Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

I Have No Soul.

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

I Have No Soul.

Bravotv.com's Senior Editor didn't cry once this episode.

Hello my little Statues of Liberty! Thank you for all of your comments on last week's episode. I fear I may have incited somewhat of a comment riot against Mike Isabella, but I guess there's no going back. I will see him at the reunion taping, and I'm just hoping that he doesn't read this! I can just see it now. "So, um, Monica, you think I'm grimey?" And I'll be all "Whatever, whatever." But I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

For now, let's focus on this week's challenge: the one where I didn't cry. Not one bit. At all. And where I learned that I have no soul.

For the Quickfire Challenge, the chefs get on a boat traveling towards... Ellis Island (!), and are tasked in creating a dish out of the concession items laying around. They were cooking for none other than Dan Barber, one of the most recognizable figures in the world of sustainable cooking (and you know how much I enjoyed Blue Hill when I went.) The irony of Chef Barber having to eat basically nothing but preserved food was not lost on me, so, yeah, it was funny. While Tiffany and Antonia sorta stuck to thinking inside the box, Mike Isabella went for the disgusting with his bread soup. It literally looked like something you'd see at a camp lunch table. Like, at the end of the meal -- when little kids mix together all the leftovers with whatever bug juice is laying around and make the grossest mixture ever. Richard innovated the common hot dog, but Carla's orange salad prevailed. Probably should've figured it would since it seemed to be the only fresh dish offered. Richard "Debbie Downer" Blais didn't look too pleased with the defeat. He never does.But there was no time to dwell because the chefs' ultimate destination was Ellis Island where their family members were waiting for them. All of the chefs -- the exhausted chefs -- were emotional. I wasn't. But, I did enjoy seeing the private side of the five chefs. Then, they were surprised with information about their genealogy, and we learn that Antonia and Mike are related. I mean, that's just crazy. What are the odds?! Probably pretty good I guess. The chefs have to create dishes based on their background. We did this for Heritage Week in third grade, and I made a Persian rice dish. See? We can all be Top Chefs! Anyway, the judges sit at the dinner table with the chefs' families. This reminded me of the Season 6 finale where Kevin, Michael and Bryan's moms' joined the judges at the table. This seemed a little more intense, though. These relatives knew how to talk about food! Richard tweeted during the show that his wife should be at Judges' Table, and I thought, "Um, yeah, she should." She speaks so intelligently about food! I was also struck by Richard's conversation with his wife after the meal which was all about getting intel about the judges' comments. We know Richard's intense, but I guess his wife (whom I've actually met, and she's kinda gorgeous) is too -- he even mentions that she's an athlete who wants to win. They're a power couple! Um, and Carla and her husband met on Match.com?! Does that mean there's hope for me?! Maybe I should have Carla write my dating profile....

And then there was Mike's heartbreaking revelation that he doesn't cook Italian food because it reminds him of his grandmother. And, again, I didn't cry. Everyone else cried -- Gail, Andy, my editors. But not me. And I always cry! Maybe I'm still mad at Mike about last week's Quickfire? Either way, I'm a monster. It's official.

All of the chefs did such a good job that no one went home. Antonia's mom joked about a final five, and she got her wish. All of the chefs are going to the Bahamas! Although, Richard might be going with a few extra gray hairs, because Padma made him believe he was going home. Good one, Padma! All of the dishes sounded pretty hearty and delicious, but I, like Tom, don't like okra. Just the other night my best friend made gumbo with okra, and I ate around it. It was actually frozen okra, so it wasn't slimey, but something about knowing that it was once slimey, I just couldn't get behind it. Maybe I need to try Tiffany's! As I said the sign of a great chef is one that can make you like foods you thought you didn't, so I think Tiffany really proved herself with that dish.In fact, they all really proved themselves. What I found most interesting about this episode is that all of the chefs were essentially forced to cook with "soul." Cooking with soul is something that has been a sticking point with many of our chefs throughout the seasons, most notably with Hung Huynh in Season 3. Sure, the judges always knew Hung could cook, but he was criticized for not having soul, for not showing his roots. Obviously, he got over that in the finale, and won, but I wonder what would have happened had he had a challenge like this week's before the last episode. Hmmm...

Something to think about before we head to the Bahamas next week! Until then, have a nosh!

Make Melissa's Seared Duck Breast Dish

Get the recipe for Melissa King's winning new culinary creation: seared duck breast with farro, walnut miso, and pickled cherries.

Duck Breast, Walnut Miso, Pickled Cherries, Farro

Ingredients:

Duck breast
Salt
Pepper
1 cup Walnuts
1 Tbsp Red miso paste
1 Tsp Mirin
Rice vinegar
1 Tsp White soy sauce
Cheeries
Butter
Farro
Chicken Stock
Celery
Walnut Oil
Radishes
Yuzu
Chocolate Mint (to preference)

Directions for Duck
1. Season duck breast with salt/pepper
2. Sear on med-low on cast iron skin side down to render fat
3. Remove and let cool until medium rare
Directions for Walnut Miso
1. Blanch 1 cup walnuts in hot boiling water
2. Blend in blender w/ 1 Tbsp red miso paste, 1 Tsp mirin, 1 Tsp rice vinegar, 1 Tsp white soy sauce.
3. Blend until very smooth and then pass through chinois

Directions for Pickled Cherries
Cherries (slice/pit)
2 part Rice vinegar
1 part butter
To taste Sugar
Pinch of Salt

1.Boil and pour over cherries
2. Strain and reserve liquid. Mound pickling liquid with butter on the pick up to make cherry sauce

Directions for Farro
1. Boil farro in chicken stock for 1 hour until soft and bloomed
2. Strain farro
3. Mound farro with butter and chicken stock until it looks creamy
4. Season with salt

Directions for Shave Carrots
1. Shave celery (compress with walnut oil)
2. Shave radishes (compress with yuzu)
3. Chocolate mint (chopped)
4. Toss all with walnut oil, salt

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