Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

A Dramatic Episode

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

A Dramatic Episode

Padma Lakshmi on Otto's dramatic departure, and proclaims her love for Vietnamese food.

It was wonderful to watch the episode last night and be reminded of how great that food was ... well, some of it. It was such an easy decision to pick Betty as the winner. Not only was her aloe vera drink slamming (I went back for five cups) and healthy and refreshing, her demeanor and charm only made you want to go back to her booth even more. I love Vietnamese food, and I was pleased to see that the team embraced the flavors and ingredients of that region. It was also refreshing to have an all Asian themed episode, starting of course with the sushi Quickfire challenge.

I thought Mia held it together like a true professional, and she was lucky because I've actually visited fish markets around the world in my food documentaries and that one was pretty clean. It was so fun to talk to chef Hiroshi Shima, he was charming, and playful. I wish the viewers had a chance to get a bigger glimpse of that.

I've always loved field trips, and I am no different when it comes to our show. It was hard to get up that early, but it was exciting to see all that beautiful fish, it made me want to make sushi too. The Quickfire was a hard hurdle to jump, but it was nothing compared to what was to come.

II thought both teams had a really big challenge and to feed 1,000 people is no joke. The Vietnamese meat dish was tender, and the fact that they not only did three dishes, but worked like a well-oiled machine in unison, was fantastic to watch. I really was impressed. Josie's personality infected the whole team with a sense of confidence, fun, and calmness -- they looked happy to be there, and therefore made their customers happy too. And the other professional booths from some of LA's best Asian restaurants were impressed with them as well. The Korean team: Where do I start? The rice was a gloppy mess, there is no excuse to serve something like that, especially at an Asian food fair. Not to mention with a panel of judges that consists of two out of four Asians. They should have just left it out. Having said that, I know it was a hard challenge, and the flavors in their dessert were tasty, and very appropriate to the region they were dealing with. But it was rock hard, and had too many layers. A simple case of trying too hard and doing too much. And there was no organization at their booth or in their team, and one could tell. They seemed rushed and completely out of their element, which I had great sympathy for, but there is, after all, a lot at stake.

And the whole lychee controversy really saddened me. Many of us have come away from the supermarket with some water, or dog food we haven't paid for, but if the rules say not to go over budget, why would you not only risk losing yourself, but put the whole team in jeopardy, not to mention doing it on national TV? I do think that Otto redeemed himself by understanding the mistake, and I was relieved that he chose to go home on his own. All in all, the episode was a very dramatic one for me.