Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

Miss Patti

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

Miss Patti

The chefs leave the drama in Dallas behind to cook for those that have inspired them in Austin.

(Sorry, just had to get a random Gilmore Girls reference in the title -- even if the spelling is different.)

Hello, tweethearts! Thank you all for your comments on last week's recap -- both complimentary and not-so-complimentary. I asked for arguments, and I got them! I don't want to dwell on the last episode because, well, I don't think any good will become of that, so let's move on to Austin, shall we?

This week's Quickfire was pretty awesome. Since I obviously work in Bravo's digital department and work closely with our social media peeps (I tweet from @BravoTopChef often.) I was psyched to see it used so innovatively in the challenge. Like Tom said, we always get a ton of ideas for challenges, and this was a chance to use them. Seeing Tom on his iPhone calling out tweets made me giggle. The first selected instruction was to use bacon. Yes! Love bacon. My editors actually bought me bacon floss for Chanukah (which I think might defeat the purpose of using floss, but whatever.) Next, the chefs are instructed to make a hash, and finally hand one of their competitors a random ingredient. This cracked me up. "You take sriracha!" "No, you take sriracha!" if it's one thing i've learned over nine seasons, it's that chefs love sriracha. I think the chefs handled their ngredients pretty well. Ultimately, my man Paul Qui came out on top. His use of seemingly unrelated ingredients showed a real confidence -- he did anything but play it safe.

Let's talk about Paul Qui for a moment. We learn on the car ride over to Austin that he used to sell weed. Whaaa?!?! Although maybe that explains his calm demeanor -- har har -- I honestly would never have guessed that in a million years, but I'm glad he stopped doing that and turned his energy into something productive. We also learn that Heather has a crush on John Besh (who doesn't?), and that Chris needs to go to the gym.After the Twitter Quickfire Challenge, the chefs are told they can relax and enjoy a drink at the hotel bar. Riiight. After a few moments of merriment, the chefs enjoy a serenade by none other than Ms. Patti LaBelle! Padma mentions that Ms. Patti is a cookbook author. Her cookbooks are actually for light living as Ms. Patti lives with Diabetes -- something she didn't bring up this time and wasn't part of the challenge. Although Patti LaBelle is obviously most well-known for her legendary singing career, she will always be Mrs. Wayne to me, Dwayne Wayne's mother on A Differe World. Calling Kadeem Hardison "chipmunk." Making prune cobbler. Mmm such a classic show. YouTube "Patti LaBelle, A Different World" -- you won't be sorry.

Anyway! This challenge has nothing to do with prune cobbler -- it has to do with those that inspired our chefs to cook. After hearing the chefs' stories about their grandmothers, parents, etc. and seeing adorable photos of them all growing up, they get to cooking. The kitchen was fairly drama-free this time around (Thank God.) The only mention of last week's Beverly/Heather debacle is really Beverly talking about karma, and how it will come back to bite Heather in the tush. Methinks it's starting to be true, since Heather knows her meat is bad, and says she's in rescue mode. Unfortuantely, in the end, she can't save it, and goes home. Karma's a bitch apparently. Heather's off to Last Chance Kitchen to compete against Nyesha, who is determined to beat Heather at her own game.

Sarah pulls out a win with an amaaaazing pork sausage stuffed cabbage. Not gonna lie though -- this dish could've ended disastrously, but it didn't! Way to go, Sarah!! Also, special mention to Edward Lee for taking what he considered a chance on a vegetarian dish. That's another thing we get tweeted about a lot, so I'm happy you all have another winning vegetarian recipe to add to your repertoire (sorry, Vegans!)

What did you think of this week's challenge? Do you believe in karma? Top Chef is off for the holidays, but let me know and let me know what you've been eating and what you're preparing for the holidays. Until 2012, Have a Nosh and Happy New Year!