Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

Consistency is Key

Gail: I Wasn't Surprised Doug Stayed on Top

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

Consistency is Key

Eli Kirshtein explains the importance of the consistency Quickfire Challenge.

Consistency is the hallmark of a great cook. Without consistency, there is little to no hope to having a quality and successful restaurant. Many legendary chefs, people like Ferran Adria and Thomas Keller, harp constantly on it being the linchpin of their cuisine and restaurant operations.  Think about it: the concept and reason why it is important is amazingly rudimentary. If a chef creates a dish, in his or her own vision, in both presentation and flavor, if that is not what constantly comes out of the kitchen, then what is the point in the creation? Making sure a medium rare steak is always a medium rare steak is really important and traces back to the consistency of a cook. I remember hearing Chef Douglas Keene (who has been a judge on Top Chef a couple times, and his restaurant Cyrus in Healdsburg hosted the Season 6 finale) say something along the lines of, “Once you have consistency, you can do anything you want.” It just goes to really emphasize the basic nature of it for a serious chef.

Both of the teams made smart decisions with their dishes. Easy to plate and put together quickly. Crowd-pleasing and approachable concepts.  They both hit the nail on the head of the goals of consistent cooking; flavor, temperature, and aesthetic were the same on all the plates. Either one could have won the challenge but I think that the choice to go with very bold flavors won the day on this one.

Lets talk about conch. The ones that are most often eaten in the Bahamas is a variety called a Queen Conch. It is a crazy aquatic animal to say the least. It is technically an aquatic snail that behaves in a pretty comparable way to the land version. It lives in its shell, and slugs around very slowly on the seafloor, in usually very shallow waters. In The Caribbean it is a staple of everyday eating, as well as everyday culture. You can see pictures of it, or the shells, just about everywhere in the West Indies. In respect to food, it is cooked in practically every way you can think of, it's fried in fritters, cooked in stews, even sliced and served raw. It can also be very challenging to cook. It has a naturally tough texture, think like a very large clam, so you need to either cook it tactfully or slice it carefully. And all of that is with out regard to the difficulties associated with the removing of the meat from the shell. But in my opinion I do think the work is worth the reward. I personally find the texture and flavor really good.With all that being said, I think it is really important to talk about how dire conch fisheries are worldwide. Due to a very slow grow time, as well as a fleeting natural habitat, they have become over fished very quickly. There are only a few countries that keep quality data on conch populations, and even fewer have done anything to curb illegal and excessive fishing. In the U.S. we have made very aggressive moves to help preserve the fishery, which is mainly based in the Florida Keys. There are a few sustainable conch fisheries based down in the Bahamas and I would feel confident with Top Chef’s drive towards ethical food, that the conches that were offshore had an origin in one of these farms. 

Considering how daunting the challenge was with all the curveballs throw at them, the chefs really did a great job.Very rarely do you see Tom openly compliment the whole group as to having done well. In the end chefs do have to get eliminated sooner or later. We are down to three and they all seem to still be cooking really strong food. It is anyone’s game.

Follow me on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/elikirshtein

Get Doug's Masterpiece Brisket Recipe

Get the recipe for the art inspired dish that made Texas -- and Doug's mom -- proud!

Brisket Texas Red
Inspired by Artist Merry Calderoni

Brisket Ingredients:

1 10 lb. Brisket (cleaned and cubed into an inch)
10 ea. Tomato
5 ea. Red bell pepper (charred on grill)
5 ea. Jalapeno (charred on grill)
5 lb. Onion
5 Tbsp. Ground cumin
5 Tbsp. coriander
5 Cans of Tomatoes (chopped, peeled)
2 Cans Tomato sauce
5 Tbsp. Cayenne
10 ea. Spring onions (charred on grill)
1 Head Garlic (sliced)
1 bottle of Mexican beer


Directions for Brisket
1. Sear brisket in a very hot pan, lots of color. Remove and drain fat.

2. In the same pan, start slowly cooking onions and garlic, season with salt and pepper. When they become translucent and soft add roasted tomatoes and peppers. Cook for 5 minutes, stir and then add beer.

3. Add spices and tomatoes, season again lightly.

4. Cook until meat is tender and the chili has a dark red color. Adjust spice with Cayenne.

 

* Note: Seasoning throughout this dish is what brings the layers of flavor out.  Must be tasted and stirred constantly. They say in Texas that a good chili can’t be eaten by the maker when it’s done because you are too full from tasting it!
    

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