Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

Clearing The Air

Gail: Mei's Menu Was Almost Flawless

Make Top Chef Mei Lin's Winning Dessert!

Richard: "Gregory Had the Better Ideas"

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Hugh: Mei's a Chef's Chef

Richard: "Winning Is Overrated"

Make Mei's Sushi Style Guac!

Gail: I Wasn't Surprised Doug Stayed on Top

Get Doug's Masterpiece Brisket Recipe

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

Make Melissa's Seared Duck Breast Dish

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

Clearing The Air

Executive Producer Shauna Minoprio gives you the insider scoop.

I thought I should start by clearing up a couple of things....

Firstly - My name is Shauna. (Not Ann or Margaret, even though I am English.)

Secondly - Padma. While a majority of our viewers clearly think she's the vicar's knickers (as we say in my country), some of you seem to take exception to her, mostly, as far as I can tell, because she is beautiful, sexy and wears nice clothes -- which according to some, is at odds with taking part in a show that is serious about food. Huh?

OK ...

1. Padma is a model as well as a food expert, therefore she dresses beautifully, looks stunning AND is serious about food, get over it.

2. This is not PBS or North Korean state TV -- if we can have talent combined with glamour, we jolly well will. Let's enjoy having our cake AND eating it.

3. The combination of intelligence/seriousness and sexiness is NOT mutually exclusive, it is just rare.

4. Don't be a hater. I'm not as pretty as her either, but I can deal with the sight of her wearing a bustier-top without having a meltdown.

5. Did you know that 75% of a person's perceived enjoyment of food is VISUAL. Think about it.

6. OK, I'm boring myself now.

I'm actually writing this blog in a four-wheel drive off-road in Hawaii as we are preparing for the finale shoot. (This finale show is going to kick ass!) I have to admit my main note from the shoot for our third show is that firemen really are very sexy. I appreciate, however, that that is not an insight exclusive to executive producers of reality shows. So what unique behind-the-scenes insights can I offer? Well, the shoot went on a lot longer than anyone was quite prepared for -- with 13 chefs all serving their dishes one at a time at 15 minutes intervals, it was a very long meal. During which time quite a few of our handsome heroes actually left on calls and came back!

So in between commenting on the merits of soggy steak versus toasted cheese sandwiches and flirting shamelessly with Padma and Gail, they were nonchalantly nipping out to save lives. "Top Fireman," anyone? A note about Emily -- a really nice girl and genuinely talented, she just got thrown off balance by being so far out of her "fine-dining" comfort zone. A great shame to lose her from the competition so early. She has just undergone major spinal surgery and is going to have to spend a few months recovering and learning to walk again. It's very shocking news -- real life puts "reality" in perspective yet again. We all wish her a really speedy recovery and lots of luck I have to stop now because we're on a road with a 45% incline and I feel extremely nauseous.