Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

I'm Allergic to Beer

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

I'm Allergic to Beer

Find out which dish Harold describes as "weird," "really weird."

The Quickfire was interesting for me because I'm allergic to beer. So, I can certainly taste beer and be able to pair with it. I just can't consume any sort of moderate consumption -- I have two or three beers and I get sick. It was kind of tough in high school. I didn't know I had an allergy until post-culinary school. I would drink two or three beers and just feel like a total lightweight because I'd get sick. But then I could knock down the hard alcohol and throwdown.

But pairing with beer is just like if you're pairing it with food. If you have a sweeter beer, you want to go with something that's a little fatty, something to cut the richness. If you want something more crisp, you probably want to pair it with something more on the lighter side. It's the same concepts if you were pairing food with wine. I am not a beer connoisseur, so this definitely would have been challenging for me.

Koren Grieveson was guest judge, and, well, I've made it clear to a lot of people that I'm a gigantic Avec fan. I was just planning on going to Chicago this week and that is on my must hit list. Because when I was there, I had a really nice meal at Alinea, but I crave Avec. The food there is just so craveable. That's on the must hit list.

Onto the Elimination Challenge. First If you're a sports fan, just know who you're making food for. I mean, even though Nikki didn't do a great job with it, sausage and peppers? Absolutely. I mean you just have to make it nice. You also have to save food for the judges. That's kind of a no-brainer.Ribs? Great idea. I thought Richard's burger idea was by far the best. That sounded just like holy s*** -- I need one of those right now. I think I had a couple gin and tonics in me when I was watching the show. I was like I want one of those right now. I was like that looks good. That looked really nice.

I thought for the most part they did a really nice job. They figured it out. Ryan didn't. He didn't get it. He's metrosexual and goes dancing and isn't a sports guy .... Maybe he hasn't experienced that type of culture where it's a lot of people that -- even though they might not consume like that in their regular lives -- but you kind of go into that Neanderthal state of mind when you go into those sporting events. I know I do. I'm a huge Giants fan, a big football fan, a baseball fan. When I go to that, I don't want any finger food. I want to get my hands dirty. I want to throwdown and consume in the masses.

But, Ryan's a total gentleman. I don't think I've seen anyone on the show who's presented himself better. I want to know that kid. He's a good guy. Just look at him - he's a gentleman. He's a first-rate kid. But, you watch him going along and he's kind of skating along and at no point did he make anything that was just "Wow -- that looks tasty." But he looked like a great guy.

Would I choose a charcoal grill over a gas grill? Yeah -- sure why not? I think to me it's a challenge thing. But Mark was kind of in a s***storm. The station looked kind of a disaster.And Nikki did the shrimp skewers -- that was weird. That was really weird. There was no continuity between the two proteins. I get what she's saying that some people don't eat pork, but whatever. If they don't want to eat pork, tell them not to eat it. It's not like it's a restaurant and you have to make something for everybody. It's a challenge, but put your best dish out there. You know it's tough only having two hours to prep, but I think this could have been a perfect opportunity for someone to do some sort of braised sandwich. I mean two hours to get a braised done is tight, but if you take the meat and cut it up into small pieces and expose it to more surface area and give it a shot. Two hours is tight, but you can make a BBQ sauce and some sort of braise that has been cut up into small pieces. Instead of braising it whole, you give it a quick 15-20 minute smoke and then really cut it down and give it a braise. Or you can BBQ -- maybe brisket's a bad example, I don't know.

But it would have been tight making sausage -- they'd need to have some sort of sausage-maker there, and who knows if casings were available when they were shopping. I mean everybody has all these great ideas, but, you know, it's just one of those things. It needs to be practical too because you have to work with what you got. And I don't know if there's a sausage-maker in the kitchen. So it's all hard to say.

I've never been to Paul Kahan's Blackbird, but Avec and Blackbird are right next door to each other. Because I remember hanging out at Avec and popping my head into Blackbird. It's a pretty ideal situation - you have two really nice restaurants, one a little more casual. And you get the spaces that are connected, so it makes a lot of sense. It's kind of a perfect world.

No new favorites this week. I like Richard. I like Stephanie. I think those are my two peeps right now. That's who I'm feeling right now. It changes week to week, so we'll see what happens next week.

Harold
www.perillanyc.com