Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

In Defense of Mike Isabella

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

In Defense of Mike Isabella

Eric Ripert weighs in on "Chicken Oystergate."

Full transcript after the jump.

Hello I am Eric Ripert chef of Le Bernardin commenting on Episode 11 Top Chef New York, All Star Season.

So the big surprise is to see Paula Deen, being, judging the Quickfire, and being part of the entire challenge actually. And she's very nice and charming. I was very happy to see her. I didn't even know she had a restaurant, I just thought she was a TV host. And she's very nurturing. I would love to have a grandma like that.

So Mike Isabella wins with a play in the oyster shell with a chicken oyster. And it's definitely an idea of Richard, and Richard is very frustrated. The rest of the contestants are kind of like, surprised, and of course, I'm not happy to see that he basically stole his recipe. In a defense of Mike, I would say: Richard, don’t show your recipes to the other contestants if you don't want them to take your ideas. It's fair game. It's a competition. Keep your recipes for yourself, or if you share, you share. And at the end, a recipe doesn't make you necessarily win. Mike won because he executed it perfectly, as well. So I give more credit to Mike for making the dish a successful dish.

Yes, I wanted to try the fried mayonnaise. I was very intrigued by that because, as you can imagine to fry mayonnaise is almost impossible except if you use modern techniques like Richard did to make it happen. I love the idea of the fried avocados. I have never tried that but it looks really good, and actually I liked also, I mean as a viewer, the dish of Anotnia. I would have loved to see Antonia winning, unfortunately she only made one plate, and she was kind of disqualified.

So for the Elimination Challenge, John Besh is coming and he's joining Paula and, of course, Padma and Tom to judge the Elimination Challenge. And I like that challenge, it's about using seafood from the Gulf and supporting, obviously the fisheries over there, and then the fisherman, and people who are involved with the ocean, and the fact that they have to cook for a benefit to support an organization that will ultimately help like I said, fisheries down in the south. It's a great challenge. Obviously cooking for 300 people is not easy. They have little time, they have only one sous chef, and we know right away it's going to be difficult.

Some of the contestants choosing their sous chef, that’s their decision, and some of them are choosing more the protein that they are going to be cooking. I would have decided to choose the protein and then manage with the sous chef. Since I am the chef, and the sous chef would have just to listen to what I have to say. And the protein is very important, so it's based on what you are doing with it not on your interaction with the sous chef.

I was surprised that nobody chose Angelo right away. And everybody thought he was exhausted or mentally not prepared for the next challenge. Actually Angelo is a trooper, and he's really bringing positive energy to dale and supporting him the best that he can. Angelo does the best he can to support Dale, unfortunately Dale makes a lot of mistakes. And he's the one who's going home. But Angelo doesn't have to feel guilty at all, he really supported him really well.

Dale has an amberjack, which is a very beautiful fish, very rich, fatty fish. And he's doing a poor job with it. Raw potatoes, I mean, that's unacceptable. I mean to cook potatoes, it's the ABC of cooking. You cannot make that mistake. If you make the mistake, you don't serve it. And supposedly there are different batch of amberjack, so I don't understand why Angelo gave that to the judge. The mustard seems to be overpowering because he put too much. I think a tiny bit of mustard would have been doing great justice to the fish. Unfortunately, it just kills the flavor of the fish. And as a viewer, I believe he's the big loser of that challenge, and he's the one who's going home.

So Richard as a revenge is winning the Elimination Challenge. And not only is he going to Barbados, but he gets $5000, which he didn't get in the Quickfire. He creates a dish which is a surf and turf, pulled pork with grits and shrimp. When you think about it, it's not necessarily working well together, those combinations. You have to have a lot of talent to make a successful dish. Obviously he has that talent, and everybody's raving about this dish. He's the winner. Congratulations Richard. You did a great job with that tough challenge.

So Marcel and Tiffany is like, I don't know, oil and water or something like that. They don't seem to enjoy, first of all, the company of each other, and they dont seem to work well as a team. At the end the dish is not very successful. I think Tiffany's vision is not really prepared properly by Marcel, and she doesn't have the time or doesn't focus on what he's doing and therefore her dish is very unbalanced, and it looks like the honey is very strong and the shrimp is too sweet and therefore it's more of a dessert with shrimp than anything else. On top of it Marcel overcooked the shrimp. But ultimately, and Tiffany says this actually, she's responsible for her dish so she takes full responsibility. And it's very honorable.

Antonia and Spike are doing a blue crab cake, which is a good idea. They're making a kind of a stew with andouille which is very local to New Orleans and the region there. I think it, I mean, at least it looks like it's a great dish. I would have loved to try that dish. Unfortunately Richard is the best in this challenge, and despite the fact they are on top, they don't win.

I'm Eric Ripert, chef of Le Bernardin commenting on Episode of 11 of Top Chef, New York, Season All-Stars.

Gail Simmons Won't Be Pushed Around

So she's going to take more time shopping at Whole Foods -- and ask for the best of Melissa's basket and Adam's shrimp.

Bravotv.com: Let's dive right in. How did it feel to go shopping?
Gail Simmons: Shopping at Whole Foods was fantastic and hilarious. It made us realize that you need to be strategic, which was the point of the exercise for us. They gave us 30 minutes, but we took a little longer. We didn't let the producers push us around! We’re not contestants and we weren't going to stand for it! So, you realize how little time you have, and how big Whole Foods can be. You spend a lot of time running around.

 

My strategy with my pantry was to get a lot of fresh, delicious food that you can cook in lots of different ways. A good balance of proteins, fish, fruits, vegetables, spices, fresh herbs, grains. But I didn't want to get too much. Everyone has different strategies; Padma got a ton of different ingredients. Tom's pantry was very pared down. Richard and I were somewhere in the middle.

 

Bravotv.com: Let's start by talking about the two dishes that came from your pantry?
GS: Katsuji and Melissa. They used the same protein, but their dishes were very different. They both used shrimp which one of the proteins that I bought. I bought something else too, something that I know has given people trouble in the past (which is why I specifically chose it) -- chicken wings. And I really wanted people to use them. Instead, they chose the easy way out because shrimps cook quickly.

Melissa's used a lot of fresh vegetables, which I was hoping she would: dill, mint, artichoke. I was so excited about all of it. I think it was beautifully done, a lovely salad with that little shrimp on top with spiced yogurt. But it was just a salad with a quick-cooking seafood. It was so similar to what she had done in Restaurant Wars when she made a scallop with grapefruit salad. I believe she could have done so much more. Melissa keeps saying she wanted to focus on her knife skills, and, of course, your knife skills have to be precise. But I need to see more than just knife skills. I want to see cooking skills, I want to see roasting skills, braising skills. I want to see her hands get a little dirtier and her dishes not be as superficial. It was a light, lovely dish. I was happy to eat it for lunch. But when you're competing against six other really talented chefs, we all want to see a little more depth. Katsuji on the other hand went big. He used his ingredients in a really powerful way. The potato salad, the poached shrimp had bold seasoning and I loved how they went together. It was a great dish. It may not have been the best of the day, but I was actually really happy with what he chose to make.

 

Bravotv.com: So for the rest, let's talk about who was on top and who was on bottom.

GS: At the top there was Gregory who really was going for Padma's heart there. He did great with his coconut milk curry. A really balanced, powerful dish. But it's something we’ve seen from Gregory many times in the past. In fact, in the first challenge he made a similar spicy curry dish with chicken. As much as we thought it was a delicious bowl of food, it was so typical of what we expect from Gregory. George's food was really exciting for us. This was my first time tasting his food and meeting him on Top Chef. He did a great job. The kebab was moist, seasoned really well, and the lentils were beautiful too. My only small issue with the dish is I couldn't understand why he separated the lentils from the kebab in two separate dishes. Why not put lentils on the plate and the kebab right on top, with a dollop of the yogurt? It seemed a little bit disconnected to me. But all-in-all, a really strong dish. Doug had the winning dish of the night. He used Richard's crazy pantry in a way that I thought was smart, clear-cut, and creative. The chorizo and mussels and peppers, just how Tom said, go together well, as do the cauliflower and the garlic. There was sweetness, there was spice, it was light and fresh but had a soulful, rustic flavor we all loved. You could see use of technique. On the bottom were dishes that tried to stretch and didn’t come through. Mei did a great job overall, except her lamb was undercooked. You want lamb medium, medium rare, but the center of that meat was raw to the point where the texture was chewy and almost cold. It would have been better if she had been able to cook it five minutes longer. We talked about Melissa's mistakes already, which also landed her on the bottom. I totally applaud Adam for trying to make a quick-flash marinade. He's been in the middle for so long and he thought "I gotta go big or I gotta go home." He tried to go big and unfortunately, he went home because of that technique. I get the idea of what he was doing, I don't doubt that it could've been successful if it were perhaps done in a different setting, with a little more control. But the flash marinade of his shrimp did not cook it as needed. It was still grey, it was still raw, and the texture of raw shrimp is not appealing. It's squeaky, it's squishy, and it becomes sort of mushy. We wanted it firm and cooked through. It's not like fish that you can eat sashimi-style Unfortunately Adam's hard work, his big risk sent him home.

I will miss him. I think he's an incredibly articulate, clever chef. I think he has an extraordinary career ahead of him. I'm excited to see him back in New York City. I can't wait to eat his food again. Also I want to say of this entire episode that was it was thrilling to see our superfans in the kitchen. We've never let people come into the kitchen in that way before, even though people ask us all the time. It brought so much good energy to have basically a live audience with us for the day. Everyone was so psyched. It was amazing to be around people who really love the show, to let them eat food from our talented chefs. SO much fun!