Cast Blog: #TCMASTERS

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Everything Zen

Best of the Best

Francis Lam: What's on the Menu?

Curtis Stone's Lemon Creams with Poached Cherries

Bryan Voltaggio: "I Thought I Won. I Know I Won."

Jennifer Jasinski Was a "Great Miracle"

Lesley Suter's 'Ratatouille' Moment

What it Takes to Be Top Chef Master

The Finale Countdown

Doug and Sang: Bad Romance?

Sang is Back!

David Burke Has Titanium Balls

See Ya, Suckers!

Why Jennifer Jasinski Didn't Go Home

James Oseland's Teacher Tribute

Gail: "I Still Can't Believe Sang was Eliminated"

The Strangest Episode of 'Top Chef Masters' Yet?

Lesley Suter: On Tongue, Flautadillas, and Birthday Cake

What Has Curtis Stone "Spewing"?

A Series of Unfortunate Culinary Events Leaves Blood on the Mat

Gail: "We Couldn't Excuse Neal"

Lesley Suter: Hey, Chefs, Why So Raw?

Pull it Together, Sang!

Francis Lam: I liked Sang's Fish

Curtis Stone in Nacho Libre

Gail Simmons: "Neil Went for Our Bellies"

The Evolution of Sue Zemanick

Curtis Stone: Throwing Curveballs

Ruth Reichl: "I'd Rather Be Training a Nation of Food Warriors"

When Plex Met Toodee

'Top Chef Masters' ' Toughest Critics Yet

Gail Simmons: No "Chef" in Lynn's Dish

Restaurant Wars: 'Getting' Busy

Francis: A New Kind of Locavorism

What Being a Chef Really Means

Ruth Reichl's Perfect Los Angeles Restaurant

Restaurant Wars' Controlled Chaos

Franklin Just Did Too Much

Curtis and Lindsay: A Perfect Pairing

Curtis Stone: This Episode Sends Hearts Racing

Franklin, Can You Hear Me?

Everything Zen

Bravotv.com's Senior Editor highlights the gray areas of the teppanyaki challenge.

Hello my little triple axels! What an exciting week on Top Chef Masters. When I wrote at the beginning of the season about how good this season is, I had already watched this episode, and I truly think it is one of the most exciting episodes we've ever aired. Maybe I just get a little too excited about this show, but comment if you agree!

First, the chefs were issued a Quickfire where they had to cook seafood without heat. Well, they were presented with a giant ice block. I was nervous that they might have to chip through the ice like our Top Chef: Texas finalists, but alas, they were safe. I love this challenge. As I've only really started eating raw fish in my adult years, I've had some pretty fantastic cold fish dishes, and I would have been pretty happy with most of the chefs' offerings. Brian Boitano, who actually does have a show on the Cooking Channel, serves as guest judge and is very eloquent about what he's eating. I grew up watching Brian, so I was pretty thrilled to see this. I only wish Kurt Browning wuld have somehow stormed the kitchen, skating around Brian to "Brick House." Oh well -- a girl can dream.

Although Takashi seemed to have an advantage in this challenge as a sushi chef, I also think this could have hurt him. Well, I was wrong. He won the challenge. Frankly, i was relieved. i always like seeing chefs excel at their area of expertise. The only dish I found disappointing in this challenge -- visually at least -- was Art's, which Curtis pointed out to Brian, to which Art replied, "Shut up, Curtis!" I would have preferred a simple "Leading the witness!"

On to the Quickfire! And the teppanyaki! I am a sucker for a hibachi meal. I love fresh-made fried rice, and obviously having shrimp tails flipped at me. Also, punch served in a Buddha-shaped mug. Catching a rice ball in my mouth is one of my greatest achievements. But this week, the chefs had to not only cook on a teppanyaki in groups of three, but they had to cook for their peers. Luckily for them, it was some of their more jovial peers in the form of Susan Feniger, Mary Sue Milliken, Jonathan Waxman, and Rick Moonen. We also welcomed Francis Lam to the Judges' Table. Did I mention Francis is blogging and his blog is highly entertaining? Read it HERE.

Before we get to the actual serving, let's pause for a moment for an inspirational message from Chris Cosentino at Whole Foods. "A lot of great things have happened in the world when people think outside the box." Agreed. Oh, let's also stop for a massage like Thierry did. Man, this competition is stressful -- who can blame him for needing a little rub-down? Apparently Chris can, calling him a "ding dong." Is that an acceptable insult these days? I hope so because it's definitely being worked into my vocabulary.The teppanyaki challenge is all about regulating heat, time management, and putting on a show. Let's see how the teams did, shall we?

First up are Mark, Kerry, and Lorena. Mark's food was simple, but bland. I'm still lost on why he didn't use his butter. Kerry went Korean and brought the drama, but his shrimp was overcooked. And Lorena's fried rice burned a bit. Also, they didn't taste their food. I'm on the fence about whether they were justified in thinking they shouldn't try their food in front of people because it was "indelicate" to do so, to put it in Kerry's terms. Personally, I found Lorena's use of the third person more offensive. I kid. I kid. 

Next up we have Clark, Patricia, and Takashi. Takashi had problems with the consistency of his pancakes, but he has immunity. Rick loves Patricia's lettuce wraps. He loves lettuce wraps. Oh, and they put on a dance routine. The judges and guests seemed ot enojoy this team' dishes much more than the first team's.

On to the final team who decide not to even try to cook Japanese-style. I think this was either incredibly smart or could have backfired on them. But this was't their bigest challenge -- their pesonalities were. Chris and Art always bicker, but it came to a head this week when Chris yelled at Art in front of his peers. A little part of me died inside for Art. Even if Chris was justified, that's just plain embarrassing. Thankfully, Thierry diffused the situation. Also, Chris called himself "daddy." Lorena is now forgiven for speaking in the third person. Despite some burnt crepes, all the dishes were received well, and in the end, they pulled out hte win. If this weren't a teppanyaki challenge, and the chefs bickered in the kitchen, we would never have known.

On a sidenote, I had the pleasure of eating at Kevin Sbraga's restaurant Sbraga in Philly this weekend, and not only was the food out of this world, but it's an open kitchen, and the vibe at the Chef's table was so calm, it was ridiculus. Obviously it's not like that ever night -- every chef has his/her "Damn it, Art!" moment, but I was very impressed nonetheless.On the other hand, although Mark and his teammates worked well together, their food was the weakest, and Mark was eliminated. I was sad to see Mark go home, not only for Clark, but I just loved watching them together. I hope to make it to Maine and eat at their restaurant soon.

Next week's episode takes our chefs to the Grand Canyon! You won't want to miss this one. Until then, Have a Nosh!

Bryan Voltaggio: "I Thought I Won. I Know I Won."

Bryan compares his Top Chef Masters finale to his Top Chef Season 6 finale.

Bravotv.com: How are you feeling going into the finale? Tired? Reinvigorated?
Bryan Voltaggio: Certainly not tired. This is something we do every day, day in and day out, cooking. Going into the finale, I am feeling excited and nervous -- I want to do a great job and win.

Bravotv.com: What went through your mind when you found out Graeme won the last Battle of the Sous Chefs?
BV: I was very excited for Graeme because he finally had an opportunity to shine and he brought it all to the table. I felt a great sense of redemption for him because he got to win a challenge when it counted the most. I strongly believe that Graeme helped us get all the way tothe end-- he clinched it to get us to the finale.

Bravotv.com: Can you elaborate on your menu planning? How did you decide which dish will go for which course?
BV: When it comes to the menu, and what I learned the first go round on Top Chef, you need to cook what you know. There are time limitations, surprises (planned and unplanned), so you need to do what you can to troubleshoot and get good results on the plate. You can't bring anything to the challenge that you've never done before. I go back to dishes we've created at VOLT, things that Graeme and I both know, things that I don't even have to speak to Graeme about.

Bravotv.com: You had a little over 20 minutes less than you thought you would have to prep because of traffic. How nervous were you that you wouldn't get it done?
BV: Traffic was a big factor, but I knew the food, I knew the menu, and I knew I could get it all done. It was worth going to get the extra ingredients (the proteins), and it was worth it in the end.

Bravotv.com: How do you feel each dish turned out? Was there anything you would have done differently?
BV: I was very proud of every plate I put forward. I thought that every dish was done flawlessly, and I achieved every goal I set out for.

Bravotv.com: What made you include an element from Michael's repertoire in your dish (the seaweed mashed potatoes)?
BV: I wanted to put out some sort of element that represented Michael because he's not only family, but I also respect him very much as a chef.

Bravotv.com: As the judges critiqued your food at Critics' Table, what did you think?
BV: I thought that I had nothing but positive comments -- there wasn't anything glaring that made me feel like I misstepped. I felt really good after Critics' Table.Bravotv.com: After the heavy comment about your beef dish? Did you think you won?
BV: Yes, I thought I won. I know I won.

Bravotv.com: What went through your mind once the critics told Doug he won? How did it differ from when Michael won?
BV: I thought for sure they were going to call my name because I felt confident about my food. Maybe they saw something in Doug's dishes that put it over the top. Compared to when Michael won, it wasn't a proud moment for me because I wasn't playing and rooting for both myself and my brother. I really wanted to win the money for my charity and it was an opportunity for redemption. If anything, I owed it to Michael to win because I wanted to compete again and go for the win.

Bravotv.com: You are on a roll in our Viewers' Choice. Anything you'd like to say to your fans?
BV: I appreciate all the support, and the fans need to know that their efforts will go to feed many hungry children across the country. I encourage everyone to continue to reach out and support Share Our Strength.

Bravotv.com: How's your relationship now with the other contestants?
BV: My relationship with everyone is great. We all got along, and I felt respected amongst the group. At first, they were nervous when I came in because I had competed before. That just goes to show that it was a tough competition, and we're all good at what we do. I still communicate with everyone from the group -- mostly David Burke.

Bravotv.com: What was your favorite overall challenge?
BV: Favorite challenge was the last one. It is always best to cook the food you want to cook- that's where I've always put my best food forward.

Bravotv.com: What was the hardest part of the competition for you?
BV: Being away. There are always two sides to it -- one of the greatest things when you are in a competition, all your focus is on that and not on outside influences. It's a break from the day-to-day restaurant life, but the other reality is that you want to be back home with your family and at your restaurant.

Bravotv.com: Did anything funny happen behind the scenes that you can share?
BV: I had a lot of fun with the Face Juggler app behind the scenes. We were acting like children a lot of the times behind the scenes which kept the grueling schedule and challenges bearable.

Bravotv.com: Anything else you'd like to add?
BV: I want to thank Graeme for everything and helping me along this journey. He is a big player in how we got all the way to the end, and I appreciate all his hard work day in and day out at VOLT.