Top Chef: Texas

Top Chef: Texas

Ride a bike, save a Pee-Wee

I wish that Top Chef could have been as good as it’s been in these last few episodes the entire season. Now that the show has gotten over its fascination in being in mighty TEXAS, the challenges are tough, the food is good and the guest judges are interesting. Amazingly, the show has redeemed itself.

This week, the guest judge is children’s television host and infamous public masturbator, Pee-Wee Herman. An unexpected choice, but some of these chefs need to take themselves just a little less seriously.

For the Quickfire challenge, Pee-Wee announces that the chefs have to cook him pancakes. Most of the chefs are like—pancakes, what are those? I only cook Swedish Finnish Pannukakku or whatever—but nevertheless, they rise to the occasion. Grayson puts ricotta in hers, Sarah adds in some sprinkles, but Ed has the best idea that I think everyone watching at home should try. He drizzles in the pancake batter so the whole mess is like the delicious, crispy edges of pancakes, and then tops everything with fresh fruit and bacon. He’s the winner.

Then Padma and Pee-Wee announce the Elimination Challenge. The chefs are each given bicycles and must race around the San Antonio gathering ingredients to cook a family-style luncheon for Pee-Wee and the judges. They have to hit up restaurants around the city, and ask them to use their kitchens, cook, and then make it back to The Alamo to serve the judges. They have $100 for supplies.

It’s a tough challenge. Many of the chefs that the contestants find don’t seem to understand what Top Chef is, asking them to cook over-easy eggs during their short challenge times. Other contestants run into greasy kitchens, or kitchens with limited supplies. Most of the chefs write up itemized lists for the contestants to pay at the end of their cooking time.

After service, the judges choose dull-as-they-come Lindsey as their winner for her stuffed zucchini with braised beef cheeks, rice and goat cheese. Paul is also safe for his chicken with red curry gastrique and summer salad with basil blossom oil.

The bottom three are Ed, Grayson and Sarah. Ed made an undercooked chicken and grits and a kale, okra and roasted tomato salad. Grayson made too-big egg, spinach and gorgonzola stuffed chicken with a butternut squash salad, while Sarah made an under-seasoned summer vegetable egg salad with a chicken skin vinaigrette. In the end, Grayson’s sins are the most grievous, and she is sent home.