Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

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Passing The Torch

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

Gail Talks OvenGate

Dookie Chase Makes Everybody Cry

Passing The Torch

Harold passes the title to Ilan Hall, and he's totally OK with that.

This has been a lot of fun, what can I say? This episode, I really thought the food looked great. They did a really nice job incorporating a lot of flavors. The one thing I felt a little cheated on was the fact that they got to bring their own ingredients. First season, we went out there, and they said, "This is what you have to work with, this is what we have in the hotel, make it happen." I would have loved to have spent the better parts of two months, during that break, to shop out ingredients. That would have been outstanding.

Marcel deciding to do a salad course was disappointing, regardless of the big idea. I think it's great to want to incorporate so many techniques, but the salad has to be the best salad you've ever eaten. I didn't get the risk of using the technique as an ingredient. I'm all about taking chances, but I'm not so sure. A chance should be, at the very least, an educated guess. I thought Marcel missed out on an opportunity when he decided that throwing a teardrop on the dish was going to make it incredible.

Ilan did what he knows. I think I've said it a couple of times here, I'd like to see a little bit more. He says he went outside the box a little bit, but I didn't see that. Maybe in the Quickfire, when he had to, but anytime he had an opportunity to deconstruct or sit down and think about a dish, it was always Spanish influenced. The restaurant that Ilan worked in, Casa Mono, is one I really enjoy. It was surprising that a lot of the food that was created in the finale, I'd seen in components at Casa Mono. I wanted to see more of his own stuff. Maybe those were all his own dishes at that restaurant, I don't know. I just wanted to see him take a different route. I know he has a grasp on Spanish cuisine, and there's nothing wrong with being a specialty chef. It seems like he made some really nice dishes and I thought he played really smart with the dessert.

I think Marcel showed a lot of ingenuity. But one of the things that comes with time is to be able to develop the skill to run a kitchen. And I hope it comes to him in time. This season, overall, there was more focus on the drama of creating something. And no mater what the creative endeavor is, there's going to be drama involved -- particularly if there's money or competition involved. The thing I really like about "Top Chef" is that the focuses is on the creativity. I like that I learn things about food. I like watching chefs be creative and trying new things. I like the idea that I'm inspired by it to apply these techniques to my own stuff. That's just me.

I'll say this: I'm proud to pass the torch. It's been a great experience. Ilan is good kid. I think he's going to be a really strong chef. I feel good about being able to focus on the next phase of my life. And I have to say, that next step is nuts. Getting a restaurant open is unlike anything I've ever done. I already know how to run a kitchen, and now I'm learning a lot about...paperwork. I have to say thank you to all of you. You're a dedicated fan base, and you should know how much I appreciate it. It means a lot. Until next time, Harold.