Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

Grimey

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

Grimey

Bravotv.com's Senior Editor isn't happy with Mike Isabella's behavior.

Hello my little Gulf shrimp! I was -- at the recommendation of my fellow editors -- going to simply post this image of Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert from our foodie book club Q+A today with the caption " 'nough said."

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Hopefully some of you sent in your questions regarding Bourdain's book, Medium Raw. If you did, we probably asked it! We'll get that video up soon. Even though I see Eric every week, I've actually never met Anthony before. I was the kind of anxious I used to feel before the first day of school. I couldn't sleep. When Tony arrived at the interview, all my anxiety suddenly went away, but not my glee. The banter between Anthony and Eric was a joy to watch, and I can't wait for you all to enjoy the video.

Despite my exhaustion afer experiencing such intense silver fox-itude, I must comment on this week's episode, because the Quickfire bothered me so much -- I can't ignore it. Padma introduces everyone to Paula Deen, the Queen of Butter. I don't know that I've ever watched a complete episode of Paula's show. My arteries are so clogged after watching Guy Fieri, that I think Deen's show would put me over the edge. I obviously know what she's all about, though, and you know what? I can get down with it. I probably eat way more fried food than I should. And, although Padma once said that a toe would taste good fried, apparently some things just taste better. And so the chefs were asked to create fried dishes.

The chefs fry everything from avocadoes to mayo (which I want to try.) In the end, Mike Isabella wins with his fried chicken oyster. And herein lies my anger. The minute Mike started explaining to the camera his plan, I thought to myself, "That sure sounds like something Richard would make." I'm not saying Mike isn't creative, but the entire play on words concept sounded like Richard. And sure enough, the dish was straight out of Richard's idea book. Should Richard be showing his book to others? No. Did Mike execute the dish well, whether he saw a picture of it or not? Yes. Was what Mike did -- as Top Chef Kevin Sbraga might say -- totally grimey? Yes. I'm sure we'll be divided on this, but the whole scene left a bad taste in my mouth.

After I virtually consoled Richard and we both picked up the pieces of our broken hearts at Mike's culinary betrayal, we moved on to the Elimination Challenge, where the chefs would cook for a Gulf coast charity event hosted by Paula and chef John Besh. I won't go on and on about Besh and the amazing meal I had at Restaurant August two years ago, but if you find yourself in New Orleans, and want at least one fine dining experience while you're there, try August.This time, our weary chefs had a little help in the form of eliminated chefs. Each chef was presented with a possible sous and a protein. Some chefs chose to make their ingredient choice paramount, while others chose based on who they did or did not want to work with (ahem, Marcel, ahem.) Ultimately, the sous-chefs were the most helpful to Antonia and Mike in that both implemented their sous' ideas and were praised for those particular elements in their dishes. Richard surely benefited the most in that he won the challenge with his play on surf and turf. Unfortunately, Dale went home. I mean, yeah, his dish was bad, and he knew it, but it doesn't make it sting any less. He starting crying, and I kind of did too!

Angelo's elimination last week, Dale's this week... I'm a broken woman! I don't know how much more of this I can take! Actually, I do, because I've gotten the chance to peep the next few episodes, and, well, they're kind of awesome.

So, tell me, are you as upset as I/Anthony Bourdain are that Dale's gone? And, I love hearing what you're cooking, and where you're eating, so keep sharing! Until next week, Happy Noshing!

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!