Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

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

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

Hugh Acheson is quite particular about his fried chicken.

To recap last week’s ejection: Lots has been said on the intertubes about this one, and I feel your pain. I understand the sadness. At the end of the day, I think Kristen was the leader who took the fall, grasped the responsibility, and left with her head held high. And she beat CJ in Last Chance Kitchen, so I don’t think it’s the last time we’ll be seeing her. As for Josie, ah well, she’s Josie, and she ran into the lucky puddle. Sheldon, he was the real winner in all of this, and I really do think it was deserved. He’s a real Menehune. 

Wake-up time in the Olive 8. Stefan misses his wifey. Josie feels heavy this morning. She gained some emotional weight and needs to shed them tears. Lizzie acts as the therapist that doesn’t really want to be there. 

Sushi master time. Master Katsuya Uechi is in the house for the Quickfire Challenge. Simple is best in the land of sushi. Stefan still has not won anything, but he has put forward raw fish in about three challenges. Josie has found the smallest halibut the ocean ever offered, and I am hoping it’s west coast halibut as the east coast ones just are not sustainable. I love sushi, but it really does need to come to the table with sustainability in mind or the state of the oceans will be more dire than ever. Josh, a big believer in sustaining his high cholesterol through bacon intake, can’t find a way around not having bacon, even in sushi. Sheldon is burning lemons and explaining why. Hipster burnt food, check. 

Josie really, really wants you to know about her parties where she serves food on naked women. She’s like the present that keeps on giving. There is nothing that can compare with eating seaweed salad out of a belly button. Yup, there I’ve gone and made myself shiver with disgust again. Must stop doing that. 

The five-minute bell rings and they begin plating. Stefan is first to act and he has presented yellowtail with grilled shiitake and a lobster with seaweed and unagi. Katsuya, a man of few words and not the most emotive soul on the planet, says it tastes good. Josie has made Helluva Halibut with Blistering Bacon and Jammin’ Yuzu. Trademark has been applied for. Chef K wants a little more punch, which is his way of saying it was really lacking. Lizzie puts up a lobster thing with a broth and pickled ginger. Chef misses rice in this one. We are not told what the tempura fried thing is off to the right on her plate, but it’s evidently of no consequence. Brooke loves sushi. She has made octopus with yuzuand grated wasabi. Simple. Josh, what are you doing? “Basically, I know breakfast.” Huh? They say sushi and you say breakfast? I am confounded. He has made a salmon belly rice sandwich with bacon and an omelette, pleasing all the non-kosher Jewish-Japanese people who are looking for a new rice sandwich. It looks really hard to eat. It bombs.  

Sheldon, not the right wing casino mogul, has made a Hamachi sashimi with hipster lemon ash. Chef K loves the lemon ash. Hipster goodness. Sheldon pays homage by mocking a Japanese accent. 

Chef K ranks Lizzie and Josh at the bottom. Ups are Brooke and Stefan, with Stefan winning his first challenge. $5000 in Healthy Choice bucks. 

David Chang, antagonist to California simplicity, is the leader of a fried chicken challenge at Tom’s fancy Seattle rental. Fried chicken is dear to my heart, and I really like David. He’s been so important to proving that you can do great fine dining in venues that do not have gilded bathrooms and purse stools. His food has always pushed boundaries and has given a lot of young chefs the push to jump into their own ideas without hesitation. KEY MOMENT: Tom implores the chefs to keep it classic; they just really want fried chicken. 

Fried chicken, though simply made up of the words “fried” and “chicken” means so much more than just that. It is bone-in chicken, it is crispy, it is full flavored and it is usualy just pretty much, brined, buttermilked, floured (seasoning implied in that), and cooked in 350F to 375F oil or lard. The latter being so much better for taste, but not so good on the arteries. I DO NOT believe in corn flakes, batters, stuffings, or glazes (other than simple honey and hot sauce). That’s my opinion. Chime in later on Comments and we’ll get this chicken party started if you think differently.

Quickly we see some very strange ideas come to light. This makes me scratch my head. Do they not just believe in fried chicken being the best meal on the planet as is? What’s wrong with them? A Californian, a Finn, and a South African attempt to make fried chicken, and they use boneless chicken breasts; this is a culinary joke in the making. 

Anyhoo, the winner gets a year's supply of Terlato wines. Apparently Stefan drinks about four times the amount the test subject does when the prize was calculated and will have polished this bounty off in about three months. He looked like more of a daiquiri  fan to me. 

They prep and butcher chickens.  Stefan sexualizes the experience. He can so this with anything. I wear gloves around him, and you should too. Can’t take any chances. Josh is getting his chickens addicted to brine injections. This is not how grandpa made his fried chicken, but Josh does continue the paternal odes though all generations. He has learned tricks from his elders. Josie “has this in the bag,” which is something you never ever say, cause then you realize you have the bag over your head and you are losing your breath. Something is said about Florida being in the South. Hehe… blasphemy. 

Prep gets done, and they ship over to Tom’s fried fowl palace. Josie asks Stefan how to say “you can kiss my ass” in German. Stefan, always one creepy step ahead of everyone else, teaches her to say “I am way out of my league.”

One hour to cook. The judges' panel looks like they have been watching reruns of Scooby Doo all day and eating Cheetos. 

Judges are Emeril, Tom, Padma, Wolfie, Vinny and Jon from Animal' and Michelle from Miami. Awesome group. Powerhouse. 

Jumping to the eats. Lizzie serves delicious “Shake 'n Bake” chicken cutlets with a killer cabbage and peach salad. It ain’t fried chicken, but they like it. Josie makes soft-crusted “Southern Style” chicken, but is keeping the secret of why it’s not very good. It’s not very good and really greasy. Sheldon takes the biggest risk and makes Chang’s version of fried chicken, a Korean ode, and an Umami version as well. 

Stefan made chicken Cordon Bleu. WTF? Josh senses this is an issue and reminds people that he made “Fried Chicken,” and apparently great smoked fried chicken. Brooke made Dukkah-crusted chicken fingers, which sound a lot worse than it is, and it really isn’t very good. Apparently Brooke never hired Vinny and Jon. Oops.

Tops are Josh, Lizzie, and Sheldon. Josh wins. He’s still on an upward trajectory. Kudos to the Baconator. 

Bottoms are Stefan, Brooke, and Josie. Tom really goes after Josie. It’s a little like a tiger attacking a defenseless lawn gnome wearing a headband. Padma calls Stefan a naughty word. Wolfgang lays into Brooke. It’s a particularly vicious Judges' Table.

Josie signs off and takes her secrets with her. With complete sincerity, I wish her the best. I really do. 

Until next week.