Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

Padma's Picks Recap: Grand Dame Rivalry

Gail: I Wasn't Surprised Doug Stayed on Top

Get Doug's Masterpiece Brisket Recipe

Make Melissa's Seared Duck Breast Dish

Gail on Innovation (and George's Failure to Push It)

Make Melissa's Mom's Egg Custard

Hugh Worries About Scurvy and Foie Gras

Make Mei's Inspired Duck a l'Orange

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

Padma's Picks Recap: Grand Dame Rivalry

Ep 1: Chefs Michael Sichel and Caesy Morvant compete in a Creole-inspired challenge.

Welcome and bienvenue to our first weekly recap of Padma's Picks. As I mentioned in our primer, sure, you can watch the whole series whenever you want, but I'll be digging in to one episode a week and would love for you to join. This week, we start at the very beginning -- Episode 1. 

If you haven't watched yet, watch HERE. I'll wait... 

Ready? OK.

Before we start the competition, Padma explains what she's doing: exploring New Orleans in search of Top Chef Season 11's final competitor -- a local New Orleans chef. But more importantly, Padma utters the words Padma's Picks, allowing us to hear exactly how Padma says her name, which I don't think she's ever done before on-air. Seriously, in nine seasons. Never. I mean, this is fascinating. I've been saying it incorrectly for years. YEARS! We're learning so much already, you guys!

Padma meets up with John Folse, introduced as "a leading authority on Cajun and Creole cuisine." John's first restaurant was Lafitte's Landing, which has been open for 35 years. So, yeah, Chef Folse is doing something right. The pair starts at the iconic St. Louis Cathedral and Chef Folse explains the basics of Cajun cooking, which is basically one pot wonders. He also explains what Creole means and that it comes from a word that means "a mixture of color or culture." So obviously, I'm all like, "Oh! Crayola!" Nope. To the Google I went, as Hugh Acheson taught me, and Crayola's origin has nothing to do with the word creole. We'll pretend that it does for now, though just because

Chef Folse claims he has two "grand dame" chefs to offer Padma to feast on -- just kidding, they'll just be competing for that final spot: Michael Sichel from Galatoire's and Casey Morvant from Arnaud's. Casey has a bandana so he means business. Michael would just look ridiculous with a bandana, but I'm confident he means business too. Not to self: ask Michael how he controls those curls in that New Orleans humidity!

Michael is a New York transplant, while Casey was born and raised in New Orleans. After a quick description of the chefs' restaurants and the "rivalry" tradition of New Orleans cuisine, the two chefs head to the kitchen to get cookin'.Michael describes his dish as a Creole sauce with an Italian twist, while Casey attempts a bouillabaisse. Casey makes the observation that he's reserved, while Michael is a little more energetic -- it will be interesting to see how much of their personalities come out in their dishes! Both chefs are using fresh Gulf seafood, however, which is exciting. You're in New Orleans! Use the product! Michel points out the differences between line-caught fish and farmed fish. He shows us the bloodline in the line-caught fish. Let's hope he doesn't show it to Padma and Chef Folse... in the finished dish.

"Butter makes the world go round," declares Casey. I like him.

Time to eat!

Michael presents Deep Fried Red Fish with Creole Sauce, Sauteed Spinach, and Calamari. Casey presents Braised Crab, Gulf Shrimp, and Black Drum with Bouillabaisse Sauce. Casey's fish has a bone. Minus one. 

They were both delicious, but ultimately Michel gets the invite to cook. His dish was not only technically perfect, but more visually appealing.

So, Michel moves on! Next week, chefs Justin Devilluier and Michael Doyle compete. Prep yourself by watching the episode HERE, and let me know what you thought of the first head-to-head challenge in the comments below.





Get Doug's Masterpiece Brisket Recipe

Get the recipe for the art inspired dish that made Texas -- and Doug's mom -- proud!

Brisket Texas Red
Inspired by Artist Merry Calderoni

Brisket Ingredients:

1 10 lb. Brisket (cleaned and cubed into an inch)
10 ea. Tomato
5 ea. Red bell pepper (charred on grill)
5 ea. Jalapeno (charred on grill)
5 lb. Onion
5 Tbsp. Ground cumin
5 Tbsp. coriander
5 Cans of Tomatoes (chopped, peeled)
2 Cans Tomato sauce
5 Tbsp. Cayenne
10 ea. Spring onions (charred on grill)
1 Head Garlic (sliced)
1 bottle of Mexican beer

Directions for Brisket
1. Sear brisket in a very hot pan, lots of color. Remove and drain fat.

2. In the same pan, start slowly cooking onions and garlic, season with salt and pepper. When they become translucent and soft add roasted tomatoes and peppers. Cook for 5 minutes, stir and then add beer.

3. Add spices and tomatoes, season again lightly.

4. Cook until meat is tender and the chili has a dark red color. Adjust spice with Cayenne.


* Note: Seasoning throughout this dish is what brings the layers of flavor out.  Must be tasted and stirred constantly. They say in Texas that a good chili can’t be eaten by the maker when it’s done because you are too full from tasting it!

Read more about: