Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

Common Mistakes

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

Common Mistakes

Gail Simmons explains why there is no question that it was Radhika's time to go.

The most common mistake made by those who aspire to own their own restaurants, it seems, is to think that being a chef will be easy if you are a good cook. So many restaurants in New York, - and anywhere, for that matter - fail because the chef believes that to run a successful place all you have to do is cook food people love. The rest will follow, right? Nope.

I have witnessed many times how easily chefs and owners forget that, like any other customer-service-based establishment, a restaurant is first and foremost a moneymaking business. Serving well-prepared and tasty food is, of course, one key element, but satisfying diners requires attention to thousands of other details, which any chef/owner needs to manage meticulously to provide guests with a positive and memorable experience. Training and directing staff, managing overhead and accounting including food costs and payroll, overseeing menus, ordering ingredients, maintaining equipment, accommodating reservations, considering decor, lighting and music ... the list goes on and on. Any experienced chef will tell you that playing a pivotal role in all the minutiae is essential if you care about your final product.

Now, I understand that the infamous Top Chef "Restaurant Wars" challenge is hardly a realistic portrayal of an actual restaurant opening - which usually takes months, if not years, of planning, rehearsal and investment - but it is still extremely telling in terms of how each individual contestant's personality manifests under the stress of opening night. As you can imagine, this plethora of additional demands on our chefs makes for a significantly more difficult challenge, and gives our contestants a small taste of just how hard the balancing act can be. The New York cheftestants were no exception. They barely got it all done in time amid the clamor, forgot simple elements of service (like forks and spoons), presented undercooked food to the judges and neglected to check on their customers for absurdly long periods of time. The leaders, or Chefs, of both restaurants hardly embraced their roles, from what I could see. Leah, of the Asian-inspired Sunset Lounge, butchered her Seared Cod so poorly that everyone judged it the worst dish served all evening! Thank goodness Fabio nailed his job as Maitre D', piling on the charm to soften the blow of what appeared to be a less than subpar plate of food. It was Stefan who truly came to his team's rescue with two excellent desserts: a Lemongrass Panna Cotta and a Chocolate & Rice Parfait. I cannot remember being served a single dessert on five seasons of this show that solicited as much praise, let alone two desserts and a petit four to top it all off! I only wish I had been there to taste them.

I will admit that I too thought the food served by Restaurant Sahana, the opposing team's Middle Eastern themed space led by Chef Radhika, sounded more interesting. Although I bet anything would have tasted better than Leah's raw cod. The Curried Carrot Soup with Smoked Paprika Oil and Raita looked like a dish worth trying at home. The Snapper with White Lentils sounded rustic and appropriate, as did the Lamb Shanks. Strangely enough, this team's mistakes were the complete reverse of those made by Sunset Lounge. Where Sunset Lounge excelled at desserts and service, Sahana failed miserably. Both Carla's attempt at Frozen Yogurt and her Spiced Chocolate Cake were apparently disappointing in texture, taste and presentation. As much as she tried to send them out with love and good karma, there is no substitute for trusting your instincts, instead of just relying on the feedback of others, which was the case here. Carla should have known better, considering we have all seen her create excellent desserts in the past.

And then there was Radhika, team leader, hostess and general manager - jack-of-all trades and master of none. She was clearly out of her element in this challenge, failing to lead her team, guide the menu, direct the waitstaff, attend to the guests and control the product as it was served. From the start, she was totally uncomfortable doling out tasks and making any hard decisions, both in the kitchen and the dining room. There is no question it was her time to go. As much as I enjoyed eating her food and thought she was a sweet, smart cook, all of these duties are par for the course if you want to be a chef in the true sense of the word. In this respect, it is apparent that Radhika still has some cooking to do.

Make George's Cravable Breakfast Sausage

George decided the best way to satisfy New England Patriot tight end Rob Gronkowski  was with a hearty breakfast. Make it for yourself at home.

Pork and Veal Sausage Patty With Sunny-Side Up Egg and Potato Hash

 

Ingredients
3 lbs pork butt
1 lbs veal
4 garlic cloves
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp coriander
2 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 bunch chives
1 bunch parsley
1 Tbsp fennel seed
Pepper (to taste)

 

Directions
1. Grind prok and veal using medium dye, reserve and keep cold

2. Toast cumin, coriander, and fennel seed in a sauté pan until aroma is released. Grind in spice grinder, reserve

3. Chop parsley and chives fine, reserved

4. Chop garlic super fine, reserve

5. Mix meat with spices, smoked paprika, herbs, garlic, salt, and pepper

6. Test a small batch in fryer. Taste and adjust seasoning

7. Form into patties, place on grill, then finish in oven