Warrior Chef 2: Round 6

Amanda: @The mood is definitely somber today. @Marisa was a good friend, and a great person in general, so seeing her go home was hard. @I know Talia and I are both taking it really badly.

Talia: @I just need to try my best from here on out. @Every time I cook, I need to know that I’m trying my best for myself, and for my friends.

Victoria: Hi, everyone! So for today’s creativity challenge, we want to see what you guys can do with… chicken and waffles. The winner of this challenge will not receive immunity, but they will have a huge advantage going into the next elimination. You have just 30 minutes, and your time starts now!

Rose: @I don’t eat chicken and waffles. @That’s… not really my kind of food. @For my dish tonight, I’m preparing chicken liver pate with a celery-pepper slaw and an orange and tahini waffle. @I think that doing pate instead of fried chicken, it will be something more in my wheelhouse.

Vin: @For my dish tonight, I’m going to make a grilled chicken with waffle fritters and a curry infused barbecue sauce. @I’m taking a risk combining the curry with barbecue, but I think that the smokiness and sweetness will work well with the spices. @The waffle fritters, I’m going to deep fry cornmeal batter, then press it in a waffle iron to finish it.

Nate: @Right now, I’d say that Vin, Rose, and Amanda are the three strongest cooks here. @I want to knock them out, one by one. @I’m preparing a blanched partridge with scallion waffle and a sweetened soy syrup. @I’m going to blend dim sum with chicken and waffles, and that’s going to be my innovation.

Amanda: @Nate’s doing Chinese fusion, and I think that’s pretty cool. @I have to think back to my own French roots, and dig up something from there. @I love using garlic, and I decide to prepare a garlic and chicken liver mousse with a honey infused crepe and some crispy chicken skin to garnish. @I’m worried because I’m up against Rose, who is also making a pate type of thing, but I just have to make mine better.

Jo: @For my dish tonight, I’m going to prepare chicken stuffed waffles. @I’m making a farce and then I’m going to put that in the batter when I griddle it. @I’m serving that with a spicy mango-pineapple chutney, because I want there to be lots of flavors that will help the chicken taste like something.

Talia: @If I lose a chicken and waffle challenge, I’m going to be pissed. @This is my chance to show that I can make a winner out of this kind of dish. @I’m making waffle battered chicken skewers with a spicy maple-tomato relish. @I know that Vin is doing a waffle-fritter too, but mine is going to be better, because I’m using buttermilk in my batter, as well as beer, just to make it super light and crispy.

Victoria: Time’s up!

Amanda: @I can see that my dish is too simple. @I think that Rose’s dish, compared to mine, it’s gorgeous. @I’m really jealous of her concept right now.

Rose: @Amanda clearly tried to copy me and it failed. @She’s not going to ever beat me in this competition.

Victoria: Your judge is Warrior Chef house critic, Kierra Johnston!
Kierra: Hi, guys! I love seeing classics revamped and in food journalism, you’re always looking for innovative dishes. I’m looking forward to trying your new takes on such an iconic part of southern comfort food.

Kierra and Victoria taste the dishes.

Victoria: So Kierra, how did they do?

Kierra: Overall, nobody produced a bad dish. I thought that three of you were just slightly more creative. Rose, the pate was clever and delicious, and I thought the way you embraced that waffle, and used tahini and orange, it was brilliant. Talia, you battered the chicken in waffles, and I’ve never seen deep fried skewers like that before. Your relish was brilliant too. I just couldn’t get enough. Jo, the chutney, I could bottle that. The idea to stuff the farce into a waffle was hilarious, and I just loved that you really went for it in this challenge.

Jo: @Honestly, it felt more like she was laughing at my dish rather than laughing with it. @But I still have a one in three shot here.

Victoria: Kierra, who won?

Kierra: Three great dishes, but the best one definitely belonged to… Talia!

Victoria: Congratulations, Talia! For winning this, you will receive a huge advantage going into the elimination challenge!

Talia: @I almost won a challenge making chicken and waffles, so if I did not win this challenge, then I would be disappointed. @I got my redemption on this and getting that huge advantage in the next challenge rocks!

Victoria: So now for the elimination challenge! In teams of two, you will prepare a dish fit for royalty. Talia, this is where your advantage kicks in. You get to decide the pairs.

Talia: Crap. @Honestly, everyone here is really strong, and we have all won at least one challenge. @I have to think about the personalities, because from a cooking-skills perspective, we are all dead even. *to Victoria* Is this a double elimination?

Victoria: No, the weaker performer on the weakest team deemed by the judges will be sent home.

Talia: Oh okay then. For myself, I’m going to pick… Rose. @It was honestly between her or Amanda, but I think Rose has had more successes in team challenges, and it makes more sense.

Rose: Awesome. @Talia’s been really inconsistent this season. @She’s had highs and lows, and I don’t like the fact that I can’t fully trust my own partner.

Talia: Amanda, I will pair you with… Nate. @I think Nate’s a strong team player, and I want Amanda to stay in the competition. @By not putting me and Amanda on the same team, I am lowering the odds that one of us is going home.

Amanda: @I’m happy working with Nate, but slightly surprised that Talia did not want to work with me. @I’m sure she had a good reason for it.

Nate: @Amanda is strong, so am I. @I think we are going to be a great team. @Bring it on. @I’m already thinking about what kinds of royal dishes we can make.

Victoria: And that means, Vin and Jo, you two are together!

Talia: @Vin’s strong, Jo’s relatively strong, but I’m hoping Jo’s immaturity will sink their team and send Vin packing. @I want Vin out of the competition, because I think he’s probably the biggest threat.

Vin: @I’m stoked to be working with Jo, because he is consistently strong. @I don’t think there was really any strategic choices that Talia can make given how strong the six of our were, but I’m interested in seeing how this challenge will play out.

Jo: @I’m not quite sure what the logic was here, but I’m hoping that I’m going to win the challenge with Vin. @That’s be great!

Victoria: You have just 45 minutes, and your time starts now!

Rose: @I want to prepare breakfast in bed, and I want it to be purple to fit the idea of royalty. @I’m making ube infused Japanese hotcakes with birch syrup and a creme fraiche sorbet. @I’m going to nail this challenge because that’s what I always do.

Talia: @Rose’s idea is awesome and I’m going to help her execute the syrup and the creme fraiche sorbet. @I’m feeling good about our team and our concept. @I see the other dishes and I’m not too worried. @I think we’ll win this.

Vin: @It’s a dish fit for a king. @Jo and I only have 45 minutes, and that means we can’t do some sort of extravagant whole roasted animal. @We are going to prepare a roasted lamb rack with fondant parsnips, a mint-spring pea chutney, and a port jus.

Jo: @I’m going to handle frenching and cooking the rack while Vin does the chutney and the parsnips. @I think that our dish has the potential to really wow the judges, but I think it also comes down to what the judges taste from the other teams. @I think that this final six, it’s one of the strongest final sixes in Warrior Chef.

Amanda: @Nate’s Chinese and I’m French, and we both love cooking with duck. @So we are going to make a quick duck confit with a savory coconut flan, five-spice and orange butter, crispy duck breast, and duck fat vinaigrette with escarole.

Nate: @I’m handling the duck butchery and the butter sauce. @Amanda got the confit going ASAP and she’s working on the flan while I start rendering off the duck fat. @I’m feeling good about our dish.

Vin: @I see that Amanda and Nate are doing duck two ways, and I realize that we need to step up our game as well. @So I grab the pressure cooker. @I’m going to confit the lamb breasts and add that onto our plate.

Jo: @Vin’s adding a new component to our dish, and I’m worried we have a lot going on, but at the same time, I’m more focused on tasting everything just to make sure it all goes together. @I see that Talia and Rose are going with a breakfast theme, and it’s… not really what I’d do personally.

Rose: @I check the hotcakes, and they are fluffy. @I added in three egg whites, whipped stiff, and that did the trick. @Talia’s syrup tastes great, and I know that we are going to demolish the competition.
Jo: @I realize what our dish is missing. @So I run to the fridge, and I found them! @Black truffles. @I’m going to shave these over the parsnips to add more flavor. @I’m also making sure to hide them from Nate and Amanda, because I don’t want them to use any truffles on their plate.

Vin: @I see that Jo has a lot of truffles, and he’s hoarding them. *to Jo* Did you take all of them?

Jo: Yeah.

Vin: Okay, that’s not cool. *Grabs two of the five truffles* Nate, catch!

Nate: @Vin throws this black blob at me and I catch it. @It’s a truffle. @We don’t really need them in our dish, but it was a nice thing for him to do.

Vin: Talia, here!

Talia: @I don’t need truffles, because we are making a dessert, but that was nice of him to think of us.

Vin: *to Jo* I get the need to win, but you don’t screw over people like that.

Jo: @I feel like crap right now. @I don’t even know who I’m supposed to apologize to in this situation. @It’s just embarrassing.

Victoria: Time’s up!

Vin: @I’m feeling great about the dish, but I know Jo feels bad about the whole truffle-hogging situation. @It’s definitely awkward.

Victoria: Your judges are:

Aster Walker

Miriam Adjanti

Erwin Ko

Victoria: Let’s start with the dish by Rose and Talia!

-ube infused Japanese hotcakes with birch syrup and creme fraiche sorbet

Aster: The hotcakes were fluffy and I get that the purple color represented royalty. I felt that the sorbet in this case, it didn’t work with the dish. It was a cold sorbet on warm pancakes, and you get this mess on a plate.

Miriam: I agree about the sorbet. It just melted by the time it got to us, and with the syrup, it was too sweet and overall, this dish felt juvenile. It had the potential to be good, but it just veered off too much with the syrup and sorbet.

Victoria: And now we have Vin and Jo’s dish!

-roasted lamb rack, confit, truffled fondant parsnips, mint-spring pea chutney, port jus

Erwin: This… was phenomenal. The confit, I was impressed that they got the lamb shoulder so tender. The flavor of the rack was great and the parsnips and chutney and port all worked together so nicely.

Miriam: They thought through every component of the dish and I’m just in love the nuances. The mint chutney had spices in it that worked with the lamb, the truffle in the parsnip worked, and I’m surprised that it all worked together.

Victoria: And finally, we have Amanda and Nate’s dish!

-duck confit and breast, coconut flan, five spice-orange butter, vinaigrette, escarole

Aster: The duck confit was not as cooked as it should have been. But I loved the breast and the coconut flan a lot. The butter worked, but I wanted less oil on the plate. There was a lot of fat on the dish.

Erwin: I felt like there were hits and misses on the dish. I liked almost every component except for the confit. But the best thing on that dish was the escarole in the duck fat vinaigrette with crispy duck skin. That, I could eat every day for every meal. As a dish fit for royalty, they definitely plated an extravagant concept, just with mistakes throughout.

Victoria: So can we decide on which team won and which dish was on the bottom?

Erwin: Yes.

In walks Vin and Jo.
Victoria: Tonight… the two of you won the elimination challenge! Congratulations!

Vin: @I finally won another elimination challenge and it feels great! @Knowing that I could win something this far into the competition shows that I am a consistently strong cook. @This rocks!

Jo: @This is my third elimination win and fourth win overall. @I’m really proud of myself for getting this far in the competition, but I know that the finale is close.

Vin and Jo leave.

In walks Rose and Talia.

Victoria: Unfortunately, the two of you are on the bottom with the weakest dish, and one of you is going home tonight.

Talia: @This sucks so badly. @How did my advantage go to shit?

Miriam: Who prepared what?

Rose: I did the hotcakes.
Talia: I prepared the sorbet and the syrup.

Erwin: Well, that makes this easy. Victoria?
Victoria: Talia, please return to the kitchen and leave.

Talia: Alright. @I’m really pissed that I’m going home next @I expected to win the competition and it just didn’t play out that way for me. @I’m feeling angry and robbed. @I deserved to go much further in the competition.

Talia leaves.

Erwin: It was an obvious decision. Rose, you prepared beautiful pancakes. It just came down to Talia’s components hindering them.

Rose: Alright.

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.

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.

How it is: Chapter 23

“Hey, Val, do you have a moment?” Tarou noticed the Singaporean girl walking down the street and ran up to her. “Hi, Tarou. Actually, I needed to talk to you too.” She sighed. “Can we maybe go somewhere… more private?” The model suggested. “Yeah, that’s actually better for what I need to say too.” At that remark, Tarou could feel a creeping sense of discomfort boiling in his stomach. Was Valerie going to confess to him? Meanwhile, the pastry chef already could tell from the model’s facial expressions that Timmy did tell him; he most likely assumed that she was going to tell him about her feelings. But that could not be any further from what she was going to do in reality. After making their way into a nearby building, the two looked at each other. It was an intense silence. “So do you want to go first?” She gestured to him. “Nah, you look like you have something to say, and that you’ve thought about it for a while. Please tell me.” Tarou insisted. He wanted her to confess first so that he could at least hear her out. “So for a long time, I had a crush on you. Since high school, honestly. But after everything we have been through, I don’t have any romantic feelings for you anymore. So I just wanted to let you know that I still value you as a friend, but I feel like we are better off staying friends, and nothing more.” The model was dumbstruck. Save for the first sentence, that was not what he was expecting the pastry chef to say. “What did you have to say?” She looked at him expectantly. Truth be told, she was expecting him to reject her as well, so Valerie was relieved that they could meet a mutual agreement on this.

“Well, I was basically going to say that we should stay friends, and that Timmy told me about how you felt about me. But now I’m curious, what’s with the sudden change of heart?” “Well, I thought about it. A lot. And I even talked about it with chef, and she told me that I need to be blunt and think not about the emotional aspect of it, but rather, how this would affect us as friends. And the more I thought about it that way, the less I found myself attracted to you romantically.” She shrugged. “I see… well, I’m just glad we were able to sort out this awkwardness.” Tarou chuckled nervously. Despite everything, it still felt a little weird. “Look, Tarou, I think of you and Timmy as goofy brothers. You guys are two of my closest friends, and sometimes, that closeness can be a weakness for me. It makes the little things we do and say affect me on a much bigger scale.” She confessed. “But at the same time, it’s all in perspective. I feel like if you guys don’t see it that way, then I have no reason to either. We can be close without being so greatly affected by each other.” “Yeah, we can. And we will.” Tarou smiled in agreement. The two hugged it out and walked out. “So where were you heading?” “I was going to a study session.” Valerie sighed. Finals were coming up, and especially with all of the recent events, she needed to catch up on her studies. “Oh, don’t be late! Run! Run!” Tarou ushered her away. “Okay, I’m running!” She laughed, darting off.

“How did it go?” It was just a couple hours later, and Tarou was meeting up with Timmy for lunch. “It went well. We talked it out, and she was the one who told me that she was not interested in being in a relationship anymore.” He pointed out, much to the surprise of Timmy. “Wait, really?” He could not believe what he was hearing. “Yeah. She admitted she had feelings, but after thinking it over, she decided against acting on them because she did not want to affect our friendship.” Timmy had to give Valerie a lot of credit for that sort of maturity. Yeah, that was the reason why he fell for her to begin with, and hearing that made it harder for him to accept that they could not be together, but he had to respect their friendship before trying to compromise anything any further on his part. “You! You little motherfucker! How dare you bully our precious Tarou!” The two boys were startled to see an enraged Enya, Melissa, and Sarah storm up to their table. “You saw what I did to that table! And I can do much worse, you little bitch-”

“So it’s okay not to hate him anymore?” Melissa, frowning, sighed. She was hoping to snap somebody’s neck today. “Wait, I thought you said that you told all of your friends!” Timmy glared at Tarou. “Oh, I meant as in the people I was on board with.” He looked back at his friend before pulling him into a close huddle. “Plus, would you really consider those three my friends? They’re terrifying!” He noted in a hushed whisper before turning around to look at the disgruntled Melissa, who was being comforted by Enya and Sarah. “It’s okay, we can go to the gym and rent a punching bag.” Sarah suggested. Tarou smirked. “Yeah, so the two of us made up. The three of you are more than welcomed to sit and eat with us though.” The model offered. “Well, let me think about it…. fuck yeah, we’re sitting with you!” Enya laughed, as the three grabbed chairs and placed their bags down. It felt a bit weird for Timmy at first, being so close to people who previously wanted to slaughter him. “So, Tarou, what are your plans for the summer?” Enya looked at him, eagerly. “I’m going to be modeling in Japan.” He smiled. “OMG! I’m going back to Korea for the summer! You better visit me! I mean, either way, I’m definitely going to visit you!” She squealed excitedly. “Wait, no fair! We’re both going to visit you too, Tarou!” Sarah and Melissa chimed in. Timmy tried not to laugh as Tarou fought to hide his horrified expression. “Uh…. sure?” He shrugged. “Yay!” They all cheered.

“You really need to tell them that you’re not into any of them, or else they’ll continue to pester you.” Timmy frowned. “Yeah, but Mel scares the shit out of me. She broke a table in half with her foot. That’s just one foot. Imagine what she can do with two and two hands. I doubt my spine would even be in two pieces after I reject her feelings.” He shuddered. Sadly, Tarou had a point. “Well, I’m sure it will work itself out. Maybe?” “Honestly, I’ve just come to live with it. It’s not the worst thing, having your own fan club. Honestly, it’s funny.” He chuckled, trying to ignore the awkward moments where the three girls would make him greatly uncomfortable with their remarks and advances. “Well, whatever floats your boat, I guess.” Timmy shrugged. The two laughed as they finally walked back to their dorm. Finals were coming up, and it felt like this semester went by too quickly. But at least they were able to finish the year with their friendship still intact. “It’s really been a crazy first year. Hopefully, it’ll get better next year, right?” Timmy chuckled. “Better as in easier, or less drama?” Tarou snorted. “Hopefully both.” The computer engineer groaned. “At least your major will get you a high-paying job.” The model pointed out. “Well, if you become a supermodel, then same applies for you too, you know?” The Taiwanese boy smirked. “Let’s see how this first international gig goes, okay? I’m not going to rush into any conclusions, especially when modeling is just a side hobby to make money.” The Japanese male laughed. Although truth be told, he was excited to be going to Japan for the summer. This was going to be a whole new adventure for him.

How it is: Chapter 21

“I’m back!” Valerie groaned, walking back into her room. It was a long, exhausting service, but the pastry chef felt like she worked off most of her aggression from that earlier encounter with Tarou. “Uh…” She paused, noticing that Tarou had company and that all of his stuff was packed up. “What the hell is he doing here?” She glared at Timmy, who started to scoot behind the model. “He’s here to apologize for being a little ass-nugget.” Tarou smirked, getting up. “I’ll leave you two to talk it out.” Tarou sighed, grabbing his things. “Timmy, I’ll see you in our room later tonight. And if either of you want to kill each other still after this, just let me know. I’ll try to stop you guys.” He chuckled, closing the door behind the two. “Well… this is not what I was expecting to do right after I finished a long service.” Valerie sighed, sitting on the edge of her bed stand. “Look, I’ll start.” Timmy stuttered. She looked at his expectantly. “ God, this is weird.” He frowned. “Uh, spit it out or else I’m kicking you out of my room.” She glared at him. “Well to start, I’m so sorry I called you a skank. I was hurt and confused, and I didn’t know what to do.” The Taiwanese boy could feel his heart pounding as it slowly began to sink to his stomach. “Confused? Last I checked, you knowingly drove your best friend away. I never did anything directly to you. I just housed Tarou because he felt unsafe around you. If you want my two cents on it, you were a shitty friend, and you’re lucky he even accepted your apology.” Timmy shrank a little at her remark. She was telling the truth. After subjecting Tarou to negligent behavior for being bisexual, Timmy was lucky that Tarou was still willing to be friends after that.

“A lot of the reason why I got mad at you, it stemmed from… my feelings for you.” Timmy finally admitted. “Uh, what?” Valerie fumed. She was bewildered with his response. That was not what she expected to hear. Maybe something along the lines of feeling unaccomplished in comparison, but she was not anticipating Timmy to harbor romantic feelings for her. “So you called me a skank… because you like me? How fucking romantic.” She crossed her arms and rolled her eyes at that. This made zero sense to her. You do not treat somebody you like that way. “I was jealous! Tarou ran away to you, and he knew I had feelings for you, and I panicked because I thought he was trying to steal you from me-” “Okay, there is a laundry list of things that are wrong with your entire thought process. Where do I begin? Oh wait, let’s start with the whole ‘stealing’ part. I was not yours to begin with. Am I your slave or servant? Hell no. I’m not your property, so Tarou could not have stolen me. Secondly, if you liked me, you would have respected my decision to house Tarou, rather than try to publicly shame me in front of me peers and friends. And you only have yourself to blame for driving Tarou into my arms, so to speak. He would not have come to me if it was not for the fact that you were treating him like the bottom of a shoe sole.” The girl could feel her blood boiling, but remembered that this cowardly boy before her was here to apologize to her. Taking deep breaths, she calmed down. “Look, I’m sorry I blew up at you. I know you mean well and you’re here to apologize and I need to hear out everything you have to say. I was getting frustrated, though, because you are somebody I thought of as family, and to hear how little you thought of me in return, it really hurt.”

“I’ve had a crush on you since we were little. You were always somebody I looked up to, because of how outgoing and capable you were. You did not act like the typical girly girl growing up, and I thought it was awesome.” Timmy started again. “Just seeing my best friends basically run away from me, it made me realize what an ass I was. I was so angry at myself for that, and I just blew up and lost it during that event. All of that stress and these mixed feelings, I did not know how to handle it.” He was trying his best to not burst into tears and lose his composure in front of Valerie. “Timmy, I’ve known you for a long time. Your biggest issue is that you hold in all of these emotions and you get really passive aggressive. I was hoping that it would all change for you when you got into ACU, but instead, what happened was you got worse. You could not be honest with Tarou, and it caused both of you to act the way you guys did. I will admit, I was not a good friend in this situation either. I should have confronted you, or at least, helped Tarou confront you when this became an issue, but instead, all I did was house Tarou and hide him away from you, escalating the problem.” Valerie sighed. “But want to know what I love about college?” She smiled at him. “What?” “It’s a chance for us to learn and grow as human beings, while still not having the stress or pressure of society looking down on us. We have that safety net of still being students, technically.” She shrugged. “And that’s why I want this to be a learning experience for all of us on how to be better people.” He nodded in agreement. “Now, as for your romantic feelings for me, thank you for confessing. But I’ll be honest. I did have feelings for Tarou, until we started living together and I realized that now is not the time for that.” She frowned. “Oh.” Timmy paused. He did not know what to say to that.

“How was it?” Tarou was unpacking his things back into their room when Timmy returned from his talk to Valerie. “Well, I see you’re not covered with blood, so that’s a good sign.” He chuckled. “We made up, and I think it’ll be fine.” Timmy nodded shyly. “That’s good to hear.” The model got up and pulled his best friend into a hug. “Oomph!” The Taiwanese boy groaned. As much as he missed his best friend, Timmy did not miss the constant hugs as much. Though he could make an exception in this case. “Also, I needed to tell you about something.” The model pulled out a letter. “So I applied to be a part of Vogue’s Summer Collection in Tokyo, and they accepted me! I’ll be going to Japan for the summer!” Tarou beamed. “That’s incredible! And you’re going to be awesome.” Timmy grinned back. “What were your plans for the summer?” Tarou looked at his friend curiously. “I’m probably going to be taking summer classes and getting ahead of the program.” He admitted. The Taiwanese boy was thinking about squeezing in a minor, so he wanted to get his requirements out of the way for his major first. “Oh, so you’ll be staying in New York. And Valerie, did she tell you?” “Tell me about what?” “She got invited to compete in Warrior Chef: All Stars. And she accepted! So she’s going to be away competing!” Tarou explained. Timmy shrugged. It was a bit sad to think that the three of them were parting ways after making up, but that was how life was sometimes. “I’m glad for both of you. You both deserve everything good that happens to you.” “Same goes for you, buddy. You’re a hard worker and you put your head down and just focus. Don’t let the haters get to you. Val and I, we got your back.” The model assured his friend.

Warrior Chef 2: Round 1

Talia: @Rose, Vin, and I all have immunity going into the first round of this competition and that feels awesome. @I know that I can stand up with the best of them and win that title now.

Lilian: @I’m feeling good about this competition because I did really well in the Eliminator Round, but I still need to work my butt off or else I’m gone for good next.

Victoria: Welcome to the main competition! So let’s get into the creativity challenge! Everyone, please draw knives!

Talia – 1

Duke – 1

Amanda – 1

Rose – 2

Vin – 2

Jo – 2

Enrique – 3

Betsy – 3

Marisa – 3

Lilian – 4

Trisha – 4

Nate – 4

Nate: @I’m with Trisha and Lilian and that’s a good team to have. @The three of us can easily bust this out.

Amanda: @I’m working with Talia and Duke, so I’m excited. @Duke did really well in our preliminary and Talia won the Eliminator Round, so both of them are talented cooks.

Victoria: So this challenge will have two parts. In the first part, it’s a mise en place race. Members of your team will need to filet and portion 10 pieces of salmon, juice and seed 10 lemons, brunoise 8 shallots, and then peel 20 pieces of asparagus. And each member must be solely responsible for one task. The fourth task, all three of you can work on at the same time.
Rose: @Mise en place shouldn’t be the worst. @I know that I can handle the shallots or salmon easily.

Victoria: The winning team is going to be the team that finishes first. They will not receive immunity, but they will be given $500!

Vin: @Immunity is off the table, and that’s fine, because Rose and I both have it anyways. @So I’m not too worried.

Victoria: The team that finishes last, they will have to cook head to head to head to remain in the competition, using the mise en place from the first leg.

Jo: Oh. @I’m on a team with two people who both have immunity. @If they screw up and we end up on the bottom, then I’m going home.

Marisa: @I am definitely not envious of Jo, Amanda, or Duke right now. @If either of their teams are on the bottom, then one of those three are going home.

Victoria: So four tasks to complete and your time starts now!

Amanda: @So Duke is going to filet the salmon, I’m going to juice the lemons, and Talia is going to peel the asparagus. @We decide to handle the shallots together because peeling and chopping will take a lot of time.

Rose: @So Jo is going to do the salmon, I’m going to do the lemons, and Vin is handling the shallots. @We know that we will all jump onto the asparagus together anyways, so it won’t be a huge challenge.

Betsy: @Marisa is handling the salmon, I’m going to do the shallots, and Enrique is on lemon duty. @Right now, I’m thinking about who the biggest competitor in this season is, and it probably has to be the four cooks who came out of the Eliminator Round. @They’re going to be the toughest to beat by far.

Nate: @I’m going to do the salmon filet, Trisha is on lemons, and Lilian is handling asparagus. @I think that nobody would be dumb enough to try to delegate the salmon to multiple people, because you really can’t filet with more than one person.

Jo: @I manage to get the salmon filleted and now I’m starting to portion it out. @Rose finished off her lemons and she’s already starting to peel asparagus, and Vin’s working hard on those shallots too. @I think our team is doing well and I hope that they won’t try to sabotage me with their immunity.

Marisa: @I see that Rose’s team is almost done, and I’m pretty surprised. @If I were Rose and Vin, I might use that immunity to my advantage.

Enrique: @I almost finish the lemons, and then I squirt some of the juice into my eye. CRAP! @It hurts. @A lot.

Trisha: @Enrique managed to screw up his lemons, and I just finish mine and move on to the shallots with Lilian. @I see that our team is neck and neck with Jo’s.

Vin: @At this point, Jo, Rose, and I are all on asparagus, and we are just cruising through it. Check!

Everyone stops and looks up at them.

Victoria examines the mise en place.

Victoria: Congratulations! Team 2! You are the first team done, and you’ll win $500 each! Well done!
Rose: @At this point, I have immunity and $500 to burn. @Life is great!

Victoria: Everyone else, keep cooking!
Nate: Are you kidding me?! @They managed to just edge us out. Check!

Victoria examines the mise en place.

Victoria: Team 4, you guys are safe!

Lilian: Awesome!

Amanda: @Two teams are safe, and now I’m really hustling. @If our team is on the bottom, then it’s either me or Duke going home. @Duke finished the salmon and now he’s joining Talia and I on the shallots.

Betsy: @At this point, Enrique getting lemon juice in his eyes is setting us back. @It’s up to me and Marisa to get things done.
Marisa: @Betsy and I are on the asparagus while Enrique is recovering, and then my heart just sinks when I hear…

Duke: Check!

Victoria examines their mise en place.

Victoria: Team 1, you guys are safe. Team 3, that means you guys will be up for elimination tonight.

Betsy: Oh no….

Victoria: So you guys have just 30 minutes to prepare a dish using salmon, lemon juice, diced shallots, and asparagus. And your time starts…. now!

Marisa: @30 minutes is a lot of time for just salmon, so I know I need to push myself. @I’m going to make a salmon with a caramelized shallot and asparagus pesto, and a grated potato cake.

Enrique: @I decide on an asparagus soup with smoked salmon. @I’m going to sweat out the shallots, deglaze with white wine and lemon juice, and then blitz that with olive oil. @I think it’ll be good enough to keep me in the competition, especially against someone as white bread as Betsy.

Betsy: @I’m making a seared filet of salmon with a lemon hollandaise sauce, blanched asparagus, and caramelized shallots. @I’m not too confident on the shallots, just caramelizing them, but I just hope it all works together really well here.

Nate: @Looking at the three dishes, I like the direction Marisa is going in. @The pesto is definitely a cool idea with the pesto and she’s got the balls to add a component that doesn’t even use the mise en place.

Vin: @I think Marisa is surprisingly strong competition judging from how composed she is. @Enrique’s got the coolest idea, making a soup, but I don’t know about Betsy. @I still think she’s playing it too safe.

Betsy: @I’m hoping that the flavors come through, because my hollandaise is good and the salmon is cooked nicely. @I see that Enrique isn’t even cooking his salmon and that makes me interested. @He’s blanching asparagus however.

Victoria: Time’s up! Step away from your dishes!

Marisa: @I see Enrique and Betsy’s dishes. @Betsy went a really obvious route in my eyes. @I’m not too impressed.

Victoria tastes the three dishes.

Betsy: @I’m really nervous at this point. @Victoria has hosted multiple Warrior Chef competitions in the past, so she definitely knows good food.

Victoria: Alright, so off the bat, one of you is definitely safe. Enrique, your soup was really clever and that just stood out to me. You are safe.
Enrique: Thank you. @It’s down to one of the girls, and I couldn’t care less. @One of them deserves to leave tonight.

Victoria: Marisa and Betsy, you guys just lacked the same creativity as Enrique. And that’s what it came down to. Both of you nailed your cook on the salmon and everything was well seasoned. But Marisa, your pesto is the one thing that set you apart. And that’s why, Betsy, you are going home tonight. Please leave the kitchen.

Betsy: Alright. @I’m leaving first in the main competition. @Yeah, I didn’t see that one coming. @It sucks so much, because I wanted to go all the way to that finale and be crowned the Warrior Chef.

Betsy leaves the kitchen.

Trisha: @I feel bad for her, but that’s the name of the competition. @Everyone here except for one will have to lose.

Victoria: Now for the elimination challenge! Tonight, we want you guys to prepare a dish inspired by your first food memory! You have 1 hour, starting now!

Vin: @I’m half Italian and half Singaporean. @Risotto is probably the first dish where I felt like my two cultures combined into one. @For the challenge, I’m going to prepare a miso risotto with basil poached shrimp. @I hope that I can continue nailing my dishes and staying on top of challenges. @It’s be nice to go three for three.

Amanda: @Right now, Vin and Rose have won every challenge they’ve attempted. @I really want to show both of them that I’m not somebody that’s just going to be eliminated just because I’m a freshman. @I learned this dish from my mom, so I decide on preparing grilled trout with poached escargot, tarragon butter sauce, and lemons. @She taught me everything I know about French food, so this will be a great homage to her and it’ll just be full circle.

Talia: @Being half Black, I do love my soul food. @I remember learning how to make chicken and waffles from my grandma Hilda, but I want to do something even more than that. @I’m preparing fried duck wings with waffles, orange syrup, and foie gras butter. @I think that it’ll show my willingness to take risks.

Enrique: @I love myself Latin or seafood. @I already proved in the last challenge that I can nail salmon, so tonight, I need to do something else with Latin flavors. @I’m going to make a ceviche with seabass, and then serve that with some roasted chilies and mango salsa. @I’m excited, because this is my chance to redeem myself from almost going home.

Marisa: @I need redemption. @At this point, everyone must be thinking that I am the weakest link in the competition, and I need to prove them wrong. @I’m making a mascarpone panna cotta with poached pears and cannoli crumble. @I love Italian food and it runs through my veins. @Cut my wrist and out spills tomato sauce. @Okay, I’m joking. @It’s obviously blood. @You get where I’m going with this.

Lilian: @Being a baker who loves using fruit, that’ll be my advantage. @I’m making schaumtorte, which is like a pavlova served with fresh fruit and berries. @I’m also going to prepare a champagne sorbet. @Right now, I think my biggest competition will be Rose and Vin, because they have won every challenge so far and have immunity.

Trisha: @Right now, Jo, Amanda, and I are the three youngest cooks here. @I want to make it to the end with them just for that reason. @I’m going to prepare Taiwanese soup dumplings with black vinegar and ginger sorbet. @I’m taking a risk using the liquid nitrogen to freeze the black vinegar and ginger, but that’s going to be what makes my dish unique to me.

Jo: @I love making stir fried noodles and I want to do exactly that. @I’m going to do stir fried noodles with grilled chicken thighs. @I’m using a wok to do the stir fry, and if I can nail the cook on the noodles with my wok, then I’m not going home. @I know that the competition is tough, but I’m more than ready to prove myself.

Rose: @Nobody can beat me. @My food speaks to who I am, and when I think about my first food memory, I just think about dim sum and offal. @I’m making steamed rice in a lotus leaf, so like a Chinese tamale, and then I’m going to serve that with crispy liver. @It’s two of my childhood favorites, coming together as one.

Duke: @Being raised in Arcadia, I was exposed to plenty of Asian food growing up. @I’m making a lamb hotpot, where I will slice the lamb tataki style, and then have the judges pour a savory Chinese broth using goji, wood ear, star anise, and kombu. @I’m hoping that my flavors come together and make something that’ll win me the first elimination challenge tonight.

Nate: @I know my biggest competition right now is Rose and Vin. @Both of them are strong. @I’m making glazed pork belly with rice and grilled bok choy. @It’s a relatively safe dish, but I know my pork belly will be killer and that will save me from being eliminated tonight. @It’s too early in the competition for me to feel comfortable taking risks. @I want to test the waters first and see how to approach the rest of my competition, using this dish first.

Victoria: Time’s up!

Rose: @I think that my dish, I’m feeling regret. @I could have done char su in a phyllo roll, and that would be a better merging of my two heritages.

Lilian: @I’m feeling bad. @All of the alcohol in the champagne kept the sorbet was freezing properly, so now it’s melting into the rest of the dessert.

Victoria: Your judges are:

Aster Walker

Miriam Adjanti

Erwin Ko

Victoria: Let’s start with the dishes by Trisha, Amanda, and Jo!

Trisha – soup dumplings with black vinegar-ginger sorbet

Amanda – grilled trout, poached escargot, tarragon butter, lemons

Jo – stir fried noodles with chicken thighs

Aster: I thought Trisha made a good dumpling, but the sorbet was just a complete miss. What she accomplished with her dumpling, she completely missed with that attempt at an ice cream that wound up more like vinegar-ice. It was just wrong.

Miriam: Amanda nailed her trout and the usage of escargot was daring. I loved her butter and the lemon highlighted those flavors. There was absolutely nothing I would change about her dish. Vive la France.

Erwin: Jo’s noodles were cooked nicely and I loved the grill on the chicken thighs. Mine were cooked through so I was happy about that. The biggest issue I’m having is that he played it safe. Nothing was wrong, but it was a really safe dish, even with the wok.

Victoria: Next are Vin, Talia, and Enrique!

Vin – miso risotto with basil poached shrimp

Talia – fried duck wings with waffles, orange syrup, and foie gras butter

Enrique – seabass ceviche, mango salsa, roasted chilies

Erwin: Wow. Vin’s risotto was delicious! The layers of umami in the rice was really addictive. I liked how he cooked the shrimp as well. This dish met the challenge brief perfectly. I loved it.
Aster: Talia just knocked it out of the park here. The innovative take on chicken and waffles was awesome and the foie gras butter and orange syrup were brilliant. I really loved her dish.

Miriam: The ceviche was just… disappointing for me. I enjoyed the flavors, but he had an hour and all he did was marinate fish? That’s playing it safe and in all of the wrong ways. I’m feeling frustrated right now.

Victoria: And finally, Duke, Nate, and Lilian!

Duke – lamb tataki hot pot
Nate – glazed pork belly with bok choy and rice

Lilian – schaumtorte with champagne sorbet

Erwin: Duke nailed his hot pot and I really enjoyed the flavors of it. The broth in particular, he developed so much flavor and that’s where you know his time went.

Aster: Nate played it safe. His rice was well cooked and I loved the pork belly, but really with the bok choy? It tasted like take out food. I’m feeling let down here.

Miriam: Lilian’s dessert, my biggest issue was that she tried to make a sorbet, and it just soaked everything. The meringue was soggy and it all tasted like cough syrup.

Victoria: So can we decide who won this challenge and who is going home?

Erwin: Yes.

In walks Vin, Talia, and Amanda.

Victoria: Tonight, the three of you prepared the judges’s favorite dishes, and one of you has won the elimination challenge!

Aster: Vin, that risotto was delicious and you were creative in melding your two heritages into a single dish. Talia, the play on chicken and waffles was nothing short of brilliant. And Amanda, You took the biggest risk tonight, cooking a dish with snails. That might be a first in this competition where somebody voluntarily chose to cook with them. But you nailed your dish and we loved the texture you achieved with them.

Talia: @Right now, I feel like it’s between me and Amanda for the challenge win. @Vin made a solid dish, but our dishes stood out against his.

Victoria: Miriam, please announce the winner tonight.

Miriam: It was tough, but the best cook was… Amanda.

Victoria: Congratulations, Amanda! You won the first elimination challenge!
Amanda: Oh wow! Definitely wasn’t expecting that! @I won! @Being the winner of the first elimination challenge feels wonderful. @I didn’t think I had it in me, but I’m proving to all of the older cooks that I am a strong contender in this competition.

The top three leave.
Vin: @Amanda’s strong, but I can’t let that stop me from putting up my best every single time. @This is just a wake-up call.

In walks Enrique, Lilian, and Trisha.

Victoria: The judges agreed that the three of you are on the bottom of tonight’s challenge and one of you is going home.

Aster: Enrique, we felt you were playing it too safe. Lilian and Trisha, you both felt the need to put a sorbet on your dish, and while we appreciate the risk taking there, it wasn’t a good choice in either of your dishes.

Trisha: @I’m scared. @I really hope that they value my creativity and just send Enrique home, but I think it might be my time.

Victoria: It was a tough call, because so many people played it safe. But Lilian, please return to the kitchen and leave.
Lilian: Thank you for giving me this opportunity to compete and I know it’s been a short ride, but I’ve honestly had a blast. @I’m leaving feeling grateful for the friends I’ve made and the dishes I’ve put up. @I’m proud of how far I’ve come along. @Warrior Chef, it’s an experience that I will appreciate for the rest of my life.

Enrique: @Seeing Lilian going home, it’s a wake-up call that I need to figure out the blend between staying in my comfort zone, but taking some risks, or else I’m gone.

How it is: Chapter 19

“How was your day?” Tarou turned to see an exhausted Valerie re-enter their room. “I’m just shot. I’m going to bed.” She yawned, dropping face-first on the mattress. The Japanese boy, deciding it was best to continue doing his homework elsewhere, left the room, turning off the lights as he exited. “Goodnight, Val!” “Goodnight, Tarou.” She murmured before drifting off to sleep. The boy decided to finish his homework in the hallway, just so that he would not disturb her. He was grateful to Valerie for housing him and did not want to do anything to agitate her or potentially compromise his ability to live there. It’s been a couple weeks at this point, and Tarou was already adjusted to living with her. The two knew that being a romantic couple was out of the question at this point, given how both of them were emotionally, and how Timmy would be affected if something like this were to happen. Finally saving his paper, Tarou closed the window and looked at job openings for the summer. The summer was close, so he needed to start thinking about what he would be doing then. “Huh? A modeling gig in Tokyo?” Tarou noticed an email sent to him from the agency. “Summer job, will be modeling for the summer edition of Vogue’s Menswear Collection.” He read aloud, intrigued. “Will need basic Japanese speaking skills and prior modeling experience preferred.” The more he looked into it, the more Tarou wanted to apply for the job. At this point, he had nothing to lose. “Hell, let’s do it.” He submitted his resume onto the site and closed his laptop entirely. “It’s 2am already. I’ve got to go to bed.” He sighed, going back into their room.

It was the next morning, and Tarou and Valerie were eating together in the dining hall. “How was your paper? Are you done now?” The pastry chef looked at him. “Yeah, I’m done with it! I also applied for a modeling job in Tokyo for the summer!” “Oh my god! That’s amazing! If you get it, send me pics! I want to see and live that experience through you vicariously.” She giggled. “How about you? Any news?” Tarou smiled at her. “Well, I got this in the mail.” She pulled out an envelope. “Wait, what’s in it?” The Japanese model looked at her curiously. “You won’t believe it. I actually didn’t myself.” She opened the flap and pulled out the letter. Tarou quickly scanned through the contents. “Dear Valerie, we are going to be holding a special Warrior Chef: All Stars edition, where previous finalists and contestants from all seasons will have a chance to redeem themselves. Since you were the runner-up in our most recent season, we in the Warrior Chef team would like to cordially invite you to compete. Please contact us at wcascasting@gmail.com if you are interested in competing again and hope to hear from you soon! Victoria Clark, Executive Producer.” Stunned, he just looked at her, awestruck. “So are you going to take it?” Valerie just smiled in response to that question. “Well, what do you think? I’m a previous runner-up! I need to represent!” She beamed. “Thanks, Tarou. You helped me regain my confidence, and I will try my best to win this one for you.”

“Tarou!” Misaki ran up to the model as he exited the changing rooms. He had finished another session and was getting ready to go home. “Misaki! What’s going on?” He looked at her. She was exhausted from running. “Hold on!” She put her hand up, panting. “Catching… my breath.” She sighed, getting up and looking at the slightly amused teen. “What’s going on?” “It’s Timmy. He wants to talk to you.” She lied between her teeth. “Wait, what?!” Tarou could not believe what he was hearing. “Yeah. Hold on, come with me.” She led him out of the building. Misaki was determined to make these two at least confront each other. Whether or not they remained friends was another subject entirely, but at the very least, she wanted Tarou to be able to put that frustration behind him, while on Timmy’s behalf, she just wanted him to live a life that did not involve hulling himself away in his room. Nobody deserved to be robbed of their youth like that, in her eyes.

“Here we are.” Justin looked at Timmy. The software engineer lied to Timmy as well, telling him to meet up with him in front of the Muji at Noho so that they can go get food together in the area. Misaki was going to be taking Tarou to this location as well, so that the two of them could leave the ex-friends and roommates confront each other. “Hey, Justin!” Timmy sighed, looked around fearfully before walking up to his friend. He was terrified that somebody was going to verbally assault him. “What’s with you? Don’t worry, okay? These kinds of issues and problems, they’re not going to be around for much longer, alright?” Justin assured him. “What makes you so certain about that?” Timmy frowned. He was scared at this point. What did Justin mean by that? How could he assure that nothing bad was going to happen. “I just have a gut feeling that no matter what happens, you’ll come out of this stronger. And that’s a big reason why I wanted to meet up with you.” He grinned, although Timmy was still visibly disturbed. And this uneasiness would only escalate within a mere few seconds of Justin’s last statement. “Timmy?!” The Taiwanese boy’s shoulders shot up at the beckon of his name. He was being called by a very familiar voice. Turning around slowly, he knew who this was. It was none other than a very dumbstruck Valerie Ang.

Deciding that it was something to celebrate over, Valerie decided to go to her favorite store, Muji in Noho, to buy some stationary. She was running low on sketchbooks and liked the simplistic design of the Japanese notebooks that Muji sold. She was excited. Even though just a few months ago, losing the competition had gotten her down, Valerie was determined to do this competition, and prove that, even if she were to lose, that she could be a gracious loser. Going to Muji, she was skittish. She needed to continue brushing up on different recipes, dishes, ingredients, and mentally prepare herself to be going head to head with some of the best chefs in the competition’s history. However, in that very moment, Valerie’s shopping spree was cut to an abrupt halt. Describing her feelings in that moment, it was difficult. Rage, frustration, irritation, complete anger, a linger bit of pity, and ultimately, disappointment. Timmy Li was standing in front of her favorite store, not only blocking the entrance, by ruining what could have been a wonderful day for her. Without thinking, the pastry chef found herself blurting out his name, in disbelief that she would bump into him. His very presence made her bury the urge of holding him underneath a tub of water, before dropping a toaster in said bathtub. Timmy, uneasy, turned to her, shaken by her unexpected appearance. “Uh….” He trailed off. Just knowing that he called her a slut made him feel an overwhelming sense of guilt. But the words “I’m sorry” could not come to him. He just found himself awkwardly standing there, staring at her, mouth agape. “Uh…” Justin did not anticipate Valerie’s appearance either. “Alright, so I said to meet up here!” Misaki ushered a still hesitant Tarou over to the front of Muji.