Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

On Being KO'd for Kale and Concept

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

Gail Talks OvenGate

On Being KO'd for Kale and Concept

Tom Colicchio stresses the details of why Lindsay Autry went home.

After a busy couple of weeks, it’s nice to be writing again, though I’ll be repeating a refrain I’ve stated before: At this stage of the process, the chefs still standing are very talented and highly competent. And so, unless someone were to make a stunning mistake (which would surprise us at this late date), we would expect at this point to be presented with three very fine dishes, and we would expect to have to analyze them in detail to find small picky problems, and to have toascertain which dish, in the aggregate, was best and which was worst. And we expect the difference between the dish that secures the win and the dish that gets someone sent home to be very small.

Clearly, Paul was not going to be sent home for the questionable addition of an arugula garnish. The flavors in his dish were complex and beautifully developed, and the concept for the overall dish and cocktail as a whole was sound and clear. His cocktail also incorporated the “ice” aspect of the challenge well.

Sarah, too, had a clear idea for her dish that reflected the assignment of bringing together the heat of Texas and the cold of Vancouver for the “Fire and Ice” cocktail party. While her mousse was colder than she’d intended, it complemented her pasta well. And her cocktail was crisp and delicious,further invoking the “ice” part of the challenge, as Paul’s did. Frankly, Sarah’s dish was ambitious, and she nailed it. Lindsay made a fine dish, one that in an earlier challenge would never have sent her and her knives packing. Her halibut was cooked properly, as was the celery root salad. But I couldn’t enjoy the raw kale -- it was jarring. Her cocktail did pair well with her dish, but when taken on its own merits it was the poorest of the three cocktails we were served that evening. Remember that the cocktail itself was being judged -- it was part of the challenge. Further, we failed to see Lindsay fully embrace the challenge itself -- it was not enough to make good food, she had to also work with the concept of “fire and ice,” and I failed to see the fire in her “fiery celery root salad.” I think Lindsay played it a bit too safe when conceptualizing her dish for this challenge, and she paid the price for doing so.

All of that said, I must reiterate that it was hard to send Lindsay home for her dish, even if it was the weakest of the three. All three dishes were very good, and all three chefs should be very proud of what they accomplished, not only in this week’s challenge, but throughout this competition. These are three very, very talented chefs. They don’t have outsized egos, they are not flamboyant in their affects, but throughout this competition they quietly worked hard to present food that could then speak to commend itself.

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


Duck breast
1 cup Walnuts
1 Tbsp Red miso paste
1 Tsp Mirin
Rice vinegar
1 Tsp White soy sauce
Chicken Stock
Walnut Oil
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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