Top Chef 9.13 – Bike, Borrow Steal.

There are going to be more Big Adventure and Playhouse references in this recap than you can shake a stick at. Also, you shouldn’t be shaking sticks at your computer, you could seriously crack the screen. I pity the fool that shakes a stick at their computer screen! (Oh. Pee Wee Herman is the guest judge today. In case you didn’t pick up on that.

Grayson misses the other goofball on the show, Chris (I don’t) and Ed rolls out of bed in a dress shirt and suit jacket. Why? Because from now on, it’s all business. They’re slowly losing their minds, in other words.

At the Top Chef Kitchen, they’re confronted with a massive pile of pancakes. And some pinwheels. And a Ken Doll. And mecca lecca high, mecca hiney ho, a T-REX. Pee Wee Herman rolls out on a Schwinn bike (not the bike, sadly) and I am so sad to see that he looks like a melted candle up close. No, Pee Wee! Okay, Paul Reubens is getting up in years, but when they do a tight shot, it’s a little disconcerting.

Quickfire Challenge: to make the most imaginative pancake ever. They have 20 minutes and will get $5000. (Pee Wee makes a few jokes that fall flat…as a pancake. I know you are, but what am I? Infinity. Plus one. The chefs race around and as they start putting things together I realize that not one of them has realized they should be making a Mr. T face with bacon. I pity the fool that don’t eat his breakfast cereal. Or at least someone should have made a Rube Goldberg breakfast machine. COME ON, PEOPLE, THIS IS TOP CHEF.

  • Grayson: Ricotta buttermilk pancake with peach comport, blackberries and basil. It looks very pretty, even if the Minnie Mouse shape is a bit yawn-worthy. Pee Wee tells her that he likes her. He said, he likes her. And her pancakes. They’re the best he’s ever had.
  • Sarah: Confetti pancake with blackberry sauce, cocoa nibs and vanilla cream. She put confetti sprinkles (gross) in the batter before mixing them. Ew. Also, it’s like blueberries – add them after you’d poured! Pee Wee gets confetti stuck in his teeth and tells her that he likes her. He likes her. But she shouldn’t get mixed up with a guy like him – he’s a loner, Sarah, a rebel. But her pancakes are the best he’s ever had. (Grayson makes a sad face.)
  • Paul: Rolled pancake with berries, black pepper and champagne dipping dots. Whaaaat? Now that is worthy of Pee Wee and the Cowntess. (Please tell me you know Pee Wee’s Playhouse.) Pee Wee runs in a circle, laughing joyously because these are the best pancakes he has ever had.
  • Lindsay: Ricotta pancake with whipped crème fraiche, marcona almond and anise cookies. (It looks delicious) She gets an excited reaction over the addition of cookies. And seriously, these are the best pancakes he’s ever had.
  • Ed: Pancake bits, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, bacon and bruleed marshmallows. Are you kidding me with this? I would roll around in that. Pee Wee likes them, too. IN FACT, they happen to be the best pancakes he’s ever had.

The winner of this quickfire is the person who made the best pancakes he’s ever had, Ed!

In addition to there being thousands and thousands of ways to use corn (or as the Mexicans call it: maize) which I would like to share with you right now, there also is no basement to the Alamo. It pains Pee Wee to think of this (and if you don’t think that every time he said the word Alamo, I didn’t repeat in a sinister way, “In the baaaaaaaase-ment!” while drawing my finger down my notebook, then you don’t know me at all. I thought we meant more to each other, internet friend.) so he wants new memories!

Elimination Challenge: Everyone has a Schwinn bike waiting for them back at the house. They’ll have $100 and three hours to bike through town, find food and a restaurant to cook in and meet up at the Alamo to serve the judges. Pee Wee tells them he likes food, good food, spicy food, non-spicy food, American food, ethnic food…

Someone tells him in a stilted voice, “Mr. Herman, paging Mr. Herman, you have a telephone call at the front desk.” And he leaves them to it.


Ed is excited to bike and practices all over the house before they head out. Lindsay doesn’t know how to put a helmet on (everyone screams – Helmet is the secret word) and they all head to the Farmer’s market. Grayson follows Paul to a restaurant, but Paul goes to the wrong door, giving Grayson the chance to swoop in. Burn!

Paul finds a place up the street and gets permission to use a corner. Lindsay finds one and bitches about things, tells them she’ll be back. Ed finds a beautiful B&B with a home-style kitchen, and Sarah wastes time. After an hour, Sarah goes to Lindsay’s place (Lindsay is still gone) and yoinks it from her.

Lindsay locks the door and screams, “Go ahead and scream your head off! We’re miles from where anyone can hear you!” and rushes Sarah, pushing her into a huge tub. (Not really, she just moves on to find another place, some BBQ joint where at one point she tells someone to wash a pan for her. No, really. She’s such a sour person, gross.)

Sarah befriends her kitchen crew, Ed undercooks his chicken so it’ll travel well, and the owner of the B&B asks him to help with the breakfast orders. Um… Paul is hanging with his kitchen dudes, and they’re all really supportive of him. Aww, friends! (All of my friends have a big ‘but.’ Come on, Simone. Let’s talk about your big ‘but.’)

Grayson carries her travel pan of chicken in her hand as she pedals to the Alamo, burning the hell out of her hand along the way. Paul stops on his way to pull all of the animals out of a burning pet store, with the aid of a monkey. (I love that moment in the movie, but a monkey in a pet store?)

They get everything plated as the judges settle in. (Padma is wearing a gorgeous dress.)


Elimination Results:

  • Sarah: Summer vegetables and egg salad with chicken skin vinaigrette (Very lovely, barring the absolute lack of salt and pepper. Oh no!)
  • Grayson: Egg, spinach, Gorgonzola stuffed chicken breast with roasted butternut squash and tomatoes (Pee Wee loved the “surprise” in his – the yolk – everyone loved the squash, but didn’t like the combo with tomatoes.)
  • Lindsay: Stuffed zucchini with braised beef cheeks, greens and goat cheese (Boats! Who doesn’t like food in boats? Possibly there’s too much goat cheese, but Pee Wee likes it.)
  • Ed: Chicken and grits, raw corn, kale salad and red eye gravy (The corn and gravy are big hits, but the chicken feels underdone. Uh oh.)
  • Paul: Roasted chicken, red curry gastrique, salad with basil blossom oil (Gail loved it. A little more heat would have been nice.)


Judges Table

Pee Wee shows them a layout of the Alamo, with all of their positions in the building clearly marked. It has over 217 bits and pieces of information, starting with Exhibit A: a photograph of Pee Wee, moments before he was served food. Exhibit B is another photograph. What’s different? He’d already eaten. Ed whispers to Paul, prompting Pee Wee to shout, “Do you have something you’d care to share with the rest of us, Amazing Edward?”

The winner is: Lindsay. Hooray. Paul is also safe. Ed, Grayson and Sarah are reminded of their failures (undercooked, tomatoes, and lack of seasoning, respectively) and Padma says, “Grayson. Please pack your knives and go.”

She huffs and says, “Smell ya later!” (No, she’s super graceful about it.) She gets hugs from everyone and leaves.   (Oh, Grayson, I’ll miss you.)

The Final Four (or are they?) hang in the stew room until Padma calls them back. Tom explains about the secret Top Chef competition happening. They don’t know it yet, but Bev is the last chef standing. Grayson will battle her out and one of them will come back for one final elimination challenge.

This show, it plays tricks on you. You play tricks back! It’s like you’re unraveling a big cable-knit sweater that someone keeps knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting…


NEXT WEEK: Who will come back? Bev? Grayson? Neyesha? Wah, poor Neyesha.

(Also: the stars at night! Are big and bright!  *clap clap clap clap* Deep in the heart of Texas!)

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  • Ivyfree

    This was seriously one of the worst episodes ever. I can’t imagine who thought PeeWee Herman was a good idea. He grates, and he’s not funny, and it’s extremely annoying that the show which brought us the Volt brothers, Kevin and Jen in season six- competing for the opportunity to try out for the US Bocuse d’or team- is down to making unseasoned egg salad for PeeWee Herman. The idea is Top Chef.. somebody who cooks superbly. Fine dining. Talent and taste. Yeah, the best way to find out who can showcase that is to cook for PeeWee Herman.

    • Oooh. Well. I love Pee Wee, and I enjoyed the show and thought it was a lot of fun. As for the “fine dining,” did you miss the chili cook off? The BBQs? The block party? Because that ain’t fine dining. It’s about elevating cuisine and/or being able to make something delicious, regardless of the circumstances.

      (Like the Target challenge a season or so back.)

      I’ll just step away seeing as we’re clearly on opposite sides here. Thank you for reading, though.

  • darkhawkhealer

    I could have done without PeeWee, personally. He’s not my kind of humor, though I recognize he gives lots of people a great sense of nostalgia.

    Grayson’s elimination finally prompted me to go see the webisodes instead of checking to see who won in the comments (hee!), and that ending just KILLED me!

    I’m kind of rooting for Grayson. I heart her like this, see? <3

    Ed knocked his quickfire out of the park, but I agree that his undercooked chicken looked kind of rubbery and gross.

    Lindsay's food looked good, much as I didn't want to think so.

    Yay, next week! Is it time yet??

    • Oh, how sad were you that Grayson left and not Sarah!? (Just me?) So you saw the Last Chance Kitchen? I am still reeling from Neyesha losing to Bev. Sure, Bev is a fine cook – she is – but Neyesha is outstanding. POOR THING.

      I love GRayson, too. I love that she never changed, was always goofy and brassy and sure of herself and FUN. My favorite kind of female, for sure.

      HAHAHA about Lindsay’s food. I know! She’s such a sour-puss. I CAN’T WAIT UNTIL NEXT WEEK, TOO!

  • I totally didn’t mind PeeWee (I grew up on is show like many of the chefs) but I did hate the time limit. I guess it was okay but 3 hours seemed so…. Top Model for it.

    And I know, as a former waitress, the restaurants they had on their map were totally prepared for it. So I thought it was fun but would have liked an extra hour, at least. All the same they did well! Ed’s cooking for his B&B was good.

    I shouted “NOoooooo” when Grayson was Knife’d and my roommate was like “…” But DUDE. I hope she wins LCK thought I suspect Bev did.

    • I looooooove PeeWee. Love. I think Big Adventure is one of the funniest comedies around.

      I liked the 3 hour time limit, but yeah – it’s not a lot of time, for sure. They’ve only had one shorter elimination challenge, I think. (I’ll have to back and check.)

      I saw them hitting restaurants at 10-11am and knew the lunch prep/rush was going on, and figured they’d made arrangements, too. I loved Ed whipping up eggs for the B&B.

      I haven’t seen LCK yet to know who won, but I’m hoping Grayson beats Bev, too. I love that kid.

  • Brunettepet

    I loved having this Pee-Wee goofiness and the chefs really rolled with it (shut up, you would have gone there, too). The food wasn’t spectacular but it was solid and the scavenger hunt aspect was very entertaining.

    Lindsay’s win was so out of left field I still feel a little dizzy. Beef cheek boats built by a bitch? I’m not buying them.

    All I can say is I liked Grayson. I liked Bev. Throwdown. I’m not following LTK, but I’m looking forward to the cage match.

    • Ha, I WOULD have gone there! And I think the food was better this challenge than last week, FOR SURE. I loved this challenge, I thought it was fun, entertaining, and something we’ve not seen yet in 9 seasons. Which is something in and of itself.

      Beef cheek boats – it’s like something from a 70s cook book, right? All that was missing was aspic.

      I need to log in and watch this LCK – but I might need a drink to bolster myself. I LOVED GRAYSON. *pours some Shiner out for my homie*

  • Ivyfree

    No, I’ve seen the chili cookoff and the block party and the snobbish foodie catering and the barbecue, et cetera, et cetera. I’m thinking of the pork cookoff fundraiser in Season 6, I think it was called “Pig and Pinot.” Matching pork to wine, outdoors. Superb cooking. I’ve also seen the New York museum cookoff for kids. There has always been a certain amount of goofy challenges, but by the time you get to the last few challenges, the chefs have been in kitchens, cooking as well as they can- not courting heatstroke by careering around a city on bicycles in 100+ degree weather, trying to locate food and kitchens to create a family-style lunch for a hasbeen comedian. All of these chefs can cook amazingly, see “Evil Queen Challenge.” So why can’t they let us see that? This has been a disappointing season all round.

    • There’s a lot of vitriol coming from you, which- hey. You are certainly entitled to your opinion. This website, however, is all about fannish love. Pointing out missteps, sure. But…

      For us, if we don’t love it, we don’t write about it. So if this season is a huge disappointment…you see where I’m going here.

      *cough* And Paul Reubens’ return to Broadway last year (aired on HBO) was nominated for 3 Emmys. Sorry, I’ll defend the guy every chance I get. :) But if he’s not for you, then he’s not for you. This entire recap is a love-fest to him and how fun I thought this ep was. To each his own.