Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

Sin City Without the Sin

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

Sin City Without the Sin

Jamie Lauren implores the chefs to go big or go home.

I have been sitting here for over an hour procrastinating and trying to figure out what to write my blog about ... after screening this week's episode, I am realizing that  I have no clear favorites, and none of the chefs are really striking my fancy. Sure, the talent is there amongst many of them, but not a single one has yet to capture or motivate me in the way I have been in the past. I get that Top Chef is a cooking show — trust me, I was on it — but watching a group of chefs that are kind of lacking any sort of charisma is making it a little tedious. I hate to say this, but where are the jesters like Fabio and Stefan and Spike and Marcel, and all those other chefs you kind of loved to hate? As much as they had a tendency to distract from the actual art of cooking, it made for entertaining television. After all, it IS reality TV, and I'm sure the casting directors aren't casting based solely on one's cooking ability.

Moving on ... gotta say I loved watching Ashley freak out in the kitchen over her boiling water (finally some drama!!). It seems as if the Team Rainbow alliance isn't quite as tight as it was on my season. For some reason, I get the feeling Ashley doesn't really care for Preeti, but if she took my blanching water I would have been crazy pissed too. Can't say I blame her. I thought Ashley was incredibly ambitious with her 45-minute gnocchi and homemade ricotta. As a chef, I know how long those two things usually take so I have to say I was impressed with her having the balls to make them. Personally, I felt she should have won over Jen considering the risk she took, but Jen succeeds again, and she is definitely starting to look like the woman to beat. Ash, nice job on calling your failed ice cream a custard — that was smart, and look, you ended up on top. Sometimes it pays off to roll with the punches. On the flip side, Jesse, I have to say, please be the next to go home ... please .... You keep fessing up to all your mistakes. You know exactly what you do wrong and yet, you do nothing to fix them? Your soup was too spicy. Why not add a cooling element to it? Yogurt, cream anything? You could have fixed it and yet you just served up mediocrity. It's TC girl ... go big or go home!

All this is fine and dandy, but TC producers, I have a small bone to pick with you—a potato challenge? Really? What does that have to do with anything even remotely related to Vegas? Are you running out of smart Quickfires? It just seemed like such an odd choice to me. Why the potato? Why not a carrot, or an onion, or a rutabega? I love potatoes, I think they are great, but it just seems like it really wasn't that much of a challenge. Perhaps cooking a potato while blindfolded and standing on one foot would be more interesting?

As you can probably tell, I am feeling a wee bit snarky today as I write this. Sometimes that comes out in me, as most of you know from watching me on TV this past winter. I think part of me just feels like the audience is being a little duped, and that the show could really step it up a notch. Maybe it's just the chefs I am disappointed in? It all seems so obvious to me, that the brother's V., Kevin, Eli and Jen are going to go pretty far and the rest are going to plucked off slowly week after week. However, I do think it's going to make for interesting television when they get to the final five or six. I predict the judges are going to have a hard time sending people home ... the worst of the best... That's a difficult task to carry out. I wouldn't want to be in their shoes, and this sadly is where TC really should be about overall performance, not a single performance of a single task because when you have a great cook like say Kevin, who manages to have an off night one challenge, then he gets sent home, which makes the potential for an amazing finale dwindle — kind of like what happened on my season. Not to be even remotely cocky, but think about how cool it would have been for me to be in the finale going head to head against Stefan? I think that could have made for a really interesting battle. In fact, when I got eliminated, that was the one thing I regretted ... not being able to kick Stefan's ass in the end! (I heart you Stefan *wink*)

Moving on to the elimination ... a team challenge, always amusing. It's always fun to watch who is going to throw who under the bus and who isn't going to take the blame for something but will take all the glory, and a team challenge amongst all the chefs ... priceless! I liked that they all decided to put Jen in charge since she had immunity. That seemed like a smart move. Give the others a chance to shine, because she wasn't going anywhere. Immediately I sense doom for Ron (can we subtitle him too please?) and Jesse and Preeti and Laurine. It's obvious to me that the Atlanta boys and whatever teams the Voltaggio brothers are on are going to do well, so I am not even remotely surprised when they are the top four. However note to Tom C: I was braising smoked slab bacon two years ago. I wouldn't exactly call that a new technique. Maybe it's just something more prevalent in CA? But now that it's been done on TC I am sure everyone will do it ... and they should ... braised bacon is ridiculously delicious! I can only imagine how the chefs felt walking into that hangar without even a remote idea of what they had to cook with. That had to be really, really difficult, but working with tilt skillets and steam kettles is fun ... kind of like a chef's day at Disneyland. Well, for me anyway. I don't get to work with them often and when I do I am amazed at their efficiency. Here I find myself impressed with how Jen handled the kitchen. I thought she was very fair with all of the cooks and very organized ... a nice thing to see in a competition show. Overall, I thought most of the food looked pretty good ... aside from the aforementioned doomed four above. I think everyone really pulled it together to make some good food using limited resources, but again, that was it. They all kind of skated by ... making decent food. Where is the wow factor? Is it in braised bacon? I can't say I agree. It is Las Vegas after all. When are the chefs going to loosen up and show us their wild sides? What fun is Sin City without the sin?

 

Make George's Cravable Breakfast Sausage

George decided the best way to satisfy New England Patriot tight end Rob Gronkowski  was with a hearty breakfast. Make it for yourself at home.

Pork and Veal Sausage Patty With Sunny-Side Up Egg and Potato Hash

 

Ingredients
3 lbs pork butt
1 lbs veal
4 garlic cloves
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp coriander
2 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 bunch chives
1 bunch parsley
1 Tbsp fennel seed
Pepper (to taste)

 

Directions
1. Grind prok and veal using medium dye, reserve and keep cold

2. Toast cumin, coriander, and fennel seed in a sauté pan until aroma is released. Grind in spice grinder, reserve

3. Chop parsley and chives fine, reserved

4. Chop garlic super fine, reserve

5. Mix meat with spices, smoked paprika, herbs, garlic, salt, and pepper

6. Test a small batch in fryer. Taste and adjust seasoning

7. Form into patties, place on grill, then finish in oven