Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

Truffles and Bourdeaux

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

Truffles and Bourdeaux

Eric Ripert shares his wish for his 'last supper.'

Full transcript after the jump

I'm Eric Ripert, chef of Le Bernardin: New York City, commenting on Episode 15 of Top Chef All-Stars.

So for this Quickfire they bring back three classics. One of them being hot dog. The other one being made with canned food, and one being also cooking in one pot, one pan.

I think cooking with food in a can is more difficult. Hot dogs, being pre-made, is also not that easy. And I would have loved to have the one-pot, one-pan, cooking challenge. I think this way you can express yourself the most, have a better result.

But they look like they were very creative. I mean I was very surprised how creative Richard was with the hot dog. Because to me I would have looked at, and stared at sausage for a long time and didn't know what to do with that. So they were going strong on that challenge.

So then the twist in the middle of the challenge arrives. And Antonia has to be with Carla basically sharing the same apron, and I guess working each of them as one end. Richard has only one hand that he can use. And Mike has for the challenge, he cannot use any utensil. However, he has it easy in a way, because his pork is cooking in the pressure cooker. You just have to wait for the pressure cooker to be ready, the pork to be ready inside, and serve it. In a way he's lucky on that challenge, but it's Richard's fault because he gave them the easy one.

So Wolfgang is the judge. We all know Wolfgang. He has been an inspiration to the entire industry for many, many years. He's a great chef. And him being there, it's certainly a pleasure to see him on the show, and then reassuring that they are going to be judged by someone who's really knowledgeable.

So for the elimination challenge they have to cook for the chefs what they would like to have for their last supper, if they had the luxury to choose for their last supper. And Melanie Dunae who did the book “My Last Supper” is there, actually. And we have Morimoto, and we have Michelle Bernstein, and of course Wolfgang is there, and the usual suspects, Tom and Padma and Gail are there.

And they’re cooking after getting directions from Morimoto, Michelle, and Wolfgang.

And it's not very easy. I mean, Wolfgang like a goulash, spaetzele, and for dessert a strudel. It's not that easy to do the three dishes like that for one challenge.

Actually when I was younger, in culinary school for graduation I had goulash to make, so anyway I think I would have maybe done well for Wolfgang.

Morimoto: it"s a little bit complicated. He like pickled radishes, miso soup, of course, the rice has to be cooked perfectly for him, and Antonia has to do some sashimi. She has some problems with the fish, one of them not being fresh, so she switch to the tuna. Her soup seems to be overly salty and that probably come from the miso paste that they're using in the soup. So it's not a winner.

Mike is doing the fried chicken, and he tried to have a twist on the biscuit. He does an empanada with an egg, which is a good idea.

And the winner, of course as we know, is Richard, who does a good job despite the fact that his spaetzeles are a little bit firm.

The fried chicken is good, but the skin or the crust seems to go away. And the play on the biscuit, I don't know, I mean. I think if it's your last supper, you really want to eat what you want, and not necessarily have some one interpreting your best meal. So it's probably why Richard won that challenge. First because he did probably the best job in terms of cooking it, and because he was very loyal to the recipes.

So my last supper, actually I am in the book of Melanie, my last supper, was an easy one actually. Toasted bread, black truffles on top, olive oil, a good bottle of bordeaux. That would have made the winner for sure very happy, because you just have to grill the bread and shave the truffles.

So Tom think that Mike has the easiest dish with the fried chicken and the biscuit. I am not sure about that. To make a fried chicken, I mean, yeah of course it's a fairly simple challenge But at the same time when you have simple challenges, it's no safety net. If the oil is too hot. If you don't do a good job with the biscuit/empanada whatsoever, you're done. So it's not necessarily an advantage to have a simple dish.

So Richard is the winner. He's safe. He's going to the finale and he must be thrilled.

Now it's the surprise envelope to be opened. And the surprise is that Antonia and Mike have to compete again. And they have to do one-bite dish in 45 minutes that will eliminate one and bring the other one to the finale.

Mike makes a surf and turf with beef. He takes lobster and make kind of a tempura. It looks like it's a little bit under-seasoned, for some palettes, and Morimoto being Japanese, I don't know, you take a big risk to do a tempura. However, as a viewer it looks good on camera. Antonia does a grouper with a very strong curry sauce, very powerful sauce.

At the end it's basically a tie, and Wolfgang has the difficult task to decide who has the most votes and goes to the next level. And unfortunately for Antonia, she's going home. It's finished.

So it's going to be a big battle as we know. In between Mike and Richard. Two different styles. Two very different personalities. Of course, both of them have talent. Both of them are very creative. They both understand very well Top Chef. Now they know the challenge is basically their fantasy restaurants. They have probably few hours to think about it. And we're going to be delighted next week to see the battle.

I am Eric Ripert, chef of Le Bernardin commenting on Episode 15 of Top Chef, the All-Star season.

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!