Thursday, February 2, 2012

Pee Wee Herman on 'Top Chef'

My love for Pee Wee Herman (and Paul Reubens) will never cease. The film  Pee Wee's Big Adventure will forever live on in the warmest and fluffiest place in my heart. His television show Pee Wee's Playhouse ignited the smiles and imaginations of a generation of adults who wax lyrical over their Saturday afternoons eating pancakes and watching his show.

That's why last night episode of Top Chef: Texas was such a step out of norm in the realm of food competition. Although the Bravo series has seen it's fair share of famous guest judges, such as Charlize Theron, Jimmy Fallon or Christina Hendricks, who've used personal history and projects to inspire the competition of the day, Pee Wee may hold the most nostalgic,  not just for fun of Miss Yvonne or Captain Carl,  but for the memories of Saturday morning breakfast eaten while laughing at his colorful world as a child.

What breakfast food besides Count Chocula and Fruit Loops conjures childhood memories more than pancakes?  For the first competition, known as "The Quickfire Challenge", chefs were asked by our hero to make the most delicious, unique pancakes ever. As each chef reminisced over their own childhood Saturday mornings with Pee Wee and a plate of dad's flapjacks, lovely displays of the stuff were produced: Confetti Pancakes, Mickey Mouse Pancakes, a Ricotta Pancake with Whipped Crème Fraiche, Marcona Almond with Anise Cookies, and the winning one, a plate of lovely Pancake Bits with Blueberries, Raspberries, Strawberries, Bacon and Bruleed Marshmallow. Yummo!  Each dish was met with Pee Wee's exclamation of "That was the best pancake I've ever eaten!" no matter who won or lost.

But things got really nostalgic for "The Elimination Challenge", where chefs were told to make a family style breakfast at The Alamo. If you can recall from the movie, this dreaded location holds bad memories for Pee Wee, thanks to a psychic who erroneously told him his stolen bike was locked in the basement of this historic landmark, only to travel far and wide to find The Alamo has no basement!. The winning plate, it was claimed, would not only be the most delicious, but must be so good, it will wipe away the bad memory from Pee Wee's brain once and for all. The chefs were given bikes to cycle their way to the grocery for ingredients, and then hit The Alamo for the cook off. A chef named Lindsay won the challenge with a  Stuffed Zucchini with Braised Beef Cheeks, Rice and Goat Cheese dish, but the winner is really Pee Wee and Paul Reubens himself - a man with a unique man-child character who's brought so much love to his art, and laughter to us all. It was evident in last night's Top Chef, that even mainstay judge Tom Colicchio's stern manner seemed to melt at little.

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