Top Chef Texas: Bike, Borrow & Steal

E: Despite the fact that I really, really don’t like Pee-Wee Herman and find him way more frightening than funny, this was a surprisingly watchable episode.

M: I’ve never had a problem with Pee Wee, actually.  I’ve never been the biggest fan, but he always came across as endearingly annoying, not grating.  Now on the other hand, the man who plays him,Paul Reubens, give me the creeps.  That said, this was a fun episode, with a particularly fun elimination challenge!  But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

E: So, the quickfire.  Since I’ve always had a violent aversion to creepmaster Pee-Wee Herman, I never knew he had an obsession with pancakes.  But he does.

M: I haven’t had the same aversion, but also didn’t know of the pancake fetish.  I think we were slightly too old when Pee Wee’s Playhouse came out for it to be one of those shows that we remember every detail of.  If it had been something from, say, Battle of the Planets, Star Blazers or 3-2-1 Contact?  Different story!

E: I knew plenty of kids our age who watched Pee-Wee because they thought he was enjoyably trippy. Shudder.  Anyway, for their Quickfire, the top five chefs were tasked with making the BEST PANCAKES HE EVER ATE!

M: Which was exactly how he described each dish he tasted.  It was funny, but mostly for the contestants reactions to him doing it, first excitement, then disappointment, then realizing it was a joke.  If there had been more than five contestants that would have gotten REALLY old, but it was over just soon enough to not annoy me.  But enough about Pee Wee, let’s talk about the food.

E: I actually loved Sarah’s idea of funfetti pancakes, but wasn’t at all surprised that the sprinkles melted and dyed her pancakes pink.  That’s still fun, right?

M: I don’t know.  I’m not a big confetti cake fan, so confetti pancakes seem like an even worse idea to me.  However, if you’re going with that as your concept, then make them pink and don’t think that’s a bad thing.  The more colorful they are the better.

E: I don’t know how I feel about the ricotta (or as Mrs. M would say, rigotha) pancake thing.  I don’t know if I would try that or not.

M: Well, unlike with confetti cake, I am a huge fan.  I love both buttermilk pancakes and ricotta (and yes, my beautiful bride would pronounce it with the “g” and the “th”, despite my best efforts), as well as blackberries and peaches, so Grayson’s sounded pretty great to me.  And I also love anise cookies (also known as pitzelles, pronounced pits-aye-lees, not pits-elles) and almonds, so Lindsey’s looked really good, too.

E: Ed absolutely deserved his win – I LOVE those little crispy drippings.  What a genius idea to just make the drippings and not whole pancakes!  I’m really tempted to do that tomorrow.

M: Seriously, who doesn’t love the crispy drippings!  That was a genius move.  A few more like that, especially if he can pull one off in an elimination challenge, and he could definitely challenge Paul for the title.  Speaking of Paul, the dude froze champagne with liquid nitrogen to make dippin’ dots.  Seriously, how did that not get more mention by Padma and Pee Wee?

E: I have no idea. That was pretty genius too.  All in all, I want to eat breakfast all the time now.   Moving on to the elimination challenge, I thought that the whole bike race for ingredients and kitchen would be a disaster, but it no.  It was interesting.

M: I actually expected a little more from it in the way of drama.  I expected to see more of them begging complete strangers to use kitchen space in the middle of lunch rushes, people getting turned down, people falling off their bikes, food spraying all over the San Antonio streets, and I don’t know, general chaos.  We didn’t get that, but there was some drama.

E: Grayson follows Paul, then finds the proper door of his intended restaurant first.  He’s too nice to make a stink about it.

M: I don’t know, I thought that they were more neck and neck than her following him.  It seemed like a race that she barely won because of seeing the right door first, rather than her stealing the place from him, but I may be off on that.

E: Well, that was how Paul described it, anyway.  And Grayson does say she specifically decided to follow him.  Then when Lindsay abandons her restaurant to get more ingredients, an unsuspecting Sarah swoops in and steals that place.  The staff doesn’t say anything about Lindsay having claimed the place, and Lindsay doesn’t make a peep to buddy Sarah.  Looks like the bully twins are only mean when you’re outside the clique.

M: Oh, that wasn’t the way I saw that one either.  Did we watch the same show?  I saw Lindsey being bitchy and leaving the restaurant because she didn’t like their pantry, but then trying to go back, only to find that her Bully Buddy had hijacked the kitchen from her.  Though they didn’t show the kitchen staff tell Sarah that Lindsey had been there, when Lindsey got back the dynamic seemed to me like Sarah knew.  If she did then it was definitely a jerk move, but she was really behind, so it was somewhat understandable.

E: Maybe we did.  Lindsay definitely intended to come back, and I’m pretty sure she told the staff that, although why they didn’t warn Sarah off I don’t know.   Either way, it didn’t hurt Lindsay a bit in the end.

M: No it didn’t.  You know, there were two moments in the episode that are already some of my favorite moments in the history of the show.  The first came from Ed, who found a bed and breakfast to use as his kitchen.  Which, does that really count?  I mean, it’s not a restaurant, right?  That aside, the folks running the B&B had him cook for some of their guests while he was there.  How funny was that, seeing them tell him to fry up a couple eggs?

E: That was hilarious.  He was so outraged!  I can’t decide if that was a prima donna whine, or just reasonable because he had a strict time limit.  The shock on his face?  Priceless.

M: Loved it, and didn’t think it was prima donna-ish, especially since he made no indication to them that he was upset.  I think it was because of the time crunch, and because he was “borrowing” space in their kitchen, not running it.  Of course, if he’d gone to a real restaurant that wouldn’t have been a problem.  The other moment I loved was Grayson riding the Pee Wee bike while holding her tray of food up like a waitress, and burning her hand doing so.  That was just hilarious.

E: Grayson is a hard core competitor, man.

M: Oh, and once again the produces are proving my point about the stupid challenges they’ve had them do for most of this season.  For the second time in three weeks they gave the contestants a challenge that made sense, encouraged creativity and and seemed more appropriate for chefs as opposed to caterers.  For the second time in three weeks all the contestants nailed it.  The judges liked everyone’s food again, and had to nit pick to differentiate the winners and losers.  Imagine that!

E: Lindsay wins, for goats in boats!  I love goats in boats. Of course, when we make this at home – this is sister C’s prime “what the heck do we do with all this garden zucchini” recipe- we don’t include beef cheeks.  Who knows.  Maybe we should!  I have a sneaking suspicion, however, that she won for not cooking chicken.

M: Apparently beef cheeks are quite flavorful, so why not?  Of course, C will likely not eat them for reasons either ethical or “icky”, but we digress.  Paul was also safe for his chicken with a red curry gastrique.  And yes, three of the five did chicken, but they had such limited time I can’t say that should have been a huge surprise.

E: I like Ed, but why why why send Grayson home for what, exactly, when he undercooked his protein?  Because the chicken breast was too big?  Really?

M: Two comments on that.  First, I think that Ed was saved because he didn’t actually undercook the chicken.  He almost undercooked it, and mentioned while he was cooking that it was going to be tricky, it was just that the way he did it and transported it made it have an odd consistency or texture.  It was cooked, though.

E: It’s not that I want Ed to go home, but they said the texture was weird, kind of rubbery, and you’d think weird tasting protein would be a big enough an issue to do him in.

M: It would seem more valid than pairing veggies that Tom doesn’t think go together.  And speaking of the critiques of Grayson’s dish, I have a real bone to pick with the judges that runs through most of the season.  They have been constantly getting on her case for large portions.  Um, I know the trend (and money) in fine dining is to provide small portions, but some of us actually like to eat a good quantity when we eat.  Stop trying to make the food tiny, and let the Wisconsin girl cook big food.  Plus, it was stuffed, of course it’s going to be larger than a normal chicken breast.  Oye.

E: Yeah, well, I know they were nitpicking, but that really did seem like an incredibly silly critique.  And obviously I’d have been happy to see Sarah get the boot.

M: Here’s what I don’t get.  She had as much of an issue with her dish, at least the way they edited the comments, as the other two in the bottom did.  And she made freaking egg salad.

E: Ding ding ding!

M: Seriously, last week they ripped Grayson and Chris, and sent Chris, because they made chicken salad.  Now, I know she didn’t mix the egg in with the salad, but come on, she made a salad with an egg on the side.  Really, that’s somehow perfectly fine, but serving chicken salad at a block party isn’t?  Boo.  In my book Sarah deserved to go, and get beaten senseless by Bev in LCK.

E: Really good point, M.  You can’t elevate chicken salad, but you can elevate (under-seasoned) egg salad? Maybe because they were cooking for five instead of 200…

M: Cooking for 200 should mean they get more rope, cooking for five you should HAVE to do something more high concept.  Of course, we don’t like Sarah, but I don’t think that’s influencing my take here.

E: Gosh, M, why can’t I get over the way Sarah treated Bev?  Because she’s a good chef, she really is, and she otherwise seems like a well intentioned person.  I shouldn’t let one aspect of her personality color my respect for her work.  And yet it does.

M: It does because we like and dislike the contestants not solely for their food, but for their personalities.  We saw a very bad side of hers, and that’s soured us both on her despite her food, the way that Mike Isabella’s treatment of Robin during season six soured us on him, and made it take a while for people to warm to him in All Stars.  What they do and how they treat each other matters, and it should matter.

E: Well, maybe that explains why I never warmed to Mike the way you did.

M: In the end, after the elimination, the remaining four were let in on the secret of the LCK, and shown some highlights.  The Bully Twins immediately start putting down Bev again.  Seriously, wtf?  I like Grayson more than Bev, but I really want to see Bev be the one to win just to shove it in their smug faces.  Then I want to see her make it to the finale with Paul and Ed.  Oh, and I want the Bully Twins to be really sour about it.

E: It’s quite a bind, isn’t it?  I adore Grayson (although I might think Bev’s a better chef) but it’s really hard not to root for Beverly.  I would hate hate hate to see Sarah and Lindsay gloat over Bev’s demise. Based on Tom’s comments, though, I think it’ll be Grayson coming back to the competition.  I’m going to be sorry either way.

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One comment on “Top Chef Texas: Bike, Borrow & Steal

  1. Good recap… Regarding the losing dish, I caught Tom C on that show right after Top Chef. He had mentioned that going into deliberations, 3 of the 4 judges had thought that Grayson’s dish just wasn’t that good. http://wp.me/p1ByJK-mG

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