Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

Block Party

Gail: Mei's Menu Was Almost Flawless

Make Top Chef Mei Lin's Winning Dessert!

Richard: "Gregory Had the Better Ideas"

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Hugh: Mei's a Chef's Chef

Richard: "Winning Is Overrated"

Make Mei's Sushi Style Guac!

Gail: I Wasn't Surprised Doug Stayed on Top

Get Doug's Masterpiece Brisket Recipe

Gail on Innovation (and George's Failure to Push It)

Make Melissa's Seared Duck Breast Dish

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

Block Party

Padma Lakshmi is a taco fiend and shares her favorite taco hot spots in New York City.

For a complete transcript of Padma's Vlog, jump to Page 3. Part 1:
Part 2:

Part 1:

I was really excited about the Quickfire because I love tacos. I can tell you where, you know, every Mexican restaurant is within a mile radius of my house here in New York City. And I am a taco fiend, so I was really excited to have Rick Bayless on.

You know there's a difference between a street taco and a high-end alta cucina taco or haute cuisine taco, but they have one common denominator which is taste, and which is the crunch of the taco, and the little portion of the taco. So even a street taco has to be tangy, and spicy, and juicy, and slightly greasy, but not so greasy that you can't eat a bunch of 'em and feel sick. So, I don't think there's that much difference between a street taco and an haute cuisine taco. I would think that the difference would be in technique, in the knife skills, and maybe in some, you know, much more luxurious ingredients -- you know cause you're paying more, you're in a fine dining environment. So it was really nice to see that, and I was really surprised Manuel didn't do better on that. I really was. I fully expected him to ace it. And that was very telling, and not in a good way.

The best taco in New York is at Barrio Chino or La Esquina. They're all down in the Village, in SoHo, or in the East Village. There are tons of good taco places. I'm not going to tell you all of them because then I won't get a reservation, but those are two good places.

Part 2:

So, I was really excited about the Block Party challenge. For one, it meant we got, you know, to take a field trip. Two, we got to really meet normal, suburban people in the Midwest. And three, I just love a block party. So, that's what this challenge was about. It was really about Macgyvering. It was about using what you had, making do, and making it fabulous. And you know because it was a block party environment, again, somewhat of a potluck, it really was a lot more forgiving. So it was very important also to make something that was a crowd-pleaser. And that's important as a businessperson when you're making a restaurant, you know, you want to put that weird thing on the menu, but if you stock your pantry and only two people order it a week, that's not going to be a successful menu in your restaurant.

If you went into my pantry, you would find sumac powder, and yuzu, and orange oil, and frozen filo pastry. You would also find lots of pickles, and condiments, and sugar-honey butter, lots of green mangoes, and coconut.

You know, I have to tell you, Erik didn't lose because he made a corn dog -- he lost because he made a crappy corn dog. So, you know, a corn dog is something, again, like a blini, unless you can execute it, don't do it. Because it's a childhood favorite, and everyone has very strong opinions about these very classic dishes. Whether it's something very elevated, you know, like a boeuf bourguignon or something as lowly and beloved as the corn dog.