Say what you will about The Original Beef Of Chicagoland staff, but they’re resourceful. In “Sheridan,” the team is faced with a full power outage courtesy of Marcus’ shitty mixer. He’s been experimenting with sous vide fermentation courtesy of Carmen’s Noma cookbook, and he gets behind on his cakes. He scrambles to make up time and boom! Everything’s out.
The power isn’t even the first crisis of the day. The episode opens with Carmen, Marcus, and Sydney hearing some clanking in the bathroom when — another boom! — Carmy gets a full face of toilet water. Fak is called, and we learn that he’s not just a great handyman but he’s also an aspiring chef. He asks about an open chef job at the Beef while Richie pretends to fuck him, and let’s just say things go about as well as you’d expect based on the phrase “serious conversation with Richie.” They end up in a full-on shitty fistfight, with Richie quickly gaining the upper hand until Fak spills the beans that Richie has been dealing coke out of the restaurant’s parking lot.
For Carmen, who’s been attending Al-Anon meetings thrice weekly, that news goes over like a lead balloon. He threatens to call the police, and Richie quickly blames it on Mikey, who apparently started the whole thing. “How else do you think we made it through COVID?” Richie asks, and he’s got a halfway decent point there, mostly because The Original Beef seems like the kind of spot people go during their lunch hours, and if everyone was just not out and about, I can’t imagine it would have gone well for them. Plus, let’s be honest: These knuckleheads figuring out an emergency small business loan? Please.
With the power still out, the gang is forced to improvise. The walk-in cooler isn’t working, so Richie and Carmen run food to Pete and Sugar’s because they, of course, have a spotless basement and a pristine chest freezer. Sugar berates Carmen for not returning her calls, telling him, “Did you know I recently had a brother die too?” Touché, Sugar! Carmen tells her he’s sorry and that he’s been going to meetings, even letting her in on the church where he attends, so that she knows he’s legit.
Back the Beef, the crew realizes that not only do they not have power, but they’re also stove-less, as their pilot lights have all gone out. Sydney whips up a grill out of some materials from the construction site across the street and they’re back in business, slinging beef out of the parking lot and taking cash payments. It seems to draw a crowd and while it’s certainly not an ideal situation, it’s more proof that, if this staff puts their mind to it, they can really do anything.
While everyone else cooks, Marcus sulks behind the building. He tells Carmen it’s his fault that the power went and that he’ll never make a mistake again. Carmen tells him that he will, but it’s all about how to learn from it and move on. The night after he got his Beard Award, Carmen started a fire where he was working and considered for a split second if he should just walk away and let it burn. (Let’s just assume that was Joel McHale’s spot.) Marcus tells him that he loves what he’s doing now, especially compared to his robotic, mindless first job at Mcdonald’s, and it’s easy to see how Carmy is quickly becoming a mentor to him as well.
Fak’s condenser hookup turns out to be not much of one at all, and Carmy is asked to come up with $5,500 to get the walk-in fixed. Where will he get that kind of money that fast, he wonders? (Is he all out of jeans to sell? How’s his credit?) He opts to ask Richie for help, telling him this is a one-time, last-time type of offer, and Richie agrees. The lights miraculously turn back on an instant later, and the Original Beef lives to see another day.
We end the episode much like it began, with Sydney riding the pink line home to her apartment with her dad. We see the remnants of her Sheridan Road Catering business, all piled up in her room, and we see just how close she lives to the El. We also see that, like Carmy, she seems to live, breathe, and dream food, even waking up from deep sleep to jot something down about a cold short rib braise. If nothing goes wrong again (har har), maybe her dream of a special, more expensive dinner menu will come to fruition, beef tongue, risotto, and all.
• Another episode, another Wilco jammer. This time, it’s “Impossible Germany,” which is great.
• “I got hearth.” “You’re gonna need brain.”
• Wild theory time: You know how the whole restaurant is lined with these tomato cans that Carmy pointed out aren’t even foodservice size? And remember how he said the restaurant doesn’t even use tomatoes? While I could be wrong because — hey, with all those cans lying around, it’s a wonder no one’s opened one yet — what if there’s something in those cans that Mikey stashed away, be it drugs or cash? Is that what the note to Carmen says? Or maybe they’re all just a bunch of nice-looking cans that look good on TV. Who knows!
• Lastly, shoutout to The Bear for an incredible Bloodspot reference, which only made me go back and watch the “say matte” clip, which is wilder every time I see it. If you haven’t given it a gander, please do.