Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

Meltdowns on the NY Horizon

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

Meltdowns on the NY Horizon

Season 3 cheftestant Brian Malarkey handicaps the competition in his power ranking.

With four shows down, it looks like Top Chef: New York has all the makings of being the most exciting season ever. The challenges are unique, fresh and star-studded, which makes for some dynamic television.

I was traveling last week with my family on the Oregon coast and didn't get a chance to give my thoughts on the Thanksgiving Foo Fighter Fiest. A popularity contest was on full display with Leah taking the Top Chef: The Cookbook Quickfire challenge by preparing Hung's White Asparagus dish. The dish translated into a great soup that Grant and Padma loved. It's always tough when the contestants have to pick who they like and want to work with, but it's also very telling of who has the respect in the house. I would have swapped Melissa for Jeff in a New York minute and I have always enjoyed Eugene "aloha" vibe of over Radhika's casual vibe. All in all, the Foo's spit on my boy Richard from San Diego and he was sent home with his marshmallows intact, for the most part. I believe we have the second best crying exit in this episode, second only to Joey's "Pickles" breakdown on my season. Daniel dodged an al dente potato bomb with those spuds (what are party underwear?) On the up swing: Ariane is no longer the turkey, Eugene kills it with his home made grill, the Italian Stallion kicks it with a pumpkin tiramisu and Jeff's cuisine crashes, but again, he shows great leadership skills.

All caught up and full steam ahead ... Thoughts on the Today Show episode with guest Chef Rocco Dispirto:

No matter what happens to any of the contestants on this show, no matter how much Richard and Alex cry, no matter how many dishes are spit out on national TV, no matter how outlandish the chefs are portrayed, they, like the rest of us, will never know the embarrassment Rocco has put himself through. I like Rocco and I think he's a great chef . Years ago Rocco and Marcus Samuelsson made one of the best meals I've ever eaten in my life. Rocco made me laugh all the way to the top of the mountain in Aspen after I had was kicked off on the cowboy episode. (We played a game of who would you f***, fight or kill given three choices of former contestants. He picked Howie, Marcel and Stephen, but my answers will forever be a secret to everyone except Michelle Bernstein and Todd English, who were also on the gondola with us. I gave him much better choices - Sam, Lei Ann and Frankie the Bull.)

Anywho, our game was nowhere near as embarrassing as Rocco's outfits and his hip-slapping farewell on Dancing with the Stars. Rocco, what the hell was that? If you didn't see it you have to check it out on YouTube. Hilarious!

This episode is one of those episodes that really has nothing to do with what it take to be "Top Chef," even with the ever changing challenge criteria that Tom and the guest chefs seem to make up on the fly. This episode had little to do with the food, it was more focused on showmanship (which, of course, I LOVED!)  Rankings

Fabio: I like him more with every episode, he is hilarious and has mad chops in the kitchen and he is not scared to ask to butcher his own Tuna. I loved the fact that he stayed away from the "Bullshit Eggs' and made something very familiar to his country, unfortunately Rocco "not a real Italian" didn't get it. Fabio understood the challenge and knew the importance of making something "my mom" could and want to make at home. Line of the week also goes to Fabio with "Fresh out of the Boat"

Stefan: What is that egg thingy called? I don't know, you don't know and Rocco doesn't know - does anyone know?

Leah: I was wrong, we do have a couple great girls on the show this season, and Leah is the front-runner. Two Quickfire wins in a row! The "Chef of Family" kept it real with the one-bite quail egg. I can't believe more of the chefs didn't go for the quail egg.

Hosea: Not much from Hosea this week, but he has a great energy and shows streaks of ability. Plus Leah likes him and she seems to know how to pick winners.

Jeff: The Amuse was confused, but the babaganushish dish was well liked by everyone except Kathy Lee and let's face it, who likes Kathy Lee?

Jamie: The solo Rainbow survivor cracked with duck egg and obviously hates the camera, but has the tats to compete with the best of them.

Eugene: Great Grill! Eugene is hanging in there, but blew the answer to the sushi question.

Daniel: Loud and proud. Tom didn't like Daniel's shtick, but the ladies did and I thought it was hilarious. Cornflake catastrophe and soy ablaze! Better get cooking …

Radhika: Radhika is consistent and very quiet, could easily stick around a lot longer then some of these guys who go for it and bomb. Ariane: Ariane has a huge comeback and she did a great job in front of the camera, but I don't think she has the "cougar" strength to survive much longer with this crew.

Melissa and Carla: I foresee major meltdowns on the New York horizon. Farwell to Alex and all my best to you and your wife. Cheers!

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

Ingredients:

Duck breast
Salt
Pepper
1 cup Walnuts
1 Tbsp Red miso paste
1 Tsp Mirin
Rice vinegar
1 Tsp White soy sauce
Cheeries
Butter
Farro
Chicken Stock
Celery
Walnut Oil
Radishes
Yuzu
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

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