Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

Chuy's Dad Can Do Anything

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

Chuy's Dad Can Do Anything

Hugh Acheson reveals the real reason he's not in the episode.

The chefs are packing it up from the luxury digs in San Antonio and going to Dallas! After getting into the requisite v necks to show off tans and tattoos, they get piled into the Toyota minivans, or forewith referred to as the “Motor Dens of Contemplation,” or MDCs. Heather is leading the way in the front Toyota MDC. There is a different, very serious chat going on in each MDC. Heather’s brother gets car sick. Ed happily broke down and married his wife, Ty-Lor has a boyfriend and cannot laugh and drive at the same time. Chris has recently lost 70 pounds and has exchanged his XXL Chef Works for more sporty fuschia chest-huggin’ shirts. In all seriousness, that is awesome. Proud Crary keep on burnin’, rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ down the river. Now stop being so damn creepy around Padma.

There may be a warrant out for the arrest of Dakota in Texas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Prince Edward Island. She’s a little distressed. That cop would’ve freaked me out too. Stay strong and don’t cry, Dakota.

John Besh in the house. The mastermind of Marine tactics and Nawlins cookery will be judging this one. Not much information on the survival ingredients the chefs must use as their larder, but many things appear that have never been seen in survival kits anywhere. Moto Chris is seen playing “Children of the Corn,” but the game just ain’t the same without Richie. They are opening cans with all manners of implements. Evidently a can opener was not on the survivalist guide. Around my neck of the woods that kit would have a wine key, a shotgun, ammo, water and a little bit of food -- not all to be used simultaneously.Lindsay’s dad loves Vienna sausages. I have never ever had Vienna sausages but Ryan at Empire State South makes some great pickled red hots… those are good. Maybe I will come up with a line of survival foods. It would be called, No Choice, but it would be good. Trust me. (Reading this blog is a lot about trusting me if you haven’t noticed. I am the guy who will always catch you when we do the backwards trust fall thing.)

Herring juice is a term that never gets positive nods. Grayson will now strike that one from the permanent vocabulary.

The bottom three is Whitney, Chris, and Dakota. Two out of three had canned crabmeat in their dishes, which sets us straight on the merits of canned crab. Whitney made green bean casserole, which may be a step down from what was in the can to begin with. Don’t get discouraged young Jedi!

Chuy, Lindsay, and Ed in the tops category. Lindsay’s homage takes the cake but, dude, Ed’s dish looked pretty f---ing rad. Nice to see him get some goodness going. Remember, at this point in the series Ed has cut himself more than a blindfolded pumpkin carver. Lindsay rocks the win with her Vienna delight. Saltins sandwiches are going to be the new thing in Florida… trust me?

Hotel time. Dallas style. Off to a bunch of mansions. The mansion-istas, I mean owners, are all completely over the top.

The first hostess doesn’t like cilantro, bell peppers, food that makes people feel self-conscious, or food that gets stuck in your teeth, but has a real want for all the food to be pink, an idea she thankfully jettisons. The real reason I am not on this episode has now become abundantly clear: these people would have driven me crazy. I would have ordered a round of protein smoothies with skin toner/lip enhancer for the diners, screamed something obscene, and taken the chefs out to that new In-N-Out burger that just opened up off the highway. (No joke -- the place had a two hour wait when I did go.)  

Moto Chris is beating around the bush and should ask his real question: If I make something really weird and possibly tasty, would that earn me points with you? “My wedding cake was a big gummie bear.” Geez Louise. Where did they find these people? Did that guy just tell four chefs to make something that would make his “inner fat kid” happy? I want this rich white guy to channel how it feels to be poor, obese, and living with diabetes, then we’ll break bread.

Edward’s back is Brokeback. No comment.

Chris Jones is going to push the envelope for the whitest of white people ever. These folks want white bread food with edible gold on top. Plain Jane is going to win this thing. An edible cigar is the wrong thing to do but that’s what Moto has in store for us…. I would cheer for an edible dip tobacco medley though, or an edible bottle of arsenic, to truly illustrate edible versions of things you never would want to eat.

Paul Qui is self-critical which is a good attribute in chefs who push themselves daily. Continues to be a rock star.

Gail is Canadian, so is the pink-loving, cilantro-hatin’ hostess. They hate Chris’ cigar. Pinky calls it “daunting,” but I think she says Dante, like the fifth rung of Purgatory in the Inferno. I am suddenly in love with the hostess.

They love the Paul’s Brussels sprouts. Tom rolls his eyes as a woman exclaims that that Lindsay’s beets are colorful. Whitney’s scallop is deemed pretty blah. That’s better than salty scallop syndrome, which I suffered through once. I recovered though. Trust me. 

Ty-Lor has a f---ing potty mouth on him. Actually they all do, which confuses the heck out of my seven-year-old, who wonders what’s up with all the bleeps. All of the mains look rough around the edges. Chuy’s goat cheese salmon is not loved at all. Scallops again, but this time from Beverly, and they get a nice response. Nyesha plates up a pretty awesome looking beef plate that is way too fancy for these peeps. Some utter scared squeals, ”Blood! Oh my gawd.” As if this meat was always dead and bloodless. On top of that, it’s actually the sauce on the plate that she is freaking out about. Awe well, I thought it looked great. Note to Nyesha… they want more gilded, less good! T- Lor’s dish looks like a pork trainwreck. Dakota is killing this bread pudding thing. Chris is busy getting everything that has ever contained sugar on one plate. Whipped Cream and Many Many Many Unfocused Delights.

“Edward’s plate was jiggly looking.” It’s f---ing panna cotta. Again, another instance why I don’t get invited fancy places. There are some wealthy Texans that hate me right now. Sorry.

Tops: Grayson, Dakota, Paul, and Sarah. Paul wins. Rocking Brussels in the burning heat of summer. Ballsy. He simply channeled his inner good chef.

Bottoms is Chuy, Crary, Ty-Lor, and Moto Chris. I thought Crary was gone, but it’s Chuy with the salmon, based on lox, a schmear and a bagel, that screamed wrong.

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. 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. 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. 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!