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.

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Warrior Chef 3: Round 5

Phung: @Walking into the kitchen, I’m glad that I was able to establish dominance. @The Phung Dynasty continues! @But Jaenice going home sucks. @She was funny and I really liked having her around. @James shall rue the day he sent her packing.

Justin: @I’m annoyed that I’ve been sort of coasting by. @I really want to win tonight’s challenges and just prove to the other contestants that I am the best one here.

Cherry: @I’m feeling ready to win the competition. @It’s a huge opportunity for me to really prove that being a former pot head isn’t going to stop me from being successful in my future.

Michele: Hi, everyone! So for tonight’s creativity challenge, you’ll need to prepare a dish worthy of a Michelin star. Unfortunately, after this challenge, somebody will be sent home. This is a sudden death challenge!

Lauren: @The moment she says sudden death, I am freaking out internally. @I don’t want to get sent home. @Not this way.

Phung: @I’m not worried. @I will crush it tonight.

Michele: You have 45 minutes, your time starts now!

Kira: @I’m excited for this challenge, because I know I can nail this one. @If I can win this challenge, then I win three in a row, and that’s exciting. @For my dish, I’m doing smoked quail with a taro mousseline, fried mustard seed, and goji berry compote. @It’s going to be Asian-French fusion, which I know so many high-end restaurants do.

Lauren: @I decide to prepare soft shell crabs with an orange-fennel salad. @I’m keeping the dish super simple. @So far, in this competition, Phung, Kira, and I have been trading wins, so I would love to just keep winning challenges.

Phung: @Lauren’s not my main competition. @Kira, she’s a threat. @Justin, he’s potentially a threat, but I can take him down in the long run. @I decide to make a chawanmushi, in honor of my soul sister, Jaenice. @I miss her greatly, but in the Phung Dynasty, there will be casualties.

James: @I’m going to make a apple cake with vanilla ice cream. @I’m making a dessert because it’ll be something that everyone will be shocked by that. @If I can even win one challenge at this point, it’ll show everyone here that I am a strong contender and that I can cook sweet or savory.

Henry: @I’m nervous about this challenge because I’m not super into the whole fine-dining genre. @I’m preparing a seared scallop with beetroot puree and a yogurt coulis with coconut. @I’m feeling great about this dish, because it’ll show a lot of finesse. @Scallops are super fancy, right?

Justin: @I’m preparing a kale tortellini with brown butter and crispy pancetta. @I’m keeping the dish simple, but I’m hoping that making a filled pasta in 45 minutes shows that I am a skilled and talented chef in this competition.

Michele: Time’s up!

Lauren: @I’m stepping back from my station feeling meh about my dish. @I see the others, and we have some seriously good looking dishes up there tonight.

Michele: Your judge is Warrior Chef house critic, Lotte Amazo!
Lotte: Hi, everyone. As a food critic, I love seeing how far chefs can take their food. Let’s see if anyone here is worthy of a Michelin star.

Lotte and Michele taste the dishes.

Michele: So Lotte, who managed to impress you the most?

Lotte: Kira, you made a really delicious quail dish and I was impressed by your techniques. Henry, the scallop was simple, but well executed. Your presentation was one of my favorites. And Justin. The tortellini was wrapped, filled, and cooked to perfection. I really enjoyed that a lot.

Michele: And your winner?

Lotte: I think it was a hard choice, but in the end, Kira, you made my favorite dish.

Michele: Congratulations, Kira! You won immunity going into the elimination challenge!

Kira: Thank you. @I’m just relieved to not be on the bottom. @I don’t know what to expect, but now I have immunity, and I’m guaranteed a spot in the final six.

Justin: @I’m so annoyed that Kira won. @Can I ever win a damn challenge? @At this point, I’m convinced that I’m going to be sent home next, because it seems everyone who is the bridesmaid in these challenges goes home.

Michele: And Lotte, who is on the bottom?

Lotte: James, the apple cake wasn’t baked enough. And Phung. Your chawanmushi was scrambled and just not refined at all.

Phung: @Crap. @I’m on the bottom and up for elimination. @What even is this?

Michele: So for the sudden death challenge, Phung and James, you must prepare a high-end canape. You have just 25 minutes, your time starts now!

Phung: @I need redemption. @I’m making the chawanmushi with uni and shiitake mushrooms, and this time, I’m making it in the tiny Chinese soup spoons. @I’m monitoring the steamer like a hawk, because I am not going home on a fucking egg custard, and especially not going home against James.
James: @I have the chance to knock Phung out of the competition, so bring it on. @I’m making a harissa rubbed prosciutto with deep fried fig and melted honey-goat cheese. @Phung is one of the biggest contenders for the title, and I want to eliminate her. @I need to beat her if I want to win the title anyways.

Lauren: @I am keeping my fingers crossed that Phung gets sent home. @As much as I love her sass, she’s a major, major threat, and her getting eliminated means that a huge obstacle is out of the way.

Henry: @I think everyone wants Phung out. @She’s really rude, and she’s a strong cook, so it’s just two more reasons why people don’t necessarily warm up to her. @If James does eliminate Phung, then we will all be really happy.

Phung: @I check my custards, and they are perfect. @I’m feeling great about my canapes. @I know how to make a perfect dish and it’ll show. @My food is strong, bold, and I will knock people out, one by one.

James: @I’m feeling really good about the deep fried fig. @My dish is possibly the best thing I put up in this entire competition. @Phung better watch out, because everyone always roots for the underdog.

Michele: Time’s up! Step away from your stations.

James: @Phung made the chawanmushi again, so I know I can beat her now.

Michele and Lotte taste James and Phung’s dishes.

Michele: Lotte, how did they do?

Lotte: Phung, you prepared the same dish, but this one was delicious and smooth. I really loved your dish. James, the fig was a surprisingly delicious addition, and the harissa and prosciutto was great. The goat cheese was a nice touch as well.

James: @I’m feeling good. @Phung, here’s the door.

Lotte: Overall, it came down to the main challenge. Who prepared a canape. Both of you served good food, but the challenge required it to be a canape. James, you served me something a little larger than that, and for that sole reason, you’re going home.

Michele: James, please return to the kitchen and leave.

Phung: *to James* You deserved it. This was for Jaenice, you ass!

James: Crap. Okay. @I wasn’t expecting that. @I thought I had Phung beat. @That’s really dumb that I’m going out on a technicality. @I really wanted to prove that I can cook good food, and it sucks, because I just stumbled slightly and failed.

James leaves the kitchen.

Phung: @And just like that, there were only seven left. @I’m feeling great.

Michele: And now it’s time for the elimination challenge!

A cart is wheeled in, carrying two whole lambs.

Cherry: @I just see the whole lambs and all I can think is… whaaaat? @We have to cook with these monsters?

Lauren: @I’m feeling a little nervous about having to butcher these lambs, because I don’t do that.

Justin: @I see the whole lambs and I’m ecstatic. @I actually know how to butcher the lambs, so I know that this is my challenge to really step up and shine.

Kira: @I know how to butcher lamb, so this won’t be hard. @I see some of the other cooks around the room, and they’re looking really nervous.

Michele: You have an hour to prepare your own dish using parts from this whole lamb. And your time starts now!

Phung: @I run up and grab an entire lamb for myself. @I’m not going to try sharing the lamb and wasting time helping other people butcher it.

Lauren: @Phung grabs an entire lamb and my jaw hits the floor. @Seriously? @You don’t need the whole lamb for yourself.

Justin: @Kira and I start breaking down the other lamb, because nobody else knows how to do it, and while we are fabricating it, I’m just thinking about what I can make from it. @Since Kira and I volunteered to do it, everyone agrees that we get first pick on which part we want to use.

Kira: @For my dish, I’m going to prepare a grilled lamb chop with red wine and grape jus and gruyere mashed potatoes. @I’m keeping the dish super simple, because the time it’s taking to break down the lamb, I need to simplify the dish and focus on making sure I execute.

Justin: @I’m making a lamb ragout with paparadelle, black garlic, and fire roasted tomatoes. @It’s going to be awesome, because I just take the lamb scraps and utilize those in my dish.

Lauren: @Justin hands me the lamb leg, which is what I was hoping for. @I’m making a braised lamb leg with grilled cabbage slaw and spicy tomato relish. @I know that lamb loves smoke and heat, those I’m going with that.

Cherry: @So for my dish tonight, I’m going to be utilizing the lamb shank. @I’m making lamb shank with rice cakes and lamb broth. @I’m going to utilize the rice cakes from my Cantonese heritage to make a delicious texture the judges won’t expect.

Henry: @I decide on making a crepe with shaved lamb cheek and grilled mushrooms and frisee with harissa yogurt. @I’m going to take a risk here and do something out of the box. @Phung stealing the whole lamb for herself, it was selfish, and I hope she gets eliminated for it.

Gabe: @I’m using the belly. @I’m doing a braised lamb belly with mint-chili chutney and a corn puree. @Braising the lamb belly will be the risk I am taking here, but I know that I can pull that off.

Phung: @For my dish tonight, I’m doing a grilled lamb chop and lamb tongue, lamb carpaccio, Vietnamese coffee jus, caramelized lamb belly, and a ramp pancake. @I’m taking on a lot at once because I know I can execute it all flawlessly. @The advantage to having my own lamb is that I can use it all and showcase different textures.

Michele: Time’s up!

Lauren: @I’m feeling good about this challenge. @Phung might have tried to selfishly hog an entire lamb to herself, but my dish came out like how I wanted it to.

Michele: Your judges are:

Erwin Ko

Aster Walker

Miriam Adjanti

Michele: Let’s start with the dishes by Justin and Kira first!

Justin – lamb ragout with paparadelle, black garlic, and fire roasted tomatoes

Kira – grilled lamb chop with red wine and grape jus and gruyere mashed potatoes

Aster: The lamb ragout was delicious! The flavor he developed in the time he had and the fact that he utilized the off cuts for the lamb to prepare it, it was genius.

Miriam: Kira also delivered on a simple but well-done dish. The chop was butchered perfectly and I enjoyed her sauce and the puree was perfect. Smooth, velvety, but creamy. I had no complaints.

Michele: And next are the dishes by Phung and Lauren!

Phung – grilled chop, tongue, carpaccio, Vietnamese coffee, crispy belly, ramp pancake

Lauren – braised lamb leg with grilled cabbage slaw and spicy tomato relish

Erwin: The chop Phung prepared was undercooked. I appreciate that she was being ambitious, serving us lamb four different ways, but she didn’t really nail any single execution perfectly. I did enjoy her pancake and the Vietnamese coffee jus a lot.

Miriam: Lauren braised that lamb leg nicely and I was surprised by how much I liked the combination of grilled cabbage and spicy tomato with the braised lamb. The flavors of her dish came together.

Michele: Finally, the dishes by Gabe and Cherry!

Gabe – braised lamb belly with mint-chili chutney and corn puree

Cherry – lamb shank with rice cakes and lamb broth

Aster: Gabe braised his lamb belly nicely and I liked the chutney a lot. The corn puree just confused me. I didn’t really know where it belonged on the plate, because it was so bland and uninteresting compared to the rest of his dish.

Erwin: Cherry cooked her lamb shank nicely. The broth, I couldn’t even get to it because of how much rice cake she put in proportion. Eating her dish was like eating a bowl of glue and mud. I didn’t like it at all.

Michele: So can we crown a winner and decide who is going home?
Aster: We can.

In walks Justin, Kira, and Lauren.

Michele: Tonight, the three of you prepared the judges’ favorite dishes!

Aster: Justin and Kira, both of you did well with breaking down the lamb and your dishes were both well made. Lauren, the dish had great flavors and you surprised us with that grilled cabbage.

Michele: Aster, please announce the winner.

Aster: It came down to Lauren and Justin’s dishes for me. And the best dish belonged to… Justin.

Michele: Congratulations, Justin! You won the elimination challenge!

Justin: Thank you! @I won my first challenge ever and it feels good! @I’m definitely going to make that lamb ragout again when I open up my restaurant.

The top three leave.

In walks Phung and Cherry.
Michele: Tonight, both of you had glaring technical errors and one of you is going to be sent home.

Erwin: Phung, you didn’t deliver on any of your four lamb components. The chop was undercooked, the tongue and carpaccio were underseasoned, and you didn’t render out enough fat from the belly. We did enjoy your sauce and the pancake a lot, however.

Miriam: Cherry, the lamb shank was braised beautifully but the broth was nonexistent. The rest of your dish was basically taken over by your rice cakes, which weren’t good.

Cherry: Shit. @I’m feeling like I’m screwed at this point. @But they hated Phung’s lamb, so there’s hope for me.

Phung: @Cherry has been decently strong this season, but I know I can take her down. @Just send her on her way already.

Michele: Cherry, please return to the kitchen and leave.

Cherry: Thank you. *to Phung* Congratulations. @I’m going home tonight and it fucking sucks. @I didn’t think I’d be out this early. @I felt like with each challenge, I was getting stronger, and I didn’t quite reach my potential yet.