Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

Easy Start ...

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

Gail Talks OvenGate

Easy Start ...

Season 3's Dale Levitski offers his unfiltered perspective on each dish.

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Holla!

Where and how do I begin. Watching the premiere was the most intense mindf**k I have had in a long time! I was totally brought back to the first day ... not knowing anything about what I had gotten myself into. Driving in the RAV4 from the airport with Casey and Lia thinking that they suck ... biting my pillow laughing the first night when Brian totes farted in his sleep .... Then the floodgates opened and ALL the memories of Season 3 smacked me in the face. CJ's imitations of Padma ... telling Damien, Padma's ripped hot PA, that he was fat everyday ... the TC3 beer shotgunning contest (I won) ... being asked to get Casey out of bed cuz she wouldn't budge... (Bengt?) ... napping with Sara ... the bathroom line at the NJ Airport ... Andy on set for the "Brokeback Bravo" Quickfire ... I was laughing crying nervous and grateful by the end of the opening credits ....
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But none of it had to do with the latest lineup of wide-eyed overconfident victims .... When I finally came back to reality I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see what these guys would have to go through .... They got off easy! Pizza. Really? They were not thrown into the stressball panic that the Quickfire should be. Here is the kitchen and PROVIDED Dough! And 90 ... yup 90 mins ...! First Quickfire? OK -- the results had me cringing. The mattress crust of Nikki had me going, "Oooo. Damn. Ouch." ... Marmite ... Dick (Richard) honoring Chicago pizza with peaches ... a few fauxhawks ... a lesbian couple (the new Joey and Howie!) ... ANOTHER DALE ... the Chicagoans getting the bottom on CHICAGO pizza! (Shameful ...)

On the other hand ... Rocco! (honestly a great guy ...) The peaches rocked, as did the Marmite.

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Then … Elimination. Classics. Even easier than the Quickfire …. Where are all of the f**ked up ingredients? I mean making Eggs Benedict? Come On! They had it SOOO easy. Don’t get me wrong, I loved this challenge and the twists. Although souffle was mean! 1 on 1! Awesome! Now I will just say that it is totally not fair to judge these people by what was on the screen. I know a lot more goes into it etc., but I am going to anyway ....

Here are the things that stuck out for me: The plastic wrap presentation for the “smoked” crabcake ... dumb. I thought the dish looked and sounded great, but the smoke presentation was a hack job…. And the store bought mayo? What’s up with that? Isn’t mayo like the First thing you make in culinary school? And both of them planned on using it!

Team Picatta … more like Team Picwhatta! I will at least give Valerie some credit for trying to stretch the concept. Ryan’s dish -- WTF? Not even close. I saw it and cocked my head with a "Huh?" He had no idea. 

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It all seemed good with the duck. Stephanie made a simple clean dish. When I saw her hand shaking while saucing, my heart went out to her. I have never seen her like that. Steph and I worked together years ago. She kinda rocks. Mark went for the deconstruction; risky if you cannot articulate what your goal is. It just seemed silly and useless.

Lasagna …. Great job, girls. Nothing wacky -- just good food. Benedict …. Same thing. Nice basic dishes that worked ….

Steak au Poivre …. Dale’s dish looked like he was trying too hard. Intricate plating that wasn’t needed ... meat looked great. Manuel’s looked sloppy on the other hand. rate_401_erik_elim.jpg

The poor soufflé couple. I really felt for them. But they had a great attitude about it. It seems like they embraced the challenge together because they knew they were screwed.But Erik’s plate looked terrible! I mean nacho soufflé ? I thought Casey’s pizza party ice cream last season was f**ked up, but this was doomed from the concept alone …. Ewww.

Scampi …. Antonia’s looked good -- the judges loved it. But Nimma …. Bottom line -- she just screwed up. The scrambled flan? Nice try, but not so much. Salty shrimp and a f**ked up scramble. When all of the components of the dish fail, expect to go home.

Overall I am very impressed with the chefs -- they are all obviously great cooks. I’m giving it another week before I can say anything about personalities, but not many stick out at me. My first impression: The chicks are gonna kick some ass. They all seemed much more relaxed and focused. Well maybe not Steph’s hand, and she STILL won. The guys seem a little bitchy and possibly annoying. We’ll see.