Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

Speak Up!

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

Speak Up!

Harold Dieterle dishes on which chef he thought really deserved to pack her knives.

I think first thing with creating an upscale taco would definitely be presentation and then just thinking outside the box a little bit. It's kind of hard to take something like that that's just so rustic and just very, very homey and turn it into something you would serve in some fine dining atmosphere.

I respect Spike's comments about the challenge. The fact of the matter is the guy laid down what his style is. He's just saying "I don't really care what you want me to do -- this is how I cook and this is my style of food service." He felt like a taco stay tone-downed, contain humble ingredients, and serve it as such, and that's the kind of atmosphere he wants to make that in. I respect that.

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I've never eaten jicama as a wrapper -- I thought that was a pretty good idea. I've had jicama inside a taco, but never used it as the shell so to speak. I thought that was pretty sharp on Richard's part.
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As far as the Elimination Challenge, I thought the one team to some degree was going to win. They had the whole s'mores torch going. I thought that was pretty sharp. I know it's a block party and it's supposed to be outdoors, but there was a ton of salads being made. And Zoi ... I don't know what kind of chef inside their own kitchen that doesn't feel comfortable doing something isn't going to speak up. You have to speak up. You can't allow yourself to get bullied around. How do you just get pushed to doing something you don't want to do and not speak up and say, "You know what, I don't really wanna make pasta salad." F*** -- what are you thinking? Speak now or forever hold your peace.

At least Erik went for it a little bit. He tried making corn dogs. It's a little more ambitious -- it wasn't the smartest thing knowing the situation he was going to. But she made a pasta salad. I mean, come on.
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I don't really think of paella as something you want to eat outside on a day like that. The thing about it is that I've been to Spain. I've made paella in Spain. Paella in Spain most of the time in the atmosphere they make it in, it's not crusty on the top because a lot of times they make it so big that there's no oven they can fit it into. It is crusty on the bottom however, so that's absolutely true, but a lot of times paella in Spain is made outdoors on huge open pits of fire, so it does get crusty on the bottom. But unless you put it into an oven, you're not getting the crust on the top.

For this challenge, I was looking for the watermelon. In my opinion, every BBQ or block party I've gone to, there's been some sort of watermelon party going on somewhere. I would've liked to have seen someone make the jungle juice or the dangerous fruit punch.

As far as Nikki's mac and cheese, at some point, I'm sure they'll do much better. It's just tough getting put into an environment and not knowing how long until you're going to be able to serve it. But these things are tough. It would be one thing if they're being able to cook food and not doing off-premise events. That stuff can be challenging -- waiting and having food sit around. You gotta take a look at it that you're doing some sort of party. All of the chefs do a bunch of these parties a year, so that's kind of the way you have to focus on it.

Also, I didn't have a problem with Spike's "sabotage." The guy is there to win.

I like Andrew -- he's crazy. He cracks me up. He's like "This is my house ...." I was laughing. He's here to win. You gotta respect that. I don't have respect for these people with 20/20 hindsight: "Oh well I shoulda spoke up but I didn't say anything, so I just went along with it."

Harold
www.perillanyc.com