Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

Plane And Simple

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

Plane And Simple

Harold Dieterle shares his predictions.

So, Padma wakes everyone up at six to make her breakfast? When I saw that, I thought, "that would've made me cranky".

I also wondered if maybe the chefs had heard some rustling in the kitchen, so they knew it was coming. If you hear all that stuff moving around, you know something's going on. That being said, at the end of the day, being on set, you're so tired that there's a good chance that they were just sleeping like a dead person, and they didn't hear anything. I'm just not a morning person, and I know that before I have my coffee, I don't want to speak to anybody. You have to know what the challenge is, and, that said, you have to know who the sponsor is, too. And this week, you were going to have to do something in a blender. I'm not so sure everyone did use a blender. I know some of them made crepes, and this and that, but with all that fruit up there to use, you better make something for Padma to drink, and you better make something for her to eat. I think the only two people who did that were Hung and Brian. And monster blackberry seeds just aren't going to mix up well.
rocko_311_03_320x240.jpg

From a technical standpoint, I just enjoy watching Hung cook. It was cool to see him win because I was always torn between who I thought was going to go all the way. I thought it was going to be him and Tre. And since Tre got knocked out, it was cool to see Hung working it. I like watching him at his cutting board. How he runs around like a whirlwind in the kitchen is completely unacceptable, but I've never really wanted to get involved in the whole "how is everybody getting along?" thing. I'm just talking about putting food together, watching him in front of that cutting board. I mean getting along with people matters, especially when you're working in a professional kitchen. I don't want to say that I don't care how people act, behave, this, that and the other... it does matter, I'm not saying it doesn't. That shit's not cool. I know for sure that in his kitchen, where he's Executive Sous-Chef at Guy Savoy, that shit's not going down. You've got to practice what you preach. But I don't want to get into that -- that's a whole other story.
bourdain_311_03_320x240.jpg

Geez. Welcome to New Jersey. The thing about this challenge is that it wasn't a heck of a lot different than our microwave challenge in Season One. It was almost the same thing. The only difference is, I felt like they had it a hell of a lot easier than we did, because not only did we have to heat our stuff up in microwaves -- granted, we probably have more experience using microwaves than they had using those heating contraptions on airplanes.

I don't know what I would do. You have to put your dish in there for ten minutes, and you don't know what kind of heat it's going to be throwing out. I was watching Tom and Bourdain, and they were just breathing fire on people, and I was like, "C'mon, guys. You ever heated food up in an airplane?" Obviously, there's some common sense stuff, like, "Stay away from the salmon", which I've been saying from day one. Stay away from the salmon. I hate to preach to the choir, but...stay away from the salmon.

I thought, when I saw Hung working with the sea bass: Tiffany did the same approach in the microwave, and she wound up winning the challenge. Those types of fishes have really high fat content, and they're great. They can take a beating, from a heat standpoint, and they keep their moisture really well. If I could've stayed away from fish, I definitely would've gone for a meat. Some pork or something, and gone in that direction. It's hard to say. Casey's veal dish was a ballsy move. Going with a meat that doesn't have a high fat content? And with cauliflower? That took balls. I was impressed. Here's someone-- especially in the last few competitions, people are saying, "I don't want to lose"-- and here's this girl, she's throwing it all out on the table, which I appreciate. Her dish: her presentation, and what she put with it, made me think, "yeah, I'd like to eat that". And that's coming out of an airplane oven.
bourdain_311_02_320x240.jpg

As an entertaining guy, as someone I'd like to hang out and drink with, to cook with, I was sorry to see CJ go. I don't think he made very much in the competition that made me hungry. But I think he's a cool guy, a nice guy, and I think he's really genuine. I kind of thought it was his time to take his bow.

In the culinary world, you take a private chef job because you want a safe lifestyle. And that doesn't mean you can't do amazing food, it means that you don't want to deal with a lot of the hazards of being a chef in a restaurant. You don't have to manage people, you deal with a family, you know what their quirks are, and you have to deal with that. But, I don't have anything against it. I still crave the adrenaline rush of dinner service every night, and some people don't have that craving. It's just like everything else, it's just different strokes for different folks.

I'm not really pulling for anybody, because I'm just looking at it from a talent perspective. If I had to choose, I like watching Dale. He's just going for it every time out. And he's not holding anything back. I really respect that. We'll see who can rock it out in New York, and who'll make it to Colorado.