Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

Bananas are Sexy

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

Bananas are Sexy

Find out what Harold Dieterle considers the cooking equivalent of going to the dentist.

I mean, where to begin -- dessert. You know you gotta do it; it's like going to the dentist. It just sucks. I don't enjoy it. You just need to have a whole different mindset and it's challenging because you can't just do pastry as a Quickfire because you need recipes. It's like you can memorize one recipe, but everybody's nervous, you're under the gun, you can see them trying, they clearly have a couple of recipes that they've memorized and they're going over in their head the different amounts and proportions and it's like "Shit, I wish I wasn't nervous right now, 'cause I'm trying to remember this." It's tough, pastry's a science -- its not just like cooking when you just shoot from the hip and you taste something and it's just seasoning; you need to have your proportions right on, so right there, right from the get-go it's challenging. And then nobody there is really a pastry chef. That's why you hire pastry chefs, to do that type of stuff, 'cause we don't want to do it.

A chef dessert is something that you focus less on technique and more on ingredients, something similar to what Richard did. Bananas are really sexy, and he sold them. Bananas and avocado sound a little weird. I've never really had the combination, but if the banana's good and the avocado's good, it probably was a smart idea. He didn't do anything that was mind-boggling technique -- he focused on the ingredients. He made guacamole, he cut out some bananas. There's not a whole lot of pastry technique there but he sold it, so good for him. Everybody's focusing on making tarts -- that's great Spike made a souffle, and that shows you've got balls, but if it's not a really standout souffle, and you're passing it off to a pastry chef, it's gonna be tough.

I like Johnny a lot, he's been in the restaurant. We've gone out and had cocktails together on numerous occasions. I think he's a great guy. He does cutting edge pastries at a four star restaurant in Manhattan. He's highly decorated -- let's put it that way.

I liked the fact that Mark tried doing something from Down Under -- he tried doing pavlova. I thought that was pretty cool, 'cause I've had some really bad pavlovas in my day and it's a dessert that I've tried to make before and I've totally f****ed it up. It's like cornstarch and egg whites and basically what you do is you dry it out and bake it off and it's supposed to get really really crispy and traditionally you serve it with some Down Under tropical fruits. It's almost like a baked meringue, so to speak. It gets a little more textured; it's supposed to get a little crispy. But not be hard either.

I thought Dale's was cool. I thought it was a chef dessert. I thought it was one of those things were he was saying, "This is what I know how to do," and just knocked it out. It's like, I have a basic custard recipe: It's two eggs for every cup of cream, and you can do anything you want with it -- you can make creme brulee with it, you can just make a total flan with it, or you can use it for a savory custard. When I was on the show we had to make a fig tart, that was the ratio I made for the filling, and Le Anne helped me out and she hooked me up with a great shell recipe. So you just have your little things you remember and when you gotta knock it out, you knock it out.

I saw the Elimination Challenge and I was just like "Wow, man." I was getting cranky watching that. I get cranky quite often. But I would get really cranky -- all these knuckleheads are making me make this food. I thought some of them did a really good job. I take a lot of pride in making a curry. I always have a curry on my menu here, so I thought that was pretty cool to watch them do that, and I thought the whole technique with marinating the curry inside the beef, that was brilliant. I thought Richard did a really nice job with that. Do I want to sit down and eat a big brick of tofu? Probably not, but from what the judges were saying, they liked it, and it's something that's got a good sauce, and tofu's very much like a blank canvas -- it absorbs flavors very quickly. I have a vegetarian here every once in awhile. I'll have folks come in here that want to have a tasting menu that are vegetarian and I'll do something similar and put it out with tofu and poached with black olive oil. And it worked out real well and for the vegetarian, it was an eye opening experience. rate_407_jen_stephanie_elim.jpg

The proportions of Jennifer's entire dish were ridiculous. It was this massive piece of crispy melted cheese, and then the big piece of bread, and asparagus, and it was weird. I thought the dish was really weird. And I felt like Jen had more creatively invested into the dish than Stephanie did. I felt like Stephanie just kind of sat back and was like "Alright, let's do it." It just doesn't look like something Stephanie would conceive of, not that I know her that well, but just based on the type of food I've seen her cook, just doesn't seem like a lot of her creative input went into that dish.

I don't know why Antonia and Lisa were hating on the Eastern Europeans. I love Polish sausage. It's like pretty much a no-brainer. It's taking Polish sausage and heating it up in beer. I would have liked to see them do something a little bit more creative than that but you gotta keep the Polish sausage in there. They totally went away from the concept of the dish; the fish is the focal point of the dish, and you got a little bit of sausage, and I don't even remember, what did they make, some kind of tequila sauce? The easy way to look at that, especially Eastern European food, traditionally goes really well with rooted vegetables which is why they used the Peruvian potatoes, but I was surprised they didn't do something with beets. Just get that really sharp purple color, and I just didn't get where it all came into play. It was weird.

My favorites? Richard is really killing it. He's doing some really creative food; he's sharp. Dale's doing well too. I'm enjoying it.


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!

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