Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

Don't Mess with Dana Cowin

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

And Don't Call Me Shirley

Gloopy, Soupy, and Radish Dresses!

Don't Mess with Dana Cowin

Eli thinks the chefs should have seen that Quickfire coming and that Ed has the upper hand going into the finale. 

 

You can feel it in your bones.  You’ve been on a plane for the better part of twenty hours.  You stepped out into 100-degree weather with 100 percent humidity.  Not feeling real well.  The chefs are disoriented to say the least.  Making their way to the market and getting the chance to walk around and eat must be a major relief.  But the thought that they would get off as easy as a calm walk was beyond a misplaced sense of security.  Seeing Padma is an immediate slap into sobriety.  The challenge was very straightforward, and I feel the chefs really should have, and may have, seen it coming. I think the interpretation that Angelo had an advantage was totally accurate.  He has a long history of working in restaurants that have woks as well as a noted pedigree of Asian cuisine.  With that being said you can never be considered a shoo-in.  All four of the chefs did a tremendous job with the challenge.  The main reason that Ed came out on top was because he was able to make the dish a little more satiating and complete than the others.  Winning immunity is a huge advantage and really does let you take a breath and acclimate to the Singapore setting.  He really needs to keep hit wits about him, but Ed now has a bit of time to get himself back to a normal state of mind.

I have to say I was pretty taken aback by the overt showing of contempt for each other.  There was so much emphasis on wanting to make each other fail that it made me really question the focus of some of the chefs, especially this late in the game.  You really should just be looking at your dishes and how you can excel.  You can’t let your guard down for a second and it seemed as if there was so much negative energy needlessly spent.

Dana Cowin is awesome.  She is very levelheaded, kind, and knowledgeable about food.  She does an amazing job of bringing a delicate and eloquent hand to food criticism.  What she also brings is an immense level of pressure.  She is one of the most important and influential gastronomes in America.  She has the ability to lift you to stardom or tear you down to nothing.  Most chefs are highly aware of this when they meet her.  So have to cook for a dinner she is hosting is intimidating to say the least.

I do feel as if there was at least a bit of gamesmanship played by Ed during the dialogue about the menu, but all of the chefs were ultimately responsible for deciding to prepare one dish a piece.  All of them felt edgy about doing only one, so I was surprised the chefs felt caught off guard by Tom’s request for an additional item, and that Ed, with immunity, was the only to go out on a limb and plan on that second one.  But I will also say that all of the chefs did a good job for persevering and pulling off what were great dishes; it’s rare to have such minimal negative criticism from the judges.

Ed pulled off what was one really good dish, and one dish that blew the judges away, the banana fritters.  By focusing on really impressing the judges and wanting to do a stellar pair of dishes he was able help give himself an ego boost, which will probably help give him a little extra push heading into the last challenge.  Hopefully he won’t get overly comfortable and lose sight of the goal.  Now Kelly really did do a good job; it just came across like her two dishes were just a little shy of the refinement of the other chefs, just by a hair.  I would imagine that getting to the penultimate challenge and heading home has to be especially hard.  You traveled to the finals and didn’t get to play in the champions round. Now we are down to just three, and that means we get to see who wins the title next week!

Follow me on Twitter @elikirshtein

 

Make Doug's Winning Mussels

Doug's mussels pleased the palates of the superfans -- and the judges. Try having them at home.

Chorizo-Marinated Mussels With Sweet Pepper and Cauliflower Relish

 

Ingredients 

5 lbs mussels

5 lbs pork chorizo

1 head cauliflower

3 sweet pickled peppers

EVOO

2 cups white wine

2 cloves garlic

2 Tbsp parsley (chopped)

2 Tbsp Chives (chopped)

 

Directions

1. Start a pan with chorizo. Render and carmelize lightly.

2. Add garlic, parlsey, chives, and mussels.

3. Add white wine and cover. Cook gently till the mussels have just opened.

4. Clean the mussels and strain the liquid over them. Cool.

5. Cut the cauliflower into small peices and roast hard until they have lots of color and are crispy.

6. To serve: Plate cauliflower, top with mussel and pickled pepper. Pour a little of the liquid over the mussel and garnish with pickled pepper and lemon preserve.

 

Lemon Preserve

Ingredients

5 lemons

Water

Salt, to taste

Sugar, to taste

 

Directions

1. Peel five lemons and thinly julienne the peel.

2. Blanch in boiling water five times till tender and not bitter.

3. Add juice from the lemons and season with sugar and salt to taste

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