home Archive Top Chef: Chicago, Episode 12 – Where Simplicity Meets Perfection … and then Runs Away Screaming

Top Chef: Chicago, Episode 12 – Where Simplicity Meets Perfection … and then Runs Away Screaming

Previously on Top Chef: Restaurant Wars were on. Dale was acting crazy. Steph wins. Dale and Lisa clash. Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was. Dale is sent home much to the chagrin of many fans of the show.

Intro. Where can I get one of those cool chef hats? Also, Zoi’s bottom picture is blocked by the “I” in her name. Poor bottom picture, no exposure for 12 episodes.

We open the show with our Final Five putting on their coats. I will do my best not to make any Final Five Cylons from Battlestar Galactica jokes, although I would say that Antonia is Tory, Spike is Anders, Rich is probably Tyrol and Lisa is definitely Tigh. Steph must be the one to be revealed. OK, that’s out of my system now.

I will be ignoring much of the talk in this episode that refers to how it is the final elimination and that it would suck to go home now, and all of that. Let’s just say that all five of them want to go to Puerto Rico for the finals and will be upset if they don’t. M’kay?

Steph does add that she is psyched that there may be three “girls” in the Final Four and that would be “totally crazy.” I would still make Rich the favorite to win it all.

QUICKFIRE! We go to Allen Brothers and Rich has heard of them. I have given Rich his name back this week because he no longer resembles Foghorn Leghorn. At least not as much as last week.

Joanne from Allen Bros shows the chefs their equipment and tells them that they will be cutting dry aged, long bone ribeyes and will be wearing the armor provided as per USDA regulations. I will do my absolute best to keep the meat = penis jokes to a bare minimum. It will be hard.

Shut up.

Antonia claims to not be the best butcher, but she has seen it done and will figure it out. Spike’s grandfathers were both butchers and he claims to have “butchery in me.” He is also forced to wear a face mask to cover his facial hair.

Meat is cut. Antonia fears that they are going to have to cut up an entire cow. Joanna shows the big Flintstones-style slab of meat that they will all work on and calls it “American-raised, long bone ribeye, dry-aged, USDA prime rib rack.” They must cut them into chops and have the bone Frenched. Shut up – I said no penis jokes. They have 20 minutes to do so.

Richard says the dry age is tough to cut. He makes his chops first and then cleans them. Antonia tells us that each slab will make seven chops and I will add that this task looks really difficult and is probably worse for the women because it requires a lot of strength. It appears especially tough on Steph who is quite small. Lisa struggles and Spike just simply goes to town on it. He says that he cut around the edges and got rid of the dry age and then he just man-handles that meat. Shut up. He says it was so easy it wasn’t even funny. Steph calls the whole thing awkward.

They finish and Joanne tells them all to “get your meat and let’s head out.” Shut up.

The chefs return to the Top Chef Kitchen and find Padma in her flattering slacks, and Rick Tramanto, a major force in Chicago cuisine. He is executive chef and partner in Cenitare Restaurants, which include Osteria di Tramonto, Tramonto’s Steak & Seafood and RT Lounge and Tru. His ex-wife is Gale Gand who appeared earlier in the season and my favorite stat, he is the national spokesperson for the U.S. Duck Council. I’d love to get down with that group.

I am truly sorry for that pun – I can’t resist duck jokes. DUCK jokes.

Rich says that Rick is a staple in Chicago and specializes in New American Food. Padma’s dialogue is so badly dubbed in this sequence that it embarrasses me on behalf of the sound editors. She says on a soundstage that this is all about the beef – shut up – and they have 30 minutes to make a perfect tomahawk chop. Rick adds that this challenge is based on butchering and temperature and Rich clarifies that flavor is not part of it. As a result, I won’t be posting the dishes later on.

Cooking. Seasoning. Searing. Lisa talks about how she doesn’t use a thermometer when cooking steak and tries not to second guess herself. She also complements Spike on his cut of meat. Shut up. Spike says the key to medium rare meat is to cook it for the same amount of time on both sides until it is pink all the way through and then throw it in the oven. Rich says that he doesn’t have two hours to cook in a water bath so he has to do it the old fashioned way.

Might I add that these challenges, both Quickfire and Elimination, look incredibly appetizing! I need to stop watching this show late at night because I am totally jonesing for a steak right now.

Steph is trying to time hers right and not let it rest for too long. She then splashes Lisa with meat juice. Shut up. She says she would rather have it undercooked than overcooked and she plans to pull out after five minutes. Oh come on, now you’re taunting me!

Antonia says a lot of love goes into her meat. Sigh. I give up; the pre-teen in me is losing his mind. She says the way she cooks is to char on both sides to seal in the flavor and then “baste it, baste it and baste it in butter” and then let it rest. I will predict that after this has aired that Antonia’s days of being a “single” mom are numbered. Somebody marry this woman already!

Time is up – chefs do jazz hands.

Rick reacts with a nod and grunt to all of the chefs so I will not say any more about his reaction to each one.

Rich says that he roasted and grilled his and charred with a torch. Lisa wants to work for a week in a meat factory… ooookay. She simply cooked hers in a pan. Steph cooked on the stove with butter and oil. Spike has displayed his meat before him – shut… oh, you know. He cooked his over an open flame with rosemary underneath and seasoned with salt, pepper and olive oil. Antonia cooked hers on the grill in a pan with thyme, garlic and butter.

In his blog on Bravotv.com Tom says that butchering is such an important skill for a chef because of the subtlety attached to each cut of meat. He was also pleased to see so many pan roast their meat to better baste and make it taste better. Not to plug the site too much, but this is a really good one full of details and insight. I recommend.

Anyway, Rick calls out Steph for poor butchering and for undercooking the steak. She agrees. Girl is just not good at Quickfire challenges. This may not bode well in the finals since there is likely to be a Quickfire elimination. Rich is also criticized for inconsistent butchering and how Rick “would never serve this in his steakhouse.” Ouch.

On the flip side, Lisa gets credit for a very well cooked steak in the proper lollipop form. Please no lollipop jokes here. I have expended enough energy on the juvenile meat jokes already. Spike is told that his butchering was amazing, truly it was, and his medium rare was real nice. Antonia had a beautiful crust on her steak.

The winner is Spike and he truly deserved this one. I think it is his best moment in the show so kudos to him. He says that he is ready to show the others that he is still here. He gets no immunity and will have an important decision to make. If the box lunch challenge is any indication, he better hope it does not entail picking ingredients.

ELIMINATION! Padma tells them they are going to be entrusted with something precious to Rick. Good thing Frodo is gone. Precious to him is something different altogether! They will be taking over his “gorgeous new restaurant” for the night. Padma asks him if he is sure about that. Rick asks them not to “screw it up.” Padma adds that they each must do one appetizer and one entrée and base it solely on what they find in Rick’s kitchen. So let me say for the record, bye bye Whole Foods! It’s been fun visiting you almost every week.

Spike is given the prize of picking his protein for the two challenges that no one else can use. Uh oh. Lisa says that she wouldn’t want that decision because you may regret it. Padma tells them the restaurant is fully booked and Rick begs them to take care of his customers.

The chefs go back to the house and cook up… steak! Spike says that he had his chops done in five minutes. Damn. Antonio tells him that he had the spirit of his grandfathers flowing through him during that challenge. He says in his TH that he is hoping for a Battle of the Sexes in the Final Four. He thinks Steph is the Top Female Chef and it is debatable between Lisa and Antonia. And I ask, what show does he think he is on? Antonia has been kicking Lisa’s butt for virtually the whole season! He wants Antonia to go, and I don’t blame him. She’s been kicking his butt too.