Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

No Robo Coupes!

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

No Robo Coupes!'s Editor swoons over Johnny Iuzzini and Harold Dieterle, and responds to reader comments.

Hello, again! I hope you all had a wonderful week anticipating last night's episode, which was pretty fun in my opinion. Any episode where I laugh out loud is a good one. First, the chefs had to create -- dare we say it -- a dessert! Like Padma said, desserts have been a nightmare for many a Top Chef contestant. We asked this week's guest judge about this. You can check it out that conversation in the Guest Judges' Blog.

OK -- can we just talk about Chef Johnny Iuzzini for just a sec? I've been called boy crazy in my day, but that guy is hot. There I said it. When I saw the previews for this week's episode, I was like "Um, who's that?" And I may be hearing things, but he has an adorable speech impediment to boot! (I have bizarre taste, I know.) Anyway, in Harold's Blog, he mentions that he has gone for cocktails with Johnny a few times, and if I could get invited to that, well, I would. I'm done now.

So, some of the chefs had dessert recipes prepared and some didn't, and I thought they should be disqualified just for that. Helllooo! This is Top Chef! If you don't know by now that you need at least one dessert recipe with you, you're, well, an idiot. Anyway, Richard actually didn't have one and won. So, what do I know? Definitely not more than Chef Iuzzini -- that's for sure.

The chefs then get to get all gussied up and head to The Second City. I was praying the girls wouldn't hussy it up too much (Yes -- that's a technical expression.) Remember what happened last year with the low-cut shirts? They didn't. Yay. So they all headed to the iconic Chicago destination, and would you believe it? Their night was cut short with a challenge. Shocker! The expressions on the chefs' faces when they realized what was happening was pretty priceless.They break up into pairs and get started on their what can only be called acid trip-inspirations. My favorite team? Andrew and Spike. They're pretty much insane, but Andrew has so much passion for cooking and food it's endearing. Although, putting the vanilla beans in your armpits? Even my blind-love couldn't explain that one away.

Then, another twist -- no Robo Coupes! No Robo Coupes! No Robo Coupes! This is, apparently, a big deal. For those of you, like me, who were all "What the chef is a Robo Coupe?" Well, here ya go: But the chefs rose to the challenge and roughed it.

Onto the meal. "Soup's Down. Thumbs Up!" Yay, indeed. Meanwhile, a commenter brought up the point that Padma used to say "Utensils down, hands up" (which has been rectified.) But seriously how funny would that be -- if say, Amelia Bedelia was one of the cheftestants? Utensils everywhere!

The Second City players were a welcome addition to the table -- I particularly loved Rob Janas, who we had the pleasure of getting a blog from this week. It's hilarious as you would expect. He admits to having a man-crush on Tom Colicchio, which we just call a crush around here.OK -- so, I pride myself on guessing the judges' comments. Who else KNEW the judges were going to bust Stephanie and Jennifer on the bread? It's not the first time, and it won't be the last. I just knew that bread would send one of them home. They hate giant croutons! Hate!

Andrew and Spike wow with their soup. Frankly, I'm sure Spike was just happy he got to make his damn soup. But, Dale and Richard win the day with tofu (I think them both winning was a Top Chef first -- obviously correct me if my senility has gotten the best of me.) Tom was adorable when he said he'd be bummed if he got that ingredient. And how cute was Andrew at the Judges' Table?

Nikki and Mark did well, but didn't seem to stand out. Although their dish did yield the funniest line of the night: "Maybe they could've made the sauce wit their tears." But, you know, from reading all your comments, since you're all such sticklers about sanitation (as well you should be), that probably wouldn't have gone over too well.

Now, about Antonia and Lisa. Come on ladies! Polish sausage is AWESOME. I think a lot of people would have liked to see a really good polish sausage dish and therefore a good recipe in our Recipe Finder. Did anyone else catch Tom basically give the dish the finger? He just licked the plate with his middle finger, but still.

Next week's episode looks Kleenex-worthy. Because I believe that children are our future.Onto some of your comments: "marybeth "wrote:
who's in charge of the "foodie poll?" I have yet to see dale wear a hat....

Ugh -- that's me. It's been fixed. I mix up Dale and Spike once a week and I have no idea why. Anyone have any ideas?

(Everyone in unison: "You're an idiot!")

And, I guess I can't ignore the comments about Andrea Strong's Blog. I'm not going to sit here defending it because, well, you won't listen, nor should you. All I can say is that it's a damn good blog about the show and the NYC restaurant scene. And makes me hungry every time I read it. I was actually really confused last year as to the strong viewer reaction against her. I will say that she is absurdly nice, like, seriously. I'm shocked when I meet genuinely nice people (I have a heart of coal -- what can I say?), and she's one of them. Alright, that's my piece. \

And for all you Bourdain fans, please vote for his blog HERE. You can earn him a Webby!

That's all for now -- keep the comments coming.


Gail Simmons Won't Be Pushed Around

So she's going to take more time shopping at Whole Foods -- and ask for the best of Melissa's basket and Adam's shrimp. Let's dive right in. How did it feel to go shopping?
Gail Simmons: Shopping at Whole Foods was fantastic and hilarious. It made us realize that you need to be strategic, which was the point of the exercise for us. They gave us 30 minutes, but we took a little longer. We didn't let the producers push us around! We’re not contestants and we weren't going to stand for it! So, you realize how little time you have, and how big Whole Foods can be. You spend a lot of time running around.


My strategy with my pantry was to get a lot of fresh, delicious food that you can cook in lots of different ways. A good balance of proteins, fish, fruits, vegetables, spices, fresh herbs, grains. But I didn't want to get too much. Everyone has different strategies; Padma got a ton of different ingredients. Tom's pantry was very pared down. Richard and I were somewhere in the middle. Let's start by talking about the two dishes that came from your pantry?
GS: Katsuji and Melissa. They used the same protein, but their dishes were very different. They both used shrimp which one of the proteins that I bought. I bought something else too, something that I know has given people trouble in the past (which is why I specifically chose it) -- chicken wings. And I really wanted people to use them. Instead, they chose the easy way out because shrimps cook quickly.

Melissa's used a lot of fresh vegetables, which I was hoping she would: dill, mint, artichoke. I was so excited about all of it. I think it was beautifully done, a lovely salad with that little shrimp on top with spiced yogurt. But it was just a salad with a quick-cooking seafood. It was so similar to what she had done in Restaurant Wars when she made a scallop with grapefruit salad. I believe she could have done so much more. Melissa keeps saying she wanted to focus on her knife skills, and, of course, your knife skills have to be precise. But I need to see more than just knife skills. I want to see cooking skills, I want to see roasting skills, braising skills. I want to see her hands get a little dirtier and her dishes not be as superficial. It was a light, lovely dish. I was happy to eat it for lunch. But when you're competing against six other really talented chefs, we all want to see a little more depth. Katsuji on the other hand went big. He used his ingredients in a really powerful way. The potato salad, the poached shrimp had bold seasoning and I loved how they went together. It was a great dish. It may not have been the best of the day, but I was actually really happy with what he chose to make. So for the rest, let's talk about who was on top and who was on bottom.

GS: At the top there was Gregory who really was going for Padma's heart there. He did great with his coconut milk curry. A really balanced, powerful dish. But it's something we’ve seen from Gregory many times in the past. In fact, in the first challenge he made a similar spicy curry dish with chicken. As much as we thought it was a delicious bowl of food, it was so typical of what we expect from Gregory. George's food was really exciting for us. This was my first time tasting his food and meeting him on Top Chef. He did a great job. The kebab was moist, seasoned really well, and the lentils were beautiful too. My only small issue with the dish is I couldn't understand why he separated the lentils from the kebab in two separate dishes. Why not put lentils on the plate and the kebab right on top, with a dollop of the yogurt? It seemed a little bit disconnected to me. But all-in-all, a really strong dish. Doug had the winning dish of the night. He used Richard's crazy pantry in a way that I thought was smart, clear-cut, and creative. The chorizo and mussels and peppers, just how Tom said, go together well, as do the cauliflower and the garlic. There was sweetness, there was spice, it was light and fresh but had a soulful, rustic flavor we all loved. You could see use of technique. On the bottom were dishes that tried to stretch and didn’t come through. Mei did a great job overall, except her lamb was undercooked. You want lamb medium, medium rare, but the center of that meat was raw to the point where the texture was chewy and almost cold. It would have been better if she had been able to cook it five minutes longer. We talked about Melissa's mistakes already, which also landed her on the bottom. I totally applaud Adam for trying to make a quick-flash marinade. He's been in the middle for so long and he thought "I gotta go big or I gotta go home." He tried to go big and unfortunately, he went home because of that technique. I get the idea of what he was doing, I don't doubt that it could've been successful if it were perhaps done in a different setting, with a little more control. But the flash marinade of his shrimp did not cook it as needed. It was still grey, it was still raw, and the texture of raw shrimp is not appealing. It's squeaky, it's squishy, and it becomes sort of mushy. We wanted it firm and cooked through. It's not like fish that you can eat sashimi-style Unfortunately Adam's hard work, his big risk sent him home.

I will miss him. I think he's an incredibly articulate, clever chef. I think he has an extraordinary career ahead of him. I'm excited to see him back in New York City. I can't wait to eat his food again. Also I want to say of this entire episode that was it was thrilling to see our superfans in the kitchen. We've never let people come into the kitchen in that way before, even though people ask us all the time. It brought so much good energy to have basically a live audience with us for the day. Everyone was so psyched. It was amazing to be around people who really love the show, to let them eat food from our talented chefs. SO much fun!