Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

My Idol Has a Last Name -- It's M-E-Y-E-R

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

My Idol Has a Last Name -- It's M-E-Y-E-R

Hugh Acheson lauds this week's guest judge, Danny Meyer.

The tall man is still a champion in Last Chance Kitchen. If you don’t watch LCK, you should. It’s a fun 12 minutes or so. 

John Tesar is gone but not easily forgotten. He is now carefully tending to his favorite flat-bottomed risotto pot, plotting a burger chain, and building a nefarious weapon that will make all the pickles in the world his and only his. 

Not everyone is always happy to see John go though. Stefan misses his morning smoking buddy, but everyone else is ebullient. Josie is all excited about all Asians this morning. It’s either headbands, football, or Asians -- the days just revolve around the topics with that one. 

Wolfgang Puck is in the house. 

Ginger QF. They are cooking redheads. Stefan tells us the basics of ginger, and it really does sound like he’s reading from the Finnish/German translation of the Wikipedia page. Canada Dry ginger ale is stacked high in this challenge, but I don’t think you have to use it. Ginger is pretty versatile in the kitchen, but this challenge is a new one for me. They could make anything. I would probably make a shaved beef salad with ginger/citrus vinaigrette, pickled ginger, and crisp rice. Or a bourbon and ginger to drink and just quietly nestle under the table and hope that no one would notice. I do that sometimes. 

Meanwhile, Micah is being a p---y about the time constraint. The real test to whether you are a p---y is starting off the chat with,“I am not a p---y, BUT….” It’s like losing a swim race and sayin’, “I am not a sore loser, but is this a Olympic-approved pool? Cause I can only race well in those.”

This is a speedy showdown, so remember what I’ve told you in the past: finding your bearings and getting a plan, 5 mins; cooking, at least ten minutes; two minutes to plate up. See, already you’re out of time. Sheldon is swearing at his Chinese fast food because he saw that once at the food court at the mall. He’s also feeling the pressure of Josie making this a race-related day.  Meanwhile Josie and Josh are trying to procreate by bumping into each other. In nine months there will be an awkward celebration with everyone in headbands that say Chef Daddy, Chef Mommy, Chef Baby.

Josh has made a white chocolate thing, Josie a busy scallop, and Brooke squid with caramel. Lizzie has made a watermelon soup with Canada Dry. Micah has artfully arranged a shrimp salad with plums. Kristen has made a Thai-inspired ginger salad with brie. Weird. Sheldon has made No. 14 on the left side of all takeout Chinese joints. Stefan has appealed to Puck with a California tuna plate. He and Wolfgang converse in the language of love, German. 

Bottoms are Sheldon and Josh. “Now Josh, what is the opposite of overwhelmed?” Wolfgang is making up for the soft mittens approach he had in the first episode and just slaying these chefs. 

Tops are Brooke, Stefan, and Lizzie. Micah is lost in the middle again. Brooke wins with her squid deliciousness. 

Out comes Danny Meyer. Danny owns all of the fine dining restaurants in the world that Wolfgang doesn’t, plus the Dubai-headquartered Shake Shack (Sheik Shack LLC). I digress from shenanigans to say that I look at these two restaurateurs as awe-inspiring mentors who have taught the world so much about hospitality and authenticity in restaurants. One day when I am looking for a dishwashing job at Spago or Gramercy Tavern I hope they remember the kind words. 

Josh does correctly say that Danny is probably not coming out to OKC anytime soon, so this may be his only the time to make an impression. I dunno, Mr. Meyer likes him some BBQ and has been known to wander in Texas looking for it; who knows-- maybe his compass will point North to OKC one of these days. But if this season is any indication of the Josh’s porcine skillset, Danny has a one in four chance of enjoying great pork on the visit. 

It’s a quasi Restaurant Wars, but it’s a little different from normal, as it's in two parts. Each person is doing a dish from their on-the-fly restaurant concept. There will be two winners and then Part 2 of Restaurant Wars will be the next episode. They get to shopping and Sheldon is in heaven, because heaven is a suburban Asian foods super-store. He and I feel the same way because I think I saw god at the Super H mart in Suwanee, GA. Micah is finding his raw food niche, making damn sure you know he lives in L.A. Kristen recounts how she’s really lived through a crazy couple of years and she deserves to be here.

The booted cheftestants are the sous-chefs for this challenge, including crazy Carla. Stefan welcomes her with a comment about her a--. Stefan doesn’t really play the closet sexist… he wears it with pride. Josie bowls over Kuniko with enthusiasm. Lizzie is dumping all her dumpling work on Eliza.

Tom does his walk-around, and finds that Brooke wants to show the world some Jewish sensibility while still serving very un-kosher food. He visits Kristen, and they realize Kristen is now officially rich from the show. Tom tells her to invest in old guitars and everything will be fine. The rest of them wrap up Josie in plastic wrap and hope for the best. 

Back at the Olive 8, Sheldon is 30! He calls his daughters. Great picture of his kids. Awesome. I mean that.

They are set up in some outdoor Ikea furniture lot. But it’s inside! Crazy! It’s Bite of Seattle! If I had jobs to dole out I would not let Carla handle the liquid nitrogen. She’s disposed of bodies this way back in the day. You freeze them solid and then they just shatter. I have just written an episode of Dexter in my head. 

Kuniko thinks this is a good day for Micah. Maybe this is opposite day? 

Pictures of when Tom had hair. Stefan celebrated this moment by spreading the joy of hot bisque on everyone in a ten-meter vicinity. 

The food goes on. Josh has steak, Lizzie has a Northern Italian/German dumpling thing.  Danny is a very serious man. I want him to make a fart joke, but he won’t. He just won’t. Sheldon has made a Filipino soup and Stefan has made a coconut milk soup and a frozen pop thing. Padma seems to think that Stefan has made that frozen pop thing before… for them…  on Top Chef. The pitfalls of coming on this show multiple times are numerous. They love Sheldon’s soup and kind of like Stefan’s. 

Micah’s raw sensory perception is busy. Kristen’s Onsen egg is delightful. As fancy as that sounds, it’s just a slow-cooked egg at a prescribed temperature. I like 63 C. Danny asks her, with his “Let’s get crazy!” zeal, “What will be the style of the restaurant, in terms of formality?” This type of calm and focused demeanor is why he wins, and I continue to refer to myself as an idiot. Must get more serious. Must get more serious. Stefan practices his sexism on Kristen, but I get the feeling she’s playing him much more than he’s thinking he’s playing her. She has outcooked him again and that has to weigh on the relationship. 

Josie has channeled all of the berry farm memories and is playing bad chef at the demo table again. She gets nervous with laughter when she gets in the weeds. It’s a tell. Not a good one. 

Brooke takes a really long time explaining her UnKosher dish but it looks cool. Josie staggers and talks about Miami, 2LiveCrew, area codes,and everything except for food. Sadly the matzoh is leaden and offends Gail’s whole tribe, but there is a shining light for Brooke, as Josie’s pork is way too done, no matter the amount of Magik sauce you apply.

The judges talk restaurant and there is some good wisdom in there. I could listen to Tom and Danny talk about restaurants all day long. 

Tops are Sheldon, Josh, and Kristen. The concepts from all three came through. Josh seems to have calmed down in this episode and is not so angry and whiny. He cooks better when rested and happy; we all do. 

Sheldon wins for his homage to his Filipino ancestry and Kristen wins for her egg. They will be the bosses for the next half of Restaurant Wars. They are charged with picking the teams for the next challenge. But the trick is that they will be splitting the folks up before the loser is called out for this part of the competition, meaning one team is going to be one person light. There’s a minivan in this for the winner. 

Kristen misses the chance to pick Stefan for her team. Ouch. Stefan is busy writing her one of those grade 4 notes, “Do you like me?” It just happens that it gets all split down gender lines. Should be exciting. But we still have someone to send home now and Micah, Josie, and Lizzie line up in front of the firing squad. All three have some big flaws. Is Lizzie all pissy? She seems a little mad that she wasn’t allowed to fully explain her dumpling. We do glean a poem by Danny though:

“The minute I tried to
Put my fork into that pork
And the pork fought back
I said, This is gonna be a problem.”

Micah goes home. He is sad but thankful. I thought he was a good competitor in all of this and wish him well. Godspeed.

 

Make Doug's Winning Mussels

Doug's mussels pleased the palates of the superfans -- and the judges. Try having them at home.

Chorizo-Marinated Mussels With Sweet Pepper and Cauliflower Relish

 

Ingredients 

5 lbs mussels

5 lbs pork chorizo

1 head cauliflower

3 sweet pickled peppers

EVOO

2 cups white wine

2 cloves garlic

2 Tbsp parsley (chopped)

2 Tbsp Chives (chopped)

 

Directions

1. Start a pan with chorizo. Render and carmelize lightly.

2. Add garlic, parlsey, chives, and mussels.

3. Add white wine and cover. Cook gently till the mussels have just opened.

4. Clean the mussels and strain the liquid over them. Cool.

5. Cut the cauliflower into small peices and roast hard until they have lots of color and are crispy.

6. To serve: Plate cauliflower, top with mussel and pickled pepper. Pour a little of the liquid over the mussel and garnish with pickled pepper and lemon preserve.

 

Lemon Preserve

Ingredients

5 lemons

Water

Salt, to taste

Sugar, to taste

 

Directions

1. Peel five lemons and thinly julienne the peel.

2. Blanch in boiling water five times till tender and not bitter.

3. Add juice from the lemons and season with sugar and salt to taste

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