Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

Ain't No Thing But a Chicken Wing

Get Doug's Masterpiece Brisket Recipe

Make Melissa's Seared Duck Breast Dish

Gail on Innovation (and George's Failure to Push It)

Make Melissa's Mom's Egg Custard

Hugh Worries About Scurvy and Foie Gras

Make Mei's Inspired Duck a l'Orange

Gail Has No Problem With Blood

Make George's Cravable Breakfast Sausage

Gail Simmons Won't Be Pushed Around

Make Doug's Winning Mussels

Tom Colicchio Answers Your Restaurant Wars Qs

Gail: It Wasn't Keriann's Day

Make Doug's Winning Braised Pork!

Gail: We Had a Tough Job This Week

Make Katsuji's Authentically Delicious Stuffing

Hugh: The Demise of Cornwallis and Aaron

Make Gregory's Winning Dumplings

Richard: Chefs Please Follow Instructions

Richard Tries Money Ball Soup

Make a Home Run-Worthy Popcorn Crème Brule

Hugh: Where There's a Will There's a Fenway

Gail: Keriann and Aaron Were Being ---holes

Make the Winning Surf and Turf

Gail: We're Taking No Prisoners

Richard Goes From Player to Announcer

Tom Talks Boston

Gail: There Was No Season 11 Underdog

Hugh Wants Nick to Be Kind to Himself

Gail: It Was Difficult to Let Go of Shirley

Big Easy to Ocean Breezy

Gail: The Final Four Are Like Our Children

Emeril Is Proud to Serve Shirley's Dish

Hugh: Enough With the Mexican Food Hate

Gail on Favreau, Choi, and Finding Yourself

Hugh on Poor Boys, Swingers and Food Trucks

Emeril: Nick's Choice Is Part of the Game

Nick's License to Immune

Hugh's Sitting on the Dock of the Bay

Hugh Decides Eight Is Enough

Gail Talks OvenGate

Ain't No Thing But a Chicken Wing

Just how fatal was Brooke's poultry flaw?

Hello for the last time this season, my little burnt pig ears. Well, we now have a new Top Chef, and I for one am exhausted. For this final episode, we changed up the format a bit, putting finalists Brooke and Kristen head to head with their previously selected sous-chefs. Watching the episode gave me a serious hankering to re-watch this year's Bocuse d'Or and Hugh Acheson's hilariously sleep-deprived live-tweeting of this year's event. i could have used a dose of Thomas Keller and some angry Frenchmen...

Both chefs were tased with creating five dishes and the only requirements were to use scallop for the second course, snapper for the fourth. Otherwise, they had all the freedom they could ever ask for, which should be a good thing. Ultimately, though, this may have been to Brooke's detriment. To win, one chef has to win three out of five courses.

"Are you ready to share your tiara?" Gail asks Stephanie Izard. Oh, she's ready. It remained to be seen if Brooke and Kristen were ready. I think Brooke was pretty nervous, which was made painfully clear when she couldn't remember all her ingredients. And, seriously, who wouldn't be? Let's dive into the dishes.For the first course, Kristen offered a perfect chicken liver mousse. Gail didn't care for the presentation, but that was the only real complaint. Brooke went for a pig ear salad -- a dish viewers were probably expecting after last week's visit to Brooke's restaurant where she made a smilar dish -- if not the same exact dish -- as a special. There were a few problems with the dish, but the pig ears themselves seemed to be the biggest problem. CJ's cooking of them was inconsistent and Emeril and Tom's were burnt. Course goes to Kristen.

The second course, where both chefs had to use scallop, said a lot about the two women as chefs. Kristen kept it simple with cured scallop, while Brooke seared hers, but added a very surprising and welcome element -- salted cod. Like Emeril, I Iove salted cod, so I would have been pretty happy to receive this dish. And while Kristen's simplicity was apprecited, Brooke's romanesco seals the deal for the judges. Course goes to Brooke.

The third course was crucial, and ultimately, probably the greatest cause of Brooke's downfall. She made chicken wings. Granted, they were apparently delicious, and even traitor Stefan (just kidding, Stefan!) looks like he might finish all of them before they hit the judges' plates, but they were chicken wings. Although I think elevating a chicken wing is something to be commended, and many of the past winners deemed it "ballsy," this is the Top Chef finale. As Tom said, "I get why you're doing it. Although i'm still not sure why you're doing it." This made perfect sense, and Brooke knew it. She even called the wings a "crucial mistake." Kristen takes the course.And so, the fourth course comes. If Kristen wins, she's the new Top Chef, and she does. I really thought this could have gone either way as both chefs seemed to know their dishes and felt confident in their ability to prepare them. Unfortunately for Brooke, Kristen's was just better. Oh, and it had uni. I've said it before, and I'll say it again -- uni always wins!

So, mazel tov, Kristen! And congratulations to you, Brooke -- you have so much to be proud of. I had the pleasure of meeting both the ladies this week, and I know they both have big things ahead of them. 

Before I close I just wanted to point out a few things that made me smile this episode.:

1. Sheldon saying "Yes, Chef" when Kristen tasked him to do something. It showed how much respect he had for his leader that day, but ultimately, I just love Sheldon, so he could pretty much do anything and I would smile.

2. Brooke's son, Hudson, passing out was the cutest thing ever!

3. It was so great to see all the past winners there, but Ilan takes the cake for funniest moment when he broke the light on the table!

OK, yeah, nothing tops Ilan.

Until next season, Have a Nosh! And let me know in the Comments below if you're happy with the verdict.

Make Melissa's Seared Duck Breast Dish

Get the recipe for Melissa King's winning new culinary creation: seared duck breast with farro, walnut miso, and pickled cherries.

Duck Breast, Walnut Miso, Pickled Cherries, Farro


Duck breast
1 cup Walnuts
1 Tbsp Red miso paste
1 Tsp Mirin
Rice vinegar
1 Tsp White soy sauce
Chicken Stock
Walnut Oil
Chocolate Mint (to preference)

Directions for Duck
1. Season duck breast with salt/pepper
2. Sear on med-low on cast iron skin side down to render fat
3. Remove and let cool until medium rare
Directions for Walnut Miso
1. Blanch 1 cup walnuts in hot boiling water
2. Blend in blender w/ 1 Tbsp red miso paste, 1 Tsp mirin, 1 Tsp rice vinegar, 1 Tsp white soy sauce.
3. Blend until very smooth and then pass through chinois

Directions for Pickled Cherries
Cherries (slice/pit)
2 part Rice vinegar
1 part butter
To taste Sugar
Pinch of Salt

1.Boil and pour over cherries
2. Strain and reserve liquid. Mound pickling liquid with butter on the pick up to make cherry sauce

Directions for Farro
1. Boil farro in chicken stock for 1 hour until soft and bloomed
2. Strain farro
3. Mound farro with butter and chicken stock until it looks creamy
4. Season with salt

Directions for Shave Carrots
1. Shave celery (compress with walnut oil)
2. Shave radishes (compress with yuzu)
3. Chocolate mint (chopped)
4. Toss all with walnut oil, salt

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