Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

The Demon Belcher Of Fleet Street

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

The Demon Belcher Of Fleet Street

Meet Top Chef's newest judge. After reading, you just might like him more.

Well, I guess you've all met me by now: the Demon Belcher of Fleet Street. Watching the way I was billed in last night's episode, you were probably expecting the British equivalent of Anton Ego, the fearsome food critic in Ratatouille - particularly as I've written a book called How to Lose Friends & Alienate People. But the truth is, I'm not your typical food snob. When I review a restaurant, I try to be as straightforward and unpretentious as possible. I get hung up on the little things that most foodies could care less about. For instance, when I reviewed Royal Hospital Road, Gordon Ramsay's flagship restaurant in London, I couldn't get past the fact that the tasting menu was described as "Menu Prestige." Isn't the adjective supposed to come before the noun? It was typical of the garbled Franglais that passes for English in high-end restaurants. When the waiter appeared I was tempted to launch into a Yoda impression: "Menu Prestige have I will."

Luckily, the remaining contestants in Top Chef seem like a pretty down-to-earth bunch - with the exception of Carla, obviously, who's from outer space. I love it when she just bursts out laughing, apropos of nothing. She has real charm, which is a fairly rare commodity in a chef. In my experience, chefs are much more like Gene - scrappy little hard nuts, ready to take on all comers. I was sorry to see him go.

The blind tasting was a great way to be introduced to the contestants - by their dishes you shall know them -- and I felt honoured that this week's challenge was dreamt up for my benefit. I was a little harsh about some of the dishes, but in general I was very impressed by the standard of the cooking. What the contestants lack in confidence, they make up for in technique. I'm going to enjoy being a judge for the next six episodes. My one big worry in last night's episode is that there's a bit of history between Jean-Christophe Novelli and me. A few years ago, I appeared as a judge on an episode of the British version of Hell's Kitchen and Jean-Christophe was one of two celebrity chefs leading a team of contestants. To cut a long story short, he took such violent exception to my remarks about his team's food that he banned me from all his restaurants. Until last night, our paths hadn't crossed and I was concerned that the tension between us might spill out on to the show.

In fact, after some perfunctory squaring off, we decided to bury the hatchet and - as is the way with these things - ended up getting horribly drunk together when the show had wrapped. We may have even pricked our fingers and become blood brothers - I'm afraid I don't remember. It was the first of what I hope will be many wonderful experiences working on Top Chef.

For more about Toby, visit his Web site at