort of process takes time. That is understandable. We are only human beings, so having a sense of sentimentalism occurs naturally to us. The foundation of our intelligence is based on memories.

All I can say is that if somebody betrays you, wear a tough skin, make new memories with better people, and try to move on. At first, you will feel yourself actively trying to do so, but as you enjoy your new life more and more, that constant reminding of yourself to move on, it fades away. You will start to adjust and adapt to your new life. Sometimes, you might remember things about your past subliminally, whether it be seeing something or someone who reminds you of the person you are trying to forget or maybe seeing that person in a dream (probably a nightmare if that person is involved). All you can do when that happens is keep pushing forward. The fact that those memories continue to resurface, that means that you need to continue moving on and moving forward. Dwelling in the past, this is how those traitors in your life win. Their actions that hurt you will only sink in more by you allowing them to affect you. Be the strong person you are, and rise above it all. Don’t look back.

The best of every opportunity: dream

So in my last post, I talked about getting an offer from a very famous pastry chef. What I neglected to mention was that I also received an accounting position for the biggest hotel company in the world. But the point of this post is not to boast and brag about how I was in the right place at the right time, because let’s be real here, I don’t think I was relatively qualified for either of the offers I received.  This post is about the fact that I could not take both offers, despite desperately wanting to in some capacity. While yes, I spoke about being under-qualified to work as a pastry cook for the famous chef, I still wanted to either work part-time or even as an unpaid intern for him. I was planning to take the accounting position, since it paid better, has many more job opportunities attached to it, and in general, is just the safer option. The pastry cook job, I still wanted to have some involvement with that chef, just to put their name on my resume, which was why I tried to ask for a downgrade from the original offer I received. But to no avail, which left me with probably one of the more difficult decisions I have had to make in my life thus far.

Do I follow my passion, or to I follow stability? It feels like the premise for so many dramas, television shows, some of my own stories too, when I think about it. Road Movie and my upcoming series, Damn Real, both talk about making career decisions, and how stressful it can be to have to make that important, life changing decision. I have spoken to a lot of my friends who are older about what they would do in this situation, and I have received mixed responses. Some told me to follow my heart, because I was young and therefore, could still make mistakes. Others told me to have a stable career first, and take risks when I have the financial backing to recover from them. Honestly, both points are valid, and that was what made this kind of choice harder than it already was. I love to bake and aspire to open my own bakery, so having that name on my resume will give me an insane amount of credibility. But from what I have heard, employee turnover there is 75% in four months, and on top of that, the pay and hours are both horrendous. For the hotel company, it is equally reputable within the hospitality industry, I would have a stable job, a good income, and I would be doing something that I am good at, just not necessarily passionate about in the form of accounting.

I really wish I could have worked full time in accounting with a part time with the pastry chef, because that would be the best of both worlds. However, this is reality, not my dreams, and I cannot do that. I was forced to make a tough call. I chose to be financially stable, because I graduated college in May, and for the past few months, I have been unemployed. I needed the money more than I wanted to fuel my passion. As much as I want to become the next big pastry chef in America, I would need the finances to do that. It was a painful decision to make, and it saddens me to think that every day, people have to make these kinds of choices where they will lose sleep over the next few days to possibly the rest of their lives, wondering what the hypothetical alternate reality where they chose the other option would pan out. Trust me, been there more times than I could count, and trust me even more when I say this, but try not to think about the alternatives. It will drive you insane.

In an ideal world, you can find a way to make the best of every opportunity. In my case, I wish I could have taken both. But in the end, I chose what I feel like was the better option given my current conditions. For now, I intend to be an amazing accountant, make a lot more money than I would have as a pastry cook, and from there, open my own bakery. There is not much I can do over an ended opportunity or a closed door. Maybe the chance to work for that chef will open up in the future again, and maybe not. But I will not bank on that chance happening. I did not when I made my decision; I fully accepted the fact that by rejecting that reality, I probably could never have it, and I can live with that. In a featherlight world of my dreams, we could have it all. But in most realities we can’t, and that is a sad truth that we all need to face at multiple points in our lives.

Humility: realization

Being humble can be a challenge when you are faced with so much praise. However, accepting that praise and allowing it to get to your head, that is a crucial mistake. In the past, I was fortunate enough to be offered a job as a line cook for a Michelin starred chef. I quit the job after two days, despite repeatedly boasting about how “qualified” and “amazing” of a cook I am. Oh, trust me, I got my ass handed to me in those two days. Day one, I was told that I could not cook because I did not have a ServSafe Food Handler Certification. They had me organize the pantry instead. Oh, and chop up a ton of pickled chili peppers. The pickling liquid seeped into my hands and I could not feel with them for the rest of the week. Day two, they told me my knives were crap, and that I sucked at using my knives on top of that. For me, the last straw was being forced into a back storeroom and being told that I need to organize that stuff because I did not belong in the kitchen whatsoever. I felt like every ounce of my dignity was stripped at that point. Granted, having an inflated ego did not help either. So I quit. I refused to be a part of an operation where the sous chef was treating me like a janitor, despite hiring me on to be a line cook.

But the main lesson here was, had I been more humble, I could have used that experience as a learning opportunity. Yeah, the sous chef was a complete jerk, but I let my ego stand in the way of the operation. I needed to realize that this was what I signed up for, and as an adult, I need to take ownership and responsibility for the tasks assigned to me, no matter how degrading or seemingly irrelevant that they were. Showing that willingness to do anything, no made what it is, that gets you farther in your career or life. Being able to swallow your own pride, and not let your sense of entitlement prevent you from doing things, especially in a hospitality setting, this is how you gain your stripes, so to speak. Yet, I was too arrogant and entitled to realize this. I felt that, because I was hired, that I was some epic cook who was destined to be a chef. Not true, whatsoever. If anything, it was the furthest thing from the truth. Getting hired is nice, but retaining the title and doing well in it, that can only be done by being humble and openminded, which I think are things I tend to stress a lot about in this blog.

Recently, I had just received an offer to work for another famous chef, although I will keep the name anonymous, but will say that if you think about famous New York bakeries, it will narrow it down to maybe three or four names right away, and it is one of those names. The point is, as much as I would love to work for this chef, I have to be humble and realize that I am nowhere near ready to do that. While I could learn so much, at what expense? Their resources, money, and their time? I could be wasting some culinary school’s time instead, and from there, save this famous chef a lot more money. To be perfectly honest, as much as I would love to accept this offer, I know I have a lot more to learn before I could boast that name on my resume. Especially after what had happened with the last chef. Plus, I asked my friend who did have the opportunity to work with this chef, and she told me about how it was run on fear-based management. Because of this, I know I lack the confidence and capability to survive or even operate in such an environment, based on my past experience, where I was constantly told I was garbage until I broke down in the middle of service.

All of the kitchen-related trauma aside, the point of this post was to talk about humility. It is okay to admit that you are not ready to do something, and it is okay to do things that at first might feel demeaning to you, so long as there is a lesson to be learned from it. Never think that something is too beneath you, because that sort of arrogant behavior will ruin your career in a heartbeat. Nobody wants to work for an entitled snob. Ever. Having humility makes you a better worker, leader, and most importantly of all, person, because you had an open mind and it helps you learn from every experience. And being able to take away something from everything, that is what it means to live a featherlight life.

Sensitivity: realization

I always had this issue in life where I would take things too personally. Little comments, remarks, small gestures, they would have such a huge subliminal impact on me to the point where it would bother me for ages. Sometimes I would act on it, albeit overreact and give people the rise they may or may not be wanting, or I would used to shelve it, and it become a massive mess when I would go volcanic. Instead of shelving any pain, I have been just trying to get it out of my system by exercising, and learning not to take things so personally. Rather than seeing anything as a personal attack on me as a person, I just try to understand where they are coming from, what their intentions are, and what I did to affect them to cause such behavior, or if their attitude was just normal to begin with, and I was misinterpreting their actions.

Half the time I get hurt or affected by the behavior of others, it is because something is stressing me out already, such as getting a job, family or friends-related issues, for example. I am already at a vulnerable state at that point, so little things would just get under my skin easily. I would always get so bothered to the point where I would not stop thinking about comments or remarks that irked me, and I would even lose sleep over how angry or annoyed I would get. It was not a pleasant habit, in the slightest. This kind of toxic, grudge-forming behavior is what caused a lot of problems for me in the past. I would burn so many bridges and be outcasted by so many people because I would get so easily hurt and would push other people away so quickly.

Unfortunately, that sensitivity had stages. The second paragraph described stage 1 of my toxically sensitive behavior. The second phase, it would get worse. I would not stop being affected by the fact that I pushed people away. That sort of guilt, it really does eat away at you. I would feel more remorse than you could imagine over hurting people like that, and it quickly turns to self-resentment. And I’m sure I’ve written enough about that to the point where it is guessable where self-resentment would eventually turn to. Like I said, sensitivity to that extreme, it is a vicious cycle that I have been trapped in for two occasions of my life already. At that point in time, I thought that I couldn’t really do anything about it, but that’s not the case. There is a way to break out of the cycle.

Distract yourself from these things by not thinking about them, but rather, focusing on things that you enjoy doing once you cannot do anything more in pursuit of your goals. Do not let the little things and thoughts bother you. Don’t read to deep into things, and try to excavate hidden meanings beyond what is actually there. Some might call it a naive way of living, but I call it building up a wall of indifference so that you have the space and time to grow thicker skin to these kinds of comments and remarks. I genuinely can’t stress enough how important it is to not take things to heart so often. When you do, it opens you up to that vulnerability, and if you are an overtly sensitive person to begin with, it will only end with you taking everything too personally and getting offended quite easily. Learning to relax, let go, and not get offended, that’s what it means to live a featherlight life.

 

Multidimensionalism: realization

Something that got me thinking was when I saw one of my classmates making a separate “food” Instagram account, and then telling everyone on FaceBook to follow her on it. It was a lot of an eye-roller, I will admit, but that is not the point of this post. I just want to understand why so many people, especially young people, find the need to create an entirely new Instagram, typically titled (Insert your name here)eats, or something to that effect. It’s honestly so unnecessary. Why can’t you just upload food pictures to your current Instagram? What is so difficult about doing that?

But the answer I am likely to hear is not a pretty one. It is almost always that these people want to be “discovered” as food authorities. They want the likes, the attention, the fame. They want an entirely different account for their food-related lives, in addition to their personal accounts, just to double the chances of them gaining likes and followers, which in turns, is supposed to help with their self-esteem and just making them feel better about themselves. And some people might make the argument that “oh, they don’t post the same photos in their Foodstagrams as they do their normal accounts!” But trust me, they do. Half the time, I get the same photos circulating my feed because they double-dip photos between both accounts. That’s why I came around to this conclusion.

Now, I just don’t understand why we can’t consolidate our photos and interests to one account. Yes, half of the this post is to call out people who are obnoxious enough to do that, but the rest of this post is to question the necessity of it. Are people, we are allowed to have more than one interest. We can express ourselves through these different topics and interests. Compartmentalizing ourselves to just one thing, or separating that one aspect from the rest of our lives, is it really worth compromising the multidimensionality of our personalities? And for those who double-dip their food photos between their two accounts, just why? Does it make you feel better to know that there are more likes on at least one of the same two food posts? And if you want a separate Instagram just to sort through your food posts, why make it public or go out of your way to advertise it to get a following? Those sorts of things, make them private, since you’re probably just using them to reference certain things you’ve eaten or made in the past. Or just be a less obnoxious human being a make a folder on your computer. Being able to see the different occurrences of your life, through your photos, whether it be a selfie, a photo of a sunset, or a picture of a dish you ate, that sort of variety is a lot more worthwhile if it is true to who you are as a person.

For me, I used to struggle with having that sort of variety at all. I came from the opposite issue, where I was obsessed with food and had literally no other interests. That is why I prefer and cherish that variety. Seeing others revert into something that I personally had to overcome, it’s unsettling to say the least. And for them to expect to be rewarded for that kind of behavior, again, it makes me uneasy knowing how vain or shallow certain people are. Now this blog is dedicated to good vibes, so I want to end this post on a positive note. embrace the different sides of your personality and admire them as a whole. Life is too short to be lived in pieces or compartments. Being able to showcase your interests in a great big mosaic, as opposed to smaller, separate ones, is a lot more impressive and makes you a much more beautiful human being. Don’t let stupid things like followers or likes define who you are as a person or what you are worth to the world.

 

romanced: dream

A majority of us are raised in a society where we go to school, get a job, get married, have a family, and then our children continue that cycle. Where I am at currently in my life is post-going to school, but pre-getting a job or I am even further away from getting married; I have very little experience with relationships and romance in general. I only recently had my first relationship, and we agreed that the title was too… intense, and that we would prefer to stay as friends who date exclusively first, as we get to know each other better.

I am embarrassed to admit that I would actually want to be in a relationship. Not for the sake of being in one so that I am not single or to check part of another box off the unspoken to-do list of life, but more for the life experience that comes from it. Even if this relationship does not lead to marriage but rather ends sourly in a break-up, I don’t mind so long as I can learn something more about myself from the experience. Just being a part of the ride is enough to make me happy. To understand what it means to be somebody else’s significant other, while at the same time, being able to see a person as my own, it is important for me. I want to know that somebody out there who can make me feel and act that way exists.

The concept of love and relationships, it’s not something that can be approached logically. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why we as humans are always so fascinated by the idea. No matter what we try to find in somebody else as a mate, sometimes, our hearts may not always agree. Let’s say we want somebody who is tall, Caucasian, and muscular, but we end up in a relationship with somebody who is medium-height, African American, and scrawny. Yet, we are not un-attracted to the African American, despite them being not what we would prefer. And that is because of what they have to offer beneath the surface. While they do not physically resemble what we would want in an ideal mate, the personality and ethics of this African American appeals to us.

The concept of love has a lot of gray areas. For example, one might view a woman getting hit by her husband as domestic violence without any context. But what if the woman wanted her husband to hit her, because that was her kink? I’m not going to explore that idea more, because it is a very…awkward topic, but you get the idea. There are other emotions, primal, hormonal, and hard to understand in general, that cloud our judgement and make us act beyond reason and logic. Yet, that’s what makes being romanced such an exciting and terrifying journey. The unknown does not necessarily settle well with me, but being able to single out that special somebody out of the several millions of people in the world, it’s a wonderful feeling. And it’s a feeling that every human being deserves to have, or at least in the world of my featherlight dreams.

Healing: dream

Being able to recover from something and move on, it’s a wonderful feeling. The healing process is a vital part in us maturing as human beings. A lot of it starts with forgetting about what it is that hurt us to begin with, specifically that pain. Yet, you still need to keep the lesson learned from whatever hurt you in mind. It could be that certain people are not good people, or be less naive, but whatever the lesson is, know what needs to be learned. Secondly, while keeping that newly learned moral in the back of your head, move on with your life. It might mean cutting off old parts of your life, but you need to do it, or else you could very easily revert to old, harmful habits that could cause you a lot of pain and possibly, cause you to revert to self-inflicting tendencies. That is the biggest emotional hurdle in the healing process is cutting off the past and forgetting about it.

The next part of the healing process is filling your life with new things to replace the old. They don’t have to be similar things. Preferably, they shouldn’t be similar things. Anything that reminds you of your past pain, that’s just asking to be triggered. Being able to do that, it also helps you forget the past a lot easier. You’re able to let go and not think about whatever horrible influences have hurt you. And while cutting off is the biggest challenge emotionally, this part is the most difficult part mentally is putting the past behind you. You are probably used to a certain routine, and you want to revert to it. You probably wouldn’t want to include new things into your life and you yearn for the past. Very few people are naturally good at adapting to and accepting change. And that’s to be expected. We can’t all just be okay to uprooting our daily routines. But being able to accept the change, even in small steps, it helps.

By allowing these new influences into your life, you can expel a lot of the negative emotions that have been burdening you earlier. You stop thinking about those dark thoughts, or about the causes of them. Instead, every day becomes a new opportunity for you to discovery something new about yourself or the world around you. You start to find yourself smiling a lot more, and while you know that this world is a little less wonderful than you remember it being, the parts that are genuinely wonderful that you discover makes that journey worthwhile. Being able to see the good in the world, it’s refreshing. Whether it’s new people, new hobbies, new places, you’ll surprise yourself with how much this world has to offer, despite whatever it was that hurt you in the first place. You stop thinking about the guilt, the pain, the trauma, and it helps you focus on future and what you can do as an individual to make the most of yours.

Being able to completely cast your past behind, it’s not easy. Those wounds from your trauma, they do become scars, but with time, you will forget what exactly gave you those scars exactly, but you will still vaguely remember how you got them, and what you can do to prevent yourself from falling into the same mistake again. The world will no longer feel like a cage or trap confining you, and it will open itself up to you. You are no longer being held down or back by those negative influences and burdens. Instead, you can focus on making the person you see in the mirror somebody you can love more and more. And once you reach that point of loving yourself, don’t stop there. Find new things about the world, and figure out what new things you love as well, and how you can work towards incorporating that newfound passion or interest into your life. With healing, you gain depth and character and that’s a life worth living in this featherlight world.

under the cherry blossoms: dream

It might just be because I have watched too many Japanese dramas, but I want to watch cherry blossoms bloom in Japan. Seeing the skies flood with these beautiful pink flowers is a sight to behold and it symbolizes so many different things: new life, a new year, and new opportunities.

When I started Featherlight, it was meant for me to better understand myself post suicide attempt. I used writing to help me cope with so many different kinds of pains and losses inflicted upon me by people who quite frankly were a waste of my time. But this post is not going to focus on that sort of negativity. I made my one jab and I’m moving on from that. I’m here to talk about cherry blossoms and new dreams.

In an ideal world, we can wake up every morning with a big, bright smile on our faces. There would be no need for negativity or bringing others down. When problems arise, we would simply face them and not make bigger deals out of them: situations would never escalate. Life would be simple but pleasant. With the bloom of this year’s cherry blossoms, I can finally say that I see the ugly side to ambition. The stress of taking on too much, it drives us mad with insecurity, exhaustion, and stress. We rub it in to others that we are doing more, as a facade masking how pained or shaken we really are. We are human beings, not robots. Trying to do so much may look good on paper, but it drives away a good portion of our humanity. It wears on our stamina and it makes us unpleasant to be around for a plethora of reasons, namely that we create insecurity and uneasiness with such reckless or bashful behavior.

I don’t want anyone to ever feel like they are not good enough. We all have the privilege of living life, and nobody should ever tell you that you are not good enough or make you feel insignificant in this world. You have been given an inherent purpose by being born a living, sentient being. Use that sentience and allow it to guide you to where you want to go. Don’t be worried if you’re not getting there as quickly as the person next to you. With enough dedication at a pace that befits you, you will arrive at your destination. For me, that is in Japan, owning a bakery, and being able to watch the cherry blossoms every spring. Even if it takes me until the age of 100, so long as I can get there before death, that is all I ask.

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!