Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

"Yum."

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

"Yum."

Bravotv.com's Editor thought the Harlem Gospel Choir thing was awkward, Gene was icky, and Michelle Bernstein is super nice.

Hi my little Calphalon cookware sets! (Too much?) Although Amuse Biatch apparently thought this week's episode was so lame it didn't warrant comment I only somewhat agree. First, Martha Stewart. Call her what you will (and you already have), I LOVE Martha Stewart. Is she a convicted felon? Sure is. Did the woman teach me how to fold a fitted sheet on Oprah? She sure did. And that is why I will always love her.

The chefs were tasked with creating "one-pot wonders" during the Quickfire, something Chef Art Smith championed in the Common Threads challenge last season. Although Gail seemed impressed with Martha's comments during the Quickfire, I kind of wasn't. "Not delicious" doesn't really tell me anything. Although "po-ta-to ris-o-tto" will haunt me for the rest of my days.

After Martha gave Ariane the win (much to Jamie's chagrin), the Harlem Gospel Choir came rolling in. I gotta say I thought this was awkward. One of my colleagues went so far as to say "I'm not even looking at the screen and I'm uncomfortable" while we were watching. But the chefs seemed to really like it -- hey, they got goosebumps! All the pomp and circumstance was used to reveal this week's Elimination Challenge where the chefs had to cook for an event benefiting amfAR. Each chef had to create a dish inspired by the "12 Days of Christmas." Last week I expressed my frustration with the chefs' creative thinking, but I actually think they had their thinking caps on this week. While Lee Anne writes in her blog that maybe Gene should have made onion rings (good idea), I kind of liked his tale about his grandmother. Execution though is another story. You know, I really like Gene. He was super-chill when I met him, but I really thought he was kind of -- for lack of a better word -- icky in this episode. But maybe that's just because Chef Michelle Bernstein was super-nice to me via e-mail and I'm fickle like that. But really, he suddenly became so defensive and unbending about his food. I'm sure being on the bottom a few times is frustrating, but I can't imagine any chef hasn't had to deal with worse working their way up the ranks. Overall, nothing really stood out in my mind. I actually don't really like the catering challenges because I can never really remember what anyone made, and the food is never spectacular. Even Stefan's dish, which was supposedly good, didn't appeal to me -- I've never been a fan of pot pie.

What DID stand out was the decision to not let anyone go and Tom's little talk. Lee Anne reveals in her blog that they couldn't really eliminate anyone because they weren't all working with the same level of ingredients due to the refrigeration issue. OK -- I'll buy that. But I have to say, it looked like Gene was definitely going home. Although it's questionable whether or not he had the worst food, an "unwilling to change" comment is usually the kiss of death.

Tom's little pep talk with the judges in the stew room made me a little sad, but I'm glad he did it. Hopefully we'll see better food in upcoming episodes ... aaand a little less lip from Leah.

The next new episode is January 7th, and two chefs get eliminated! Who do you think they'll be?

Until next time, have a wonderful holiday (whichever you may celebrate), and a happy new year.

"See" you in 2009!

- Monica A. Reyhani