For those tuning in to Old School Lane for the first time, Kevin and I are really huge Pee-wee fans. My previous post on this timeless character can be found here if you haven't read it yet:
So, I waited with bated breath for the last six months (first hearing about it at Comic-Con) for this episode to occur. Was it worth it? Will it be in the list of my top 10 favorite Pee-wee Herman moments of 2012? Well, let's check it out. Warning: there are some major spoilers about Pee-wee's appearance on Top Chef: Texas and who gets eliminated. If you don't want to know about what happens, scroll down below about my overall notion about the episode.
The final 5 chefs, Lindsay, Paul, Grayson, Edward, and Sarah head over to the kitchen for their first Quickfire Challenge to find a huge stack of pancakes, which is a favorite of this week's guest judge, Pee-wee Herman.
Pee-wee comes in riding on a nice looking red Schwinn bicycle greeting Padma and the rest of the chefs. It's not the same classic Schwinn from Pee-wee's Big Adventure, but we already had seen him riding it on the Spike TV Scream Awards, so it's no big deal. The Quickfire Challenge was for them to create a fun, unique pancake in 20 minutes. When the challenge was done, Pee-wee walked around tasting every single pancake, savoring every bite, smiling and giggling his famous Pee-wee laugh saying, "This is the best pancake I've ever had" to every single one of the chefs. It got everyone laughing, especially myself.
Next was the Elimination Challenge. The challenge was to create a lunch for Pee-wee with a budget of $100, only 2 hours to cook and delivering it to the Alamo, finding a restaurant to borrow the kitchen to prepare the food, and getting to the Alamo on time...riding bicycles. Wow, now that's a challenge. Pee-wee had a chance to talk with the chefs about his favorite foods and least favorite foods. With that out of the way, the challenge begun the next day.
The challenge was not an easy task, giving the limited amount of money, time, and kitchens. It definitely was not easy for Lindsay who make a very risky, but poor choice to leave her restaurant to find extra ingredients, only to find Sarah beginning her cooking. Lindsay had no choice but to find another restaurant. It wasn't easy for Grayson, who had to hold on to her steaming hot chicken dish on her hand so that the stuffing wouldn't fall apart. That's dedication if I do say so myself.
Finally, they meet up at the Alamo and the judges get to taste and analyze the overall meal. While contemplating on who had the best dish and flavors, Pee-wee made these usually serious judges laugh, which brought a usually boring part of the show to be one of the main highlights. There was even a cute moment when Padma and Pee-wee made snarky remarks to one another, but no one can mess with Pee-wee with that. Pee-wee won that contest by a long shot. Nice try, Padma. Overall, everyone did a great job, but unfortunately, the determined Grayson was eliminated from Top Chef and 4 more chefs remain.
So overall, is this episode worth while to watch? This was my very first time seeing Top Chef and out of all of the episodes I had watch leading up to this one, it wins beyond any comparison. I'm going to give you 2 reasons why:
#1: The Challenges
Comparing the other challenges of the previous episodes, there were very few that connected with the aesthetic feel of Texas. The ones I can think of are the Quickfire Challenges of Episodes 3 and 4, and the Elimination Challenges of Episodes 6 and 7, but they were mostly capturing the Texan cuisine like BBQ, chili, rattlesnake, pork, and tequila. With Pee-wee's Elimination Challenge, it was beyond both appropriate and perfect as it captured the pure atmospheric feel of some of the best moments from Pee-wee's Big Adventure taking place in Texas and feeling a sense of pride.
The Alamo is the key plot destination in Pee-wee's Big Adventure and it has become a even more iconic landmark to visit, similar to the Philadelphia Art Museum in Rocky. If you're not questioning the tour guide about the infamous battle or the heroic men who sacrificed their lives to make Texas an independent state, then you're questioning about where the basement is. Even to this day, many people from Texas are very proud of this moment. To have Pee-wee come back to the Alamo after over 25 years since Big Adventure is nothing short of amazing. I actually got a little emotional after seeing it.
Also, the Quickfire Challenge was very Pee-wee esque as it brought reason and personality to why the challenge was the way it was. In the scene of Pee-wee's Big Adventure where we see the Breakfast Machine and see Mr. Breakfast, the short stack of pancakes with two eggs over easy for eyes, a strawberry nose, and a bacon mouth. Also there was a minor and subtle reference to Big Top Pee-wee regarding about the egg salad that was prepared by Sarah. The other guest judges Quickfire challenges did not have the same personality and quirkiness as Pee-wee's.
The other guest judges from Top Chef were pretty much boring and forgettable, with the exception of Charlize Theron and Patti LaBelle. They did not bring in anything interesting or fun on the table, no pun intended. In most of their deliberations, I just merely skimmed through and waited to see who was staying and who was going. With Pee-wee on the other hand, I was mesmerized and found myself laughing so hard at his funny expressions, witty dialogue, and overall love and appreciation for the meal. Sure, he was honest about his opinion about some of the flaws on some of the dishes, but he didn't say it in a harsh manner in front of the chefs like some of the other judges did. He had a lot of fun as a guest judge and the other chefs and judges had a blast too, which made it a lot more enjoyable for the viewers. Good job, Pee-wee. Even after Top Chef was over, there was even a discussion on how much fun and enjoyable Pee-wee was in Andy Cohen's show Watch What Happens Live.
It even brought out the kid in the adult judges. While they do goof off from time to time, they did not have as much laughs and smiles on their faces until Pee-wee came along. I take it it won't be for the remaining episodes since the competition has gotten more fierce.
Not to mention, he looked great. Given the fact that he's going to be reaching a huge milestone age of 60 in a few months, it did not look he was reaching it at all. For those who have serious doubts on whether he can continue playing Pee-wee in the upcoming movie due to his age, you've got to be kidding me. Anyway, I digressed a bit. This will definitely go in the list of my top 10 Pee-wee Herman moments of 2012, bar none. It is a great episode that you should really tune in to.
Well, that's it for me. I got to go and get some much needed sleep. Thanks a lot for reading my really long recap of episode 13 of Top Chef: Texas. I hope you enjoyed it. Hope to see you soon around the Old School Lane. Catch you later.
P.S. This message is for you, Pee-wee. Every word I wrote about you being the best guest judge on Top Chef: Texas is the truth. You were great tonight in every way. Hope that we get to see you more often on TV or on the big screen really soon. Speaking of that, congratulations on being the newest cast member of Frank and Francis. It sounds like a fun role that I know you'll do great on. We can't get enough of you. We still love you and support you. Take care.