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

Quickfire: The
real American chopper.

Elimination: Mi restaurant es su
restaurant.
Padmaism: "The whole should be
greater than all your parts."

And then there were
five —
Our merry quintet gets ready for the last battle to select the final
four. They all prepare themselves for something crazy, and the remaining women
prepare themselves for something historic.

Stephanie: In Top Chef history there has never been
this many girls right up towards the end, so there is a possibility that it
will be three girls in the finals, which would be totally crazy.

Crazy? Maybe. Awesome? Definitely.

Where’s the beef? — The
chefs shove off, but instead of heading to the Top Chef kitchen, they detour to Allen Brothers, a nationally recognized
meat purveyor. So what are five chefs to do at a company know for its meat?
Well, butcher it of course. The Elimination Challenge is to cut dry-aged,
long-bone ribeyes into individual tomahawk chops.

But first the chefs must suit up in their FDA-required
butcher gear including hairnet, baseball cap, apron and something that
resembles a breast plate, but lower. It’s Xena:
Warrior Princess
meets mental institution chic.

Antonia is nervous, since she says she is not much of a
butcher. Spike, on the other hand, comes from a long line of butchers. And then
he perfectly describes his own personality.

Spike: There
seems to be a little strain of butchery in me.

Yes, yes there is.

Slice me off a piece
of that —
The ginormous slabs of beef they have to butcher look positively
prehistoric. It’s a meal fit for Captain Caveman.

They have 20 minutes to hack into their meat. And hack they
do. The aging on the meat has made it incredibly tough going. Everyone grunts
and groans with effort, except for old butcher boy Spike. He calls it "so
easy it wasn’t even funny."

Now, is it just me or is this challenge unfairly weighted
toward the men? The meat appears to be both (a) very heavy and (b) very tough.
That means those with more brute strength have an advantage, especially with
time as a factor. This is, of course, not saying that women can’t make
excellent butchers. But you can see why a wee thing like Stephanie might have
some technical difficulties. Heck, even her butcher’s coat is too big for her.

Everyone has their eyes on their meat — and the prize.

Lisa: It’s
stressful knowing that the tiniest flaw or the tiniest imperfection in
something can get you sent home. It’s going to really suck if I have to go home
before I make it in the top four.

After the 20 minutes are over, the chefs are told to pack up
their steaks and head to the Top Chef
Kitchen. Something tells me that beef hasn’t seen the end of the road yet.

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