Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

The Douche is Back

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 Douche is Back

Jamie expresses her disappointment at Michael Isabella's attitude.

After a nice long week off from blogging and a return to the continental US, I am back and ready to write my new blog. First things first, sorry about the style of writing I adhere to when I am doing the blog. For me, writing in this stream of consciousness way seems to work best for me. So to all the English teachers out there, this is the best I got ... really .... At least things are spelled right and there aren't any grammatical errors (at least not that I am aware of; Bravo edits these babies.) But feel free to keep those comments coming; I love seeing what my readers have to say. Now onto the critique...

Let me start by saying that I felt like this week's episode was a walking advertisement for a combination of things: nice plug for Macy's when they are feeling the pain of the economic downturn ... and the Web site Cookstr.com. Can't say I have ever heard of it, but I am sure they will have thousands of hits after the show airs, not to mention the usual hubbub about Glad and it's like watching a 45 minute commercial. The plugs are becoming more and more obvious and it's starting to get a wee bit obnoxious, but, I get it ... the show and network have got to make money somehow.

I have to say I thought the Quickfire was interesting. I love the idea of pulling a slot machine, which is completely random and all based on luck, just like it is in Vegas, so it leaves nothing to chance. I was surprised at the number of chefs that landed on umami. It seemed like the odds were high to pull that sucker. I was impressed with Kevin and his ability to crank out some bad ass Asian food (twice) when he has no background in it. Though, in my opinion Asian is really one of the easier cuisines to cook even when you know nothing about the technique. If you know the flavors, which almost all basic home cooks do (ginger, garlic, soy, chili, sesame), then it really isn't that difficult to come up with something delicious if you are a technically-skilled chef like Kevin is. So it wasn't surprising to see him pull out the win, and I was impressed with the fact that he didn't take immunity. It is nice to see someone who believes in their ability enough to run off with $15,000. I'd be interested to see what other chefs would do (I for one, would have taken the money. Lord knows I could use it!). I also thought brother Micheal took an impressive risk with the dessert and was impressed with his flavors as well. I love the combination of yuzu and coconut and yogurt, and the seaweed cracker ... that was definitely my favorite dish just judging visually. I am certainly starting to really like Micheal V. and his style. He does some cool stuff. I think out of all the chefs I would be eager to try his food the most. Second is Kevin and then his brother Bryan. I felt bad for Jennifer for being sick. That really sucks, especially while in a kitchen. Cooking and being sick is crappy. I have done it many times and in fact I am home sick today from work with the flu as I write this. There are some days you really shouldn't be in a kitchen, so I can understand why it is that she ended up in the bottom three when your head isn't completely in the game because it's clouded by fogginess.

The elimination seemed tough. I remember when I was on the show just trying to cook in the apartment that we all shared was a pain, and having to do it under the pressure of an elimination must have been really stressful and difficult. The kitchen was small, though well-equipped, and didn't have much more than four burners, so I can only imagine how it must have felt trying to share that space paired up with a teammate. What a mess, and again, the producers pulling out the not-knowing factor that always messes with your head ... three hours ... pair up ... cook for culinary superstars ... have fun! Now I haven't really harped on him since my first blog, but I have got to say, Mike Isabella, dude, the douche is back. I get that you don't like working with Robin, and trust me while I was on the show there were definitely people I wasn't stoked to work with, but at least I tried to listen to what they had to say. You taking credit for the entire dish and not letting Robin do so much as speak was a real dickhead maneuver. I completely understand thinking you are a better cook then someone, and being personally annoyed by a person, but Mike, you just made yourself look like the jackass ... not her. And the best part is, she's still around. I hope you get paired up again. That would be amusing to see.

I loved Bryan and Laurine's halibut dish with the chorizo vinaigrette ... definitely something up my alley. I love chorizo and I love work with it. For me it's actually a close second to bacon in my list of favorite pork products. However, I could live without polenta (just a personal preference) but the concept of the dish certainly jived. I loved the IDEA of Ashley and Eli's dish, the beet sauce, whole spot prawns, gnocchi. It really looked stunning on the plate, but judging by some of the comments at the table, I don't think the judges were very happy with the dish. Over-salted and mushy are never nice things to hear. One would think these chefs would learn about gnocchi. I do believe there is a sort of gnocchi curse from previous seasons ... and I fear it could be then end of one of those two talented chefs after this episode. Judging from what I saw in the episode I watched it seems like they are certainly going to be in the bottom ... and I fear brother Micheal and Ash (who I think should be the next cut) are the other team in the bottom, leaving Mike I. and Robin safe and left to tolerate one another for a whole other week. It would be great if they ended up as roommates as the weeks go on. Then Mike would get the punishment he deserves! Waking up to Robin's voice, falling asleep to Robin's voice ... that's something I'd like to see. It could be a whole new reality show. So, as we head into Week 8, my thoughts are we will do it without one of the Ashes and my top four are now Jenn, Kevin, and still the brothers V. Even though it may have been close for Micheal this week I don't think he is going anywhere just yet. I think we still need to see a Voltaggio smackdown in the future. What do you think?