Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

Blockheads

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

Fin, Found, Floundering

What Danny Meyer Taught Gail Simmons

'Top Chef' Goes to Hog Heaven

Gris Gris Boucherie Ya Ya

Brian and Travis' Dud Spuds

Blockheads

Find out what Dale Levitski compares to taking a crap ... if you dare.

Sorry I missed last week' s blog ....

I had a crazy week.... Three events. The last was the weekend in Aspen. The Mountain Club where we had the our Season 3 finale asked me back to cook a dinner .... Talk about redemption! The dinner was a hit and I have been asked back for next year .... So lets get to it!!!

I first want to back up and reference Episode 2. The most common questions I get are about what the experience was like, so I want to try and give a little contestant insight. Surviving the first elimination is like barely making it to the bathroom in time when you have to take an emergency crap. You know the one .... You are sweating bullets a few blocks from your house ... fumble with your keys (probably drop them ....) Kinda doin' the pee dance. Pants undone as you run up the stairs, clenching as hard as you can .... Then just in time, you dodge the bullet, sitting down hunched over in relief. That is the exact same feeling of elimination survival relief on Top Chef. Taking a good crap.

Going into the challenges after that first one gets a little more comfortable as you understand the production side, and the initial jitters are shaken off. I feel for Valerie -- her dish sounded good. The mushroom blueberry debacle was uncalled for. guest_403_01_320x240.jpg

Onto the next challenge ... Rick Bayless!!! Yes! A Chi town legend! He is an amazing chef and a genuine really, really nice guy! Upscale taco Quickfire … did anyone hear him say upscale? From the looks of it they all bombed, except Richard. I am becoming more and more impressed with his flavors …. It would seem obvious that the first thing you need to do in reinventing the taco is the shell -- start with the structure and go from there …. Richard did a good job. I am sure most of them tasted good …. But guys: Listen to the buzzword in the challenge. UPSCALE! Hopefully you will figure that out after one of your friends gets kicked off on a technical …. (Long Live Sandee!) leeanne_403_02_320x240.jpg

Elimination. Block Party …. Love it. As a native Chicagoan the block party is an institution. I grew up with ours being the highlight of my year. There are huge street fairs all summer long in Chicago. The perfect representation that Chicago is the biggest neighborhood in the world …. My only gripe is two big team challenges in a row. Outside of Restaurant Wars they tend to be a little boring … frustrating as a contestant. Large catering has a terrible UGH factor. When catering volume and being off-site, it is almost impossible to show well as a great restaurant chef.

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As far as the dishes themselves … I would have to say a little boring. Running around the neighborhood for ingredients was a fun touch. But the dishes they came up with really didn’t grasp the feel of the block party …. What was that Oreo thing? Why would you transport fried corn dogs? Plastic cheese for mac and cheese?

The essence of the food at block parties is about bringing your family’s signature… I’m sure it is not a slider or Waldorf salad.

When Steph explained her dish I was excited. A great dish that embraced the essence of the challenge, the neighbors, and the judges. She blew it out of the water. How could schluppy pasta salad, soggy corn dogs, and plastic mac and cheese ever compete? brian_403_08_320x240.jpg

I was sorry to see Erik go. Although I was never impressed with his food, he seems like a chef that I could relate to. Best of luck.

I don’t feel like I need to address Andrew. His “This is my house” bullshit …. As a chef we have all worked with those kind of guys. All bark, no bite. It was fun to see the dynamics of the chefs. As I said before, the ladies are cool and professional and the guys tend to be chest puffing dick-waving hacks. My advice: Get over yourself and cook.