Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

Tardy for the Party

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

Tardy for the Party's Editor is back and dishing on this week's magical episode.

Wow -- Worst. Blogger. Ever. I'm sorry for my tardiness to the party-(ness?) the last couple of weeks. I've been sick, swamped, and, just plain lame, but I'm back! And what a great episode to return for. I know I've been raving about the episodes all season, but I really enjoyed last week's and this week's. Let's focus on this week's, shall we, my little deconstructed dishes?

Before the Quickfire, people were hating on Robin. After the Quickfire, people were seriously hating on Robin. Every season, there's usually at least one chef the others start resenting because they don't think they deserve to be there, and this season it's Robin. Apparently the chefs collectively thought that Mattin still deserved to be there, which actually really surprised me. I didn't mind Mattin, but he really just never did it for me. The chefs decide to wear Mattin's scarves in solidarity. Um, how many scarves did Mattin have?! And they were all so perfectly starched! Padma started cracking up when the chefs arrived in the kitchen with their accessories.

For the Quickfire the chefs had to create dishes to exhibit the angel and devils on one's shoulders in Las Vegas. Michelle Bernstein, who is sometimes referred to as the "Palate Queen," was guest judge. She looked FABULOUS! She is quickly becoming one of Top Chef's most-used guest judges. I actually can't think of the winner of that award, I'd have to find out, but I'm sure she's up there. My boy Bryan Voltaggio was on the bottom while his brother was on the top. Michelle said something about the dish not coming out how Bryan wanted it. I kind of hate when people say something like that. It's like they don't want to say they didn't like it, but want to pretend like you're probably unhappy with it too. How do they know? From what I could tell, Chef Voltaggio thought the dish was good. Oh well. The winner, though, was Robin! Just when I thought the other chefs couldn't resent her more, they proved me wrong. People were PISSED. Eli went so far as to say Robin used her history of cancer to her advantage. Although I have a past with cancer in my family, this comment actually didn't offend me because truth be told, I was thinking the same thing, and I was fairly confident Eli didn't mean what we heard, so I asked him about it. You can read his answers to my burning questions HERE.

Two Vegas legends, Penn and Teller, came out to introduce the Elimination Challenge. Sidenote: I knew that Rich Sommer, who plays Harry Crane on Mad Men, liked Penn & Teller (I may or may not online-stalk him), and tweeted him that the dynamic duo would be on, and he responded that he knew! Sigh. It was the highlight of my last week, seriously. I love me some Mad Men. After doing a trick of their own, Penn and Teller revealed the challenge — to deconstruct a classic dish. I seriously loved the concept of this challenge. It felt new, and like nothing else we've asked all the chefs to do in a challenge before. It seemed like the more modern chefs, like the Voltaggio brothers, had an advantage in this challenge in that they deconstruct dinners all the time. Did I mention I'll be dining at VOLT this coming Saturday? I'll tell you all about it next week. I won't take pics though; it's uncouth.

Jen C. thought she was in trouble, dodging Tom at every turn as he tried to interrogate her, which was hilarious. But I had a feeling she would pull it out in the end because even if she didn't deconstruct "correctly," I can't imagine her serving bad food. And sure enough, she was on top. You could also tell Ron was in trouble from the beginning, but unfortunately he really was. His paella just wasn't sounding right. I was actually nervous when Eli and Kevin were giving him advice though. I honestly couldn't tell if their advice would actually sabotage him in the end. I was happy to see that the question of what makes a paella came up though. I remember in a previous season someone made a paella that didn't have a crusty bottom, and got called out for it. After speaking with some other chefs, I found out that not all paellas have that crusty bottom. So Ron shouldn't have been penalized for that, and he wasn't. Rather his just didn’t taste good. You know who else's paella didn't sound right? Toby Young's. Pronouncing something correctly and pronouncing it with an accent are two different things. Paella is not an English word, therefore it should be pronounced accordingly. All mispronunciation aside, I was pretty happy to have Toby back though. He's a really nice guy and his blogs always entertain me. While Ron was sent home, Kevin won again, redeeming his mole-making. Rick Bayless would have been proud. I kind of wish we would have seen what the judges thought of Robin's dish. I couldn't get a feel either way since she had immunity. It'll be interesting if she can stay on top next week.

All in all, I'm still loving the Voltaggio brothers and am pretty happy that Eli, Kevin, Ashley and even Laurine are proving they're forces to be reckoned with.

I promise I'll be on time with my blog again next week, but until then check out Lee Anne's first blog! She promises she has a few more in the hopper now that she can catch up, and the chefs' personal photo diaries HERE.

Make Melissa's Seared Duck Breast Dish

Get the recipe for Melissa King's winning new culinary creation: seared duck breast with farro, walnut miso, and pickled cherries.

Duck Breast, Walnut Miso, Pickled Cherries, Farro


Duck breast
1 cup Walnuts
1 Tbsp Red miso paste
1 Tsp Mirin
Rice vinegar
1 Tsp White soy sauce
Chicken Stock
Walnut Oil
Chocolate Mint (to preference)

Directions for Duck
1. Season duck breast with salt/pepper
2. Sear on med-low on cast iron skin side down to render fat
3. Remove and let cool until medium rare
Directions for Walnut Miso
1. Blanch 1 cup walnuts in hot boiling water
2. Blend in blender w/ 1 Tbsp red miso paste, 1 Tsp mirin, 1 Tsp rice vinegar, 1 Tsp white soy sauce.
3. Blend until very smooth and then pass through chinois

Directions for Pickled Cherries
Cherries (slice/pit)
2 part Rice vinegar
1 part butter
To taste Sugar
Pinch of Salt

1.Boil and pour over cherries
2. Strain and reserve liquid. Mound pickling liquid with butter on the pick up to make cherry sauce

Directions for Farro
1. Boil farro in chicken stock for 1 hour until soft and bloomed
2. Strain farro
3. Mound farro with butter and chicken stock until it looks creamy
4. Season with salt

Directions for Shave Carrots
1. Shave celery (compress with walnut oil)
2. Shave radishes (compress with yuzu)
3. Chocolate mint (chopped)
4. Toss all with walnut oil, salt

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