Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

And Don't Call Me Shirley

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

And Don't Call Me Shirley

Hugh marvels at Nick's illness and recovery... from a safe distance.

And here we are again. Tears are falling and drying on the industrial tile flooring. Welcome to Top Chef. We have whittled down to about 10 chefs. I am bad at counting, or so comments on my CNN article this week say. 

What’s going on? More like what’s going around. Sickness. Like a plague of badness. Nicholas has the strep and will not be in the Quickfire. Kermit Ruffins is in the house to not get strep from Nicholas. It’s the bebop improv challenge. They will run around like a game of musical chairs, controlled by Kermit’s trumpet. Got it? OK. This is strange. Carrie, the aristocrat, is flummoxed my the plebian microwave. 

They start on the prep that they will leave behind. They dance around in the circle and land in new spots. Travis, the Vietnamese chef, is confused by Nina’s mise en place that pivoted a dish to “French with Asian ingredients”… like the food of Vietnam. Okey dokey.

Slowly but surely they are finding strange starts to food. Forgotten vegetables, overcooked sauces, raw proteins in tiny ovens, their egos in a circulator. Relief comes when they land on the stations where they started but that doesn’t last long. They move on, much to their chagrin. 

Brian is “conceptualizing a sexy plate-up.” This line encompasses everything that makes me want to be a dental hygienist. 

I do now notice that Kermit has stolen Bill Murray’s pants from Moonrise Kingdom. I think this is cool. 

Padma comes in in a slinky evening gown, cause that’s how she rolls. They eat through the food, and it is way too much information for me to relay. Suffice it to say that for trusting someone to prep and make 75% of your food with no clear destination in mind, the food looks pretty tasty. 

Bottoms are Louis with his pork/ frog surprise and Justin with his microwave tofu scramble. Tops are Carlos with his redfish, Brian with his duck and mussels, and Patty with her pork with stuff. Brian wins cause he made that plate one sexy beast. I am going to take a nap now, as the stress of this whole blog thing is getting to me. Brian is not going to chillax “shoes off, socks off,” but he is happy with his earned immunity. 

OK, I am back. My “me” time was great. Potluck challenge with team menu collaboration. They have to “band” together. Patty is learning this term “potluck” for the first time.  Well Patty, dictionary.com and I are here for you:

pot·luck

[pot-luhk, -luhk] Show IPA 

noun 

1. food or a meal that happens to be available without special preparation or purchase: to take potluck with a friend. 

2. Also called potluck supper, potluck dinner, potluck lunch. a meal, especially for a large group, to which participants bring various foods to be shared. 

3. whatever is available or comes one's way: With fluctuating interest rates, homebuyers are learning to take potluck with the banks. 

Origin: 

1585–95; pot1  + luck 

Three teams assemble. They are Blue, Green, and Gray, which makes a kind of really ugly gray. They are first going to Vaughn’s in the Bywater, the new Williamsburg of NOLA. I joke. I joke. It’s a great hood. 

They use the modern office to get this rolling, which looks suspiciously like a Toyota RAV4. Nicholas is contacted via phone, because this will contain the plague that he has. He has grown a striped zebra hoodie and the transformation is almost complete to Zebra Zombie. 

Shopping time. I really want to se a coupon challenge and only buying with SNAP funds but maybe next season. In the meantime, call your congresspeople and senators and tell them to stop eviscerating every tangible piece of nutritional assistance this country has left. Don’t get me started. 

Travis has been instructed to “touch it, smell it, poke it” over the phone, like he just ran over a deer. Nicholas is to Travis what Steve McCroskey was to Ted Stryker in Airplane. Just don’t call him Shirley.*

*to make sense of the last two lines you have to watch Airplane.

Louis thinks that Thomas Keller would like his veggie dish that he is planning. Nice. 

They dress up and go to eat red beans and rice with Kermit. And they drink. And drink. And then they wake, their livers missing, and get to work. Nicholas has gotten over the plague. He is ready to compete. Go Team Gray. 

Not only is Nicholas healthy again, he has been fed super vitamins or something and is trying to cook everything for everybody, on his team or not. He is a man with a plan and a very long prep list. 

Shirley is a taskmaster. Brian wants to know if anyone wants chili threads… this is code for weed. 

They pack up and get their move on. 

Diners start arriving and it’s a who’s who of NOLA music. The good old days were when people faked heart attacks on stage.  

Guest judge Sue Z. in the house. Blue Team up first. 

Blue Team: Shirley, Louis, Justin, Sara

Justin: Hominy Grits with Brown Shrimp, Roasted Okra, Fava Beans, Smoked Bacon

Good grits. Underseasoned shrimp?

Louis: Grilled, Pickled Vegetables, Crispy Sunflower Seeds, Mustard Vinaigrette

Likey. 

Shirley and Sara: Glazed Beef with Charred Onions, Melon Pickles, and Pickled Ginger Vinaigrette

They love the ribs. 

Green Team: Carrie, Nina, Stephanie, Carlos

Stephanie: Fried Baby Artichoke, Preserved Lemon, and Anchovy Aioli

Fancy. People like 'em. Even Tom likes 'em. 

Nina: Semolina Gnocchetti with Sausage

“Fancy Hamburger Helper. That sounds like an insult, but I like Hamburger Helper.” ‘Nuf said, cause they loved it. 

Carrie and Carlos: Summer Tiramisu with Nectarines, Pistachios, and Cheese

Trifle-esque. They love it, except Sue who can’t get over that it is not tiramisu.

 

Gray Team: Travis, Brian, Patty, Nick

Brian and Travis: Togarashi Fried Chicken with Bee Pollen and Ponzu

It’s a “chefs' potluck,” so bee pollen, check. Togarashi, check. Ponzu, check. Chicken is loved. 

Patty: Tomato Watermelon Salad, Szechuan Pepper, and Goat Cheese Espuma

Needed some spice. 

Nicholas: Barramundi and Red Drum Fricassee, Zucchini, Truffle, and Yuzu Kosho

Fish is bland. 

Travis and Brian: Caramel BBQ Ribs, Dehydrated Potatoes, Peanut Gremolata

No likey the rub. 

Everyone seems to have done quite well. No team really seems to have flopped. 

Gray is the bottom and they get called to the gallows. Patty underseasoned the salad and forgot the chili threads, Nicholas overcooked the fish, and Travis made weird ribs.

Green Team gets on top. They defined tiramisu is the only negative. Stephanie wins with her artichoke dish. She lets her hair down. Most improved indeed. 

Patty goes home. No luck in potluck. Teary-eyed, she leaves the stage. Keep your head high. Godspeed, Patty. 

Follow me on twitter @hughacheson

Make George's Cravable Breakfast Sausage

George decided the best way to satisfy New England Patriot tight end Rob Gronkowski  was with a hearty breakfast. Make it for yourself at home.

Pork and Veal Sausage Patty With Sunny-Side Up Egg and Potato Hash

 

Ingredients
3 lbs pork butt
1 lbs veal
4 garlic cloves
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp coriander
2 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 bunch chives
1 bunch parsley
1 Tbsp fennel seed
Pepper (to taste)

 

Directions
1. Grind prok and veal using medium dye, reserve and keep cold

2. Toast cumin, coriander, and fennel seed in a sauté pan until aroma is released. Grind in spice grinder, reserve

3. Chop parsley and chives fine, reserved

4. Chop garlic super fine, reserve

5. Mix meat with spices, smoked paprika, herbs, garlic, salt, and pepper

6. Test a small batch in fryer. Taste and adjust seasoning

7. Form into patties, place on grill, then finish in oven