Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

Bad Weeds

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

Dookie Chase Makes Everybody Cry

Fin, Found, Floundering

What Danny Meyer Taught Gail Simmons

'Top Chef' Goes to Hog Heaven

Gris Gris Boucherie Ya Ya

Brian and Travis' Dud Spuds

Bad Weeds

Hugh Acheson assesses how the chefs, especially Josie, deal with time constraints.

Here we go yo. 

The Healthy Choice $150,000 is still mysteriously hidden in the freezer section of the Top Chef kitchen and none of the remaining chefs have noticed. 

Stephanie Izard is in the house. She is the winner of Season 4 and a very successful chef in Chicago. She has curly hair that makes mere mortals envious. Someday, it is ordained, she will take my brow and I her locks. Kind of like trading our signatures for a couple of weeks just to see what’s up. She has yet to be informed of this plan, but I am thinking she’ll be totally cool with it. 

Foiled again. Open up the food stuff and you have to use it. And you have to cook in it. The Bart Knight? He likes this. Stephanie plays up this angle stating that she loves foil. Tesar is totally flummoxed by a pineapple… “WHAT AM I going to do with a pineapple?” Obviously boiled beef with pineapple thingies comes to mind. Hmmm. 

Beautiful Kristen is channeling a sponge cake which ends up being one of those things that may taste good, but looks like it was, well, cooked in small bundles of angrily scrunched-up Reynolds Wrap. Meanwhile, Bart is making a foil helmet to channel his home planet. Tesar is contemplating that all Asian food is anchored with pineapple. I am lost in my own foil outfit, cause I like to play along at home. 

Micah would like you to know about his gift. His gift is that food ideas just come to him like an indescribable miracle. Most people would call that getting paid to be a… wait for it… chef? “I am a tax accountant and I have a gift, a miracle blessing among mankind, 'a super power’ if you will, to do your taxes.” I keep expecting to look over and have Bart making a life-sized Noah’s Ark with two of each animal, all made out of FOIL.Time is up and Danyele slugged out a bean soup. Padma completely crushes Micah by noticing his completely raw lamb panzanella thing. (QF tip: Padma is not a rare meat lover, but when you get to EC, bring on the rare to MR cause the rest of us like that and can outvote her). Stefan is cooking salmon and potatoes. I still don’t have any idea what the Asian element in the dish is, but who knows. Kristen giggles and the innuendo between them continues like a pesky form of herpes. Tesar presents his dim sum of beef and pineapple, and it gets pretty good accolades. He’s got skills, there’s no denying. 

Brooke has given Padma onion breath and there will be hell to pay. Josh‘s moustache looks particularly waxy today as he makes a chicken foil thing. Kristen’s cake rocks and looks like a deconstructed cake cooked in foil would… but it tastes great. Bart has cooked some fish, but is most proud of his foil colander. The fish is cooked perfectly. Sheldon has made a stunning plate that is not served in foil.

Many many on tops. Kudos to them in the foil challenge, but there must be a winner, and today it’s Kristen. Cake in foil. Remember that for your next camping trip. Bart will make you a foil tent to sleep in.

On to a berry special challenge for this EC. Head to head and Josh likens this to wrestling. I think Ric Flair, but Josh thinks Greco-Olympic glory. Either way a picture is shown of him in a Canadian tuxedo looking all dapper and OKC chic. Kristen is alone in this head-to-head battle with precious immunity to keep her company. Lizzie ain’t scared, cause she cooked for Nelson Mandela twice and single-handedly ended the apartheid regime in her native land when she was seven yrs old. 

Cloche time. Tayberry, Strawberry, Gooseberry, Blueberry, Strawberry, some other some other berries. This is like a kids' cartoon I was forced to watch with my kids featuring Apple Dumplin’, that selfish little brat. Tesar is already calling out Stefan for using frozen fish. Stefan answers this war cry by fondling Kristen. A truce is called, but its tenuous at best. 

Into the minivans and off to the farm! It’s a field trip. Micah looks forward, completely deadpan, to jump into some berries. Some crotchety old farmer delivers a load of berries. Josie is out to Razmataz the sushi world with her “Rock 'n' Roll” sushi roll. Evidently this is a harbinger of the end times, and I have put on white Nikes and am going to be with the rest of my cult for a long, long time. 

Bart is on a blender hunt. In the chivalrous world of Belgian knightdom, if someone asked you for a blender you are tasked to provide. The wheel of fortune spins badly on Tesar for his blender selfishness, and he gets rained on by said blender. Life, evidently, is a bitch. 

H2H (Head to Head) competition is driving these people to bad words. Danyele says, “Over your head, d--khead.” I am so using that. This is not a kids' show anymore -- it hasn’t been since Grayson’s “sex in the mouth” comment last season in Texas when they all succumbed to heat stroke and let that Paul guy win. Total sham. (Just kidding Sarah!) My kids still watch, but I make them wear bad-word earmuffs. 

Kristen wants to go home to Korea to see where she’s from… this is the best answer ever to the question of how would the money be used. My answer of 5000 King Kong Ice Cream Kones is just plain stoopid in comparison, but I stick with it. 

I like me some King Kones.

In the competition you really get to see how some people deal with being in the weeds. Josie, she talks. And talks and talks. When nervous and behind she likes to ad-lib cooking demonstrations. This did not make her food any better, but only got pointed out a lot by the judges. Overall, the food looked pretty good. Lots of people fighting each other. Stefan got the better of Tesar even while rocking the frozen fish. Brooked took Bart with her chocolate pudding that almost didn’t get finished. Sheldon squashed Micah in Crudo vs. Chicken Biscuit 2012. Lizzie mauled Josie, but really Josie mauled herself. Josh won his head-to-head by not cooking pork, the meat he loves, but doesn’t cook very well in front of a camera. Kristen won her little challenge against herself and pulls out the big win as well. On re-entering the Stew Room, did Stefan say that “wifey” won? I feel like some naughty time is happening. 

Danyele gets the boot. She was looking tired of the rat race anyhow. 

Best of luck to you, Danyele.

Gail Simmons Won't Be Pushed Around

So she's going to take more time shopping at Whole Foods -- and ask for the best of Melissa's basket and Adam's shrimp.

Bravotv.com: Let's dive right in. How did it feel to go shopping?
Gail Simmons: Shopping at Whole Foods was fantastic and hilarious. It made us realize that you need to be strategic, which was the point of the exercise for us. They gave us 30 minutes, but we took a little longer. We didn't let the producers push us around! We’re not contestants and we weren't going to stand for it! So, you realize how little time you have, and how big Whole Foods can be. You spend a lot of time running around.

 

My strategy with my pantry was to get a lot of fresh, delicious food that you can cook in lots of different ways. A good balance of proteins, fish, fruits, vegetables, spices, fresh herbs, grains. But I didn't want to get too much. Everyone has different strategies; Padma got a ton of different ingredients. Tom's pantry was very pared down. Richard and I were somewhere in the middle.

 

Bravotv.com: Let's start by talking about the two dishes that came from your pantry?
GS: Katsuji and Melissa. They used the same protein, but their dishes were very different. They both used shrimp which one of the proteins that I bought. I bought something else too, something that I know has given people trouble in the past (which is why I specifically chose it) -- chicken wings. And I really wanted people to use them. Instead, they chose the easy way out because shrimps cook quickly.

Melissa's used a lot of fresh vegetables, which I was hoping she would: dill, mint, artichoke. I was so excited about all of it. I think it was beautifully done, a lovely salad with that little shrimp on top with spiced yogurt. But it was just a salad with a quick-cooking seafood. It was so similar to what she had done in Restaurant Wars when she made a scallop with grapefruit salad. I believe she could have done so much more. Melissa keeps saying she wanted to focus on her knife skills, and, of course, your knife skills have to be precise. But I need to see more than just knife skills. I want to see cooking skills, I want to see roasting skills, braising skills. I want to see her hands get a little dirtier and her dishes not be as superficial. It was a light, lovely dish. I was happy to eat it for lunch. But when you're competing against six other really talented chefs, we all want to see a little more depth. Katsuji on the other hand went big. He used his ingredients in a really powerful way. The potato salad, the poached shrimp had bold seasoning and I loved how they went together. It was a great dish. It may not have been the best of the day, but I was actually really happy with what he chose to make.

 

Bravotv.com: So for the rest, let's talk about who was on top and who was on bottom.

GS: At the top there was Gregory who really was going for Padma's heart there. He did great with his coconut milk curry. A really balanced, powerful dish. But it's something we’ve seen from Gregory many times in the past. In fact, in the first challenge he made a similar spicy curry dish with chicken. As much as we thought it was a delicious bowl of food, it was so typical of what we expect from Gregory. George's food was really exciting for us. This was my first time tasting his food and meeting him on Top Chef. He did a great job. The kebab was moist, seasoned really well, and the lentils were beautiful too. My only small issue with the dish is I couldn't understand why he separated the lentils from the kebab in two separate dishes. Why not put lentils on the plate and the kebab right on top, with a dollop of the yogurt? It seemed a little bit disconnected to me. But all-in-all, a really strong dish. Doug had the winning dish of the night. He used Richard's crazy pantry in a way that I thought was smart, clear-cut, and creative. The chorizo and mussels and peppers, just how Tom said, go together well, as do the cauliflower and the garlic. There was sweetness, there was spice, it was light and fresh but had a soulful, rustic flavor we all loved. You could see use of technique. On the bottom were dishes that tried to stretch and didn’t come through. Mei did a great job overall, except her lamb was undercooked. You want lamb medium, medium rare, but the center of that meat was raw to the point where the texture was chewy and almost cold. It would have been better if she had been able to cook it five minutes longer. We talked about Melissa's mistakes already, which also landed her on the bottom. I totally applaud Adam for trying to make a quick-flash marinade. He's been in the middle for so long and he thought "I gotta go big or I gotta go home." He tried to go big and unfortunately, he went home because of that technique. I get the idea of what he was doing, I don't doubt that it could've been successful if it were perhaps done in a different setting, with a little more control. But the flash marinade of his shrimp did not cook it as needed. It was still grey, it was still raw, and the texture of raw shrimp is not appealing. It's squeaky, it's squishy, and it becomes sort of mushy. We wanted it firm and cooked through. It's not like fish that you can eat sashimi-style Unfortunately Adam's hard work, his big risk sent him home.

I will miss him. I think he's an incredibly articulate, clever chef. I think he has an extraordinary career ahead of him. I'm excited to see him back in New York City. I can't wait to eat his food again. Also I want to say of this entire episode that was it was thrilling to see our superfans in the kitchen. We've never let people come into the kitchen in that way before, even though people ask us all the time. It brought so much good energy to have basically a live audience with us for the day. Everyone was so psyched. It was amazing to be around people who really love the show, to let them eat food from our talented chefs. SO much fun!