Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

A Soft Spot

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

A Soft Spot

Eli Kirshtein shares his own Target experiences.

Who didn’t watch Sesame Street at some point in their childhood? It has almost become requisite for American youth to have Big Bird, Oscar, and The Count guiding you through basics of education and social interaction. The experience can even be doubled up in your life with the addition of kids of your own. Walking into the Top Chef kitchen and seeing three of television’s cultural icons staring you down must be a shell shock that can make you feel a wide gamut of emotions. It also must have been pretty obvious what the challenge was with king Cookie Monster holding court in the middle of the table.

Forty-five is not a lot of time to bake many things well. In order to make amazing baked goods, like cookies, there is a lot of time that must go into things like chilling dough, and resting the baked items. With all that being said the chefs did a great job of producing well-baked items quickly. I was a little surprised not to say many items that were “frosted” or had a filling of some kind. But it still did seem like the chefs were able to produce flavorful items quickly. 

I really do have a soft spot in my heart for Target. It is a place I have on more than one occasion wandered around the store, and explored the different areas for extended periods of time. Previous to owning a quality vacuum-sealing machine in a restaurant I have gone on regular occasion to buy domestic grade Foodsaver bags there. I have even been known to run through a store on Black Friday to get my hands on a holiday present for my sister. It would be really exciting to be able to build a whole dish and food prep station out of a single store like that, even if it is a scary task.

Opening a food service establishment contains more layers than you can imagine. The fundamental of just cooking represents only a tiny component of the whole process, and often times the final piece of the puzzle. When you ask someone to gather all the needed materials as well as conceptualize a dish in just a few hours, nonetheless late-night, it probably wont be a very magnanimous of a situation. But Target really would probably be the best place to do that.Over the course of the show the chefs always have certain levels of familiarity, their own knives, the Top Chef kitchen, even the grocery store that you do your shopping at. You start to feel at home with some aspects of the disjointed Top Chef life. This challenge really changed that. With the removal of all of those things, the chefs had to put the whole package together in one shot. Antonia also did a tremendous job of pointing out a critical problem, what do you do first? Equipment? Food? It is all so very connected and goes full circle, it could really be maddening. I would personally have been very intimidated with the idea of sitting in the car with out my own knives, not knowing what I would find on the other end. 

The chefs were able to figure out what they had to do to get the job done. No one really seemed to have it all fall apart in terms of getting organized and getting food out. No one was unable to complete the challenge, which is a feat onto itself. I also feel like they all were able to figure out what people wanted to eat late-night, none of the dishes really just seemed out of place. They all did a good job under the most extreme of circumstances.

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