Warrior Chef 3: Round 6

Phung: @I was almost sent home in the last round, but it doesn’t matter. @People have bad days. @You know what? @I can just win a challenge or two this round, and it’ll be my mini redemption. @The Phung Dynasty shall continue into a new era!

Lauren: @I’m surprised that Cherry got sent home, but we’re down to six really strong cooks. @Anyone can be going home at this point.

Gabe: @I’ve made it far, but I can go further. @I’m aiming for that finale now.

Michele: Hi, everyone! Welcome to the final six!

Kira: @Being in the top six feels good, but I want to make it to the finale. @We’re halfway done with the competition at this point.

Michele: So let’s start with our creativity challenge. We want you guys to prepare a delicious breakfast dish in just 30 minutes. Immunity is off the table, but we will be giving the winning cook $1,000!

Phung: @Want.

Lauren: @$1,000? @I need to step it up.

Michele: Your time starts now!

Phung: @I’m making banana-nut muffin doughnuts with a Nutella-Vietnamese coffee cappuccino. @I’m making the muffin dough and then deep frying them, because these doughnuts will win Warrior Chef for me. @The Vietnamese coffee kept me safe in the last round, and I’m just going to keep on going with that because I am here to win it.

Gabe: @For my breakfast dish, I’m preparing orange-maple crepes with brown butter sauce. @I want to do something simple and light, because I think breakfast shouldn’t be too fussy with bells and whistles. @That would get annoying really fast.

Henry: @I’m making a classic. @Bacon pancakes with caramelized ham, and an eggs benedict on top of the bacon pancake. @So I’m doing the egg and the hollandaise on top of the pancake and the ham. @I think it’s ingenious. @I haven’t won a challenge yet, but Justin just won his first challenge in the last round, so there’s still hope for me.

Justin: @I want to keep this winning streak going and the best way for me to do that is to push myself. @I’m making a zucchini cake with poached egg and a fresh crab salad. @I’m going with a savory breakfast because a sweet one is the most predictable way to go and I’m not about doing the most obvious thing at this point in the competition.

Kira: @I’m making a matcha-chia seed parfait with homemade granola and whipped coconut cream. @I’m trying to make a very light dish and make it vegan and gluten-free just to show that I am a fearless competitor. @I love chia seed pudding, so hopefully it will go over well.

Lauren: @I don’t really enjoy breakfast to be honest. @I’m making a rice porridge with a poached egg and some Kona coffee quick-braised ham. @Right now, Justin and Kira are the most consistently strong competitors, but Phung is a demon who I can’t just ignore. @She is definitely the strongest cook when she gets it right.

Michele: Time’s up!

Henry: @I’m feeling good about my dish and then I realize that I didn’t plate my hollandaise. @Crap. @My dish is going to be dry.

Michele: Your judge for this is Warrior Chef house critic, Lotte Amazo!

Lotte: Hi, everyone! Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so thank you guys for preparing it for me six-fold!

Lotte and Michele taste the dishes.

Michele: So Lotte, who failed to impress you?

Lotte: Gabe, the dish was very underwhelming, especially compared to the other dishes. And Henry. Your dish was dry. I needed a glass of orange juice for that.

Henry: @I could’ve won the challenge if it wasn’t for that sauce missing. @This sucks.

Lotte: So for my favorites. Phung. The fact you managed to get yeast-leavened doughnuts that fluffy in the time allotted, and the overall concept of your dish was inspired and genius. You really do have a mastery over yeast that nobody else, myself included, seems to grasp. First the baguette in an hour, and then doughnuts in 30 minutes? I’m just stunned. Justin, the crab and zucchini combination was great and it was cool to see you incorporate that into a breakfast dish. And Kira. You managed to really impress me with an inventive breakfast that showed ambition as well.

Michele: So who won the challenge?

Lotte: It was a close call between all three dishes. But the best dish definitely went to… Phung for defying the laws of physics and proofing with yeast yet again!

Michele: Congratulations, Phung! You won $1,000!

Phung: Thank you! Thank you! I love you all, my loyal subjects! @I won!~ @I won!~ @Told you my doughnuts would win me this challenge. @Who said that you need yeast to proof for at least an hour? @They’re dumb because I’ve proven them wrong twice now. @Suck it! @That money will fund my “Dummies’ Guide to using Yeast” cookbook! @Expect it in a bookstore near you!

Michele: And now it’s time for the elimination challenge! For this challenge, you guys have 60 minutes to prepare your signature dishes! Your time starts now!

Phung: @This challenge? @Normally they have it in the preliminary rounds but they didn’t do that this year. @Oh well, I’m going to just have to crush it here. @I’m preparing a seared duck breast with banana flower salad and lime reduction, as well as duck carpaccio with crackling and pickled bean sprouts. @I’m tasting the flavors this time because I want my duck to not suck like the lamb in the last challenge.

Justin: @I’m feeling good about this challenge. @I’ve made pasta throughout this entire competition so it’s only natural for me to… not do that. @I’m going to prepare a play on pasta, but it’s a German dessert. @It’s called spaghettieis, which is vanilla ice cream piped to look like noodles, with a strawberry sauce, some chocolate truffles, and a cookie to garnish. @I think it’s a funny thing to prepare here.

Lauren: @For my signature dish, I’m going to do a kahlua glazed pork belly with a raw egg-yogurt emulsion, pickled radicchio, and scallop dumplings. @I’m so ready to take down these guys and make my way to the final five.

Kira: @I’m nervous about this challenge, because I don’t want to disappoint and these numbers just show what the judges think of our dishes down to the margin. @I’m making a confit tuna belly with braised onions, caramelized mushrooms, and brown butter. @I’m going to try my best to show good French technique.

Henry: @I love crab cakes so I’m making a crab beignet with a spicy remoulade sauce and a corn and pepper slaw. @I’m hoping that the flavors really deliver. @I’m not ready to get eliminated and I want to show everyone why I deserve to be in the final five.

Gabe: @For my dish, I’m preparing a seared duck breast with guava glaze and a fried rice with chilies. @It’s Chinese and Mexican fusion, but I know that I can pull this off. @My biggest strengths tonight will be in my flavors and seasoning. @I want to nail it because I haven’t won anything yet.

Michele: Time’s up!

Phung: @I nailed it. @I know I nailed it.

Michele: So your judges are:

Aster Walker

Erwin Ko

Miriam Adjanti

Missy Skies

Guy Flannigan

Frank Torres

Michele: So let’s start with Phung’s dish!

-duck breast, banana flower salad, lime, carpaccio, crackling, pickled bean sprouts

Frank: Phung’s flavors were beautiful. The presentation was astonishing and I liked the amount of flavor she developed into that carpaccio.

Guy: The dish came together. Using the duck fat and salt to dress the flesh of the breast meat was a smart trick.

Michele: And now we have Justin’s dish!

-spaghettieis

Missy: He normally makes pasta, so this was hilarious to see. The ice cream was well made and the sauce was delicious.

Erwin: Overall, two thumbs up for a great dish. I have no complaints either. He did a really good job.

Michele: And next is Lauren’s dish!

-kahlua glazed pork belly, raw egg-yogurt emulsion, pickled radicchio, scallop dumplings

Aster: The pork belly was cooked nicely and I liked the pickled radicchio against the egg emulsion. She balanced her flavors quite nicely.

Miriam: I got a fattier piece, so it was not as enjoyable for me, the pork. But the dumplings alone were fantastic. I loved those.

Michele: And now we have Kira’s dish!

-confit tuna belly with braised onions, caramelized mushrooms, and brown butter

Miriam: The tuna belly was cooked well, but the dish itself, I was looking for brightness and that’s what I was missing.

Missy: I agree. The dish lacked acidity to really compliment the tuna. But the confit technique alone was impeccably done.

Michele: And this is Henry’s dish next.

-crab beignet with spicy remoulade sauce and corn and pepper slaw

Guy: Compared to some of the other dishes, his was very plain. That being said, the beignets were inventive and I liked those a lot.

Frank: The pairing of the beignets with peppers, corn, and remoulade was clever, but the amount of technique he showed compared to Phung or Lauren or Justin, just none.

Michele: And finally, Gabe’s dish!

-seared duck breast with guava glaze and chili fried rice

Aster: The duck breast was cooked nicely but the entire dish just ate heavy. I couldn’t really stomach most of that rice.

Erwin: I felt that the combination was interesting and he cooked the rice and the duck well, and the glaze was well seasoned. I just didn’t think he did enough with his time.

Michele: So can we score the dishes?

Erwin: We can.

In walks the six contestants.

Michele: Six of you stand, but one of you is going to be eliminated. Judges? Let’s start with Phung’s score!

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

Phung: Boom! @I got 3 10’s. @Nobody is going to beat me.

Michele: And now we have Kira’s score.

Kira – 9 + 9 + 9 + 9 + 8 + 8 = 52/60 stars

Kira: Crap. @I’m behind Phung by 5 whole stars. @I might be going home tonight over my tuna dish.

Michele: And now we have Justin’s score!

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

Justin: Thank you. @Not enough to beat Phung, but I’m still safe. @It’s a good feeling.

Michele: And next is Lauren’s score!

Lauren – 10 + 9 + 9 + 9 + 9 + 8 = 54/60 stars

Lauren: @I got a 10, but Justin and Phung still beat me. @It sucks, but at least I’m safe.

Michele: Phung, you actually received the highest score and you won the elimination challenge! Congratulations!

Phung: Of course I would get first. @I managed to really blow the judges away and getting a 57/60 just shows why I am going to be Warrior Chef. @Winning back to back challenges just proves to everyone why they can eat my dust.

Michele: Lauren, Justin, Phung, the three of you are safe and can leave the kitchen.

The three leave.

Michele: Henry, you need 53 to beat Kira. Let’s see your score!

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

Michele: Henry, that means you’re currently in last place. Kira, you are safe.

Kira: Thank you. @I was getting nervous there. @It sucks that I was so close to the bottom. @I don’t like that feeling.

Michele: Gabe, you need at least 51 stars to remain. Here’s your score!

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

Michele: Unfortunately, Gabe, with the lowest score, you are going home tonight. Please return to the kitchen and leave.

Gabe: Thank you. @I’m gutted. @I just got eliminated from Warrior Chef and I didn’t think it was my time to leave. @The final five are strong cooks, but I think Phung will win this season. @She’s been the strongest by far.

Advertisements

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.

Road Movie: Chapter 11

Waking up again, Dakota sighed to herself. It was a new day, and another one without Phillip. It’s been a week since she was discharged from the hospital, and she was still not deemed mentally fit by Pamela. Getting up, she looked at herself in the mirror. And looking back was the answer to the question she needed to answer first. To move forward with her life so that she can accept everything that had happened, she needed to start with herself. As painful and almost insensitive as it is to admit it, she was single. As a single woman working in Chicago, she needs to focus on making herself independent, strong, and capable without a boyfriend there. It was the first time she was living alone ever, and she needed to learn more about herself. Who was Dakota Logan? Where would she even begin with defining that? How about hobbies? What are the things that interested her? Since taking Phillip, he became her world. Without him there, she needed other things to fill in that time. It was a great place for her to start.

Walking around the Art Institute of Chicago, Dakota was just dumbstruck. Mostly by how odd the art was. The more she thought about it, the less interest she actually had in fine art, so to speak. Or as she chose to interpret it, weird looking, cobbled together pieces of equipment or materials. It was strange. How did my mom ever major in this? Mrs. Logan was an art history student and even worked at the institute before, but clearly that interest in art was not hereditary. Puzzled, she walked through the Modern Velvet: A Sense of Luxury in the Age of Industry exhibit. Looking at Gertrude Rapp’s piece, Fragment, a black and pink streaked carpet, Dakota shrugged to herself. It did not really look like art to her. It seemed more like a child trying to draw zebra stripes with pink and black. Deciding after her experience that art was not something she was particularly intrigued by, the brunette made way for the exit. Well, at least now she knew that art is not a hobby she could get invested in. The brunette shrugged to herself. It was slightly disappointing, because she was hoping to find a new hobby or interest right off the bat and visiting museums should have been something that appealed to her. She knew how to be creative, as shown by her marketing background, but art was not a fun creative outlet for her when she was not working. She felt like being confused was an attack on her own competence and intelligence as a human being. She knew she was off to find another hobby to potentially pursue.

Dakota decided to get lunch at a cafe next to the Art Institute, Wildberry Pancakes and Cafe. There was something about breakfast that just comforted her. But the food was not her focus at the moment. She was busy looking around the city, trying to figure out what other hobbies she could try. “Oh, wow.” The brunette looked up to see her waiter deliver her order: the Corned Beef Bene. It was Eggs Benedict, but instead of Canadian bacon, there was corned beef, crisped until brown. She quickly took a picture on her phone before digging in. Eggs Benedict was something she often ordered, mostly because she loved poached eggs ann English muffins together. And poking into a poached egg was a fun experience in itself. Seeing the yolk ooze out, it was strangely satisfying and reminded her of her mother cooking them breakfast every morning before school or church. Dakota chuckled to herself. She was never a really gung-ho church-goer. The moment she started high school, she would often make excuses to ditch going, mostly because she preferred sleeping in to having to wake up early on the weekends. That was the sort of person Dakota used to be. Trimming the unnecessary parts out of her life to focus making her life more convenient. It was that very streamlined mentality that helped get her through business school and climb the ranks to being a sales manager by the age of 25. As soft-spoken and timid as she came off, the brunette knew deep down that she was competitive and aggressive. She liked to take affirmative action.

Walking around Maggie Daley Park, Dakota smiled. The jungle gym, even during the winter, was a sight to behold. It was enormous; there was a large bridge with small towers with slides jutting out of every side, a smaller tiered fortress-like building with a large slide coming out of the largest tier. And several slides embedded into nearby hills. In a lot of ways, the park was a miniature city. Dakota herself never really got a chance to play on the park herself, because it was built when she was a senior in college. The brunette smiled, despite this. She did not have to go down the slides or ride the swings to appreciate the sight for what it was. A large, breathtaking metropolis for the future generation to enjoy. Walking away, she looked at her phone. 12:00PM. She had to go to her appointment with Pamela at 1:15. Seeing the park made the brunette think about her own future. She always wanted children. Unfortunately, having them with Phillip is no longer possible. It saddened her to think about it.

“So how did visiting the Art Institute make you feel?” Pamela looked at her. Dakota was sitting on the couch in the blonde’s office. “I felt confused. Seeing these art exhibitions, I did not really understand how I was supposed to feel, I guess.” She admitted. At this point, she had to accept that unless she was open and honest with Pamela, she would never get readmitted to work. “Maybe you should see art differently? Rather than trying to understand it, see how you react to  the images, shapes, and colors. That would be my suggestion. And what else have you been doing?” “I have been meaning to exercise more. My building has a gym, so I’ve been using the treadmill every day for about 45 minutes.” Dakota listed off. “I agree that exercise is a good route to go. Endorphins always help the body feel more positive.” She agreed encouragingly. “Keep up the daily exercise. Especially in these colder seasons, we are more susceptible to depression, and the lack of being able to partake in outdoor activity is a definite season for that.” “Alright, thanks. I’ll be sure to keep running then. And I’ll try to approach the world in a more reactionary way. See things for how they make me feel, rather than how I interpret them.” Dakota was interested to see how this new approach would affect her mentality and outlook on life. It might be what she needed though. “Tell me how you feel after trying that. I think you are on the start to developing good habits, and with a few more extra sessions, you might be ready to turn to work.” Pamela beamed at her as Dakota got up and left the office.

“Welcome to Hillary Jenkins!” Frida beamed at a 23 year-old Dakota. She had just been accepted as a sales manager in the company, after previously being an intern here throughout college and being a sales analyst for a year. “Hi, I’m Virginia.” An Asian woman with a flawless complexion and glossy hair tried in a perfect ponytail greeted her. “I’m the sales manager in charge of our hospitality accounts.” Shaking hands, Dakota felt slightly intimidated. Virginia had an air of confidence and elegance that she hardly ever saw, but admired. Dakota wished that she could be like Virginia, confident, aloof, hardworking, and capable. She felt fortunate to be coworkers.