Warrior Chef 3: Finale Part 1

The final four arrive in New Orleans, where the competition will conclude.

Justin: @I’m the last man standing and against three of the strongest cooks in this competition’s history. @Phung is definitely my biggest competition and I want her to go home next.

Michele: Welcome to the finale! Let’s get into your creativity challenge! Since we are in New Orleans, we want to see you guys make a delicious… beignet. You have just 30 minutes, and your time starts now!

Kira: @A beignet is a doughnut. @Lauren won the last elimination challenge with her doughnuts, so this will be tough. @I’m making a lemon-coconut beignet with lemon curd glaze and toasted coconut sprinkled on top.

Lauren: @I won the last challenge with my doughnuts so I’m going to do it again. @I’m making a matcha cake beignets with white chocolate ganache glaze. @The biggest competition for me in this challenge, probably Justin? @I don’t really think anyone here has as much pastry experience as me.

Phung: @I’m making mochi and red bean doughnuts. @These doughnuts are going to win Warrior Chef for me. @I swear upon it. @I’m excited to be competing in the finale, but I need to get another win in or else everyone will think I peaked.

Justin: @I’m going to nail this challenge. @I’m making almond, chocolate, and orange beignets. @I think that the flavor combination of these ingredients will deliver. @Lauren is the one to beat for this challenge, but I’m not too worried about the creativity challenge. @I’m thinking about the elimination challenge.

Michele: Time’s up!

Phung: @I’m feeling great. @This dough is a winner.

Michele: Your judge for this challenge is New Orleans native and Warrior Chef finalist, Tina Wang!

Tina: Hi, everyone! I’ve made it to the final three before, so I understand how it feels to be so close to the end. I can’t wait to try your beignets!

Tina and Michele taste the dishes.

Michele: So Tina, who prepared your favorite beignets?

Tina: Lauren, the matcha was creative and I liked the texture of your beignet. Kira, you produced the lightest beignets and the coconut and lemon was really good. Tonight, Kira, you won it for me.

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

Kira: Thank you! @I’m stoked that I get a huge advantage. @If I play it right, then I’m guaranteed a spot in the next round. @After almost being eliminated in the last round, I really want to finalize my place in this competition.

A cart is wheeled in, carrying crawfish and shrimp.

Michele: For the elimination challenge, we want you guys to use either crawfish or shrimp in your dishes. Kira, you get to assign who cooks with what.

Kira: Phung’s getting the crawfish, and everyone else gets shrimp. @I want her out. @Crawfish, never cooked with it before. @She probably hasn’t either, so she’s probably screwed tonight.

Phung: @I’m so happy she gave me the crawfish. @I know how to cook it. @It’s delicious. @I’m going to win this challenge and send Kira home. @Bye, bye, girl.

Michele: 45 minutes to prepare your dishes, time starts now!

Phung: @I’m making a drunken crawfish broth, using plenty of lager to get that crawfish as wasted as possible. @I’m confident that I can demolish the competition tonight because of my skills. @Lauren’s my biggest competition right now, but she’s not somebody who can even hold a candle to me in the kitchen. @I’m going to knock her over in the name of the Phung Dynasty.

Kira: @I’m preparing butter poached shrimp with a shrimp butter and couscous to soak up the butter, and deep fried couscous for texture on top. @Phung is a tough, tough competitor. @She’s got skills, and I’m still amazed how hard of a time she gives me in this competition, given that she’s just a home cook.

Lauren: @For my dish tonight, I’m making grilled shrimp with a shrimp-pineapple stock and some ham wrapped shrimp tempura. @I want to make the shrimp be the star tonight, and I’m going to showcase them in three ways to show my mastery over this ingredient. @Kira and Justin have got a lot of techniques, and Phung is a monster. @This final four, it’s really competitive.

Justin: @I’m going to make shrimp scampi with a shrimp butter. @I’m making the pasta from scratch, and then I’m going to load plenty of lemon, garlic, and chervil onto the dish. @Phung, Kira, Lauren, they’re all strong cooks. @I have mad respect for Lauren and Kira, and I want the three of us to make it to the final challenge together. @Phung getting the crawfish, I think it’ll be good for the odds of that happening.

Michele: Time’s up!

Kira: @I see Phung’s final dish and I’m shocked. @She’s got a crawfish broth with some raw vegetables and crawfish in a bowl. @It’s a beautiful dish, and I think that if it works the way she’s intending for it to, then she might have just won this challenge.

Phung: @This dish won me the elimination challenge. @It’s everything I could ever ask for, and more. @I see the other dishes, and I’m not impressed. @Justin should just go home, because he’s made pasta in every challenge and that gets old really fast.

Michele: Your judges for this elimination challenge are:

Terrell Ayes – Warrior Chef two time finalist

Tina Wang – Warrior Chef finalist

Guy Flannigan

Michele: Let’s start with Kira’s dish!

-butter poached shrimp with shrimp butter, couscous in two textures

Tina: The shrimp were cooked beautifully and I liked that she incorporated two kinds of couscous into her dish. The butter for me, it lacked shrimp flavor.

Guy: I agree on her shrimp butter being on the bland side. The flavor of the shrimp themselves, nicely done. I liked her couscous too.

Terrell: The dish was close to perfection. The shrimp butter needed more flavor of any kind. It tasted like unsalted butter, just melted down.

Michele: And now we have Lauren’s dish!

-grilled shrimp with shrimp-pineapple stock and some ham wrapped shrimp tempura

Terrell: I was really impressed by the flavor of the stock. The pineapple and the ham actually worked together nicely.

Tina: I hate Hawaiian pizza, but I loved her dish. The flavors complimented the shrimp and I’m just really impressed.

Guy: The flavor of the stock was very deep. The shrimp was cooked nicely, both the grilled and the tempura. I was impressed.

Michele: And now we have Justin’s dish!

-shrimp scampi with shrimp butter

Guy: The dish itself was just boring. Had he not made his own pasta, then it would have honestly been forgettable. The shrimp butter was a good idea, but it just was bland.

Tina: I thought that the pasta was cooked nicely but I agree that he hardly pushed the originality of the dish.

Terrell: I wanted spices and flavors, but instead, I got bland shrimp sauce. I just didn’t want to finish it.

Michele: And finally, Phung’s dish!

-drunken crawfish shabu shabu

Tina: Wow. Just wow. The flavors in her broth were incredible. Lauren’s broth was delicious, but Phung’s was deep.

Terrell: The spices she coaxed into that liquid, it was addictive. I could have finished an entire vat of that broth alone.

Guy: She managed to make an inventive dish with an ingredient that is really challenging. She nailed it on all counts.

Michele: So can we agree on who will make our final three?

Tina: Yes.

In walks the finalists.

Michele: Two of you impressed the judges tonight, and one of you is going home. Phung, Lauren, you made the judges’ favorite dishes tonight! Congratulations!

Lauren: @The last time this happened, I beat Phung. @Let’s hope for a repeat.

Phung: @I want to beat Lauren. @I want to prove that I’m better than second place.

Michele: Terrell, please announce the winner!

Terrell: It was a close decision. But in the end, the best dish was made by…. Phung!

Phung: BOOM! @I won. @I knew I was going to win though. @If I did not win this challenge, then I would be so embarrassed.

Michele: Congratulations, Phung! You and Lauren can leave the room.

Lauren: @I didn’t beat Phung, but I’m in the top three now. @It’s going to be a tough, tough battle ahead.

Phung and Lauren leave.

Kira: @I’m shocked. @I had the advantage, and I lost it. @Phung took my sabotage and won the challenge with it. @It really sucks.

Michele: Kira, Justin, one of you is going home tonight.

Tina: Kira, we liked the dish up until your shrimp butter. The fried couscous was original. But you didn’t make your own couscous.

Guy: Justin, the dish was just unmemorable. Had you not made your own pasta, this decision would be a very easy one to make.

Michele: The person leaving tonight is…. Justin. Please return to the kitchen and leave.

Justin: Thank you for this opportunity to compete. @I got sent home. @I can’t believe it. @I thought I was going to be Warrior Chef. @And I’m going home fourth.

Kira: @This needs to stop. @I’ve been on the bottom of the last few challenges and I’m getting sick of it. @I need to step up my game or else I’m going home next.

Justin: @Warrior Chef has been a wonderful experience overall. @I made a lot of good friends and I put myself out there. @I just wished that I had the chance to make it to the end and show that my food is worth the $30,000 prize.


Ricotta zeppoli with mascarpone caramel: recette 7

I got this idea for a dessert where milk is celebrated. Ricotta fritters immediately came to mind because of how they use ricotta cheese to create this light, fluffy batter. Mascarpone cheese is one of my favorites, and using that finish a caramel sauce just makes perfect sense to give the dessert a nice finish. I used blood orange instead of water because I lived how citrus paired with the cheeses.

Ricotta doughnuts are awesome because you don’t need to proof the dough and they are really fast to make. The biggest trick with actually cooking them is making sure that you have the balls at the right size, or else they won’t fry properly; you will end up with doughnuts that are completely raw and liquid in the center. Generally, I use the fryer at 375 degrees F and I fry for 2 minutes, and then let the doughnuts rest for 1 minute before cutting them open. That carry-over cooking generally does the trick for me.

For the doughnuts:
1 pint ricotta cheese, water strained
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
canola oil for frying

Heat oil to 350 degrees F. Combine together other ingredients. For frying, portion the batter into 1 tablespoon large balls and fry for 1-2 minutes. Drain on a towel to remove additional oil.

Mascarpone caramel:
1 cup granulated sugar
1 blood orange’s worth of juice
2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
1 tablespoon heavy cream

Reduce sugar and juice until it begins to brown. Finish with the cream and cheese. Combine until smooth.

Orange-cream cheese doughnuts: recette 6

I just love doughnuts. There’s something about a ring that really screams out “I AM CUTE! EAT ME!” in such an enticing way. I can’t describe this feeling in a more specific way than that. Anyways, orange and cream cheese, it’s such a common flavor combination in most Japanese and Asian bakeries, and I figured with something cute like a doughnut, why not meld it with those flavors, and make an orange-cream cheese doughnut? It’s cute, simple, and there’s nothing really offensive about it.

For my doughnuts, I actually had to debate whether or not I wanted to do fried or baked. In the end, I opted for yeast-leavened and fried. If I am going to make a doughnut, I’m making a doughnut. Not a doughnut-shaped muffin-cake. For the glaze, I’m making an orange curd, and then finishing the doughnut with a cream cheese icing. I’m going to prepare the cream cheese icing without powdered sugar, just because I want it to melt on the tongue, and that’s a texture you can’t really achieve with powdered sugar.

For the doughnuts:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour + more for dusting
1 packet instant dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water – 110 F
1 tablespoon honey
1/3 cup sugar
1 stick butter – melted
1 cup milk – heated to 140 F and cooled
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Canola oil for frying

Allow yeast, honey, and water to mix together and sit for 10 minutes at a range from room temperature to 110 F. Melt together milk and butter and cool to just room temperature. Combine ingredients. Knead the dough and allow to proof for 1 1/2 hours at room temperature.

Roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out rings. Allow the dough to proof and laminate for another 15 minutes.

Bring oil to 350 degrees F. The best way to test this is to put a cube of bread in the oil as it heats. Once the bread begins to turn brown, then the oil is ready. Fry the doughnuts at that temperature for 1 minute per side. Make sure to place the doughnuts on a paper towel once they are fried to drain any excess grease.

For the oil, make sure to adjust the temperature on the stove if you are not using a deep frier, because if the oil is too hot, then the doughnuts will turn dark and overcook when frying.

For the orange curd:
2 oranges; juiced and zested
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 oz. cream cheese frosting

In a bowl, combine the egg yolks and cream cheese frosting with the sugar. In a pot, heat the orange juice and zest with the salt until it releases steam. Slowly temper the cream-egg mixture with the orange juice. Continue whisking over high heat for 3 minutes. Strain.

For the cream cheese icing:

6 oz. cream cheese frosting
3/4 cups water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat sugar, salt, and water in a pot until the sugar dissolves and the water is simmering. Whisk in the cream cheese, stirring constantly to remove lumps. Finish with the vanilla extract. Strain and transfer into a piping bag.


Dip the still warm doughnuts into the curd to glaze. Using the piping bag, drizzle the icing over the curd. Allow to set before serving.