Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

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Good To Be Back

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

Good To Be Back

Casey shares her thoughts on Wedding Wars.


Hey everyone!

Again, it's good to be chatting with you regarding the latest shows!

This season is just starting to get good. The contestants are starting to show some real talent! I still have my predictions: Richard, Stephanie, and Antonia are my pics so far. No one else really stands out.

I must say I was sad to see Mark go. I really thought he had some solid tricks up his sleeve, but his cards were never shown. I still think he is a solid chef with solid talents. Can't wait to see what you have in store for the future, Mark!

On to this week's happenings ... WEDDING WARS! OH LORDY -- that's crazy town! Weddings are the death wish for caterers AND the bride and groom are involved! And, they had to really marry someone off! That's hysterical! Restaurant Wars can't really harm anyone. Well, I guess someone could get sick, but we are talking a lifetime of memories here! Thank goodness, as a contestant, you are so worried about doing everything perfectly for the judges, they really didn't have time to worry about screwing things up for the bride and groom! The positive aspect here is that the two teams only had to take care of half of the menu each! If one team sucked horribly, the other team could save the wedding dining experience!

Quickfire: My favorite. I have to thank Stephanie for the five-hour comment. True, true. I will be the first to admit that dull knives have no place in the kitchen! Thanks for the comment though!

I must admit, even I tossed my pillow at the television! And boy, that girl can make some mayonnaise, can't she? Turning artichokes, cleaning monk fish, and turning artichokes are all skills that basic good chefs should know. They all did very well. This is a great challenge. And winning allows the team to pick the bride or groom to cook for. In this case, the winning team decides on the bride. Good choice. Praise Mary the other team did not win -- the bride would have been in tears with the outcome!!! This is the bride's day, and usually the groom is much more lenient when it comes to the details of it all.

And I will say, Dale really made Chef Colicchio want to reconsider his team to win by punching a locker. Way to go, Dale! You are the real winner! The bride likes meat and potatoes. LUCKY! How great is that!? You wouldn't even have to produce a vegetable side and she would still be in marital bliss!

Right out of the gate, the menu is designed and the plan is laid out. Shop and work all night. RRRrrrrr>>> record scratch -- what did Padma just say? There are cots lined up??? Aww s#@*! Ha! Boy, Bravo couldn't WAIT to use this one!

I knew there was going to be trouble from the start just looking at the teams! But, you know these teams are picked totally randomly! There is no funny business in the knife pull. Groom's team: had no chance. These are the four left that do not play well with others, blame things on others, and make excuses for their own dishes. The bride's team we have seen work together already. They listen to each other and put out consistent good food. The "dream team" I will call it.

Team "no chance" immediately hears "Italian" out of the groom's mouth and all eyes are on Nikki like the clouds had opened up and there were sun rays shining on her. Her eyelashes were golden from the rays as she bats them with understanding like the groom himself is speaking Italian -- kind of an unheard love song.

The blame game begins. The dishes decided upon were primarily Italian in nature. The rest of the team stood by with their hands in the air and a blank look on their face. A familiar look of submission, a look that said, "She's the Italian one that knows Italian!" Oh no. Beware sista friend. When you stick your neck out there and then try to pull it back in, the outcome is usually not good! Nikki went from "I know exactly what the groom's vision is" to "I don't want to be the ONLY one making decisions".

At that moment, all her other teammates had to do was make a semi-homemade meal and they would STILL be safe. Pack you bags lady! And when the clock begins the countdown, the team is divided and this is never good.

First of all, the cake is the major issue here. The cake must be completed by the end, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. This is going to require the most capable person to provide all attention to the cake. One person down. That leaves three to carry the rest of the work load.

But, Nikki decides she is going to make homemade tortellini and take herself out of the workload! Two people down! That leaves two people to prepare the rest of the dishes. Not a good plan. A better plan of action might have been, divide up the workload -- maybe Nikki makes the pasta dough, but does not roll them out all by herself. Anyone can learn to assemble the pasta; this could have been a team effort.

Instead, the team is left with only two people to knock out the bulk of the many projects because two of the team members are completely tied up making cakes and pastas! The other dishes suffered! It appeared to me that none of the other projects were completed to the standards of the majority, but who else was left to monitor these things? And if the team is not talking to each other, of course the bruschetta will be hard and dry if that was not even Dale's idea! If the bread was not cut to snuff, who was there to check the width?!

Things are spiraling out of control and all of a sudden, Nikki wants nothing to do with leading the team, Dale is acting like a hard-ass and the other two are doing nothing but complaining. The was NO CHANCE this team was going to pull out on top!!

On the marital bliss side of the kitchen, the "dream team" has come up with a plan, tackled it, asked questions and prevailed. Andrew is tackling his chicken strips (albeit, I would have never served crispy anything on a buffet either), and spinach.

Richard is braising, making sauces, and monitoring progress from team members (a little nutmeg is actually good in creamed spinach -- too much is too much).

Antonia is working on pizza dough and poor Stephanie is busting out a six-tier brides cake! Ha! WTF? All in all, everyone is working together and it appears thus far, they have got their shit together.

The wedding begins, Richard is overjoyed because he loves weddings and Antonia is taken aback at the site of the wedding gown. I must admit, I even get a little weepy at these things, but if I were team "no chance" I wouldn't be weeping over the wedding, just the food the guests were about to have to eat.

The Italian buffet was not a hit, not even with the groom. Things were too hard, too "uninspired", and just plain not good. In the end, Nikki gets the ax. But, we knew this was going to happen, right? Hasn't anyone figured this challenge out yet? Let's give her the benefit of the doubt, maybe she never watched the last season. Maybe she didn't know that when you stick your neck out there and it ends up sucking, you WILL BE ELIMINATED! Her teammates certainly watched last season because they knew that you stand behind the team's front person, and when the ship goes down, you will still be afloat! Oh, well. Maybe next season. Claiming that you could not argue your position because you are exhausted is valid! I would have been standing there asleep. No wonder in her exit interview she said she was ready to get some sleep! Ha!

Does this really define the chef? I'm not a wedding caterer either. Come on. I certainly know that there are things that CAN define you such as your behavior with others. Also, the kind of product you put out -- and EVEN how well you run a restaurant! Catering a wedding? I'm sorry -- I do not feel this defines you as a chef.

Just put out the most simple, perfect dishes you can execute and dishes that you know will hold up well on a buffet line. That is all you can do in a situation like that! I think that the Top Chef competition should exist on Friday and Saturday nights in different kitchens around the globe. You should be doing prep, execution, and clean up. Judge that! Im in!!! Sorry, Nikki. Keep your head up.

But, I must admit that I really never thought you were going to make it from the beginning. I was surprised you made it thus far. Congrats to the winner -- Until next time folks! Get out there and eat! It's good to be back!

Richard: "Winning Is Overrated"

Richard Blais congratulates Doug Adams on his admirable run and knows (from experience) this is just the beginning for this talented chef.

Doug Adams is not Top Chef.

Doug Adams is, however, the poster chef for what this competition is all about. A jumping off point for unrecognized or yet truly discovered talent.

Mr. Adams, yes I'm saying Mister because it pays respect to the man, and also because that's how The New York Times goes about things, came on to this season touting his resume of being a working class sous chef from Portland.

Doug Adams is not Top Chef. Doug Adams is, however, the poster chef for what this competition is all about.

Richard Blais

Sous chefs are on the line everyday (sous chefs from Portland I imagine are also butchering whole animals and foraging for botanicals, buts that's for a different blog). They are hands-on, blue collar grinders and early on Doug uses this statement to separate himself from the contestants who maybe are clipboard surfing, or worse, not even really in a restaurant at this stage of their careers. And although this is a part of his strategy or drive, and a very honest personal understanding and awareness of self, I have news for you...

Doug Adams is no longer a sous chef.

Sure, he may actually, technically still carry the title tonight, I'm not certain to be honest, but by his performance this season on Top Chef, he is now ready for the next stage in his career, and this is what can happen and should happen after Top Chef.

I can't imagine someone not taking a chance with giving Doug the opportunity to run a small restaurant. I can't imagine that someone out there tonight, hearing about Doug's goal of operating a Montana restaurant, connected in some way to hunting and fishing won't contact him. I can't imagine it; because it happened to me... My restaurant Juniper & Ivy in San Diego is a direct connection from my performance on Top Chef, and my gut tells me it had very little to do with "winning."

The fact is, winning is overrated.

Winning is fun. It may get you some cash or secure your ego, yes, but really, six months after this thing runs out on television, we are all just "that guy or girl from Top Chef.

Throughout this season, Doug has demonstrated everything one looks for in a great business partner. He cooks delicious, relatable, soulful food. He does it with a smile on his face. He cooks with a sense of authorship and knowledge of place and time. And perhaps most importantly (no, not his epic beard), most importantly, he communicates with his colleagues professionally and with integrity. I'd guess every cheftestant likes him. I know every judge likes him. He takes risks, like roasting a whole lobe of Foie gras, or say, blending up an aioli of ant eggs. Which, by the way, are you kidding me? Maybe he takes these chances because it's part of the game, but I think more so because Doug is a curious cook, which is a sure tell sign of a chef ready to do their own thing.

Doug, it may seem like I never had anything positive to say about your food, and maybe indeed that's how it played out on television, but it's not the case, Chef.

Congrats on an amazing run, one for all future contestants to take note of. And when rooms become available at your resort in Montana, I'm booking...

@RichardBlais (Instagram & Twitter)

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