Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

Chefs Have Lives

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

Dookie Chase Makes Everybody Cry

Chefs Have Lives

Season 4's Richard Blais has been on the Today show. He knows of what he speaks.

Many restaurant chefs absolutely dog television chefs behind the scenes. They aren't real chefs. They're pretty actors that have stolen the credit from those who toil relentlessly in basement kitchens for 16 hours a day. They can't hack it in a real kitchen. They're sell-outs.

For the most part, it's all jealousy. And the best at being capable of producing a dish on a television segment, are also pretty damn good in a restaurant. Tom and Rocco come to mind.

I have chefs in my kitchen who know of Rocco only as a TV guy. A good looking, critical guest chef. The guy who had his momma rolling meatballs while he flirted with patrons on The Restaurant. Guess what folks. Rocco's a great chef. I had one of my first amazing restaurant experiences at Union Pacific, where Rocco earned himself the opportunity and dream he lives today.

Onto the show ... The breakfast Quickfire was great. I'm one of those people who could eat breakfast at any time. What's not to love? Cured and smoked meats, the elegance of an egg, the soft pillowy texture of pancakes, and just enough maple syrup to make it all come together.

That made me want to cook breakfast just typing that!

I thought Stefan did a classic french amuse, a spin on the Arpege egg amuse, a famed Paris restaurant. Leah and Jamie again went head to head with a great example of the difference between New York City and San Francisco. Both chefs presented similar dishes. One, a little more refined and the other a little more organic and tasty looking. Those three chefs, Stefan, Leah, and Jamie are clearly representing that they have a personal style and cuisine. And then there's Danny. Did he really say that he ate cornflakes and zucchini blossoms as a kid? I'm calling BS here. And while we are on the breakfast tip, I felt embarrassed for Danny when he was hamming it up in the elimination. It was one of those Showtime at the Apollo moments where you know the hook is coming out. Now, presenting a dish in two minutes or so on live TV is tough. It takes some practice. Check out my most recent Today show appearance on YouTube! Sorry for the shameless plug! Even the most simplest of dishes have a thousand talking points. And if your host is, well, doing their job and engaging you, then you have to be ready for improv. No one wants to watch a robotic chef run down a list of ingredients. It's about interaction.

Some really struggled. For as great a chef as Stefan has been, he's not much of a personality, huh? Alex made a creme brulee? Odd choice, not only for the execution issues mentioned. But creme brulee? What year is this? Some didn't finish, yikes! And Jamie, who I think is just cooking her heart out gave us a flashback to the stance of Lisa the Angry.

On the winning side. I thought Jeff did the best in presenting himself. He definitely has been in front of a camera before. He may have been filming it himself, but regardless, he's been there before and it showed. And for as much as I love Fabio, I didn't care for his dish, or his theory behind dumbing down the food because people who watch TV don't want to learn new things. He's obviously fresha outta tha boata (his words, not mine). Bravo and this Web site is evidence that people are interested in experimenting with food. Sesame crusted tuna? Dude? I mean, if Bethenny did that I'd be cool with it... I also think Fabio, who isn't receiving many compliments during the Quickfires may be second guessing his approach. He's the only one close to pushing super creative food. I hope he doesn't pull inside his turtle shell and go into Top Chef survival mode. I know a good deal about this strategy. There's a point when you realize that the reward of risk doesn't compare to the consequence. And that by simply cooking simple well executed food you will get by those competitors who can't do that. And what a neat prize for Arianne. I missed her piece the following day, but it will do good for her business, and once you've done the Today show, well, every other morning show is a piece of cake.

I also find it sad that Alex gave up. He did. He called his own name right from the beginning of the show. So many people try out for this show for season after season. To see someone come on here and let us know how it's not that important is a shame. Even if it's an obvious excuse for not performing well. Chefs have lives. We know that.


Make Melissa's Mom's Egg Custard

Melissa entrusted her mom to remake one of her childhood favorites -- and came up with a win. Make your own version at home.

Egg Custard With Shitake Mushrooms, Clams, and Lobster Ingredients


3 cups water
1 bag of bonito
1 small piece of dashi
10 shitake mushrooms (additional to dice for garnish)
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp Mirin
3 eggs
Scallions (for garnish)
Salmon roe (for garnish)
Lobster knuckle meat (for garnish)

Directions for Clams
1. Steam clams, remove meat, and chop.
2. Reserve residual liquid for broth.

Directions for Broth
1. Boil to a simmer for 1 hour.
2. Strain.
3. Adjust seasoning with soy sauce, salt, and mirin.
4. Cool liquid in ice broth.
5. Mix 2 cups of chilled broth with 3 eggs.
6. Whisk well.
7. Strain to create the egg custard.

To Garnish
1. Put knuckle meat, clams, and mushrooms into small bowls
2. Top with chilled egg custard (about 4 oz.)
3. Cover with plastic wrap and steam for 10 minutes.
4. Top with scallions, salmon roe.

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