Top Chef Power Rankings
By David Mumpower
January 9, 2013

Have you noticed Stefan is always hovering by Kristen? Car-reepy.

In this week’s power rankings, I see a large gap between second and third place, a huge gap between fourth and fifth place and a chasm between seventh and eighth place.

1) Kristen - With Lizzie narrowly avoiding elimination last week, Kristen is now the only Top Chef: Seattle contestant who has never been in the bottom group. She also cooked the smartest dish during the Elimination and has added $25,000 to her bank account. I struggle to find reasons why Kristen cannot win Top Chef.

2) Brooke - The difference between first and second place is negligible to me. This is why I keep switching the order based upon the most recent results. Kristen won the Elimination challenge and thereby forged a lead. If Brooke is better tonight, she will regain the throne.

3) Lizzie - I debated dropping her quite a bit because she should have been eliminated last week. She served a dish that was in my estimation unsanitary. The moment she got a whiff of the bad fish, she should have considered a plan B. The problem with this line of thinking is that there was no Plan B available. She was stuck with those scallops.

Rather than punish her for a situation that was largely beyond her control, I am focusing on the second challenge. Lizzie did not panic and she did not cede to the will of John Tesar as he attempted to intimidate her into mistakes. Instead, she delivered a flawless chicken burger that the judges adored. Virtually every Top Chef champion has faced a situation where they could have been eliminated. Lizzie demonstrated grace under pressure in a challenging circumstance, which is a positive rather than a negative.

4) Sheldon - Poor Sheldon didn’t even get the set of steak knives for finishing in third place last week. And he was the first person who ever really wanted a prize of steak knives. Still, my opinion of him remains largely unchanged. He is the only dude in the winner’s bracket of Top Chef that I believe has the skill set to win. You can see from the above that being the best dude only earns him a spot as the fourth best player overall. At this moment, I am confident that a woman will win Top Chef this season. The only question is which one.

5) Micah - I said in last week’s power rankings that Micah would move up in the rankings if he had another strong episode. Winning the Quickfire challenge may not have involved any cooking skill per se but he beat Sheldon and Joshua in their area of expertise. That counts for something. While his Elimination dish was a bit lacking, he was not on the bottom, either. With consecutive Quickfire wins and a near-victory in an Elimination challenge, Micah’s stock is rising. I still don’t think he is a legitimate threat to win the competition, though.

6) Stefan - With his frenemy John gone for good, Stefan becomes the de facto old guy on the show. So he is carrying down dual roles since he is also the creepy guy. In terms of performance this season, this is the time when we have to be honest about Stefan. Tremendous reputation notwithstanding, Stefan is just a guy this season. He has yet to win anything, which is alarming in and of itself until we consider that even Josie has won a Quickfire challenge. Stefan has finished in the bottom group twice, in the top group twice and in the middle the other four times. That is the breathing definition of an average performance. Stefan has the talent to step it up now that the herd is thinning. Will he? I’m thinking no.

7) Joshua - I was tempted to move Joshua up further in the competition. He did finally deliver a redemptive pork dish. He finished in the top third of the Elimination challenge and the top third of the Quickfire challenge as well. This was a strong episode for him and now that the pork monkey (is that a real thing?) is off his back, Joshua may begin to ascend. What I cannot overlook is that Joshua has been on the bottom four times. This ties him with Josie (!) for most times up for elimination. A single great episode isn’t enough to raise him in the power rankings.

8) Josie -In the most recent episode, Josie was not the worst performer. In fact, she wasn’t even the second worst performer! This may be the shining achievement of Josie’s tenure on Top Chef. There were at least two and maybe even more chefs who did worse than her. It’s a well after Christmas miracle! Please go home, Josie. Your presence reduces my enjoyment of what is otherwise the best reality show on television.