Bacon Sucks: Chefs Reveal the Most Overrated & Underrated Meats


In our unending search for ultimate meat-truth, we asked some extra-famous chefs -- from Paul Qui, to Tom Colicchio, to John Besh -- for their opinions about which proteins are the most overrated, and which are the most underrated.

Hopefully you enjoyed your last filet mignon, because you're never going to look at it the same way again.

filet mignon overrated
Flickr/jeffreyw (edited)

John Besh

Chef/owner at August (address and info), Domenica (address and info), and others
New Orleans, LA
Most overrated meat: Filet mignon
"It's one-dimensional. Give me a shoulder or a piece of chuck, and I'll give you something that's really rich in flavor."
Most underrated meats: Pork shoulder, lamb shoulder, and beef chuck
"I use all three in my recipe for baeckeoffe (a meaty stew) in my new cookbook, Cooking from the Heart: My Favorite Lessons Learned Along the Way. The cheaper cuts of pork and lamb are completely transformed in this succulent stew."

Tom Colicchio

Chef/owner at Craft (address and info), Craftbar (address and info), and others
New York, NY
Most overrated meat: Beef filet
"It’s boring and has very little flavor."
Most underrated meat: Rabbit
"It's versatile, lean, has better flavor than chicken -- and it is never mass-produced."

Josh Capon

Executive chef at Lure Fishbar (address and info), Bowery Meat Company (address and info), and others
New York, NY
Most overrated meat: Filet mignon
"There’s not much flavor and not a lot of fat. It was classic back in the day, and obviously it’s expensive, but it’s not a flavorful piece of meat to me. There’s a time and a place for it, but there are much better cuts."
Most underrated meat: Lamb
"You should go with a lamb blade steak, or something similar. Or do a butterflied leg of lamb, marinate the s*** out of it with rosemary, garlic, olive oil, whatever. Put it on the grill, or do a roast and make homemade gyros. You’ll blow people away."

brisket overrated
Dan Gentile/Thrillist (edited)

Adam Perry Lang

Pitmaster at Daisy May's BBQ (address and info)
New York, NY
Most overrated meat: Brisket
"Short rib is far superior for barbecue. The point of brisket is brilliant, but the flat is nothing special."
Most underrated meat: Chuck steak
"People go for more romantic cuts, but it delivers much more diversity and depth of flavor."

Michael White

Executive chef at Marea (address and info), Ai Fiori (address and info), and others
New York, NY
Most overrated meat: Beef filet
"It's trash. It is a non-working muscle, which makes it super tender (because the cow doesn't use it), but has no flavor and is only palatable when forced on a long airplane ride."
Most underrated meat: Rump steak
"I serve it at Chop Shop in London. Brits love rump steak, but it is certainly underappreciated in the US. It is cheap and best grilled with rosemary salt. It's like a lean filet, but has much more flavor."

Brian Malarkey

Chef/owner at Searsucker (address and info), Herringbone (address and info), and others
Most overrated meat: Grass-fed beef
“I like my cows fat, with personality. No one talks about a grass-fed pig, but we all love our pork -- same with duck, rabbit, and chicken. You can be organic and free-range and still eat well. Grain, barley, soy, corn, alfalfa -- it’s still natural! Maybe I’ll start feeding my beef basil so they smell like my snails...”
Most underrated meat: Rabbit
"It's the pork of tomorrow! The duck of the future! They are very sustainable and oh-so-tender! Now we just need people to forget how soft and cuddly they are. Heard of grass-fed beef? I like carrot-fed RABBITS!!!”

chicken underrated
Jeff Miller/Thrillist (edited)

Paul Qui

Executive chef at Qui (address and info)
Austin, TX
Most overrated meat: American Wagyu/Akaushi beef
"Just because it has a Japanese name doesn't mean that it's great. There are varying levels of meat, and for depth of flavor, it's hard to compete with a nice, prime, dry-aged Angus."
Most underrated meat: Chicken
"Chicken is one of the most versatile proteins to cook. There are also varying flavors depending on the breed."

Bill Telepan

Executive chef at Telepan (address and info)
New York, NY
Most overrated meat: Filet mignon
"There is very little marbling and not a lot of fat, which means less flavor."
Most underrated meat: Guinea hen
"It’s more flavorful than chicken and has a good gamey flavor. Guinea hen goes well with everything you’d use chicken with. It’s hard to find, but worth it if you can."

David Burke

Executive chef at David Burke Kitchen (address and info), David Burke Fishtail (address and info), and others
New York, NY
Most overrated meat: Porterhouse
"Even though it's sirloin and filet together -- and a great piece of meat -- it doesn’t cook the same. I’d rather eat them separately."
Most underrated meat: "Cow"-amari beef
"It’s something I’m working on as we speak. Also, braised beef cheeks and roasted rooster."

country style pork ribs
Dan Gentile/Thrillist (edited)

Paul Kahan

Executive chef at Avec (address and info), Publican Quality Meats (address and info), and others
Chicago, IL
Most overrated meat: Tenderloin
"There's no flavor or fat, and the texture is horrible."
Most underrated meat: Pork country ribs
"They're the opposite of tenderloin: super marbled with a ton of fat, and an amazing, rich, lip-smacking flavor."

Laurent Tourondel

Chef/owner at Arlington Club (address and info), Brasserie Ruhlmann (address and info), and others
New York, NY
Most overrated meat: Filet mignon
"It's an extremely popular cut, but as a steak lover, it’s one of my least favorites. It’s a good cut for those who aren’t big on meat because it doesn’t have much natural fat (which I love, but I know some people aren’t into eating a chunk of steak fat). The flavor is just less robust and beefy than other cuts."
Most underrated meat: Tri-tip (Wagyu)
"The grade is important because it can be dry without proper marbling. The cut is large-grained, which gives it more natural fat and allows for a better mouthfeel. It has a rich, beefy flavor and is especially delicious grilled on the BBQ."

bacon overrated
Dan Gentile/Thrillist (edited)

Justin Warner

Chef/co-owner at Do or Dine (address and info)
Brooklyn, NY
Most overrated meat: Bacon
"I don't think bacon sucks. I use it in my restaurant and eat a decent amount of it. I'm just tired of it getting all the press. The Internet has turned what was once a humble breakfast treat into the meme of meats. You don't see people cashing in with 'Feed Me Tornados of Beef' tote bags. You don't see country ham (which I believe is a better meat for us to be stoked about, as it is an American invention) getting its own 'day.' Bacon has become the WWF finishing move of the American culinary landscape."
Most underrated meat: Jellyfish
"Texturally, nothing compares. Malaysians say the texture is 'music to the teeth.' So what's it taste like? Whatever you want it to. Hot day? Mint, lime juice, olive oil. Depressed? Jellyfish alfredo. Here's the other thing: it's plentiful as hell. I caught 90,000lbs in one boat in one day off the coast of Georgia. That ended up making about 4.5 TONS of comestible food. Of course, we shipped it right off to China to be used in a Foxconn cafeteria or something."

Jason Dady

Executive chef/owner at Tre Trattoria (address and info), Two Bros. BBQ (address and info), and others
San Antonio, TX
Most overrated meat: Foie gras
"Anyone can sear a piece and serve it with something sweet. It's not creative."
Most underrated meat: Tongue
"It's dense, taste, and fatty. It has everything you want."

pig face underrated
Dan Gentile/Thrillist (edited)

Peter Serpico

Executive chef/owner at Serpico (address and info)
Philadelphia, PA
Most overrated meat: Beef tenderloin
"It's not that there's anything wrong with it; it's just that it's generally too expensive for what it is. As an alternative, I always recommend a hanger steak. Just as soft but much more flavorful."
Most underrated meat: Pig head
"Whenever anyone has pig head on the menu, it's usually in terrine form, which is great, but we do it a little differently. We actually try to serve it more sandwich-style, which means we have it thinly sliced and more familiar."

Marc Marrone

Executive sous chef at Tao Group (address and info)
Las Vegas, NV
Most overrated meat: Chicken breast
“The most overrated cut of meat, by far, is chicken breast. Yes, it’s lean and easy for people to work with, but it has no real flavor, and people turn it into jerky before they think it’s cooked.”
Most underrated meat: Cheek
“The most underrated type of meat is any cheek: beef cheeks, veal cheeks, etc. The name throws people off. When cooked right and braised properly it yields the best textured and flavored meat you can imagine -- great over polenta, in a ravioli, or even [with] fried rice.”

beef tenderloin overrated
Flickr/Alpha (edited)

Michael Symon

Chef at Lola (address and info), Roast (address and info), and others
Cleveland, OH
Most overrated meat: Beef tenderloin
"It is the most expensive cut in the entire steer and tends to have no fat, poor texture, and little flavor."
Most underrated meat: Chicken thighs
"They're usually the least expensive cuts, and to me, they have the most depth of flavor. In my experience, people that generally dislike dark meat tend to love chicken thighs."

Andrew Weissman

Chef at Il Sogno (address and info) and Sandbar (address and info)
San Antonio, TX
Most overrated meat: Pork tenderloin
"It tastes like wet cardboard."
Most underrated meat: Veal breast
"It's fantastic braised."

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Dan Gentile is a staff writer at Thrillist. His most overrated meat is pork ribs and most underrated is whatever mystery mix goes into a spit of al pastor. Follow him to pork barbecue trash talk at @Dannosphere.