Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

Cuisine on the Silver Screen

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

Cuisine on the Silver Screen

Forget Good Morning, Vietnam. New York City restaurant critic Andrea Strong offers a list of her favorite food movies.


Last night we said goodbye to Manuel, and it's debatable (shocker) whether it was he who deserved to pack his knives and go. Is it worse to follow the leader like a sheep, or be the leader with the lousy ideas? That's certainly up for discussion, but last night the judges decided it was the sheep that would go home.

To start off the episode that would be the end of Top Chef for Manuel, the producers offered up a nice challenge. They packed up the gimmicks for a later date (or later in the episode), and tested basic classic technique, from knife skills to poaching and grilling, with guest judge chef Daniel Boulud. I think this was one of the better challenges because it did expose the contestants' weaknesses in foundation cooking. It seems Manuel's departure stems originally from his poor performance in the Quickfire Challenge.

The Elimination Challenge was a fun one, but I was surprised that no one used great classic food movies as their inspiration. Maybe it would be too cliche to use Big Night or Eat, Drink, Man, Woman, but someone could've used Super Size Me and done a fun burger (perhaps some riff on the stuffing of foie gras and short ribs in an ode to the DB Burger) and fries (maybe show off some pomme souffle technique) and a fancy milk shake for the judges.

Like the judges, I was disappointed in the Talk to Her meal (though I too LOVED that movie), as it didn't seem terribly confident, bold, or passionate. While I loved the idea of using Willie Wonka as inspiration, I had my doubts about that white chocolate wasabi sauce (so did Zoi as she said over and over again, rather petulantly, in the stew room). But apparently Richard, Dale, and Andrew nailed the flavors and really produced a stunning dish. I think the Quote of the Show has to go to Andrew who offered this gem at Judges' Table when discussing his Willy Wonka-inspired plate: "I have no doubt that people will culinarily crap in their pants when eating this food." What would we do with out Andrew? He's the best.

Below is a list of my favorite "food" movies. I would love to hear yours so please add your comments below.

What's Cooking, directed by Gurinder Chada, is probably the most underrated food movie ever made. It's about four different (dysfunctional) families celebrating Thanksgiving and the drama and meals that show up in each of their kitchens. It was out for all of one month in art house theaters in New York City and I caught it and LOVED it. See it now.

Mostly Martha (German version), written and directed by Sandra Nettlebeck, was exquisite in its original German version-heartbreaking and poignant. I didn't even bother with the American remake.

Eat, Drink, Man, Woman, written and directed by Ang Lee, is a classic. If you can watch this movie and not laugh, cry, and come out of it craving Chinese food, you're inhuman.

Babette's Feast, written and directed by Gabriel Axel based on the short story by Karen Blixen is really the story of nourishing the soul with food. The meal that Babette prepares for these two sisters in this small gloomy village brings the whole town to life. Big Night, directed by Campbell Scott and Stanley Tucci, tells the story of two brothers and their failing New Jersey restaurant and the one night they have to save their business. It's inspired many to attempt the famous timpano. I still haven't had the nerve.

Make Melissa's Mom's Egg Custard

Melissa entrusted her mom to remake one of her childhood favorites -- and came up with a win. Make your own version at home.

Egg Custard With Shitake Mushrooms, Clams, and Lobster Ingredients


3 cups water
1 bag of bonito
1 small piece of dashi
10 shitake mushrooms (additional to dice for garnish)
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp Mirin
3 eggs
Scallions (for garnish)
Salmon roe (for garnish)
Lobster knuckle meat (for garnish)

Directions for Clams
1. Steam clams, remove meat, and chop.
2. Reserve residual liquid for broth.

Directions for Broth
1. Boil to a simmer for 1 hour.
2. Strain.
3. Adjust seasoning with soy sauce, salt, and mirin.
4. Cool liquid in ice broth.
5. Mix 2 cups of chilled broth with 3 eggs.
6. Whisk well.
7. Strain to create the egg custard.

To Garnish
1. Put knuckle meat, clams, and mushrooms into small bowls
2. Top with chilled egg custard (about 4 oz.)
3. Cover with plastic wrap and steam for 10 minutes.
4. Top with scallions, salmon roe.

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