Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

Team Rainbow No More

Get Doug's Masterpiece Brisket Recipe

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

Team Rainbow No More

Real Housewife of NYC Bethenny Frankel needs more action.

I really can't wait to get down to the wire. These contestants are dragging a little bit. I long for stars like Hung and Richard Blais to make it exciting. Stefan and Eugene seem like the ones to watch, but I can't invest in anyone yet whereas in past seasons I had my absolute favorites early. Where the contestants lack a little bit, the tasks are a little bit of a kamikaze mission to mix it up. As for me recapping it, I'll try to just comment without making it so structured. This is my personality -- I'm a writer, I'm structured, and unless I follow the show, I don't know what the hell happened.

I love that the Quickfire moved from the Top Chef Cookbook to a soup. It seemed boring to simply recreate past recipes. This seemed brutal since soup with large pieces of fish sounds vile and difficult to me. Low and behold, many prevailed. Grant Achatz was the guest chef. He's a superstar, and might I add, he is totally adorable.

Jamie rocked that corn soup before so this was going to be a breeze for her. She's got the goods, but I can't get as excited as her as I did about Stephanie from last season. Richard's demise began here when he was too late in getting his acid into his Mexican soup. When people are on the chopping block, I look at several of their past mistakes to try to see who really hasn't performed overall. Daniel's ham and egg soup looked thick and hearty and delicious. Strong Island holding strong. Ariane looked like it wasn't going down the right road with her overcooked lamb. Leah started to shine with her underdog white asparagus soup and I was even surprised to see that she won. I thought the main task was daunting, but for individuals to whine and complain about the circumstances is useless. Everyone has the same disadvantages, so the playing field is difficult. This was totally doable if organized. I've cooked entire meals on a hotplate, a microwave, and a tiny Holly Hobby-like oven. This can be done and Jeff's initiative in being organized was a good start. I'm glad the judges said that it was close because I truly wasn't sure how this was going to go down.

I actually thought Team Cougar was going to win this one. Ariane definitely redeemed herself -- although being good at turkey (in her comfort zone which is catering) isn't blowing me away. This was a moment where I realized Stefan may not be the star we thought he'd be. His turkey couldn't trump Ariane's. I get why Ariane is still safe. Turkey is the meal centerpiece. Jeff secured his spot for taking the shot and being the leader, although his dishes were underwhelming, and there is a recurring theme where he takes on too much and can't do it all well. I actually thought the bacon mac and cheese was a good idea because it is microwave and toaster friendly and can sit on a buffet. Eugene was a star with his MacGuyver grill. He's strong. I agreed with Tom on Fabio's take on Tiramisu. The judges always love someone staying true to themselves and inspiring a dish in a new way. Radhika did it last week with her Indian hot dog.

I thought S'mores was a great idea, but when I heard that they were being done a la minute, that scared me. S'mores are good for one minute and then they flop and get soggy. The Foo Fighters were mixed on their reviews of both teams but the standouts were the vegan stuffing, Eugene's MacGuyver port, and the mac and cheese. I loved how knowledgeable and opinionated they all were about food. I thought they were cute and sweet and having them on was a great part of the show. I think Team Cougar lost it on the nasty S'mores and pumpkin "barfaits." What I did like was how the Cougars were great losers. They supported each other, didn't attack each other, and that is really what kitchen teamwork was about. Jeff said the team had a lot of heart which I agreed with. I wished that they had won. Everyone loves the underdog. This was particularly nice since they were the leftovers after Leah picked her team. I didn't like how Daniel gave Team Sexypants the finger when they came back from the concert. He seemed to be the only really bitter one, and he wasn't so strong with his al dente mashed potatoes. I had no idea who was going home but I thought it was going to be Daniel and Richard. I'm so upset to say this, but I have to agree with this difficult decision. Historically, Daniel has been better, and in particular on this episode overall. It broke my heart how he cried, and I am so upset that Team Rainbow is decimated. I miss Richard. Maybe he'll be the Fan Favorite. He was definitely one of mine.

Make Melissa's Seared Duck Breast Dish

Get the recipe for Melissa King's winning new culinary creation: seared duck breast with farro, walnut miso, and pickled cherries.

Duck Breast, Walnut Miso, Pickled Cherries, Farro


Duck breast
1 cup Walnuts
1 Tbsp Red miso paste
1 Tsp Mirin
Rice vinegar
1 Tsp White soy sauce
Chicken Stock
Walnut Oil
Chocolate Mint (to preference)

Directions for Duck
1. Season duck breast with salt/pepper
2. Sear on med-low on cast iron skin side down to render fat
3. Remove and let cool until medium rare
Directions for Walnut Miso
1. Blanch 1 cup walnuts in hot boiling water
2. Blend in blender w/ 1 Tbsp red miso paste, 1 Tsp mirin, 1 Tsp rice vinegar, 1 Tsp white soy sauce.
3. Blend until very smooth and then pass through chinois

Directions for Pickled Cherries
Cherries (slice/pit)
2 part Rice vinegar
1 part butter
To taste Sugar
Pinch of Salt

1.Boil and pour over cherries
2. Strain and reserve liquid. Mound pickling liquid with butter on the pick up to make cherry sauce

Directions for Farro
1. Boil farro in chicken stock for 1 hour until soft and bloomed
2. Strain farro
3. Mound farro with butter and chicken stock until it looks creamy
4. Season with salt

Directions for Shave Carrots
1. Shave celery (compress with walnut oil)
2. Shave radishes (compress with yuzu)
3. Chocolate mint (chopped)
4. Toss all with walnut oil, salt

Read more about: