What Gordon Ramsay Taught Alex Belew About Lobster Prep - Exclusive

The last time you saw Alex Belew on screen, both Stephanie Izard and Gordon Ramsay were raving over his chicken. No surprises there. Chicken is something solidly in the "Hell's Kitchen" contestant's southern wheelhouse. It's Belew's consistency throughout the seven episodes of "Hell's Kitchen" Season 21 that has his fans buzzing. The chef's Insta followers are predicting a top-three finish for the Tennessee-based hopeful.

They might not be far off the mark. Beyond Belew's mastery of chicken dishes, he's a quick study. We'd be exaggerating if we described him as exceedingly humble, but he's certainly ready to learn. When pitted against the 20-somethings, the 40-something rapidly realized he'd have to up his game. "Working around Sakari and Daphne and Alejandro and Vlad and Brett, they were more keen to taking big risks. For us older folks — I'm lumped into that group now — we felt like we were going to play it safe," Belew told Mashed in an exclusive interview. "It was taking on the idea of being a bit of a more risk-taker, trying to be more creative while still staying in my wheelhouse and executing properly."

He also took extensive notes from Gordon Ramsay, who gave Belew what was possibly his first lobster tutorial.

Alex Belew breaks down Gordon Ramsay's lobster advice

Maybe you remember Season 21, Episode 3. Alex Belew does, because he succeeded in breaking down a lobster, nearly perfectly. "I'm right outside of Nashville. I'm very landlocked," Belew explained to Mashed. "Anytime that we've used crab — and I don't think I've ever worked at a restaurant where we sold lobster tails ... that stuff is already brought in. It's taken apart. It's mostly all prepped. I've never really had to deal with that." The challenge should have been nearly impossible for the chef to master, particularly because Ramsay demoed it in half the time he gave his contestants to execute.

"Chef [Ramsay] did that in four minutes with his demo, which is lightning fast if you've never seen it before," Belew recounted. "You're watching it trying to absorb all the details. He gave us 10 minutes to start with a raw live lobster, cook it, and then take it apart. I was the first one done. I had 90 seconds left, and I don't think I can do it again." 

Despite that, the "Hell's Kitchen" star did retain Ramsay's key advice. "You need to make sure [with] the claws and the tail that you blanch them long enough that the meat separates from the shell, because if you don't leave it in the water long enough, the proteins don't contract, and the meat will still stick to the shell," Belew told Mashed. "As you're trying to break it open, you'll tear the meat, because it's still stuck to the outside." 

New episodes of "Hell's Kitchen" air Thursday nights at 8:00 p.m. ET on FOX. To keep up with Alex Belew, visit his website and subscribe to his mailing list.