“Top Chef” Recaps: Episode 4.12 “High Steaks”

How do you like your
steak? —
At the kitchen they find Padma and guest judge Rick Tramonto, a
well-known Chicago chef and restaurateur. For the second leg of the Quickfire,
they must now cook the perfect steak for Rick.

Note that Padma did not say the perfect tasting steak. Nope, this challenge has nothing to do with taste or
flavor. It’s all about how well the steak is butchered and prepared. So now the
only question is: How do you like your steak, Rick? Medium rare it is.

Though he looks like a man who enjoys a good steak, Tramonto
will not be tasting any of the steaks. Instead he will touch and look at each one
to assess temperature and doneness.

Cooking a medium-rare steak should be second nature to a
good chef, says Lisa. But she admits that when the pressure is on, in sneaks
the second guessing. Each cook has his/her own technique for preparing the
steaks. Lisa’s is straight-up in the pan.

Spike grills it evenly on both sides and then throws it in
the oven. Richard goes traditional. Antonia bastes it like crazy in butter. And
Stephanie uses a technique called "take out the competition" as she splatters
hot grease onto Lisa accidentally.

Beef: It’s not what’s
for dinner —
Time is up and it’s time to not taste the steaks. Chef
Tramonto cuts into each steak, feels its temperature, asks how it was prepared
and moves on. Oh for Pete’s sake, what a waste! Not even a nibble? Not a lick?
Nothing? No doubt a concerned mother somewhere is screaming at the screen about
the starving children in Africa right this very second.

So, whose meat made the cut and whose didn’t? The worst:
Stephanie and Richard (bad butchery, underdone steak). The best: Lisa (well-cooked),
Spike (amazing butchery) and Antonia (beautiful crust). But who was a cut
above? Spike.

Spike: It’s kind
of rewarding just to show the other four people, listen, I’m still here and I’m
here to play hard from now on.

Well, that was telling. I guess that confirms what we
already knew, that Spike’s game plan up to this point has been to spread the
blame and do just enough to not get booted.

Spike doesn’t get immunity, but he does have what Padma
calls "a really important decision to make" in the Elimination Challenge.
What could it be? Paper or plastic? Boxers or briefs? Hat or asshat? I’m all a-tingle.

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