Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

Paul Kahan

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

Paul Kahan

The renowned Chicago chef and guest judge talks tailgating. Are you a big Bears fan? What are the tailgates usually like?
Yes, I am. I don't usually go to tailgates but they usually have lots of people BBQing, throwing footballs, that sort of thing. What do you think the most important factors were to being successful at this challenge?
Picking an appropriate dish and organization What was the biggest problem with Ryan's dish? Could he have made a successful dessert?
It wasn't the dish -- it was the dishes. He tried to do too much and so everything suffered. Dale wins with his tandoori pork ribs -- can you elaborate on how these were, why these were a good choice?
They were appropriate for a tailgate but he brought it to the next level and they were delicious. What would you have made with this challenge?

Cooking competitions are great for some people but it isn't for me, so I wouldn't have made anything because I wouldn't have done it. Mark got called out for his sloppy work area -- how much of that do you think was due to his choosing a charcoal grill? Would you have ever chosen that to feed that many people?
I use a wood-burning grill to cook for over 100 people every summer in my backyard, but I use proper sanitation procedures. It wasn't the grill -- it was his lack of proper sanitation. How close was it between Nikki (ran out of peppers, onions), Mark (sloppy station), and Ryan (unsuccessful dessert)?
Not close at all.
blogs_406_05.jpg Can you tell us a bit about Blackbird and Avec?
Mike Sheerin is the Chef de Cuisine at Blackbird and his is really just doing amazing food. And I think the pastry chef, Tim Dahl, is making the best pastries in Chicago right now. Koren is at the top of her game and I think the Food & Wine award is just going to give her the recognition she deserves for the work she does. They all work so hard making me look good, but it is a great team effort and I really appreciate them in the kitchen. Why is Chicago such a great spot for Top Chef this year?
Because we have so much going on, from Grant Achatz to Koren and Giuseppe Tentori winning Food & Wine this year to all the NYC chefs coming to town. It is an exciting place for food. Are you a Top Chef fan? After you experience, do you see any clear front-runners yet? It was such a great time, spending time with Tom, a great chef and good friend. I do see front-runners but I am not saying anything.