Top Chef

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Beat This Meat
In a hurry? Read the recaplet for a nutshell description!

Five cheftestants don their whites as Antonia expresses her desire to just get to the final four, already (right there with you), and Stephanie points out that there could be -- for the first time in history -- three "girls" remaining when the show decamps to Puerto Rico. If Spike leaves, there could be four "girls," although it all depends on how you define "girl". Stephanie's expecting a twist, so she's prepared herself for anything.

Anything turns out to be a shitload of meat, with the final Chicago Quickfire taking place at Allen Brothers, purveyors of steakhouse steaks and a host of other items, including pre-made Art Smith delicacies. Specifically, the challenge will involve cutting some dry-aged long-bone rib eyes, but first it's dress-up time. The venerable USDA requires the donning of various garments prior to butchering an animal, including a nifty abdominal plate presumably designed to prevent hara-kiri, a shower cap, a face mask and, for good measure, an Allen Brothers baseball cap, which I'll wager doesn't fall under federal guidelines.

Antonia's concerned because she's not the world's greatest butcher, although she can figure things out by sight. She should watch Spike, who had two butchers for grandfathers -- with "a little strain of butchery" in him, he feels very comfortable cutting meat. And what meat it is -- Andrea's concern about breaking down an entire cow almost becomes reality, as they each sidle up to massive rack of meat laid out before them in a very white room. "An American-raised, long-bone rib eye dry-aged USDA prime rib rack", to be specific, a mouthful of beef that must be cut into quite substantial individual chops with squeaky-clean Frenched bones. In twenty minutes. Which start now.

Using some wickedly sharp knives, the identically clad white army begins hacking. The dry age on the beef is extremely hard, so Richard decides to separate the chops before cleaning the meat. Antonia thinks twenty minutes might be enough time for a skilled butcher, but not for her. As everyone else struggles, amidst plenty of close-ups of knives slicing through sweet, sweet beef, Spike lifts an entire slab of the age off his rack -- he's working to remove the age as quickly as possible, so he can focus on cutting and cleaning the meat itself. He thinks this challenge "is so easy, it wasn't even funny". No, it wasn't funny at all, nor was it grammatically correct. Poor Stephanie, on the other hand, is having difficulty -- handling such big meat is difficult for a small "girl". Lisa knows that one small mistake can have big consequences, and doesn't want to drag her greasy mop off before reaching the final four.

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Top Chef

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