Warrior Chef 3: Round 2

Lauren: @I’m walking into the kitchen feeling a lot more excited. @But I don’t want to get too ahead of myself. @If I think I’m the top dog for winning one challenge, then I’m definitely going home next.

Phung: @I’m the top dog in this kitchen, and I’m definitely going to win the next elimination challenge. @There’s no way that I’m going out next.

Michele: Welcome back to the Warrior Chef kitchen! So for this creativity challenge, you’ll have to prepare a dish, any dish you want…. without a knife.

James: @Without a knife? @How do you even do that?

Taylor: @I’m just racking through my brains for anything I can make without a knife. @This is going to be hard.

Justin: @I’m ready for this challenge. @I can make pasta without a knife, so I’m pretty much set.

Michele: So you have an entire hour to prepare your dish. Your time starts now!

Phung: @Right away, I know what I can grab instead of a knife. @I grab a food processor and a cheese grater, and I’m set. @I decide on making a pumpkin pie with whipped goat cheese and candied pumpkin seeds. @I’m going with a dessert because you’re stupid to try savory without a knife.

Jaenice: @I’m going to make hushpuppies with chorizo and shredded crab meat. @I grab the pizza cutter because I need something to cut up my crab meat with, and that’s where I’m going to go. @Phung and I are good friends at this point, and I want to see the two of us in the finale together. @It’ll be great times. @The rest of them can go fuck themselves, because they’re all boring little bitches. @Especially Henry.

Taylor: @I’m going to prepare a baba ganoush, but I’m trying to figure out what the heck to make with it. @I decide to make pita bread, but I don’t know if my pita will be proofed enough by the time the challenge is over. @It’s a risk, but I need to take those if I want to keep standing out.

Lauren: I’m going to prepare Kahlua pork with macaroni salad. @It’s classic Hawaiian food, and I can make that with a pressure cooker and no knives. @I’m confident in my dish, because it’s going to set me apart, making something savory.

Cherry: @I’m stoked that this challenge means that a lot of people are going to struggle. @I’m making crab rangoons with an apricot-Sriracha sauce. @I’m making my wrappers from scratch and using a pizza cutter to portion the dough. @I’m confident that the homemade wrappers will put me on another level from everyone else.

Elizabeth: @I’m making a miso glazed black cod with tempura vegetables. @For my vegetable tempura, I’m going to only do okra, mushrooms, and broccoli, because those don’t require knives to portion out for tempura. @I’m going to sous-vide the cod, just to make sure that the flavor is really packed in there.

Gabe: @I’m making chicken tamales with a salsa verde and roasted almonds and coconut flakes. @I’m confident with the choice to top the dish with almonds and coconut flakes because that’ll add a lot of texture to my dish. @After the last challenge, I really want to win this one. @Once you’re in the top 3, you want to continue to stay there.

Justin: @I’m preparing mushroom and beef ragout with paparadelle. @I’m lucky that our pasta machines are lined with the cutters, because I don’t have a knife to cut my own noodles with, and the pizza roller, I don’t trust that around my fingers. @I know that my biggest competitors are Phung and Kira, so I need to watch myself around both of them.

Kira: @I grab the scallops, because I don’t need a knife for those. @I’m going to prepare seared scallops with semolina gnocchiette, brown butter, pea tendrils, and black garlic. @I think it’ll be a great chance for me to show a lot of technique without needing to use a single knife.

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

James: @I step away from my dish and I’m feeling happy. @I see what Elizabeth made and it looks like cheap takeout.

Michele: Your judge is Warrior Chef judge, Chloe Lula!

Chloe: Hi, guys! As a vegan chef, I understand how difficult it can be to work with restrictions. That being said, I’m excited to try your dishes!

Chloe and Michele taste the dishes.

Michele: So Chloe, who failed to impress you?

Chloe: Cherry, your rangoons, you didn’t drain them on a towel, so they wound up being really greasy.

Phung: @Seriously? @Everyone making fried food this season keeps forgetting to do that. @How dumb can you be?!

Chloe: Elizabeth, the dish ate really dry. It needed a sauce. And Taylor. Your dish was pretty unimpressive. I didn’t really like anything on your plate at all.

Taylor: Crap. @I reached too far and didn’t make anything good. @This sucks.

Michele: And your top three?

Chloe: Kira, you made gnocchi, seared scallops, and just showed a lot of technique. I completely forgot you were handicapped without a knife in this challenge. Phung, your pumpkin pie was phenomenal and I’m genuinely stunned by how much I loved that. And Jaenice. Your hushpuppies with chorizo, it was great. The texture was brilliant and you fried those perfectly.

Jaenice: @See, Elizabeth and Cherry? @That’s how fried food is done. @Dumb skinny Asian bitches think they know how to beat me in a deep frying battle? @Think again!

Michele: And your winner?

Chloe: The best dish belonged to…. Kira.

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

Kira: Thank you. @Winning immunity means that I can’t be sent home tonight. @I can take a lot more risks and not hold back!

Phung: @Kira’s the last person who needs immunity right now. @So long as idiots like James are in the competition, she’ll be far from in danger of going home.

Michele: So for your elimination challenge, you’ll need to get narrative. You’ll need to prepare a dish inspired by a special moment or story in your life.

Cherry: @I already know which moment appeals to me. @I’m going to win tonight’s challenge so easily.

Michele: You’ll have just one hour on the clock, your time starts now!

Lauren: @I have to tell a story through my dish tonight. @I’m just thinking about the moment I met my boyfriend, Dennis. @We were practicing kung-fu together and just clicked. @He’s Taiwanese, and I decide to make a dish inspired by our first date. @He prepared Taiwanese soup dumplings for me, and I’ll just recreate that dish, and it’ll be my story for this challenge.

James: @I want to make a dish inspired by what got me into cooking. @I’m going to prepare a baklava, which is layers of phyllo pastry with nuts, dates, and spices mashed together into a paste and stuffed in there. @I’m going to serve that with coconut ice cream. @I really wanted to make a delicious dessert to impress a Turkish girl in my class, and that’s what I presented to her. @I didn’t get the girl in the end, but I developed a love for cooking from it.

Justin: @When I think about stories, I remember my grandma’s journey from Italy to New York. @Transitioning to life in Brooklyn was tough on her, and the only real comfort she found was making burrata cheese. @I’m making Grandma Angela’s burrata with tapenade crostini and pork crackling. @It’ll be simple but really well executed. @Just making the burrata from scratch should show a lot of technique.

Elizabeth: @I’m making a gluten-free and vegan chocolate-pumpkin bread that is inspired by my best friend, Casey, who can’t have eggs or gluten. @Casey was the person who sent in my Warrior Chef application, so I really want to win this challenge for her and show how our friendship can take me to the end of the competition.

Cherry: @I’m going to make my story based on the first time I had pot. @It was a delicious brownie. @I’m making a matcha-white chocolate blondie with matcha crumble and matcha ice cream. @I want to have two baked components on the plate, because they need to be baked. @Yes. @Very baked. @So fucking baked.

Kira: @I’m trying to dig deep and think about my childhood. @Growing up in San Francisco, we had good seafood. @I want to make a cioppino but with coconut milk, lemongrass, and chilies instead of the tomato and white wine. @It’s a fusion of my Asian heritage and my upbringing, and that should be an interesting story to tell.

Jaenice: @I love Korean soul fusion. @I’m going to make spicy chicken wings with kimchi-red bean butter and misugaru waffles. @If that does not tell you right away that I am a black woman who eats Korean food, then I really don’t know what else would. @I’m going to win tonight’s challenge with my story, for sure.

Phung: @I’m going to make a banh mi, but make the bread from scratch. @I only have an hour, but I’m going to go with a yeast based dough, because why not? @It’s going to have pate, my favorite, lime cured beef, and lots of chilies and herbs. @I’m looking forward to serving this to the judges, because they won’t be expecting this in just an hour, but I will deliver.

Taylor: @I wanted to do something with hapuku fish, but we don’t have that in the pantry, so I grab the cod instead. @I’m going to prepare oven roasted cod with beetroot chips and an olive hummus with tomatoes. @I’m feeling really good about this dish, because it’s mostly Greek, and it’s something that my parents would make for me all the time growing up.

Gabe: @Right now, Kira and Phung are the two best cooks in the competition. @I want to make sure that I can knock at least Phung out by the end of this challenge. @For my story, I’m going to talk about the time I did peyote in the dessert. @I’m making a chayote squash and cactus pear spring roll with jalapeno crumble and a lime-cilantro dipping sauce. @I think that making spring rolls will set me apart and show a lot more innovation in the challenge.

Henry: @I’m making poutine, because that’s what my grandma, Bella, would make for me all of the time whenever I would visit her in Montreal. @For my poutine topping, it’s a duck gravy with duck confit and some homemade cheese curds, that I’ll pickle for some extra tang and flavor. @When I see the other competitors, I’m just thinking about which one of them will be going home next. @I’m not too threatened, because it’s still early in the competition.

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

Gabe: @I don’t feel too confident with the spring rolls, but I see Elizabeth made yet another gluten-free chocolate cake. @She’s so going home tonight.

Cherry: @I think I nailed it. @Matcha domination, right?

Michele: So your judges are:

Miriam Adjanti

Guy Flannigan

Lotte Amazo

Michele: First are the dishes by Kira, Jaenice, and Justin!

Kira: So for my dish tonight, I have an Asian riff on a cioppino. I’m Filipino, but I was raised in San Francisco, so my dish embodies both my heritage through my choice of ingredients, but also the city I was raised in, by being an iconic San Franciscan dish. The seafood just reminds me of the beaches in both California and the Philippines.

Jaenice: I’m a black woman, and I love Korean food. I combined both of those and created a Korean fried chicken with kimchi-red bean butter, and misugaru waffles. I’m bringing to you guys the Soul in Seoul.

Justin: This dish is inspired by my grandma Angela. She always would make burrata cheese from scratch, so I did the same. My dish is fresh burrata cheese with tapenade crostini and pork crackling. I did the pork crackling as well because we would always have porcetta at the dinner table, and my grandma was the heart of my family.

Miriam: Kira’s Asian cioppino was delicious. I think her story-telling wasn’t terrible, but she could have sold her dish a lot more. That being said, the dish was faultless!

Guy: Jaenice’s story very bizarre. But she fried that chicken beautifully and I loved her waffle a lot. The one thing I didn’t appreciate was that kimchi-red bean butter. I don’t know what she was hoping to accomplish with it, but it was putrid.

Lotte: Justin had the best story out of the three of them. But in terms of the actual dish, his burrata was bland, and the cracklings were soggy. And what’s left of his dish? Just a piece of toast with tapenade. What could have showed skill, he fell flat on.

Michele: And next we have the dishes by Lauren, James, and Phung!

Lauren: So my dish is inspired by my first date with my boyfriend, Dennis. He is Taiwanese, and he took me to try Taiwanese soup dumplings, which were absolutely phenomenal. So I prepared exactly those with black vinegar and ginger for you.

James: I made a baklava inspired by when I first got into cooking. I met a girl in my dance class, and she is Turkish. I wanted to impress her, so I made this dessert. I didn’t get the girl, but it made me passionate about baking.

Phung: Growing up in a Vietnamese household, we know how to make pate and we know how to cure our own meats. My mom taught me how to do use every part of the animal from a young age, so that’s what I did with my banh mi tonight. It’s a homemade baguette with beef pate, lime cured beef, and plenty of sprouts, chilies, pickled vegetables, and herbs. Enjoy.

Lotte: Lauren’s dumplings were actually really well done. I loved the juiciness and the texture of the wrapper and meat. It was a bit simple, but her story sold it for me.

Miriam: I liked James’ story, but maybe there’s a reason why his baklava didn’t win over the girl. For his dish, the phyllo was soggy and undercooked. It wasn’t pleasant.

Guy: Phung just blew me away. Her story was alright, but the fact she made her own bread in less than an hour. I’m at a genuine loss for words. That plus the fact that her sandwich was perfection. I need time to process that achievements behind executing this dish in that time frame.

Michele: Finally, the dishes by Cherry and Elizabeth.

Cherry: So I used to be a pot addict, so my dessert is inspired by pot brownies, which were a thing I used to live by. To overcome my addiction, I deferred to drinking green tea and that helped me recover. I made green tea blondie with green tea ice cream and green tea crumble. I made sure to have two baked items on the plate, just because I used to be twice-baked.

Elizabeth: I prepared a gluten-free and vegan chocolate pumpkin bread that I used to make for my friend, Casey. Casey was the one who signed me up for this competition, and I want to do her proud with this dish.

Lotte: Cherry’s story was a combination of dark and hilarious. The dish was really well-executed and the flavors balanced nicely. It was a great blondie sundae.

Miriam: Elizabeth’s dessert bread was dense and chewy, and her story sounded more like her justifying why she should win the competition.

Michele: So can we decide on our top and bottom 3?

Guy: We can.

In walks Cherry, Kira, and Phung.

Michele: Tonight…. the three of you prepared the judges favorite dishes, and one of you is going to win the elimination challenge!

Kira: @I really want to win back to back challenges. @It would be amazing to set the bar high from the get-go.

Cherry: @Wait, I’m on top? @That’s amazing! @Wow. @I didn’t expect that!

Michele: Miriam, please announce the winner!

Miriam: Two of you made phenomenal dishes, but one of you really pushed the envelope, and possibly defied the laws of proofing bread. Phung, however you managed to make that light, airy baguette in just an hour, we will never know, but you won this one.

Phung: Oh my god! @I’m top dog, bitches! @I just won my second challenge, and I’m proving why I am the one to beat. @Come at me. @I’ve either won or been on top of everything so far, and I intend to stay there.

Kira: @Phung is my biggest competition. @I don’t even know if there’s any stopping somebody like her. @She’s something else.

The top three leave. In walks James, Justin, and Elizabeth.

Michele: Tonight, one of you will be going home.

Miriam: James, your story was good, but your baklava was obviously the reason why you didn’t end up safe tonight, or winning the girl over in your story. Justin, the dish was just bland and soggy, but we liked your story about your grandmother. Elizabeth, your story sounded more like you trying to explain why we should give you the title, and your bread was just dense and gummy.

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

Elizabeth: Alright. @I’m feeling deflated having to pack my bags and leave this early. @I know that I had the potential to make it so much further than this, and I’m disappointed in myself for not being able to show it.

Warrior Chef 3: Announcement and Contestants

With the conclusion of Warrior Chef 2, I have already finished writing Warrior Chef 3! Below are the twelve high school contestants to be competing:

Phung Pham: Sassy stout Vietnamese girl from Cambridge, Massachusetts. Is not afraid to be a bitch and loves to put her bold personality into her dishes. Wants to win to start her own food truck called PhungFood.

Lauren Wilson: Slim half white, half Chinese girl from Honolulu, Hawaii. Is an avid baker and loves to cook savory as well. Cooks Chinese, Japanese, and Hawaiian, but would want to open her own restaurant back home if she wins the money with her mom, who taught her how to cook.

Kira Taso: Small Filipino girl from San Francisco, California. Is currently a line cook at the Michelin starred restaurant, Saison. Wants to win the competition to prove that her putting in the long hours and getting to where she is will pay off.

Jaenice Palmer: Stocky African American girl from Houston, Texas. Loves soul food and Korean food. Wants to win the competition so that she can become a role model for all African American women.

Cherry Cheung: Lanky girl from Hong Kong, currently living in Aspen, Colorado. Loves to bake and cook, but has recently overcome a marijuana addiction. Wants to win the competition to show that being a recovering drug addict can’t stop you from achieving your dreams and aspirations.

Elizabeth Kelly: Tall blonde from Hollywood, California. Is an aspiring businesswoman who is obsessed with reality cooking competitions. Loves to make desserts that cater towards dietary restrictions. Want to win to show that girls from Hollywood aren’t just shallow or materialistic.

James Madsen: Tall blonde from Century City, California. A former dancer, James is currently interested in pursuing a career as a chef, because he loves to cook and is from a family of cooks.

Teddy Marks: Stocky brunette from Charleston, North Carolina. Loves to fish and cook with the meat he hunts. Wants to win the competition to show his friends and family that cooking can be a very manly thing.

Gabe Adams: Half Hispanic, half Caucasian boy from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Loves to cook Latin food but wants to learn how to cook food from other cultures as well. Is simply competing to expand his horizons.

Taylor Strovkos: Muscular Greek boy from Detroit, Michigan. Is currently a wrestler at his high school, but loves to cook Greek food inspired by his parents, who own a diner in the city. Wants to win to prove he is ready to take over the family business.

Justin Chiarello: Small dark-haired Italian from New York City. Is currently teaching the culinary program in his high school and wants to open up his own restaurant one day. Cooks a variety of cuisines, ranging from American to Italian to classic French.

Henry Parker: Lanky blonde from New Haven, Connecticut. Loves to cook food inspired by his Canadian grandmother, Bella. Wants to win so that he does not have to go to college, something his parents really wants him to do.

The actual season will be published slowly throughout the month, so look forward to that!

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 25

“It feels weird to be done already.” Tarou sighed, as he was putting away his things into boxes. Out of everyone, he finished his finals first, being done by the second day of finals. Valerie was finishing the day after tomorrow, and Timmy finished on the last day. Because he was spending the entire summer in Japan, he wanted to go back home to Queens to spend time with his family before heading out, so he was moving out earlier. “Wait, what’s this?” Tarou felt his phone vibrate. It was another email. “Wait, the program… oh shit.” He frowned. He misread the email. His offer was not just for the summer. It was from this summer until the following summer: he would be in Japan for an entire year. “Oh crap.” Hastily, he looked through the documents. He had already submitted his compliance for this. “Well, this is awkward.” He sighed. “Uh….” Thinking it over, the model decided he needed to commit to this. He could come back to school whenever, but working for Vogue, this could honestly propel his career to greater heights than he could have ever imagined. Tarou Shimizu, international supermodel, it was starting to sound increasingly like a possibility. Grabbing a pen and paper, he wrote a goodbye note to Timmy and Valerie. “Bye, guys.” He whispered, heading out.

“Ugh. He what now?” Valerie read Timmy’s text. She had finished her finals and finally turned back on her phone. Tarou was leaving for Japan for the next two years. That was the gist of what Timmy had said in his message to her. “Oh… well shit.” She whispered to herself. Unlike Tarou or Timmy, she was not going back to Queens at all after school. She was heading straight to compete on Warrior Chef: All Stars. Packing up her things, the Singaporean girl smiled to herself. It felt bittersweet to be leaving, but at the same time, this was her chance to do things right. “Redemption, here I come, hopefully.” She was ready to dive into the great unknown and finally be crowned Warrior Chef. “I’m ready to do right by everyone who has ever helped me get this far.” She smiled, putting her boxes into the moving van. Grabbing her suitcase and knife bag, she got into the taxi. “Where to” The driver looked over his chair at her. “JFK , please.” She smiled. “You got it, little lady.” And with that, Valerie left campus. Freshman year was on the lonelier side in terms of school friends, but the work friends she made were irreplaceable. Janice, I’m going to do my best to make you proud of me. Valerie smiled.

“It feels so empty.” Timmy yawned, finally returning to his room. He had finished his last final at this point. There was a sense of awkwardness, seeing Tarou’s emptied half of the room. It almost reminded him of their conflict. “No, it’s all in the past. We’re friends again.” The Taiwanese boy reassured himself, referring to the note the model had left for him. “Now, it’s time to get everything packed.” Timmy was going to be staying at an off-campus apartment during the summer, so he needed to first move all of his things into the apartment. Then he was going to spend some time at home before summer school begins. They were each going their own separate ways, yet Timmy did not feel sad. He felt excited about the opportunities still to come. Just because a couple doors closed does not mean that the entire world closed him off. ACU and TASA might have dropped him as an officer, but that does not mean it is the end of his college life. There were still many people yet to be met. To be befriended. Timmy, for the first time since he stepped foot into NYU, could not help but feel excited.

Arriving at the hotel where the All Stars contestants would be staying, Valerie got another text. It was a delayed message, an image of exactly what Tarou had written. Reading through it, the girl could not help but begin crying. “Oh, Tarou. Timmy. I’m going to win this for both of you. I swear on it.” She fought to not sob. “Oh, so this is our competition? Nice to meet you, newbie.” Valerie turned around, and saw the first of her competitors for the new season. “I’m sorry you have to see me this way. I swear, I’m not a big baby.” She insisted, wiping away the tears that had formed around her eyes. At the same time, Tarou was boarding his plane to Japan at the John F. Kennedy Airport. “Next stop, Narita Airport. Tokyo, here I come.” He whispered to himself, excitedly. Even though he was seated in the middle seat, the Japanese boy did not mind. He was too eager about what awaited him on the other side. He did not know what the future had in store for him. But the chance to become an internationally recognized model, that was incredible. Timmy was currently riding the bus on his way back to Queens. He was sitting alone, at the window seat, watching the city melt into the distance. In his hand, held tightly, was the paper Tarou had left for him. The Taiwanese boy was rereading it one last time before putting it away for good. The Taiwanese boy did not like to cry, but how could he not at what his best friend, the aspiring international model had written?
“Even when I was a fat, chubby little midget, I still had the two of you in my life. I am the person I am because of the friends I made, especially the two of you. Timmy, you’re going to be the best man at my wedding, whether you like it or not. We are more than just brothers, and nothing will ever change that. Valerie, your desserts always bring a smile to my face, but they also bring a smile to everyone around you. You will be successful in your future, because nobody can stop you at being yourself, and you are amazing. You guys mean the world to me, but I think we can all learn to be less sensitive about the little things. We don’t need to over think or overanalyze whenever somebody is acting weirdly or in an off-putting manner. If we have problems, we need to speak them and find ways to sort them out. And we shouldn’t worry about growing apart. Just because we are doing different things, and we do not know the next time we will see each other, we should not be sad or hung up about it. We can let things play out as they are, and roll with them. We’re simply living life. That’s how it is.”

-Tarou Shimizu

Warrior Chef 2: Round 5

Marisa: @We’re down to seven now, and I’m feeling really bad. @I keep scrapping by in the elimination challenges now, and it makes me feel uneasy. @I’m supposed to be in this competition to win the title for my mother! @I can’t keep dropping the ball here.

Talia: @Amanda, Marisa, and I have been doing alright in the season so far, and I’d love to think that one of us is going to be Warrior Chef. @But Vin and Rose are the power couple of this season and they’re going to be hard to take down.

Rose: @I’m not happy coming in second all the time. @I want to prove that I can come in first. @I sense it tonight. @I’m going to win. @I have to win.

Victoria: Hi, everyone! So for today’s creativity challenge, we want to see you guys make savory dishes out of coffee and cream! 25 minutes on the clock, starting now!

Vin: @I decide right away I want to prepare a coffee infused crepe with homemade sour cream, caramelized leeks, and pancetta-sauteed mushrooms. @I want to make sure that I can get the cream made in time, so I’m going to sous-vied the buttermilk with the cream and let that culture in the water bath. @I’m taking a risk here, creating my own sour cream, but if it pays off, then I’m going to win the challenge for sure. @I love eatings crepes and after seeing Amanda take out the win in the last creativity challenge with one, it’s my turn to show that I can make them better than she can.

Rose: @Vin is doing a sous-vied dish, and I’m thinking about what I can do to really show off. @I’m going to do a coffee crusted snapper sashimi with an olive oil and spring pea ice cream. @I’m going way out of the box on this one, because I know how to make this dish work. @I’ve won challenges in the past with my ice creams, so why not again? @This time, I’m using liquid nitrogen and a stand mixer, because I don’t want to add too much sugar into the ice cream base. @Additionally, I’m breaking down the fish by hand and curing it in salt and coffee before I slice it. @Have I done this before? @No. @But I’m here to prove that I’m the head bitch in charge, so I’m going to establish that I am. @We have four girls running around the kitchen, and I’m the strongest one.

Amanda: @For this challenge, I’m going to make coffee infused pasta with a ground beef ragout, which I’m going to finish with an herb scented cream. @I’m grinding up my own beef from scratch, because I want there to be a nice 85:15 meat to fat ratio. @In the last challenge, my pasta was well-received, so I’m going to do another pasta this time, but infusing the dough with coffee to make it have a nicer elasticity and flavor. @Rose looks like she wants to kill somebody. @She keeps coming in second place, and it must be rough on her.

Talia: @Amanda is taking a risk, but I’m going to do something I know how to handle. @It’ll be a coffee crusted steak with creamy mashed potatoes and roasted carrots in garlic and anchovies. @I’m taking the risk of pairing anchovies with coffee, but if it works, then I’m going to win immunity tonight. @I know I can cook a steak and mash potatoes, so that won’t be the major issue tonight. @Hopefully my dish is going to be so well-received that it’ll just blow the judge out of the water.

Jo: @I’m really nervous because I don’t like coffee, and I don’t like cream. @Put the two together, and I’m very unhappy. @I’m making coffee crusted salmon with creamy potato mash. @I’m not good with this kind of challenge, because I’m not really inspired by the ingredients and we only have 25 minutes. @But I’m hoping breaking down the salmon will earn me back some extra points here.

Nate: @I’m stoked to have coffee, because I’m from Boston. @They don’t just call us Beantown for no reason. @I’m making a savory coffee churro with an anchovy cream vinaigrette, mache, baby kale, and charred gem romaine with shallots. @It’s a panzanella basically. @I’m excited because I think that this combination will work in my favor. @I’m doing the churro inspired by a Chinese dish, and it’ll just be blending together cultures into something almost entirely new.

Marisa: @Nate is doing some weird churro salad, and I’m just thinking about what I can pair the coffee with. @I decide on a coffee and pancetta risotto with raclette cheese to finish it. @I’m also finishing it with some heavy cream, just to incorporate the ingredient. @I’m worried about the dish holding up, because risotto is temperamental, and on top of that, I just don’t want my risotto to be very muddled between the cream, coffee, and cheese. @I’m a lot of ingredients in there.

Victoria: Time’s up!

Nate: @I’m looking at my dish and I know I nailed this one. @Give me immunity, already. @I earned it.

Victoria: Your judge for this challenge is food critic Kierra Johnson!
Kierra: Hi, everyone! I’m excited to see what you all have planned with such a classic combination. This is going to be a fun challenge to judge.

Talia: @She’s from the Midwest, and so am I. @I really want to impress her tonight. @That would be a dream come true for me.

Kierra and Victoria taste the dishes.
Victoria: So Kierra, how did they do?

Kierra: Overall, no bad dishes tonight. I did have a top three, however. Nate, the panzanella with coffee churro was clever and the cream in the vinaigrette was definitely a unique touch. Vin, the crepe was delicious and I loved the leek and creme fraiche. And Rose. The combination of peas, cream, coffee, and fish, it was not something I expected to work. But you converted me on that. I was blown away.

Rose: @I think it’s between me and Vin for who won this one. @Nate made an interesting salad, but it’s a salad. @Vin and I both pushed the envelop.

Kierra: And the best dish was made by…. Rose.

Victoria: Congratulations, Rose! You won immunity going into tonight’s elimination!

Rose: Thank you. @I knew it. @I knew I was the winner. @If they said I wasn’t, then I’d be shocked. @I pushed myself so hard.

Nate: @Rose is strong competition, so I want her out. @But maybe next round, since she’s got immunity tonight. @Damn it.

Victoria: And now for the elimination challenge!

A knife block is placed in front of the cooks.

Victoria: Everyone, please draw knives!

Rose – vegan

Vin – carb-free

Nate – lactose-free

Amanda – vegan

Marisa – lactose-free

Talia – carb-free

Jo – vegan

Victoria: So for this challenge, you’ll have to either prepare a vegan appetizer, carb-free main, or lactose-free dessert.

Marisa: @I have to prepare a lactose-free dessert. @This will be interesting. @I’m trying to think of what I can prepare without any dairy.

Rose: @Vegan? @No thanks. @I’m cashing in my immunity. @I don’t even care. @I’ll watch you guys suffer while I just laugh.

Victoria: 45 minutes on the clock, starting now!

Nate: @I have to prepare a lactose-free dessert. @I’ve got this one in the bag. @I’m Chinese! @I’m making an almond milk panna cotta, inspired by almond jelly, with lychee-coconut sorbet and some caramelized pineapples sprinkled with black sesame seeds for crunch. @I’m confident that this is going to be my first elimination win.

Vin: @I have carb-free main. @That kind of sucks, because I can’t use rice. @I decide to prepare a curried pork chop with a fennel and orange salad and raisin chutney. @I’m hoping that the raisin chutney will make my dish substantial, without there needing to be a carb on the plate.

Amanda: @I have to make a vegan appetizer. @I immediately think about making gazpacho. @I’m going to prepare a green grape, marcona almond, and shallot gazpacho. @I’m going to use the liquid nitrogen to chill it down. @I need to keep taking chances here, because that’s how I’ll improve as a cook in this competition.

Marisa: @Lactose-free dessert. @Crap. @That means no dairy. @Almost every dessert I can think of making, it needs butter or milk or cream. @I decide to make an olive oil and meyer lemon cake with a fresh fruit salad and some coconut milk foam. @I’m going to use the canister to help froth up coconut milk for a creamy finish.

Jo: @Vegan appetizer. @That’s rough. @I’m making mushroom dumplings with grilled Chinese broccoli and edamame salad. @I’m hoping that what I lack in meat, I can make up for with the flavors of the vegetable and developing those.

Talia: @Carb-free entree. @No pasta, no pancakes, no waffles, no love. @I’m not excited about this. @I decide to make a pine nut “rice” in place of normal rice. @From there, I’m going to prepare a jambalaya with pine nut “rice.” @I know that the texture will be there, so it’s going to come down to the flavors.

Rose: @I’m not going to try tonight. @I have immunity and I’d rather just relax and not think about the challenge. @I’m going to make myself some Eggs Benedict, because I’d want to eat that in honor of Duke getting sent home. @Show the world a proper hollandaise sauce, aka one without olive oil.

Victoria: Time’s up!
Marisa: @I see my foam is separating on the plate and I’m feeling bad about the dish. @I might be going home tonight.

Victoria: Your judges are:

Erwin Ko

Aster Walker

Miriam Adjnati

Victoria: Let’s start with the vegan appetizers!

Rose – none

Amanda – green grape gazpacho

Jo – mushroom dumplings with edamame salad

Erwin: I’m disappointed that Rose did not put up a dish. She had immunity, and she basically tossed it away.

Aster: Amanda’s gazpacho was delicious and I loved the flavor and texture she achieved. I forgot it was vegan. The marcona almonds helped with the texture.

Miriam: Jo’s dumplings were nice and I really enjoyed those. But the salad he served on the side, it was bland and the Chinese broccoli was raw and unpleasant.

Victoria: Now the carb-free entrees!

Vin – curried pork chop, raisin chutney, fennel salad

Talia – jambalaya with pine nut rice

Erwin: Vin’s pork was cooked immaculately. It was succulent, juicy, and it glistened. The curry spices he used worked really well. I loved the chutney, which was sweet and tangy, and the fennel had a wonderful texture.

Miriam: I liked where Talia was going and using the pine nuts in place of rice was ingenious. But the flavor of the jambalaya was bland. No heat, hardly any salt. She could have made a good dish, but she dropped the ball.

Victoria: And finally, our lactose-free desserts!

Marisa – meyer lemon-olive oil cake, fresh fruit salad, coconut foam

Nate – almond panna cotta, lychee-coconut sorbet, caramelized sesame pineapples

Aster: The cake was moist and I loved the flavor of that cake. But the rest of the dish was haphazardly plated. The salad was not really dressed or cut properly, and the foam was split and you could taste something oily about it that ruins the rest of the dessert.

Erwin: Nate’s panna cotta was delicious and I loved the sorbet he topped it with. The caramelized pineapple on its own with the black sesame was my favorite bite of the whole day.

Victoria: So can we decide on who won the challenge, and who’s going home?

Miriam: Yes.

In walks Vin, Nate, and Amanda.
Victoria: The three of you impressed the judges, and tonight, one of you won the elimination challenge!

Vin: @I’m feeling like it’s my time. @I’ve got to win this one. @My dish tasted really good and that chutney was bomb.

Nate: @I’m on top with Amanda and Vin, who keep taking all the wins. @I need to snag one. @This is my time. @I swear upon it.

Amanda: @I’m stoked to be on top with my gazpacho. @I knew it was the right choice and the judges agreed!

Victoria: Aster, who is our winner?

Aster: We all loved your dishes, but the best one was made by…. Nate!

Victoria: Congratulations, Nate! You won the elimination challenge!
Nate: Thank you! @I’m excited that I won the challenge and beat Amanda and Vin. @I knew I had it in me.

The top three leave.

In walks Marisa and Talia.

Victoria: Unfortunately, one of you is going home tonight.

Marisa: @Hearing that it’s between the two of us, it’s not easy. I don’t want her to go home, but her leaving means me staying.

Miriam: If we could, we would have eliminated Rose for doing nothing, but she had immunity. Marisa, the coconut foam ruined your dessert. Talia, the dish was bland and underwhelming. It was a tough decision.

Victoria: Marisa, please return to the kitchen and leave.
Maria: *to Talia* Good luck, okay? Make it to the finale for me. @I’m feeling horrible about being eliminated. @I thought I made the most of the challenge and that I tried my best. @But my best was not enough and it sucks to hear that.

Talia: @Seeing her go is rough. @She’s one of my closest friends and I did not think saying goodbye to her would be this hard. *tears up*

How it is: Chapter 22

“Chef, do you have a moment?” Service was just wrapping up as Valerie approached Janice on the line. “Yeah, what’s up?” The Singaporean girl wanted the executive chef’s advice on a couple things: should she compete in Warrior Chef: All Stars, as well as what to do about Tarou. Even though she’s only seven years older, Janice would still know more about what to do in these kinds of socially awkward situations than the young pastry chef would have. “So the first thing is that I got invited to compete in Warrior Chef: All Stars, and I was wondering if I should do it.” The executive chef smiled in response to that. “I think you need to do it, Valerie. You’re extremely talented, and honestly, you could easily win a Redemption competition if you put your mind to do it.” Janice assured her. “Wait, so you think I should? Because that would mean that I would have to take a leave of absence.” Valerie noted. “I’m sure it would be fine. Hey, Daphne!” Janice turned to the eldest pastry cook. “Yes, chef?” “Do you want to be promoted to executive pastry chef? Valerie’s going to be away, competing in Warrior Chef: All Stars, so we need somebody to fill in the position!” The mother was stunned by the offer. “Hey, it would be an honor. But I think Megan is more deserving.” She noted. “Alright, then I’ll ask Megan. Either way, somebody will just get promoted and we will hire a new pastry cook.” Janice decided. “So you don’t have to worry about leaving us behind. Valerie, you are talented and you will easily wipe the floor with everyone in that competition. By any chance, do you know who you’ll be up against?” Janice looked at her, curiously. “It just said that I will be going against former finalists, runner-ups, and memorable contestants from all of the past seasons.” She summarized. “Ah, I see. That’s going to be pretty intense, then. But you are a former runner-up yourself, and you made it that far for good reason. Go in there, and kick some major ass like I know you will.”

Janice’s words put a large grin on Valerie’s face. “Alright, is there anything else you wanted to talk about?” “Oh, right.” The Singaporean girl remembered the entire issue with Timmy. “Yeah, so I don’t know if you remember, but I have a friend, Timmy. And he has a huge crush on me, but I rejected him… because I have a crush on his best friend. And it’s just really awkward because we’re all childhood friends, and the more I think about it, the less I want to be in a relationship with either of them.” She frowned. “Ooh, so a love triangle? That’s…. very awkward.” Janice crossed her arms. “But you don’t want to be in a relationship with either of them, right?” “Yeah, and I don’t want to hurt their feelings either.” “Jesus, Christ, people are sensitive these days.” The executive chef rolled her eyes. “Valerie, don’t think about that right now. Do you feel comfortable being with either of them, in terms of a relationship?” “No.” She shook her head. It would be far too awkward. “Then there you go. That’s your answer.” Janice laughed. “I know I’m coming off as very black and white about this, but it’s because there’s no point in dwelling over things that you can solve easily, if you remove the emotional aspect. Sometimes, as human beings, we need to make the tough call.” Valerie nodded in agreement to that statement. “Thanks, chef.” “No problem. Hope it all works out for you.” And with that, the two executive chefs finished breaking down their stations and started heading out. “Now how do I do that?” The Singaporean girl sighed to herself. Just a day ago, she told Timmy she had feelings for Tarou. And disregarding the likely possibility that he told Tarou this already, Valerie felt uncomfortable going back on her emotions and relinquishing her feelings for him.

“Tarou, can I be honest with you?” Timmy looked over at his roommate. They were in their room, on their respective beds, getting ready to go to sleep. The other night was still bothering him greatly. “What’s up?” “So when I was with Valerie, talking it out, I confessed to her.” “Confessed to her? Wait, no, you didn’t-” “Yeah, I told her how I was feeling.” “And?” Tarou looked at his friend, expectantly. The Taiwanese boy paused awkwardly. “She rejected me.” “Hey, it’s okay. So she wasn’t the one. That’s not the end of the world, buddy.” The Japanese boy walked over to his friend, patting him on the back reassuringly. “It’s not just the rejection that hurt me, though.” Even though Timmy had harbored feelings for Valerie for the past 13 years of his young life, he could never bring himself to muster up the courage to say anything until that night. And for him to be outright rejected, that was tough. But to know that the person Valerie had her eyes set on was the very person comforting him, and after everything that just happened to the three of them, this was a lot for the 18 year-old freshman to handle. “Hey, what’s wrong?” Tarou looked at his friend, gravely concerned. Taking a deep breath, Timmy calmed himself down. “She…. she likes you, man.” He croaked. “Timmy, you don’t have to worry about a thing, okay?” Tarou looked at Timmy, reading the boy’s worried expression. “But what about when you guys lived together?” “Nothing happened. I swear.” “But what about her feelings for you?” “Are you kidding me? The last thing I want to do is jeopardize our friendship after the whole ordeal we went through just to repair it. Fuck that.” The model rolled his eyes. “If it makes you feel any better, the first thing I will do tomorrow is talk to Valerie about this, and reject her.” He offered. “Okay, you don’t have to go that far. But I feel awkward now because of this. I liked her, she likes you, and you don’t like her. It’s like a weird….love….line?” The computer engineer’s words were failing him at the moment. He was fatigued from all of the stress from this entire semester, and just wanted to relax and recover from it all.

“Hey, Timmy, are you alright?” A 13 year-old Valerie looked at the 8th grade Timmy, who had just fought off a bunch of bullies who were picking on Tarou. “Yeah, it’s no big deal.” Timmy laughed, hiding a large cut on his forearm. “No, you’re hurt!” She pulled his arm, revealing the gash. “Timmy?” The chubby Japanese boy whimpered, feeling horribly guilty. “I’m so sorry…” He was crestfallen at the sight of the wound. “You’re coming with me to the nurse’s office.” Valerie ordered. “Hey, I’m okay! Really!” Timmy tried to insist. “Nope, you’re not!” Despite his protests, Timmy appreciated how insistent and direct Valerie was. Unlike most girls at their school, who were passive aggressive, bitchy, and so keen on playing the damsel-in-distress roles in social situations, Valerie was open with how she felt and conveyed her intentions very clearly. She was brave, caring, and fearless. She was not afraid to stand up to anyone, much like how Timmy was against Tarou’s bullies. This girl, she was different in a way that Timmy really loved. He could be himself around her, and he thought that she was the one for him. “Here, let’s just wipe the wound with some of this first.” She reached for a dark brown bottle, containing rubbing alcohol. She dabbed the open tip of the overturned bottle with a cotton pad, before returning the bottle to where she found it, and gently brushed the dirt off of Timmy’s cut. The Taiwanese boy fought the urge to blush. He was so close to her. Against his better judgement, Timmy began memorizing her features. He could see the small freckles on her cheeks, the light pink shade of her lips, the way her hair parted to the right. He really was in love with her.

Warrior Chef 2: Round 2

Marisa: @Walking into the kitchen, I feel nervous. @I almost got sent home in the last round, and if I don’t prove myself tonight, then I’m definitely a goner in this round. @I don’t think I’d have enough confidence in myself to keep pushing forward.

Nate: @At this point, I think nobody sees me as real competition. @I want to show everyone that I am a great cook!

Victoria: Welcome back! So for this creativity challenge, we want to see what you guys can do with figs! You have just 30 minutes, time starts now!

Rose: @At this point, there’s ten people left. @I want immunity, because I refuse to go home in 10th place. @I’m making a fig and almond tart with honey-feta ice cream. @In 30 minutes, that’s a huge risk, but I want to take it and prove that I am a talented cook.

Vin: @At this point, Rose is my biggest competition, but I still love her. @She’s bae. @For my dish, I’m going to prepare a fig relish to go on my flounder filet and then an almond puree. @I think that the nut puree with the fish and the fig relish, it will be a sure-fire winner. @I want more immunity.

Jo: @I don’t work with figs often. @I taste it, and it’s starchy and sweet, but also really mushy. @I’m going to make a fig vinegar to go with a seared chicken thigh and some crispy rice. @I hope it works!

Duke: @I’ve never used figs before. @I decide to puree them, and make a fig puree to go with a seared lamb chop and some red wine gastrique. @I think those flavors work, but I’m not positive.

Enrique: @I’m going to make a fig and snapper ceviche with fried tortillas. @I’m going to incorporate the figs into the Mexican ceviche because I think they can stand up to some spice and acidity.

Marisa: @I love figs. @I know that I can make a fig and mascarpone ice cream with fig cake and bruleed figs. @I learned how to make this fig cake from my grandma, so I know that it’s going to be a great dessert. @I want to win this for her, and to show everyone that I am not some weak cook who is going to be picked off in a later round.

Nate: @I’m not too comfortable using figs. @I decide to stuff them with brie cheese and then tempura fry them. @I’m going to make a honey-brown butter vinaigrette to go with them. @I want the figs to be the star of this, so I hope I did that.

Amanda: @Everyone is pairing the figs with cheese, so I know that I can’t do that. @I’m making roasted figs with a sabayon and balsamic caramel. @I’m hoping that I can win this challenge doing a relatively simple dessert, but doing everything well. @Winning the first elimination challenge felt great, but I need to keep this momentum going!

Talia: @I’m going to make a fig terrine with goat milk ice cream and walnut crumble. @I’m going to use the liquid nitrogen to set the terrine faster. @I think that it will be a great dessert. @I would love immunity again, but we have to see how everyone else will stack up with me.

Trisha: @I’m doing a fig mille feuille with whipped goat cheese and a honey-lavender syrup. @I’m trying to keep the flavors simple, but focus on flavors that pair well with the fig and introduce some textures that will give it a bit of help there.

Victoria: Time’s up!

Vin: @I’m feeling good that I went savory with my dish, but a lot of people went with desserts. @I might be able to really stand out tonight.

Victoria: Your judge is Warrior Chef house critic and fruit expert, Chloe Lula!

Chloe: Hi, guys! Figs are delicious and they have a lot of potential in any application. I can’t wait to see how inventive you were with them!

Marisa: @Chloe is a really kindhearted judge. @In the preliminary rounds, she gave me a 9/10 for my signature dish. @I really want to impress her tonight.

Chloe and Victoria taste the dishes.

Victoria: So Chloe, who failed to impress you?

Chloe: Jo, the figs were just lost in that vinegar mixture you prepared it with. Duke, the fig puree was a bit too soggy. And Enrique. Using the figs in a ceviche, they wound up too heavy. They harmed the dish more than they helped it.

Duke: @Being on the bottom with Jo and Enrique sucks. @I know that I’m a much better cook than they are.

Victoria: Chloe, who impressed you?

Chloe: I had four favorites. Rose, the tart was delicious and pairing it with the feta cheese ice cream was brilliant. Marisa, you also made a delicious fig flavored ice cream, and your cake and the bruleed figs were great! Nate, the tempura fried and brie-stuffed figs were a delight. And Vin. The fig relish and nut puree worked beautifully with the flounder.

Nate: @Right now, I have a 1 in 4 shot at immunity. @My heart is pounding out of my chest. @I really want this.

Chloe: But my favorite dish belonged to… Marisa! Your cake was a beautiful recipe.

Victoria: Congratulations, Marisa! You won immunity going into the elimination challenge! Well done!

Marisa: Thank you. @I won immunity! @I’m so excited knowing that I’m entering the elimination challenge and I can’t possibly go home! @It’s such a relief.

Vin: @Personally, I’m shocked that Marisa won the creativity challenge, because I thought Rose had it.

Victoria: So now for the elimination challenge! Everyone, please help me welcome a very special guest!
In walks Warrior Chef winner, Vanilla Cuylenberg!

Vanilla: Hi, guys!
Amanda: Oh my god! @I’m looking at the previous Warrior Chef winner! @I’m so shocked right now.
Talia: @Vanilla won her season because she had the Redemption Rounds. @In our season, we were told we didn’t get that. @I personally don’t see her as a pure winner because she returned to the competition on a technicality.

Victoria: So for this elimination challenge, you’ll be cooking in pairs. Marisa, for winning the last challenge, you get to choose who you want to be partnered with!

Marisa: I’d like to work with Jo! @I choose Jo because he seems to be a bit of a wildcard. @I can’t tell if he is a strong cook or a weak cook, but I have immunity, and I’m going to use this chance to really scout out my competition.

Jo: @I don’t get why she chose me, but I’m really worried. @If we are on the bottom, she has immunity, so I’m definitely going home if our dish is the worst.

Victoria: Everyone else, please draw knives!

Vin – 1

Rose – 1

Amanda – 2

Talia – 2

Enrique – 3

Trisha – 3

Nate – 4

Duke – 4z
Talia: @I’m stoked to be paired with Amanda. @We’ve got this.

Vin: @Rose and I have been on top together a lot now. @If we don’t win this challenge, hell probably will freeze over.

Victoria: In pairs, you’ll be cooking a dish based on one of five ingredients Vanilla has brought for you guys! Vanilla?

Vanilla: So we have corn, peaches, lamb, apples, and scallops. These are all ingredients that served me well in the Warrior Chef competition when I won, so hopefully, you guys can do them justice.

Victoria: Marisa, please select which ingredient you and Jo will be using.

Marisa: *to Jo* What do you feel comfortable doing? @I want Jo to be the one spearheading this dish because I have immunity. @I want him to be in 100% control of what he wants to make and I will try my best to help him.

Jo: Let’s go with the lamb. @It’s probably the best ingredient on the table and it’s the one I feel more comfortable making a dish out of.

Vin: @I’m annoyed Jo took the lamb, because that’s what we wanted.
Rose: @Vin and I look at each other, and we know we can nail a dish using the scallops. We’re choosing the diver sea scallops.

Amanda: Talia and I want the apples.
Talia: @We can definitely make a delicious apple dessert, so this is going to be a really easy challenge for us.

Enrique: *to Trisha* We need to do the corn.
Trisha: Okay. @I’m not comfortable using the corn, because I have no idea how to make it to focus on the dish. @But Enrique is confident, and I feel he is a weaker cook, so I want him to be in his comfort zone.

Nate: Crap. @Duke and I are stuck with the peaches.
Duke: @I don’t feel comfortable about this. @Nate and I both cook Asian. @Peaches have so little to do with either of our repertoires.

Victoria: You have just 1 hour to prepare a dish featuring one of Vanilla’s favorite ingredients! Vanilla, want to do the honors?

Vanilla: Gladly! And your time starts… now!

Marisa: @So Jo wants to prepare a garlic rubbed lamb belly with fuyu persimmon puree and anise-lamb jus. @I have no clue how to do any of it, so I’m just going to follow his instructions with each component.

Jo: @For the jus, we are going to roast the bones with the spices, and then reduce them with water. @The puree, poaching the persimmons in milk. @The lamb belly, we have that in the oven, roasting and rendering.

Vin: @So we have scallops, but we can’t just do a seared scallop. @That’s so boring. @We decide to prepare confit scallops with toasted curry spices, as well as milk-fried scallop roe, and a yogurt-lemon puree.

Rose: @Vin and I are going to combine our two cuisines through Indian-Middle Eastern food. @The two of us won our first challenges, were on top of the last three challenges, and we want to keep staying on top, because that’ll show everyone how good we are.

Amanda: @Vin and Rose are terrifyingly talented cooks. @But Talia and I are strong too, and we are going to prove ourselves. @We have apples and that’s going to be a really easy one for us.

Talia: @We are preparing tarte tatin cobbler with caramel-apple gelato. @We are going to caramelize the apples in the pan, and then pour a vanilla-semolina batter over that and bake it in the pan. @This is going to be great!

Enrique: *to Trisha* We got this, baby!~ @We are making a corn tamale with corn salsa and some lime-grilled shrimp. @I’m going to prepare the tamale, and then I’m leaving Trisha to do the shrimp and salsa.
Trisha: @I’m really nervous to be cooking this because I don’t know Latin food, and he’s making me do the salsa. @The shrimp, I can handle, but the salsa, I’m not quite sure what goes into it.

Nate: *to Duke* Okay, what the hell are we doing?

Duke: Hmmm… @The first thing that comes to mind is peach cobbler. @But we don’t even know how to make a cobbler.

Nate: @I know how to make crepes, so we finally decide on a malt crepe with caramelized peaches, vanilla whipped cream, and fresh peach fruit salad with honey and lemon. @I just hope that this works, or else it’s my ass on the line.

Duke: @We are relying on Nate to handle the crepe itself, or else we just have caramelized and raw peaches with some cream.

Trisha: @I feel like Nate and Duke are also struggling with their dishes, so it might be between the four of us for who is going home tonight. @I’m frustrated because I didn’t want to go into this competition as a weak link.

Talia: @The cobbler, I take it out of the oven, and it looks like it’s going to kick some ass. @Amanda gets the gelato out of the ice cream machine and it looks great as well. @I get a hotel pan ready and pour liquid nitrogen over the cobbler to bring it down to room temp right away. @If I serve the cobbler hot, then the gelato will just melt.

Rose: @I taste the confit scallops, and they are wonderful. @I never confit a scallop before, but the buttery flavor was there and it’s awesome. @Vin and I, we work so well together. @We are kicking ass.

Victoria: Time’s up!

Jo: @The dish looks good, but I see what the other teams have put up. @We might be in trouble tonight.

Victoria: Your judges are:

Vanilla Cuylenberg

Aster Walker

Erwin Ko

Victoria: Let’s start with Jo and Marisa’s dish!

-garlic lamb belly, fuyu persimmon puree, anise-lamb jus

Erwin: The belly was rendered nicely and I liked the puree a lot. My biggest issue was that jus. The anise was too strong.

Vanilla: The star of the dish was supposed to be the lamb, but I felt that the persimmon became the center of the plate. I liked it overall, but it didn’t feel like a lamb dish.

Victoria: Next is Vin and Rose’s dish!

-confit scallops, toasted curry, milk-fried scallop roe, yogurt-lemon puree

Vanilla: I was nervous that giving them scallops might result in a seared scallop. I was pleasantly surprised that they went this route.

Aster: The confit scallops were unusual but brilliant. The curry spices added a nice smokiness, the fried roe had such a beautiful texture to them. The puree was lovely.

Victoria: And now we have Amanda and Talia’s apple dessert.

-tarte tatin cobbler with caramel-apple gelato

Erwin: The cake component was baked nicely and the caramelization on the apples were well done. Overall, they embraced apples.

Vanilla: The apples came through and really transformed this dish into what it was. I was very happy with what they served me.

Victoria: And this is Enrique and Trisha’s corn dish!

-corn tamale, corn salsa, and lime grilled shrimp

Vanilla: I really loved the inventiveness, using the corn three ways in the salsa, the husk for the wrapper, and the corn meal for the filling.
Erwin: The shrimp were cooked nicely. But the actual tamale was a bit dry. It was just hard to eat the dish, because there was a lack of moisture, even from that salsa.

Victoria: And finally, we have Nate and Duke’s dessert!
-malt crepe, caramelized peaches, chantilly, honey peach salad

Aster: The crepe was prepared nicely and I liked the caramelized peaches. The salad was creative, but the peach was lost in it.

Erwin: It wasn’t a bad dessert, but it was way too simple for something prepared by two people in an hour. I felt like they were playing it safe, because they were banking on another team failing.

Victoria: So can we decide on our winning and losing teams?

Vanilla: We can!~

In walks Rose, Vin, Amanda, and Talia.

Victoria: Tonight, the four of you did Vanilla’s ingredients justice, and two of you will win this elimination challenge!

Rose: Knew it. @If we don’t win, then I’ll be shocked.

Talia: @I hope we win. @Vin and Rose have been strong so far, but their streak ends here. @This win has our name on it.

Victoria: Vanilla, please announce the winner!

Vanilla: Tonight, you both delivered in different ways. That apple dessert showed apples in their finest, whereas the scallop dish taught me something new. For that reason, the winning dish was… Rose and Vin’s confit scallops.

Victoria: Congratulations, Rose and Vin! You both won the elimination challenge!
Vin: Yes! @I called it. @Rose and I won!

Rose: Thank you. @Winning the challenge feels great! @I honestly think that the finale is going to be Vin and I.

Amanda: @We didn’t win, but I’m glad that I was still on top of this challenge. @It feels good to be recognized for your hard work.

The top four leave.

In walks Enrique, Trisha, Nate, and Duke.

Victoria: Unfortunately, one of you is going home tonight.

Aster: Who prepared what on each of your dishes?

Enrique: So Trisha did the salsa and the shrimp. I prepared the tamale.

Nate: I handled the crepe and the salad. Duke caramelized the peaches and prepared the whipped cream.

Erwin: Trisha and Enrique, we felt the dish was dry. The salsa didn’t do much for the dish to help with that. The tamale sort of scratched the back of your throat. But you guys did cook the shrimp well.

Trisha: @Hearing that makes me feel a little less scared. @I cooked the shrimp and the judges liked it!

Aster: Nate and Duke, we liked every component except for the salad because that was muddled from all of the other fruit. Your dessert in general, it was really safe.

Nate: You see, the issue we had was that neither of us really ever cooked with peaches, or had substantial pastry experience.

Vanilla: Unfortunately, a Warrior Chef should be well-versed in all kinds of aspects of cooking. Saying that you only do savory is not a good excuse.

Duke: @Crap. @Vanilla saying that, it’s an eye-opener. @I need to brush up on my pastry skills if I do stay.

Victoria: Unfortunately, one of you is going home tonight. The judges have talked it over, and tonight… Trisha, you are safe.

Trisha: @Hearing that I am safe is a huge relief. @But out of the three boys, I don’t want to see any of them go home. @They’re all really nice people. @I’m going to miss whoever gets sent home.

Victoria: Nate, Duke, and Enrique, between the three of you, the person going home is….. Enrique. Please return to the kitchen and leave.

Enrique: Okay. Thank you for this. @I’m feeling like shit because I’m the one going home. @I really wanted to prove to the other cooks that I knew what I was doing and I’m going home on something I normally know what to do. @Them getting rid of the Redemption Rounds is frustrating for me, because I know I could have cooked my way back into the main competition. @It sucks!