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!)