This episode of “Top Chef” was one of the most fun in recent history. It was a triathlon of a challenge and, oh yeah, PEE-WEE HERMAN was the guest judge! Everyone hop on your Schwinn and let’s cruise through this recap!
By this point in the competition we know that all the cheftestants are getting a little loopy. Though we see one episode a week, they are faced with a new elimination challenge basically every day. Ed waking up in a dress shirt, suit jacket, and running shorts signifies that even though the chefs are all about business, they still need to have a little fun.
Only five chefs remain: Ed, Grayson, Lindsay, Paul and Sarah. Anytime they enter a kitchen they are ready to blow the minds of Padma and the guest judge with a crazy culinary masterpiece cooked in less than 40 minutes. Throw them a curveball and they are ready to hit it over the centerfield wall.
So this week, when the chefs see a room filled with pancakes, you can see that it is a little elementary for their tastes. Padma announces that, though there is no immunity, the chefs are competing for $5,000 and have 20 minutes to cook pancakes for the guest judge.
As the chefs wonder which master chef loves this simple breakfast favorite, they hear that magic bell and Pee-Wee fricken Herman drives into the kitchen on his iconic red Schwinn Phantom.
Pee-Wee is full of one liners:
“I love pancakes, but I’m not gonna marry them!”
“Five thousand dollars for a pancake? Wow, that’s a stack!”
“I have an open mind and an open mouth!”
The chefs try to conjure some magic to make their pancake a bit more whimsical and creative than Aunt Jemima’s.
Though Pee-Wee tells every single chef, “I have to say, this is the best pancake I’ve ever had,” there can be only one winner. Ed breezed past the other four chefs with his Crispy Pancake Tidbits inspired by the accidental drops that fall on the griddle.
Padma and Pee-Wee inform the chefs that for this week’s challenge they will return to the Alamo. It is an important place for the chefs, as it is where they began the show with 29 chefs. But it is also a significant place for Pee-Wee. See, Pee-Wee still has a bad taste in his mouth after he traveled across the country in “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” to look for his stolen bike in the basement of the Alamo, only to find out that there is no basement in the Alamo! He is hoping this lunch will change his mind about the Alamo.
I hope that everyone has seen “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure,” and if you haven’t, stop reading this. Seriously, stop. Watch it right now, and when you realize that this movie is that something you always knew was missing from your childhood, you should call your parents and yell at them for never having shown you this classic.
The chefs are given bicycles, and they have to shop for food, find a restaurant that will let them use their kitchen, cook a family-style meal for the four judges, and bike back to the Alamo in three hours!
This challenge is fun to watch but must have seriously sucked for the chefs! They are biking around San Antonio in 100+ degrees, and then cooking in a random kitchen.
Some chefs have an easy time finding their restaurants and cooking. Grayson gets to her restaurant first, which is good because she seems to need a lot of time to properly execute her dish. Ed finds a lovely bed and breakfast that lets him cook, but he has to cook some eggs over easy for their customers in return. Paul, aka the future Richard Blais, looks as if he is just one of the boys in the Belgian restaurant that he ends up finding.
Sarah and Lindsay have some troubles. Lindsay doesn’t like the selection at the first restaurant where she stops, so she tries another restaurant only to find Grayson there. As she is biking around San Antonio, Sarah, who’s been lost the entire time, stumbles upon Lindsay’s first restaurant, leaving Lindsay high and dry to find a place to cook.
The chefs all manage to finish their dishes and make it back to the Alamo in time to serve the judges. Because this challenge calls for a family-style meal, all the chefs bring their food out at once. Though the food looks great, I am struck by the fact that everyone cooked with chicken. I expected a bit more creativity, but that is just my musing from my couch.
Let’s face it; the judges are unable to talk seriously about the food because Pee-Wee is cracking wise the entire lunch! I would love to eat a meal once a week with him, and I think he should permanently be a judge on the show.
This season has brought amazing food. During earlier challenges a chef would make a critical error, and the judges would have a clear-cut reason for sending someone packing. That is not the case for these chefs. Much as they did two weeks ago during the Gothic dinner with Charlize Theron, each chef made a delightful dish. The judges have trouble picking a winner and even more trouble picking a loser.
Lindsay, who didn’t even think she would have enough time to make it back to the Alamo, wins the challenge. Perhaps it was Tim’s nostalgia for her stuffed zucchini, which was the first thing he even made on his own, or Pee-Wee’s love for food in the shape of a boat: Lindsay managed to squeeze past Paul, the man, the myth, the legend.
The judges nitpick between the lack of salt on Sarah’s perfect medium-boiled eggs, the weird texture of Paul’s chicken, and the failed mixing of butternut squash and tomato in Grayson’s dish to figure out which chef must go home.
In the end, Padma tells Grayson that she must pack her knives and go. “Top Chef” editors will have a little less work to do now that the resident potty mouth has been given the boot.
So now that we have reached the final four, next week, the winner of “Top Chef: Last Chance Kitchen” returns to stir the pot! Who do we think it is, Top Cheffers? Even though Grayson defended Bev all season, do you think she will go for blood in there? Should Pee-Wee be a recurring judge?! Leave your comments below!
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