Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

The Love Episode: Tis The Season Of Love!

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

The Love Episode: Tis The Season Of Love!

Brian Malarkey challenges his readers to pick the final four.

Gail found LOVE! Stefan wants some lesbian LOVE, Leah and Hosea are dabbling in friendly LOVE! We are starting to LOVE Ariane but Tom and the judges had no LOVE lost for Daniel who LOVES crazy eyes and silly faces. Oh yes one more: It seems after your responses last week that nobody loves Kathie Lee!

I challenge you as readers to pick the final four right now. Let's go -- send in your picks and let's see who's got game. To make it a little more interesting let's get some friendly online bets to see who Martha Stewart is going to ship off to solitary confinement next week. (OK -- no bets.)

My choices to make the finals:

Fabio: The Charmer!

Stefan: The Ice Man!

Jamie: The Pot o' Gold at the end of the Rainbow!

Hosea: The Palate! Gone next week: Melissa: The Hat!

Now on to the Malarkey Power Ranking:

Fabio: Obviously I'm not changing my picks by weekly performances. I believe he has all the skills to go all the way. This week we saw him get stuck in the blue with a few fatal errors: Chilean Sea bass in this country is a "no should do" and being on a team without a lot of input didn't help. We saw him on the bottom for the first time and obviously he was none to happy. I look for a huge step back to the top for him in the coming episodes.

Stefan: I have to admit I'm starting to enjoy the confidence that he is bathed in. This guy is so sure of himself he is trying to talk Jamie into switching teams, and he went eight ingredients deep on the Palate Challenge. The terrine looked great and the balsamic should have given it plenty of flavors. The tougher the challenge the more he likes it! Jamie: A constant at the top and very competitive. She's got to figure out that the protein gets the judges' attention rather then the accompaniments.

Hosea: When you got a dome to match the head judge's, life ain't so bad. He stands up to Stefan and has a great palate -- what's not to like?

Jeff: Has a great week with his sorbet that Stefan told him could not be done. I really thought he had the win and by the disappointment on his face so did he. I'm still confused by the dueling watches; that's very Ilan Hall.

Ariane: A huge step up this week with her second win in a row. I thought last week she did great and was in her element with the TV challenge but this week proves once again she is ready and willing to be a major player by taking the main focus of her team's dish -- "the lamb." She is so sweet she apologizes for winning; my, we have some great contrast in our chefs.

Radhika: She showed her native dishes with great pride and helped bring Ariane the win. From the seafood guy to the Indian girl: "Watch out -- they are going to come after you."

Leah: She really took a dive in my ranking this week because she showed so little on the Blue team. Had some great early success and needs to get back in the game. Carla: HOODY HOO! So cute, kind of weird, but very cute! I loved her comment when Daniel tried telling her he wanted to do pickles "Pickles are new?" She didn't stand up to her team as they crashed all around her. Sweet lady but not made to last much longer. Eugene: Sometimes when people get rattled there is no coming back and our Aloha boy is a mess. He was the one that came up with the "Surf and Turf, fully-cooked sushi" and crashed it with overcooked rice. It just as easily could have been him going home.

Melissa: I'm not being a hater on the "love episode" but she looks like she wants to go home; she doesn't seem to be contributing to the dishes or the conversations and the green hat looks just as confused. Daniel provided some good entertainment for us this season but looked like he was kind of losing it this whole episode. Was it just me or did he look slightly crazy-eyed and giddy with confusion? Until next week with Martha ...

Gail Simmons Won't Be Pushed Around

So she's going to take more time shopping at Whole Foods -- and ask for the best of Melissa's basket and Adam's shrimp.

Bravotv.com: Let's dive right in. How did it feel to go shopping?
Gail Simmons: Shopping at Whole Foods was fantastic and hilarious. It made us realize that you need to be strategic, which was the point of the exercise for us. They gave us 30 minutes, but we took a little longer. We didn't let the producers push us around! We’re not contestants and we weren't going to stand for it! So, you realize how little time you have, and how big Whole Foods can be. You spend a lot of time running around.

 

My strategy with my pantry was to get a lot of fresh, delicious food that you can cook in lots of different ways. A good balance of proteins, fish, fruits, vegetables, spices, fresh herbs, grains. But I didn't want to get too much. Everyone has different strategies; Padma got a ton of different ingredients. Tom's pantry was very pared down. Richard and I were somewhere in the middle.

 

Bravotv.com: Let's start by talking about the two dishes that came from your pantry?
GS: Katsuji and Melissa. They used the same protein, but their dishes were very different. They both used shrimp which one of the proteins that I bought. I bought something else too, something that I know has given people trouble in the past (which is why I specifically chose it) -- chicken wings. And I really wanted people to use them. Instead, they chose the easy way out because shrimps cook quickly.

Melissa's used a lot of fresh vegetables, which I was hoping she would: dill, mint, artichoke. I was so excited about all of it. I think it was beautifully done, a lovely salad with that little shrimp on top with spiced yogurt. But it was just a salad with a quick-cooking seafood. It was so similar to what she had done in Restaurant Wars when she made a scallop with grapefruit salad. I believe she could have done so much more. Melissa keeps saying she wanted to focus on her knife skills, and, of course, your knife skills have to be precise. But I need to see more than just knife skills. I want to see cooking skills, I want to see roasting skills, braising skills. I want to see her hands get a little dirtier and her dishes not be as superficial. It was a light, lovely dish. I was happy to eat it for lunch. But when you're competing against six other really talented chefs, we all want to see a little more depth. Katsuji on the other hand went big. He used his ingredients in a really powerful way. The potato salad, the poached shrimp had bold seasoning and I loved how they went together. It was a great dish. It may not have been the best of the day, but I was actually really happy with what he chose to make.

 

Bravotv.com: So for the rest, let's talk about who was on top and who was on bottom.

GS: At the top there was Gregory who really was going for Padma's heart there. He did great with his coconut milk curry. A really balanced, powerful dish. But it's something we’ve seen from Gregory many times in the past. In fact, in the first challenge he made a similar spicy curry dish with chicken. As much as we thought it was a delicious bowl of food, it was so typical of what we expect from Gregory. George's food was really exciting for us. This was my first time tasting his food and meeting him on Top Chef. He did a great job. The kebab was moist, seasoned really well, and the lentils were beautiful too. My only small issue with the dish is I couldn't understand why he separated the lentils from the kebab in two separate dishes. Why not put lentils on the plate and the kebab right on top, with a dollop of the yogurt? It seemed a little bit disconnected to me. But all-in-all, a really strong dish. Doug had the winning dish of the night. He used Richard's crazy pantry in a way that I thought was smart, clear-cut, and creative. The chorizo and mussels and peppers, just how Tom said, go together well, as do the cauliflower and the garlic. There was sweetness, there was spice, it was light and fresh but had a soulful, rustic flavor we all loved. You could see use of technique. On the bottom were dishes that tried to stretch and didn’t come through. Mei did a great job overall, except her lamb was undercooked. You want lamb medium, medium rare, but the center of that meat was raw to the point where the texture was chewy and almost cold. It would have been better if she had been able to cook it five minutes longer. We talked about Melissa's mistakes already, which also landed her on the bottom. I totally applaud Adam for trying to make a quick-flash marinade. He's been in the middle for so long and he thought "I gotta go big or I gotta go home." He tried to go big and unfortunately, he went home because of that technique. I get the idea of what he was doing, I don't doubt that it could've been successful if it were perhaps done in a different setting, with a little more control. But the flash marinade of his shrimp did not cook it as needed. It was still grey, it was still raw, and the texture of raw shrimp is not appealing. It's squeaky, it's squishy, and it becomes sort of mushy. We wanted it firm and cooked through. It's not like fish that you can eat sashimi-style Unfortunately Adam's hard work, his big risk sent him home.

I will miss him. I think he's an incredibly articulate, clever chef. I think he has an extraordinary career ahead of him. I'm excited to see him back in New York City. I can't wait to eat his food again. Also I want to say of this entire episode that was it was thrilling to see our superfans in the kitchen. We've never let people come into the kitchen in that way before, even though people ask us all the time. It brought so much good energy to have basically a live audience with us for the day. Everyone was so psyched. It was amazing to be around people who really love the show, to let them eat food from our talented chefs. SO much fun!