Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

The Lesser of the Evils

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

The Lesser of the Evils

Harold Dieterle declares his love for Wylie Dufresne and shares his wisdom with the Season 4 cheftestants.

I thought the Quickfire was good -- I thought both challenges were really good. They did a pretty good job. The difference between people who have experience and people who are just starting to cook is about restraint. I know when I first started cooking I found myself just putting tons and tons of ingredients in a dish, and the next thing you know the person you're cooking for is looking at you like, "What the f*** is this?" This challenge was about restraint, and which chefs know how to take a minimal amount of ingredients and make something tasty out of it. Overall, I think they did a pretty good job.

With Mark, I think he learned what the judges said about the last challenge and composed a dish instead of deconstructing everything, and I think it paid off for him.

I like Wylie. I'm a big Wylie fan. I think he totally thinks outside the box. It's not the way I cook, but I appreciate what he does and some of the other fellas who are doing that style of food. If Wylie thinks something's good, he's going to say it's good. If it's not what he's looking for I think he's a pretty straight shooter. Elimination was another really fun challenge. If you're going to get involved in this kind of competition, you need to know a few things. There are going to be restaurant wars, there's going to be a cocktail party, and you're going to have make a dessert at some point. You need to have a game plan of how you're going to do these things somewhere down the line. It's just preparation.

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Anytime you use pastry or something that's supposed to be hot and you have to leave it out for an hour or two you're probably going to run into some trouble. Blini don't work if you cook them ahead of time and then try to serve them. Unless you can cook them now you're probably going down the wrong path.It boils down to what the worst dish was. I can't really go out on a limb and say whether the right person went home. I'm still trying to figure out the mushrooms with the dried blueberries -- that just sounds absolutely disgusting to me. That's just me, though. I love blueberries and I love mushrooms, I just don't get how those flavors go together. Dale goes out of his way to say he doesn't give a shit about putting flowers or all this other stuff on the table because he only cares about how the food tastes, and then he goes and puts this cheese on the mushrooms that doesn't taste good.

It's a lose-lose situation. Tom's walking out of the kitchen and he's asking what you're doing, he sees you making these dishes, and if they're not served he's going to ask why. There's got to be some sort of rationale as to why you're not serving.

Andrew's a loose cannon. He's got a lot of energy. In the team they talked a lot about what dishes they were doing, but I think ultimately they were each responsible for the dishes they made. They were each making their own dishes. I thought his glacier was really interesting. It didn't look very appetizing to me, but I thought there was continuity behind it with the penguin theme. The calamari, on the other hand, looked really nice. I think he did a really good job. I wouldn't have made a glacier, but I don't know what I would have made.They're making foams already. It's cool that they're bringing some of their own equipment, he had an immersion circulator -- that's pretty cool.

Even though she didn't do well, I think Stephanie's alright. I like Stephanie. I think Richard's going to do some interesting food, so I'm waiting to see. He seems to be able to articulate his ideas through food, which I think is interesting. It's not someone who thinks they have great ideas but can only half-ass it -- I'm not going to name any names. He seems like he knows what he's doing.

Harold
www.perillanyc.com

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.

Bravotv.com: 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.

 

Bravotv.com: 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.

 

Bravotv.com: 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!