The Time Paul Reubens (And Pancakes) Appeared On Top Chef

Paul Reubens was undoubtedly best known as the actor who played Pee-wee Herman, but long-time fans of "Top Chef" might remember when he made a special appearance on the cooking show. Appearing in episode 13 of "Top Chef: Texas" in 2012, Reubens embodied his famous character (bicycle, bow tie, and all), tasked with choosing which contestant created the best-tasting pancakes. 

The five remaining contestants at the time, Grayson, Sarah, Paul, Lindsay, and Ed, fought hard to create a dish that impressed the star. Ultimately, he chose Ed as the winner, who integrated a variety of fruits, bacon, and marshmallows into unique pancake bits. "$5,000 for a pancake? Wow, that's a stack," Reubens remarked in response to Ed winning $5,000 for the challenge (via Hollywood Reporter). 

Pancakes were featured in the episode because it was one of Reubens' favorite foods. Of the breakfast dish, he said, "I love pancakes. I mean, I'm not gonna marry one, but I love them anyway." That particular honor belongs to a bowl of fruit salad, which Herman married during an episode of "Pee-wee's Playhouse." This happened after his in-house audience made the suggestion in typical Pee-wee fashion. As for Reubens' guest spot on "Top Chef", it wasn't as random as it may have seemed but honored one of his beloved classics. 

Paul Reubens' guest spot celebrated Pee-wee Herman's history

Paul Reubens' guest spot on "Top Chef" brought the comedian back to San Antonio after 25 years. Previously, Reubens starred in "Pee-wee's Big Adventure," which featured the titular character losing his bike. As part of the episode, chefs had to ride bikes of their own to The Alamo to shop for ingredients and prepare a special lunch for the judges at the historical site. 

Of the remaining chefs, Lindsay ended up winning over Reubens and the rest of the judges with zucchini stuffed with rice, goat cheese, and braised beef cheeks, but arguably the audience was the biggest winner of this episode. Reubens warmed the show with his signature humor as one of its most unexpected guests.

At one point, judge Padma Lakshmi conducted an interview with the comedian, in which she asked how he felt about the pancakes he was served. "I thought they were delicious ... [they were] all very interesting and imaginative," he said, noting that the chefs "took it very seriously." Though he clearly enjoyed the pancakes, he did have one suggestion. "More butter," he said. It's hard to argue with that, Pee-wee!