Recap: ‘Top Chef’ – ‘Bike, Borrow & Steal’

02.01.12 6 years ago 5 Comments


Oh, this should be a fun challenge — Pee-wee Herman is in the house! No, he’s no Charlize Theron, but I suspect the chefs will have to bring a sense of humor to their food, and that’s never a bad thing. Just as long as they don’t make entrees that taste like a melted Baskin-Robbins cake or anything. Humor should not be synonymous with diabetic shock. 

The Quickfire Challenge will require the chefs to make pancakes, the favorite food of our guest judge, in 20 minutes. The guest judge will be, of course, Pee-wee. He wants happy, fun, tasty pancakes. And the winner gets $5,000. So bring out the fun and happy, minions! 

I have to say, I love Pee-wee Herman. Love him. But let’s face it — at his age, the white face make-up and lipstick is starting to look a little “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” 

Sarah says she has to win this challenge because she hasn’t won any money left, and she knows her fiance will be disappointed. I’m floored, not that Sarah hasn’t won anything, but that anyone can tolerate her enough to want to marry her. 

Grayson: Ricotta buttermilk pancake, peach compote, blackberry and basil

Pee-wee makes crazy faces, but he thinks they’re the best pancakes he’s ever tasted.

Sarah: Confetti pancakes, blackberry sue, cocoa nibs and vanilla whipped cream

These look like what happens when a little kid sicks up at the county fair — mostly sugar, and ugly sugar at that. She knows he’s not ACTUALLY a 5-year-old child, right? Pee-wee says they’re the best pancakes he’s ever had. I’m so glad he’s found a recurring joke he likes. 

Paul: Rolled pancake with berries, black pepper & champagne dippin’ dots

Pee-wee says he has an open mind and an open mouth. And yes, best he’s ever had. I’m just not going to write that down again, but you can assume he says it to everyone. 

Lindsay: Ricotta pancake, whipped creme fraiche, Marcona almond and anise cookies

Anise cookies? Yuck. Sorry, that does not say breakfast to me. Or edible. 

Edward: Pancake bits, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, bacon and bruleed marshmallow

This looks kind of great, and I love that he didn’t serve a traditional pancake. If “Top Chef” has taught me anything, it is that, yes, bacon goes with almost everything. 

Pee-wee thinks they all did a great job, but the winner is… Ed! He’s thrilled. I’m glad for Ed. He’s had a rough few weeks, so it’s nice to see him pull out a win at this point. 

Now for the Elimination Challenge. They’ll be going back to the Alamo, a reference to “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,” during which he lost his bike and incorrectly believed it was in the basement of the Alamo (which doesn’t have a basement). This challenge is to give Pee-wee some happy new memories of the Alamo. What I find particularly strange about the way Padma and the chefs treat Pee-wee is that they all seem to find him to be amusing and cuddly, like a Muppet. Which does make sense, as he’s in character, but it’s a little weird, given that he’s really a 59-year-old man. 

Each one of the chefs will get a new bicycle from Pee-wee. Their challenge is to make a family style lunch for Pee-wee and the other judges, but they must find their own food and a restaurant to cook it in, then deliver the food themselves. Holy crap! I know, the show has to keep creating tougher challenges, but this one verges on the silly. 

They get ten minutes to talk to Pee-wee about what he likes. He eats healthy. He likes chicken. No known allergies. I sense this is a bit of a struggle for Pee-wee, in that he wants to answer seriously — he’ll eat spicey food, for example — but he is committed to staying in character. And we all know Pee-wee would probably want gummi bears and cotton candy. 

The chefs head to the farmer’s market, but they only have $100 to spend. Anything beyond that, they have to scavenge. Ideally, I’d like to see one of them source their protein from a dumpster, just for kicks. 

Grayson steals Paul’s first choice restaurant, but he finds another place quickly enough. Sarah gets lost. Lindsay runs around looking for couscous. Ed finds a B&B and gets to work, except the guy at the B&B wants him to cook eggs for the guests. Um, I’m pretty sure that wasn’t part of the arrangement Bravo made with these places, but poor Ed does what he’s told.  

There’s a brief moment of conflict, in which Lindsay tries to set up shop at the same restaurant as Sarah, who snagged the spot while Lindsay was out looking for her couscous. But there’s no time for fighting — Lindsay just has to find another place to cook. Too bad. 

Time to eat! Padma, Pee-wee, Gail Simmons and Tom Colicchio will be judging.  

Sarah: Summer vegetable egg salad with chicken skin vinaigrette

Grayson: Egg, spinach & gorgonzola stuffed chicken & butternut roasted squash

Lindsay: Stuffed zucchini with braised beef cheeks, rice and goat cheese

Edward: Chicken & grits, raw corn, kale salad with red-eye gravy

Paul: Roasted chicken, red curry gastrique, summer salad with basil blossom oil

Gail likes Sarah’s chicken skin idea, but Tom thinks that she didn’t season the eggs — rookie mistake. Gail likes the zucchini used as a vessel in Lindsay’s dish, but Padma thinks she used way too much cheese. Pee-wee thinks the beef tastes like chicken. Pee-wee is not going to be a serious contributor to this judges’ panel, FYI.

Pee-wee thinks Ed’s dish is delicious, but he and Tom agree that the chicken is undercooked and weirdly rubbery. Tom wishes Grayson had left out the tomatoes. Gail loves Paul’s dish (is everything really this good or is Gail just in a fabulous mood?) but Padma felt it was too sweet. 

Still, everyone seems to agree that all of the food was very good, despite some minor flubs. Now, when Pee-wee thinks of the Alamo, he’ll think of chicken. Lots and lots of chicken. Still, better than thinking about a missing bike or an unfortunate incident in a Florida porn movie theater. Padma responds to Pee-wee’s chicken comment with, “I know you are, but what am I?” I never saw Padma as a Pee-wee fan! 

All of the chefs are called to the judges’ table. Tom tells them they all did a nice job, but obviously someone has to go home. 

They start the critique with Paul. Pee-wee loved that he had the option of eating the chicken with skin or no skin. Padma wishes there’d been another crunchy element.

Pee-wee tells Edward his chicken had a weird texture. Tom adds that it was a bit rubbery.

Gail tells Grayson she loved her squash. Tom loved the cheese, spinach and bacon, but he didn’t like the combo of squash and tomato. 

Padma loved Sarah’s okra. Tom thought the eggs were perfectly cooked and perfectly underseasoned. 

Pee-wee loved eating something served in a little boat. Gail thought Lindsay’s salad was overdressed. 

Pee-wee declares that the winner is… Lindsay. Really? She made friggin’ stuffed zucchini. Any housewife in America probably has a recipe for stuffed zucchini. 

Paul is also safe. But it’s between Ed, Grayson and Sarah as to which chef will be going home. Oh, oh please let it be Sarah. 

Pee-wee thinks everyone failed because all their dishes needed ketchup. The other judges aren’t coming to a consensus beyond thinking they didn’t need the ketchup. Every one of the bottom three dishes had minor but important flaws. I would say forgetting the damn salt would be a more important flaw than tomatoes and squash, though I will say Ed’s rubber chicken could be a killer.

Grayson is given the boot. Noooooo! Grayson not only cooked the creepiest thing for Charlize Theron, she was tough enough to stand up to the mean girls on behalf of Bev (which no one else seemed willing to do). It just seems wrong for her to possibly be going home before Lindsay or Sarah. 

It’s down to the two mean girls, Ed and Paul. I hope Ed and Paul wipe the damn floor with the other two. Of course, we don’t know who’s coming back for that fifth spot — Grayson or Bev. Either one is fine with me, really. 

So, let’s hope online and do a quick review of the final Last Chance Kitchen, shall we? 

The challenge is simple — Grayson and Bev have thirty minutes to make anything they want. Beverly has the temerity to ask Grayson why she got the boot, to which Grayson responds with some choice expletives. I’m a little shocked Bev would be resorting to mind games, but then, I’m not even sure she’s that calculating. She may have just been excited to see the one person who supported her on the show and wanted to chat. Maybe that’s wishful thinking, but it seems like a very Bev thing to do. 

Bev: Red snapper in coconut broth infused with lemongrass, ginger, Thai basil & cilantro with a fennel mango salad

Grayson: Bacon seared scallop with a gastrique of cherry & champagne grapes with pistachio and tarragon

Tom felt Bev’s dish was a little on the sweet side, but it was a nice fish. He thinks Grayson had crazy unexpected flavors, but they all worked — alas, the butter burned a little bit. But one dish was just a little better. The winner of Last Chance Kitchen… will be revealed next week. 

Who do you think deserves to win Last Chance Kitchen – Bev or Grayson? Do you think Pee-wee was a good judge? And which chef do you think is going to win the whole contest?

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