Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

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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

Heat

Tom Colicchio doesn't claim to be a chili expert.

 

Another episode, another great set of challenges  I thought that the Quickfire Challenge was clever and gave viewers insights into the way this season’s chefs think. While it wound up paying off for Paul to shoot the moon by working with the Ghost chili, he and some of the other chefs were mistaken to think that the hotter the pepper, the more challenging the task of highlighting it. I thought that while it ultimately seems that Beverly could have worked more with her Anaheim, she was thoughtful in her decision to pick a chili with qualities she liked and wanted to feature, rather than going for the big money. Still and all, it was quite dramatic to see Paul win for a dish featuring a pepper with a Scoville rating of over a million. I’d have liked to have tasted that dish.

The Quickfire Challenge paved the way neatly for the Elimination Challenge: the Chili Cook-Off. The Quickfire was a good warm-up for our chefs, a way to put them into the right mindset for making chili good enough to win over Texan cowboys and rodeo aficionados.

I will acknowledge to you that they are the experts on chili, not I, which is why it was fitting that they select the winning team. Chili is not something that I make with any kind of frequency or eat with any kind of frequency. There are many chili aficionados out there who will have a lot to say about this episode and about which chili should have been on top and on the bottom based on their opinions about what constitutes an authentic Texan chili. I will say, however, that all of the teams worked hard to execute their own concepts of what would make a successful chili, and that at the end of the day, the chili that tasted the best was the chili that those at the rodeo selected as the winner, while the one that tasted the most one-note (in this case, sweet) and unbalanced was the one we judges selected as the loser. While we judges don’t profess to be experts on every type of dish, we applied our usual standards for judging dishes to those presented this week, and it seems that our opinions were in accord with our fellow rodeo attendees. I can imagine how dejected the Black Team felt upon learning that they had to cook again, after having just pulled an all-nighter for the Elimination Challenge. And their food reflected it. Only Beverly actually repurposed the mole chili in her dish; Nyesha and Richie just tried to hide it in theirs, with Richie failing to even pull off much of a dish -- we know he can cook better than he did. Beverly actually was quite successful at repurposing the mole chili, featuring its flavors while presenting it in a whole new way. This week is a perfect moment to discuss repurposing a dish. Come Friday morning, many of us will be looking to do the same with our Thanksgiving dinner leftovers. 

I’ll be on The Today Show on Friday morning, in fact, doing just that. I’ll be making agnolotti in turkey broth with vegetables: I’ll make the broth with leftover bones, the carcass of the turkey and some of the meat, into which I’ll be adding leftover roasted vegetables. I’ll be taking leftover stuffing, pureeing it a bit and stuffing it inside the agnolotti. The only additional thing I’ll have to make is the pasta dough. Aside from that, all the major elements of the Thanksgiving dinner will be present and featured. I won’t be trying to hide any of them but, rather, to enhance them in this new presentation. 

Please write in with ways in which you repurpose your Thanksgiving dinners in the days that follow the holiday. And Happy Thanksgiving to you all.