Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

Gone Fishin'

Gail Has No Problem With Blood

Make George's Cravable Breakfast Sausage

Gail Simmons Won't Be Pushed Around

Make Doug's Winning Mussels

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Gail: It Wasn't Keriann's Day

Make Doug's Winning Braised Pork!

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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

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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

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'Top Chef' Goes to Hog Heaven

Gris Gris Boucherie Ya Ya

Brian and Travis' Dud Spuds

Gone Fishin'

Eli Kirshtein explains the significance of the chefs' fishing trip.

America is a land of immense wild abundance. Every region and every season has a something to offer. Every little microclimate and area can have variances of what is available. Long Island in the summertime is a grand example of one of the most illustrious of these places and times. It is really one of the great American experiences. When you think of it you should think of exactly the things that were in the episode: wild striped bass, tomatoes, corn. It is a great example of how you don’t need to force where your food comes from; you don’t need to reach to far away to get amazing, nutritious, and exciting ingredients. Even in that region the variety will change over the course of the year, to amazing gourds, shellfish, and game later on. The moral of the challenge was that keeping local and accessible is possible, practical, and fun. Now I am not saying everyone can go fishing, but there are fishermen in that area that can be reached, it's just about putting a little more effort in it.

With all that being said, wild stripe bass is an amazing ingredient that should be focused on especially. It is one of the great American ingredients.  When American chefs go to Europe we ask to see the spiny lobsters, Japan we want to touch the blowfish; when Europeans come to America they want to see the striped bass. Its sole environment is on the east coast of the country. It is also a really important example of how a fish that was on a steep and critical decline on its way to extinction can be brought back to very sustainable levels. Through strict enforcement of commercial quotas and size limitations the population levels went from around 5 million in 1982 to over 56 million in 2007. This is the type of practice that can be implemented on many other varieties of fish and help keep fish around for a long time to come. With all the pros about the fish and its eco-friendly nature it also doesn’t hurt that it is incredibly delicious. With a firm but subtle white flesh, it is a really approachable fish with a flavor profile that is appealing to almost anyone. It’s a good beginner fish for people who are just warming up to eating seafood.Kerry Heffernan is a really exciting judge to have on Top Chef. He has a brilliant pedigree with stints at heralded restaurants such as Montrachet and Mondrian in New York as well as a tour of several top European restaurants. He then went on to be the opening executive chef at the renowned Eleven Madison Park in New York. He now is the executive chef at the gorgeous South Gate Restaurant on Central Park in New York. He cooks a brilliant, refined, and tasty style of food. He is a true artisan in his own right. He is also a tremendously qualified judge for this challenge. Being a long-time resident of the area he really knows about the fish and produce that comes from the area. He understands its potential and can really embrace the soul of summer cooking with beautiful and simple ingredients.

This was also a challenge I would have loved to participate in. It first of all would have been a cool change of pace to not have to do a Quickfire.  Secondly I would have loved to go fishing for my product. That really did seem like it was a day off, a mini vacation even. I am jealous to say the least.

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