Warrior Chef Redemption: Round 3

Tadashi: @Karen going home was heartbreaking for me to see. @She was like a little sister to me and seeing her cook put a smile on my face. @I’m definitely feeling down knowing that she’s not longer competing.

Henry: @Stepping into the kitchen, I’m feeling amped and ready for whatever’s next. @I’d love to win back to back creativity challenges. @It would be great!

Jessica: Hi, everyone! So for today’s creativity challenge, please draw knives!

Henry – 1

Nate – 1

Kira – 1

Amanda – 1

Phung – 1

Justin – 2

Jo – 2

Tadashi – 2

Lucas – 2

Fanny – 2

Amanda: @We have Kira, Nate, and Phung, who are all really good cooks, and I’m thinking we might be able to win!

Phung: @Not too big about having Henry on our team, because he’s a whiny bitch, but I’m stoked to have Kira. @She’s bae.

Fanny: @I’m the only girl on my team and that feels really awkward. @Looking around, I’m still a bit disappointed in the girls this season. @Two of us have gone home already. @We need to step it up or else this season is a sausage party in the making.

Jessica: You’ll be cooking in a 5-legged cooking relay. The first cook up must filet a turbot and make five portions. The second will have to peel five artichokes. The third have to juice five lemons perfectly. The fourth cook will have five minutes to grab whatever additional ingredients and all the necessary equipment to cook the dish with. When the fourth cook on either team is finished, a timer will start counting down from 15 minutes. And the last cook gets, at the most, 15 minutes to prepare a dish using all of the mise en place set up from the first three cooks, and can only use the produce grabbed and prepared by the fourth cook. Once time is up, time is up and we will taste your dishes.

Tadashi: @This challenge is complicated. @Already, we need to decide who is best at filleting a turbot, which is not an easy fish to filet, then we have to decide on who can peel artichokes, and on top of that, we need to trust that one person can pick out good produce and another person can put together an amazing dish.

Phung: @Kira is going to filet, Amanda will peel because she loves artichokes, Henry is going to juice lemons, Nate is grabbing the produce, and I will cook the actual dish. @I think that out of everyone here, I’m the best cook by far.

Nate: @Phung’s our captain, but I’m in charge of grabbing ingredients for her vision. @I just hope that our dish comes together.

Lucas: @So Tadashi will filet, Justin is on artichokes, Jo will juice the lemons, I’m grabbing the produce, and Fanny will finish the dish, because her plating skills are great. @I think our team might actually win this one!

Jessica: Those on the turbot your time starts now!

Tadashi: @Turbot is basically like a flounder, where it’s a flat fish. @It’s a very strange thing, but I know how to break it down, just by following the lines along the skin. @I’ve practiced breaking down fish before, so I’m feeling great about that.

Kira: @Tadashi and I are going head to head. @He’s really strong, but I want to prove that I’m even stronger. @At this point, only four of us, being me, Phung, Henry, and Tadashi, have won challenges. @At the end of this, an entire team will share a win. @I want that win to go to us, because three of the four of us are on the same team, and I want to prove that I am consistently stronger than everyone else.

Henry: @It’s pretty epic, seeing the two of them go at it. @Kira and Tadashi, they are on another level. @I would be really impressed, but since I’m competing against them at the end of the day, it’s intimidating and it shows me how much more I need to step up my own game here.

Tadashi: Check!

Fanny: That’s our boy! *claps hands*

Jessica: Tadashi, well done! Next person!

Tadashi leaves his station as Justin runs in.

Justin: @The key to peeling artichokes is being quick and having a sharp knife, and a steady hand so that you can angle it well. @I remove all of the outer leaves, and then using a paring knife, shave off the outer skin from the stem and the base of the bulb area. @Then I cut off the top half of the flower, rub the whole thing in lemon, cut it in half, scoop out the gross, inedible choke innards, and rub that with more lemon as well.

Kira: Check!

Jessica: Kira, you’re done!

Kira: @I literally finish seconds after Tadashi, and I can see that Justin’s already halfway done with his first artichoke. @I really hope Amanda can catch up.

Amanda runs to the station.

Amanda: @I love artichokes. @Deep fried artichokes are an addiction of mine, and I’m pretty confident that I can deliver on peeling them.

Lucas: @Seeing Amanda and Justin, you can clearly tell who has the culinary background. @Justin’s whizzing through the artichokes, and Amanda is trailing behind him. @I think our team is going to do well at this rate. @We will have the full time advantage, and that’s going to help us win this whole thing.

Justin: Check!

Jessica: Justin, your artichokes are peeled perfectly, and you cored them too! Nicely done, you’re finished!

Justin leaves and Jo runs to the station.

Jo: @Juicing lemons is tedious, but I love lemons, and I know I can do this job well overall. @I see the other team, and Amanda’s still on her third artichoke at this point. @She’s going to tank her team for sure.

Amanda: @I see that Jo’s on the lemons already, and it is disheartening, but I need to be steady and careful. @If I slash through an artichoke, then that’ll only set me back even further.

Phung: @I’m pissed by how long Amanda is taking. @It’s like, bitch, do you want us to lose the challenge? @I’m trying not to scream.

Jo: Check!

Amanda: Check!

Jessica: Jo, you’re good! Amanda, you took a bit of time, but your artichokes are perfect! Next people!

Jo leaves and in runs Lucas, who grabs a hotel pan.

Lucas: @I have up to five minutes to grab everything I need. @But if I leave anything behind, then Fanny cannot go back for it, so I need to set her up perfectly. @I grab a ton of pans, pots, a strainer, spatula, sheet tray, a blender, and a food processor. @It’s taking up a lot of my time, but I know it’ll be worth it.

Henry: @Juicing lemons isn’t hard. @I literally get into my station and I bust it out in less than a full minute. Check!

Jessica: Henry, congrats! You caught your team up!

Henry: *to his team* You’re welcome!
Nate runs into the pantry, and starts grabbing equipment.

Nate: @I have five minutes to grab my stuff, but Lucas is already almost done with his collecting, and the moment he yells check, my collecting time will cut into our cooking time. @I’m feeling scared. @I make sure to grab pots, pans, sheet trays, strainers, spatulas, a whisk in case, and a mixing bowl. @I also manage to snag a food processor and a blender, in case we need those. @Now I need to start thinking about the ingredients. @I’m feeling nervous.

Lucas: @I’m thinking about the ingredients we already have, and I know we need butter, garlic, herbs, and capers right away. @I’m also thinking about Fanny’s style and what she likes to cook with. @So I grab some pomegranates, quinoa, fennel, and I think we’re good. Check!

Jessica: Lucas, you still have a minute left. Are you sure you’re done?

Lucas: Yes!

Jessica: Alright! Last person! And 15 minutes, starting now!

Fanny runs into the kitchen, and looks at the ingredients.

Fanny: *to Lucas* Such a sweetheart, you are! @I’m stoked with what Lucas gathered for me. @I’m going to make a butter basted turbot filet, caramelized artichokes, a minted fennel and pomegranate salad, and puffed quinoa and capers as a garnish. @I want the dish to resemble a fish splashing out of the sea.

Nate: Sh*t! @I literally just load up a sheet tray with one of every kind of vegetable, grab a basket and load it with plenty of butter, eggs, oil, and I run over to the station. Check!

Jessica: Nate, you still have 2 minutes left, are you sure you’re done?

Nate: Yes.

Jessica: Next person!

Nate leaves and in runs Phung.

Phung: *to Nate* You better fucking set up our station, or else I’m going to fucking kill you! @I only have 12 minutes to put together a dish, and Nate didn’t really think through what he grabbed, he just grabbed a shit ton of random fucking shit. @I’m so angry right now. @I decide, fuck it, I’m not going to touch any of the produce Nate gave me, and I’m focusing only on the prep ingredients first. @I’m making a seared turbot filet with caramelized artichokes and a lemon sauce. @Once I get everything going, I check to see what kinds of herbs he got me. @I see that there’s fresh mint and cilantro, and I can work with those. @I’m going to add the mint into the butter sauce, and then I’m mixing together the fish sauce with cilantro, and I’m going to deglaze the artichokes in that. @I dust the top of my fish with some powdered ginger before I flip it, and I know I’m going to bring it home.

Fanny: @Phung might be one of the strongest cooks here. @But I’ve worked for Jean-George, so she better watch herself. @I’m not going to let her beat me. @I look around for the oil, and I only have olive oil or butter. @I can’t puff the quinoa or capers in that because it’ll go soggy, so I have to nix that. @It’s frustrating, but I’m not going to let it get to me or else I’ll just be my own worst enemy.

Phung: @Fanny’s hot. @Like, if I were into women, I’d absolutely date her. @She’s tall, smart, gorgeous, and a talented chef. @A total babe. @And that’s why I want to beat her. @I’m not going to let some 6 foot model take me down. @Phung don’t roll that way.

Jessica: Time’s up!

Phung: @I see my dish and it looks awesome. @Fanny’s dish looks like a complete mess. @I’m not feeling like she’s going to stay at this rate.

Jessica: Your judge for this challenge is guest critic, and 1 star Michelin chef from Washington, D.C., Julianna Hurley!

Julianna: Hi, everyone! It’s exciting for me to be here and judge your dishes! I can’t wait to see what kinds of things you’ll come up with!

Julianna and Jessica taste the dishes.

Jessica: So Julianna, how was each dish?

Julianna: Phung, the Vietnamese influences on a dish I expected to be European, it was really clever and I was blown away by how much the herbs changed the dish. The turbot melted in my mouth. Well done on that. Fanny, the presentation was avant-garde, and I liked the salad. Your fish was cooked nicely.

Phung: @She’s going to give me the win. @I’m using my Jedi mind powers right now. @Phung-Jabba WILLS you to do it.

Jessica: So who won?

Julianna: The best dish belonged to…. Phung!

Jessica: Congratulations, Amanda, Henry, Nate, Kira, and Phung! The five of you won the challenge! And one of you is going to receive immunity. Please draw knives to determine who that person will be!

Everyone draws knives, and Nate’s is labeled “immune”

Nate: Awesome!

Jessica: Nate, you won immunity!
Nate: @I’m stoked to have received it. @I don’t think that I deserved it, but it doesn’t matter. @I want to rub it in Phung’s face, but I’m not really the type to do that.

Phung: @Nate doesn’t deserve immunity. @He’s a piece of shit. @I want him to go home, but now he can’t.

Jessica: And now it’s time for the elimination challenge! In this challenge, you’ll be cooking head to head! Please draw knives to determine who your opponent will be!

Nate – arctic char

Phung – arctic char

Justin – venison

Kira – venison

Jo – jumbo prawns

Amanda – jumbo prawns

Fanny – duck

Henry – duck

Lucas – wild boar

Tadashi – wild boar

Jessica: You’ll be cooking head to head, using the same proteins. Also, this challenge, you definitely want to win your cook-off, because it is a double elimination!
Justin: @Double elimination? @That’s terrifying. @I don’t even want to think about going home this early in the season. @I made it to the final four last time, and I need to make it to the last challenge at the very least.

Jessica: You have 45 minutes to prepare your dishes, time starts now!

Phung: @Being up against Nate, I’m stoked. @Even if he has immunity, I can still crush his punk ass. @I’m going to prepare seared arctic char filet, a char-lime broth, manilla clams, mint, and fried shallots. @Nate can’t possibly beat me. @I’m just that good.

Nate: @Phung is a bitch. @She’s crazy and I don’t understand why she’s like that. @I’m going to not make anything for this challenge, just to fuck with her. @I have immunity, and I’m not going to bother with this. @Plus, she has no reason to complain. @She literally did that in the pie creativity challenge.
Phung: @He’s not cooking ANYTHING?! @This little bitch! @He knows he’s a weaker cook, and he’s going to hide behind his immunity! @And he’s done that before too. @I’m so angry right now. @The next time I have immunity, I’m going to do that myself.

Amanda: @Nate’s just that kind of person. @He enjoys taking it easy when he has the chance to. @In this case, it’s funny because of how angry Phung is getting. @I’m going against Jo and it’s a great chance to put him in his place. @I have jumbo prawns, and I decide to make deep fried prawns that I’m going to wrap in freshly made pasta noodles, and then for a sauce, I’m making a white wine-shallot puree. @It’s sort of a nudge at Jo, because he almost got sent home making a shrimp and tomato pasta dish last season.

Jo: @I hate shrimp and prawns, so I decide to go Chinese with it and make har gow. @The shrimp and scallop dumpling, but I’m going to prepare it using the prawn flesh, and then I’m making a sauce using the prawn shells. @Amanda’s not going to beat me, because she’s arrogant. @She thinks because she made it further than Nate and I that she’s a better cook and that will be her downfall.

Justin: @I’m cooking venison against Kira. @Kira and I went toe to toe a lot in our season because both of us had professional experience. @But I want to beat her. @I’m preparing a coffee crusted venison loin with sage-parmesan polenta, blackberry-port sauce, and parmesan tuile. @It’s going to be a solid dish, but will it be enough to beat Kira? @That, I’m honestly not sure about.

Kira: @I’m feeling nervous about the double elimination, but I have to just be confident in my own skills. @Venison is lean and it is very gamey. @I don’t want that quality of the gaminess of the meat to come through in my dish. @I see that Justin is coffee crusting his venison, and I think that’s pretty brilliant. @I decide to prepare caul fat wrapped venison with smoked cauliflower puree and a red wine-onion gastrique. @Smoking the cauliflower will be a very original take and I think it’ll help mask those flavors.

Lucas: @Going head to head with Tadashi is intimidating. @He was the runner up in my season, and I honestly thought I was going to go head to head with him in the finale back then. @In a way, this is what I anticipated that final challenge to be like. @Wild boar, it’s lean, gamey, and it can be a little nutty. @I decide to make brown butter basted boar chops with an apple-morel mushroom bread pudding and a bacon jus. @It being bone-in, that’s the big challenge. @I think that the cook on the boar is a very critical thing, so I need it to be cooked medium to be safe.

Tadashi: @I have to cook with wild boar. @Boar chops are delicious and I want to respect them as they are. @I’m going to prepare a smoked boar chop with spinach glass, spinach-parsnip puree, glazed peas and morels, and pea tendrils. @I see that Lucas is going more rustic, so I need to make sure that the flavors and presentation of my dish are much more refined so that they can combat his cooking style. @I honestly think Lucas has the potential to be Warrior Chef. @He was strong in my season, and he’s still a threat here.

Fanny: @I have duck, and I’m cooking against Henry. @Henry’s been coming out of nowhere and winning challenges, even when he won nothing in his original season. @I want to demolish him here. @For my dish, I’m preparing a tea smoked duck breast with fried cipollini onions and a duck and peach jus. @I am also going to make duck fat spheres, and shatter those over the dish, just to give an enhanced duck flavor. @I refuse to lose to Henry. @We both came in 5th place in our seasons, but I know I’m a much better chef than he is.

Henry: @I’m going to make a crispy duck breast with roasted rainbow carrots. duck jus, and homemade bread rolls. @I’m positive that the flavor combination of the duck and that jus with the rolls, it will be a major winner. @Fanny better watch out, because I’m packing a punch behind this dish. @I learned how to make bread really quickly from Phung, so I’m using that to my advantage.

Jessica: Time’s up!
Fanny: @I see the other dishes and I’m feeling good about what I’m presenting. @I see the other dishes in general, and I don’t see any bad looking dishes.
Justin: @I’m happy with how my dish looks. @But the question is, how does it taste? @If it’s gross, then I’m going to be a goner for sure. @I don’t want to go home tonight. @This double elimination is freaking me out.

Phung: @If Henry wins the challenge, he can thank me for stealing my bread proofing methods. @But I’m more preoccupied with kicking Nate’s sweet, perkalicious ass!

Jessica: Your judges are:

Erwin Ko

Aster Walker

Miriam Adjanti

Jessica: Let’s start with the dishes by Nate and Phung first!

Nate – nothing

Phung – seared arctic char filet, char-lime broth, manilla clams, mint, fried shallots

Erwin: Well, Phung basically won her cook-off by default. Nate was able to produce nothing in the time allotted, and that’s why she wins this one.

Miriam: But you need to actually taste her dish. Those flavors… they popped. Any dish would have had a lot of trouble going up against it. She balanced the flavors of the herbs, citrus, and seafood gorgeously.

Jessica: And next are the venison dishes by Justin and Kira!

Justin – coffee venison, sage-parmesan polenta, blackberry-port sauce, parmesan tuile

Kira – caul fat wrapped venison, smoked cauliflower puree, red wine-onion gastrique

Erwin: Justin’s dish, I liked the sauce, loved the polenta, liked the seasoning on the venison. The meat was a tad dry from being dry rubbed, and the flavors did not work together cohesively.

Aster: Kira’s venison was cooked nicely. The usage of caul fat was clever to retain the moisture in the meat. The puree, it was everything I loved about cauliflower and the sauce worked as well. She nailed it for me.

Jessica: And then we have the dishes by Jo and Amanda!

Jo – shrimp and scallop dumpling with shrimp sauce

Amanda – pasta wrapped jumbo prawns with shallot-white wine sauce

Miriam: Jo’s dumpling was bland. The technique was definitely there, but the overall flavors just did not come through. I did not really taste anything across any of his components, and that’s disappointing.

Erwin: Amanda was innovative with her take on the prawns, wrapping them in fresh pasta and then deep frying them. The sauce was delicious and worked well with the sauce. She nailed it.

Jessica: And now we have Fanny and Henry’s duck dishes!

Fanny – tea smoked duck breast with fried cipollini onions, duck-peach jus

Henry – crispy duck breast, roasted rainbow carrots. duck jus, homemade bread rolls

Aster: Fanny cooked the duck breast to medium rare, but smoking it meant that she did not render the fat, so that’s inedible. Her overall dish, a slice of duck breast, where 20% of it is inedible, a sauce, and a small garnish, it was beautifully presented, but the techniques were flawed.

Miriam: Henry’s duck was cooked perfectly and he delivered on each promise. The duck was crispy and the carrots were roasted. The jus was delicious and I liked his rolls. But he suffered the same problem as Justin, where he had good components that did not work together.

Jessica: Finally, Lucas and Tadashi’s wild boar dishes!

Lucas – brown butter basted boar chops, apple-morel bread pudding, bacon jus

Tadashi – smoked boar, spinach glass, spinach-parsnip puree, peas, morels, tendrils

Erwin: Lucas’s boar… it was overcooked. Trying to cut into it, it was like leather. I liked the sauce, but his bread pudding was just weird. I could not tell what I was eating, it was like a soggy piece of mush.

Miriam: Tadashi cooked his boar perfectly and I loved how to he presented it and the flavors throughout. Phung’s dish, in my eyes, it was the best, but Tadashi’s gives her a huge run for her money. It was gorgeous.

Jessica: So can we decide who is going to be eliminated tonight?

Erwin: We can.

In walks Phung, Kira, Amanda, Henry and Tadashi.

Jessica: Tonight… the five of you were on the winning side of your cook-offs, and you each won the challenge! Congratulations!

Phung: @I knew I could beat Nate because Nate is a little punk-ass who knew he could not beat me and yes, he can’t. @Boom. @Drop the mike, bitches.

Henry: @Winning back to back challenges feels amazing. @It definitely bolstered my confidence and I know that coming back to the competition was the right choice, especially because I didn’t win anything last season!

Jessica: You all won, but Erwin, please announce the overall best dish!

Erwin: Five incredible dishes, and you all should be proud of yourselves. The best dish for us was definitely made by…. Phung!… And Tadashi!

Kira: @Hearing that Phung and Tadashi made the best dishes, it’s just showing us how strong they are. @These two are definitely going to be in the finale.

The top five leave.

In walks Fanny, Lucas, and Jo.

Jessica: Tonight, two of you are going home.

Lucas: @My heart is pounding out of my chest. @I really don’t know what to think or expect at this point.

Erwin: Lucas, the boar was overcooked. Fanny, your duck breast did not have the fat rendered. And Jo, your dish sorely lacking salt.

Fanny: @No matter what, two of us are going home. @I am not ready to go home yet. @This is not how I’m getting eliminated.

Jo: @I lacked salt, but at least my dish was edible. @I think I might be safe, but you really never know. @I’m feeling it for sure.

Jessica: Lucas… and Fanny. Please return to the kitchen and leave.

Lucas: Thank you for inviting me back to compete again. It was a lot of fun! @Coming back, I expected to do better. @I was thinking that this would be easier, because I have so much more experience than a lot of the younger contestants, and I came in fourth place in my original season! @There was a point in my original run where I genuinely thought the competition was mine to win. @But that past experience did not help in the slightest. @Everyone here is talented and it really can be anyone’s game.

Fanny: @Leaving Warrior Chef this early, it sucks so much. @I really did not think I was going to be eliminated this early. @This double elimination was brutal. @I thought I would make it to the final five at the least, and now I don’t even get that chance. @I’m feeling really frustrated, but I’m just going to go back to work and cook my ass off.

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How it is: Chapter 24

“Last push! We’re almost done! This is the final ticket, everyone!” Janice chanted. “Yes, chef!” Mako rushed the black cod to the pass. “Behind, behind!” “Chef, I’m following with the garnish!” Jackie shouted, holding a small pan with hen-of-the-woods mushrooms. “Okay, service please!” Janice handed the completed dishes off to the services. “Yes! Last ticket! Can we start breaking down our station, chef?” Jackie looked at her, eagerly. “Yeah, go for it!” She smiled as the line cooks started cleaning up. What sucked about being on pastry was that Valerie had to wait for all of the savory dishes to be sent up before she could even start plating her own desserts. So she had to watch the other cooks clean up while her pastry team awaited the tickets. “Okay, so we have three panna cottas, one black forest, followed by two chiffon cakes and three rhubarb doughnuts.” She began listing off the dessert orders after what felt like an eternity to the pastry cooks. The wait was at first annoying for Valerie, but she eventually got used to it. “Alright, let’s go team!” It was her last service as executive pastry chef before she had to take her leave of absence for Warrior Chef: All Stars. She wanted this last service to end with a bang. “Yes, chef!” Megan and Daphne chanted.

“I like how your best service ever was also your last.” Janice laughed. She was proud of how far Valerie had come under her wing. “Thanks, chef.” Valerie beamed. It was bittersweet, leaving the restaurant. “We also have something for you!” Megan, Joseph, and Daphne walked into the walk-in pantry. “Close your eyes, okay?” Jackie laughed. “It’s going to be a surprise.” Mako teased. “Here it is!” The three chefs walked back out, carrying a large cake. “Holy crap!” Valerie was taken aback. She was expecting a good-bye gift of some kind, but she did not think it was going to be an entire multitiered layer cake. “When? How? What?” She never once saw that cake in the kitchen. When did anyone have time to make or even store it?” “We had it stored in Janice’s fridge in her office, originally. But then we moved it into the pantry when you weren’t looking.” Joseph laughed. “Congratulations, kiddo. You’re going to kick some major ass on Warrior Chef. Bring it home for us, okay?” “Will do!” She was almost crying at this point. “Come on, now is not a sad time! Let’s all eat some cake and celebrate!” Janice began pouring champagne into the wine flutes. “Wait, I’m underaged-” “It’s only to toast. Besides, you’re a college student. Live a little!” Jackie chuckled. “To Valerie! May your future in our industry be a bright one!” They all clinked glasses. The team at Wish has been like a family to her. Valerie, trying her best not to cry, drank the bubbly white wine, ignoring the slight burn of the alcohol.

Meanwhile, Tarou and Timmy were in the library, studying for their final exams. The school year was wrapping up and that meant that they had to sit down and begin memorizing every little detail from each lecture and powerpoint that the school provided them. Somehow, both of them were doing well in school, despite all of the external drama in their lives, but that did not mean that they could slack off now. “Finals, finals, fucking finals.” Tarou rolled his eyes. This was only the second “college finals” season he was experiencing, and like with his first time in the fall, it was just as unpleasant. Last semester, Tarou and Timmy had to pull all-nighters to land on the Dean’s List, and because of how little of a focus school had been for both of them this semester, it felt that much more daunting for them to study and perform consistently regardless. Realistically, it was the stress affect both boys. But they both knew once their finals were behind them, that was one less thing that either of them would have to worry about.

“It feels like it’s been forever that the three of us were studying together.” Nate sighed. He was with Timmy and Jeffrey, in a classroom that they rented out to continue studying. It was the next day, and finals were just two days away at this point. “But yeah, how have you been doing?” “I’ve been good.” Timmy smiled. “I heard about all of that Asian community drama from Gary.” Jeffrey frowned. The two of them were in the same fraternity. “Are you okay?” “Yeah, it’s all good now. It sucks that I’m no longer on e-board for any clubs, but at the same time, I have time to focus on my academics and myself.” He smiled. “That’s a great way to think. Also, Vincent was telling me the other day. You haven’t really been volunteering lately, have you?” Nate pointed out. Nate was double majoring in computer engineering and business, so he had classes with Timmy, Jeffrey, and Vincent. “Oh, shoot, you’re right.” Timmy gasped. He had completely forgotten about Y.E.S. Between all of his personal drama and ACU, he lost touch of the things he was genuinely passionate about: helping others. “Well, I’m here all summer, so I’m definitely going to volunteer there more often.” Timmy chuckled. “I’ll be sure to let Vincent know. I didn’t realize that he missed me.” The Taiwanese boy joked. “Yeah, say it exactly like that to him. I’m sure he’ll be real happy.” Nate rolled his eyes.

“Alexa, how do you feel about Lodging?” Valerie was referring to the course the two of them were currently enrolled in. “I’m thinking we’re fucked, but that’s just me.” A slim African American girl laughed. She was one of Valerie’s few friends at NYU. They were currently studying for Lodging, but had no idea how to study for it because the professor had been not teaching the correct material for the entire semester; rather than talking about hotels, he instead focused on architecture and hotel design, despite testing them on hotel terminology, making the class unusually difficult. “Well, I’m sure you’ve got this. Ms. Valedictorian.” The Singaporean girl poked fun at her. Alexa currently had the highest GPA out of anyone in the hospitality school, and one of the top five highest overall at NYU. “This is what I love about having smart friends. You make me want to get smarter so that I’m not the dead weight in this friendship.” Valerie laughed. “Oh, shut up. You’re great company.” Alexa insisted, beaming. “Everyone in Hospitality tends to be fake. You’re the most real person in this school.” “Aw, thanks, boo.” Valerie chuckled. Being around Alexa was fun, because despite her intellect, she was good company to have around between her great humor and love of baking.

“Tarou, can you read that book a little slower? I want to take pictures.” Sarah looked at the model, holding up her phone. “Uh… I’m trying to study.” The model pointed out. “Sh! You look so cute like that! Hold that face for me, please?” The Japanese male just rolled his eyes at the remark. Finals season was going to suck if it was going to be this unproductive. He was with Enya, Sarah, and Melissa at the performing arts library. And naturally, the three girls were busy fawning over the model and not taking their studies seriously. “How is it that the three of you made it on Dean’s List last semester like this?” He sighed. “It’s because we actually pay attention in class. Work hard, party harder.” Enya grinned cockily. “Yeah, you just need to spend more time with us, and understand our ways.” Melissa eyed Tarou, who rolled his eyes.

how to lead: realization 36

Everyone has an initially different idea of what a good leader should be. Some thing a good leader does all of the work. Others think leaders are just figureheads who do not need necessary experience. For me, a leader is somebody who can do any task pertinent to their organization’s success, but at the same time, knows how to train and inspire others to do these tasks in their place. A very classic example of a poor leader was a restaurant manager that my friend worked for. The manager, rather than overseeing the restaurant, would instead be in the kitchen shucking corn with the other prep cooks. That’s not what she should be doing. Even if she was the best corn-shucker in the restaurant, her job as a manager/leader is to oversee the restaurant from the top level, especially from a front of house perspective since she is the general manager. She should have had a line or prep cook shuck the corn instead.

While people think that a good leader can be defined by different things, my definition was stemmed from a combination of leadership courses I have taken and from multiple directors and managers in companies, hotels, and restaurants. That being said, some people have the natural ability to be leaders and some people do not. People can be leaders, managers, or followers exclusively and depending on the situation. There is a definitive difference between being a leader and a manager, but because I have referenced managers as people who are supposed to be leaders in this post, I will just talk about managing in a later one so people will not get too confused. All you need to know is that there is a difference between being a manager by title and a manager by definition. Somebody who is a manager by title should still be expected to be a leader. Somebody who is a manager by definition is not a leader, or at least, in the context they are being assessed in; you can be a manager in one setting, but a leader in another.

When I became the editor-in-chief for a food publication, I was able to create this hierarchy of leaders with manager titles. I had two managing editors underneath me, who each led their own team of editors, who then led their own team of writers or photographers. It was stressful and strenuous at first, having to train everyone to understand how the software of our site worked and the publishing schedules and deadlines, but once we got everything settled, I never really needed to worry about the publication. I could have been run over by a car or put in a coma, and they would know how to still run everything in my absence. At that point, my role went from begin the trainer to being the innovator and cheerleader; I wanted them to give me feedback on how we can continue to improve the culture of our organization so that way they would be even more proud to be a part of it. I made sure to give everyone, from my managing editors to the editors to the writers and photographers, compliments and let them know I valued their contributions, because without the people in my organization, the publication would not be as amazing as it is.

Being a good leader stems from a lot of factors. Professionalism and maturity are definitely two things you need to take criticism when you fail, to self-reflect on how to improve, and to stay realistic and not kid yourself when a situation is out of control. You need to be brave and confrontational with conflict or problems. Never shy away. You set the example for everyone working beneath you. You set the culture. That being said, do not ever think that something is ever beneath you. You cannot be afraid to either do a task, or train somebody to do a task; when you’re training somebody, obviously lead by example and do the task yourself, just to show them. This was how I managed to train my editors. I showed them how to operate in the site, and they knew how to do it, and I made sure to let them know if they have any problems, to ask me questions. Encourage a supportive environment where you should not be this imposing authority figure, but rather somebody who has their head on straight, experience and knowledge, and an infectiously impressive work ethic. That’s how to be a great leader.