February 2nd, 2012
01:04 PM ET
The five remaining chefs on “Top Chef: Texas” entered the kitchen in last night’s episode to a comical number of yard-high pancake stacks - and the Incredible Aging Pee-wee Herman riding his bike.
It was all part of the "pancakes for Pee-wee" (sounds like a youth football fundraiser) Quickfire. Three of the chefs cooked fairly straightforward flapjacks, but Paul and Ed’s were notable.
Paul made rolled pancakes with black pepper and champagne dippin’ dots (the bubbly of the future?). Meanwhile, Ed made crispy pancake bits with bacon and berries, which Pee-wee decreed worthy of the $5,000 prize.
Now for the Elimination Challenge - which, with Pee-wee and the Alamo, had plenty of possibilities. Would the challenge draw on the egg salad-y picnic scene? The Rube Goldberg breakfast machine? The Alamo corn lesson?
Or maybe since Pee-wee is the ultimate manchild, the contestants would have to make an adult version and a kid version of a dish.
Nope. Instead, the producers latched onto the bike thing.
The chefs had three hours to bike around town to find food and a kitchen in which to cook it, then pedal their meal over to the Alamo. Sounds like a COMPLETELY accurate way to gauge culinary skills.
While searching for their own restaurant kitchens, Paul revealed he once cracked his head on the pavement after a bike crash, so now when he drinks alcohol the left side of his face turns red. (Um, how have we not heard about this yet?! You’re telling me the red face never came up during one of those annoying mini-segments where the drunk chefs are laughin’ and scratchin’ in the stew room?)
Anyway, each chef had to awkwardly ask some restaurant manager if they could bring their sweaty bodies and a caravan of sweaty cameramen into their kitchens. This led to a Pantheon “Top Chef” moment: as Ed cooked in a random B&B, the owner asked/basically commanded him to cook eggs for their customers. The clearly flabbergasted Ed obliged.
After cooking, the chefs packed up for the bumpy ride back to the Alamo. Thanks to “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,” we know the Alamo doesn’t have a basement, but who knew it had such a well-appointed kitchen?
Considering the ridiculous parameters of this challenge, all the dishes turned out pretty good. Sure, the chefs this season have been underwhelming, but now that we’ve whittled down the numbers, they’ve made very few mistakes.
On to the judging: Let’s start with the winner, who was the only chef to steer clear of Pee-wee’s favorite food, chicken. Lindsay made zucchini stuffed with beef cheeks and rice. Save for minor gripes about the soggy salad, it was a hit. And Pee-wee liked that the zucchini resembled boats.
(Do you think Paul Reubens ever came out of character with the judges? It must be exhausting doing that voice for an entire day. Or lifetime.)
This was Lindsay’s first win, which you never would’ve guessed by her confidence all season long. Season favorite Paul came in second with chicken and red curry gastrique.
On the bottom we had a tight race between Sarah, Ed and Grayson. Sarah made a twist on egg salad: a veggie salad with soft-boiled eggs and chicken skin vinaigrette. It took us 50,000 years, but FINALLY the human race figured out how to liquefy chicken skin. We’ve officially peaked as a species.
But Sarah’s downfall was a common one in the “Top Chef” universe: not enough salt and pepper.
As for Ed, he made chicken and grits, but nobody could get over the chicken’s “weird” texture, a result of him poaching it in beef fat.
Lastly, Grayson made chicken stuffed with spinach, gorgonzola and egg yolk. The weak point was her side of butternut squash (a fall vegetable) with tomatoes. How DARE she intermingle produce seasons! Also, her hunks of chicken were Flintstonian in size.
So we had a failure in seasoning (Sarah), a failure in technique (Ed) and a failure in vision (Grayson).
In the end, Grayson and her folksy charm got the ax. Which to me was surprising - you’d think rubbery chicken or blandness are greater offenses than a superfluous salad component. What I’m saying is...Grayson got HOSED.
Do you agree?
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