Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

Sears Home Delivery - Ep 9

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

Sears Home Delivery - Ep 9

John Tesar will be missed... by one person at least.

 

Hello, my little Kramer knives. (I actually use a Global chef's knife, so i feel like a poseur, but I'll get over it.) In this past week's episode of Last Chance Kitchen, reigning champ CJ competed against fellow tall drink of water, Bart, in a game of chicken. They had to make something pretty bland -- a chicken breast -- and make it bold… and beautiful. Bart was obviously fretting over his seasoning, which Tom said improved. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to get him the win. And so, CJ moves on to live another week! I think it's time to start calling him Chef Hot Ginge a la Prince Hot Ginge (Harry). I'm getting over bronchitis -- please allow me this one moniker.

Back in the Top Chef Kitchen, Padma introduces Bob Kramer of Kramer Knives to the chefs. We just watched Sheldon sharpen his knives in the chefs' quarters earlier, so methinks he might do well in this challenge. We also saw Stefan use wrinkle cream, though, so I'm not sure what to think about anything. A sharp knife is a chef's most important tool. When I moved to Manhattan, I invested in a good chef's knife, and it was one of my best purchases. I don't know if I could swing a Kramer knife, but I'll add it to my list. Bob demonstrates how his knives cut through rope! If we had shown him cutting through a soda can, I would've lost it. You know, if you call in to Top Chef in the next 30 seconds, you get not one, but two inches of Kramer knife! But that's not all!…

The chefs engage in a knife skills relay race. Since the mise-en-place relay race is my seasonal favorite, I'm happy to see another spin on it! The remaining chefs break up into three groups of three. First, the chefs have to turn their dull knives into razor sharp blades that can cut paper. In a weird power play, John declares his team ready even though Kristen isn't. And in another weird turn of events, Kristen's knife easily cuts throughout the paper, and John's doesn't! It's OK  because they still beat the Green Team of Stefan, Brooke, and Lizzie. Round Two is to tourne 50 potatoes. I don't think I"ve ever eaten a potato that shape in my life. Maybe at a bat mitzvah? Anyway, Josie cuts herself, so she's disqualified, leaving John and Kristen to fend for themselves. Unfortunately, they lose to Micah, Sheldon, and Josh by two potatoes! For the final round the chefs have to break down two rabbits. Josh says it's ilke breaking down a cat. I'm leaving that one alone because I honestly don't want to know how he knows that. Micah wins and gets immunity. Nice work, Micah! Let your talent speak for you!On to the Healthy Choice Elimination Challenge! We've been celebrating our tenth season of Top Chef on Bravotv.comand what better way to do so on the show than to look back at the season's most controversial dishes? This time, though, the chefs have to improve upon them, make them healthier. We learn a lot of things in the kitchen. John Tesar is Jimmy Sears (we know this already, but it still blows my mind every time I hear it.) John isn't the only Top Chef Bourdain has written about, by the way. Read Medium Raw for Season 4's Erik Hopfinger. We learn that Brooke was bigger at one point. Josh is going to make pork again. Lizzie's scallops smell a little rank. And finally that Sheldon could yell out "yahtzee!" at any moment. I forgot about that game. 

The chefs will be judged by Padma, Tom, Wolfgang, and joining chefs Jonathan Waxman, Wylie Dufresne, and most recently-crowned Top Chef Masters winner Chris Cosentino.

For the most part, the chefs do a decent job, but, for better or for worse, three dishes stand out. First up is Kristen's, which wins. You could just tell she nailed it. I think, more than any of the other chefs, Kristen figured out a way to take an unhealthy meal like a chicken pot pie, and capture its flavors in a healthy way. Way to go, Kristen. As Alicia Keys might scream, "This girl is on fiiiiiiire!"

The other two dishes worth discussing are John's and Lizize's -- the bottom two. Well, we know what went wrong with Lizzie's. She had bad ingredient. It could be argued that John's was doomed from the beginning too. He cooked risotto in a non-flat pan, so his grains cooked unevenly. He knew his pan wasn't right, but didn't do anything to change it. At Juges' Table, he obviously mentioned the pan's shortcomings, as, I think, any of the other chefs would. But, Josh chimed in. I have to give credit to John for keeping his cool, but was Josh right? I honestly have no idea. I will give John the benefit of the doubt that an ideal pan wasn't available, but as a chef, you need to figure these things out. Even if the rice had been cooked correctly, I still don't know if the judges would've been happy with John's flavors.

Luckily (I think), LIzzie and John were able to make a second dish to decide who would stay and who would go. The dish they had to recreate was CJ and Tyler's doomed pork burger from the Pike Place challenge. I wonder if you guys think that's been the moment of the season so far? If not, let me know which moment you would have selected in the Comments section below.

John decides to go with a mediterranean theme and makes a lamb burger. I just had my favorite lamb burger, the Breslin burger, only a couple days ago, so I was psyched for the idea. Lizzie makes a chicken burger. I actually thought making a chicken burger was rather risky because it can dry out very quickly. Tom seemed to like both of them, but ultimately Lizzie won, and John goes home. But! John gets to compete against CJ in Last Chance Kitchen, which you can watch HERE. It's a good showdown, and we'll discuss it next week.While I was disappointed in his absurd pickle predicament in his final moments on the show, I'm bummed to see John go, honestly. I know that some of the chefs (and viewers) had their differences with him, but he's extremely talented, and i think he kept everyone on their toes. With one of this season's most divisive characters gone, I wonder who they'll all turn on next!

I also can't wait to see who made the matzoh balls that have Gail so riled up in the preview for next week's episode! 

Until then, Have a Nosh

 

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!