Team Top Chef

Pee-Wee Herman serves as guest judge for -- what's Senior Editor considers -- the hardest challenge of the season so far.

Feb 1, 2012

On to the Elimination Challenge, which shocked me by its shear difficulty level. The chefs had to ride around San Antonio on Pee-wee-like bikes buying ingredients with the $100 they were given. They then had to find a restaurant with which to cook their dishes in. The dishes were to be focused around foods Pee-wee said he liked. The meal? Lunch. Some of the chefs, like Lindsay and Paul, had a little more difficulty finding workable kitchens than others, but I have to say that when they all finally found their places, i was overwhelmed by the comradery of the chefs. It seriously warmed my heart to see how the chefs were welcomed into unknown kitchens in San Antonio, other chefs willing to help a hand, give them or, y'know, sell them whatever ingredients they needed. For some reason, the whole thing made me think of Anthony Bourdan's books. Sure, the writing is insanely colorful, but what strikes me most is the depiction of the culture of chefs. It's something we all try to learn more about, but won't ever quite understand if we've never worked in a kitchen. Part of the reason I love this show so much is that we get a glimpse into that world, and I think this episode, maybe more than any other, gave us the biggest entry into the real world of chefs and their kitchens. Anyone else get this feeling or am I just that emotional over this show?! (Update! Hugh just tweeted this during the show, sooo maybe I'm wrong about the hospitality! Although I will admit the sweating grossed me out too.)

Anyway, the chefs wrapped up their food and headed back to the Alamo. Finding the Alamo was apparently a challenge in itself. Watching Grayson bike with one hand while holding her fragile egg-filled chicken was quite a sight. I don't even like holding my Starbucks without a sleeve -- no idea how she was able to hold that pan. Amirite?