Top Chef: Chicago, episode twelve: Raising the Steaks: or Date My Restaurant!
[Note: I'm writing this as I watch the plume of smoke rising from the Universal Studios video vault and the smell of burning plastic is making me a little dizzy so forgive me if my recap isn't as factual and lucid as you've come to expect. Oh, you've never expected that? Good.]
Last week Dale was sent knife-packing and we start this episode with the women talking about how many women are left:
Stephanie: "I've been running the numbers and I've figured out that there's a possibility three women could be in the final four!"
Yes. It's also possible, but unlikely, that there could be three women in the final three. It would be virtually impossible for there to be three women in the final two, however. Just wanted to point that out.
Antonia: "Let's just figure out who the winner is and be done with it. The remaining Top Chef superdelegates are going to have to get off the fence and make a decision. I'm talking to you, Gail."
For the quickfire, the chefs have to butcher their own meat. They are starting with a rack of beef ribs and cutting them down to individual ribeye chops with Frenched bones. Or something like that. I don't think I've seen that done with beef.
Anyway, Spike does really well because both his grandfathers were butchers and he apparently inherited the skill from them in his DNA.
The guest judge is the beloved and benevolent Chicago chef Rick Tramonto.
This episode also brings my first mention this season of Padma's attire. Those trousers are hideous. And she's been doing so well.
So, the chefs have to make a medium-rare steak for Rick, who will judge the butchering, temperature, and "doneness" (although "doneness" is in Webster's, I don't believe it is a real word so I put it in quotes). I don't think he cares how it tastes.
Richard tells us he usually cooks steak for several hours at sixty degrees:
Other Eric: "Did he just say sixty degrees?"
Yes. I think that's the famous Richard Blais sense of humor at work.
Spike wins the quickfire and wins the same stupid "advantage" (I actually believe "advantage" is a real word but I have it in quotes for a different reason) he won in the police academy episode: he gets first choice of ingredients. This actually gives him fewer options than the other chefs because he has to make a decision right away and stick with it.
Back at the house, Richard is holding up a big Glad tall kitchen bag like someone holding up a handmade banner at an American Idol taping (I Heart Jason Castro and The Glad Family of Products!). At this point, the blatant product placements have ceased to annoy me and just make me laugh.
The chefs are taking over one of Rick Tramonto's steakhouses. Spike gets first pick of ingredients in the walk-in so, naturally, he screws up and takes the frozen scallops.
Tonight, Tom will be expediting the meal service! I don't know what that means but it sounds very exciting!
Antonia: "Oh, it's more exciting than you can imagine!"
It kind of sounds like he's going to be a waiter.
Lisa makes a chilled shrimp appetizer. The flavors are good but the judges don't understand why it's chilled.
Richard makes an appetizer of hamachi and sweetbreads and the judges love it.
Spike's appetizer of frozen scallops is not popular.
Stephanie makes an appetizer of crispy sweetbreads and the judges love it.
Antonia makes a poached egg and spinach salad that the judges didn't like much.
Richard's entree with fillet and other stuff tastes OK but the judges wonder why the dish's elements are spread out all over the plate. Eating it is so much work! These poor judges!
Lisa's entree is a strip steak with peanut butter mashed potatoes and it gets mixed reviews. The judges liked the sides but didn't like the steak.
Spike's entree is the tomahawk chop and sweet potato puree and the judges are not impressed. They like the steak but not the sides.
Stephanie's entree is tenderloin with wild mushrooms and apple sauce. the judges love it.
Antonia's entree is a ribeye with fennel and potato gratin. The judges love this one, too.
Tom did an excellent job. I think he has a future as a waiter.
Padma asks to see all the chefs at judges' table. Oh, my God! They all won! Or maybe they all lost!
The judges tell Spike his frozen scallops were crap:
Rick Tramonto: "As a chef, you can't use such terrible ingredients."
Spike: "With all due respect, you suck. Those crappy ingredients were in your walk-in."
Tom: "Oh, no she di'int!"
Stephanie made two good dishes, Richard made the best appetizer, and Antonia made the best entree.
Stephanie wins! Congratulations, Stephanie! She wins a signed book! (And a kitchen)
Spike and Lisa are the bottom two. What a surprise!
Tom: "If you had been listening to our comments, it shouldn't have been a surprise."
I was being sarcastic.
Spike is out. Sorry, Spike.
That means Lisa is in the final four:
Lisa: "I am as excited as hell!"
Other Eric: "I was sure she was going to say 'shit.'"
Lisa: "I'm going to shock the shit out of the judges!"
Other Eric: "OK, there it is."
Next time we join the final four in Puerto Rico. Lisa will have a new lesbian hairstyle while Richard will keep his old lesbian hairstyle.