Top Chef: Texas Power Rankings

By David Mumpower

December 14, 2011

We don't want to alarm you, chef, but something behind you is on fire.

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1. Paul - Paul was a part of the best meat course last week, which is akin to working on the best Uwe Boll project. Still, he continues to show a fierce competitive streak as well as an innate ability to decipher the judges’ intent. In a season of contestants scared to set foot in the deep end, his intelligence and bravery as a chef is setting him apart.

2. Dakota - Dakota didn’t have a particularly noteworthy episode save for one brief moment. She finished on the bottom in the Quickfire Challenge, which means nothing in the greater scheme of the show. How she handled it, however, defines her as a motivated achiever who despises each and every failure in her life. Even Tom was amused by how seriously she took the slight of being placed on the bottom of the Quickfire.

3. Grayson - No one of note stepped in the most recent episode as the Elimination Challenge winner, Heather, prepared the same dessert for the second time and it’s not even her recipe. Ergo, last week’s top five see little movement. Grayson moves up because she did win a Quickfire Challenge while also participating in the desserts course, the best received of the four.

4. Edward - Edward finished on the bottom of the Elimination Challenge last week, which is cause for concern. I debated dropping him due to performance and probably will if he struggles again this week. In the interim, I decided to leave him in the same range due to the fact that his overall performance in the episode was quite good. He herded cats effectively, something Heather and Lindsay were unable to do, and it was his recipe that won the round. He simply wasn’t the one cooking it.

5. Heather - Heather moves up a bit this week due to her win. I would like to note, however, that she is alienating other players at a rate that will make advancement in the competition difficult. Hung Huynh is probably the only winning chef thus far who fits into the “works poorly with others” category. He gets away with this by being a prep work animal and I don’t see Heather in that particular category.


6. Lindsay - Lindsay is a bit tricky to judge. On the one hand, she has assumed leadership in multiple challenges to date. As a rule, this signifies tremendous confidence when a person can stand among their peers and command respect and trust. On the other hand, on two such occasions when she has demonstrated leadership, the end result has been a disaster for her team. She hasn’t been on the top portion yet while she has been in the bottom group once. Ergo, I am overrating her relative to performance because I believe she is better than she has demonstrated thus far. It’s either this or Lindsay is a better natural leader than she is a chef.

7. Nyesha - Nyesha finished on the bottom in the Quickfire challenge but she demonstrated an impressive love of the subject matter. Also, the explanation for why her dish was disliked was moronic. Nyesha turned around and almost saved the disastrous ribeyes through her delicate, precise use of flavor enhancements. I don’t think we have seen the best of Nyesha yet in this competition.

8. Beverly - Beverly continues to infuriate the other competitors with her self-centered, immature behavior. What happened with the shrimp is a perfect example of her caring about her status in the competition much more than about the quality of the food delivered to the customers. That’s not a winning combination as a rule. She can clearly cook, though.

9. Chris J - After a disastrous outing in the previous episode, Moto’s remaining employee came on strong at Southfork Ranch. His steaks were perfectly cooked, the highlight of the meat portion of the meal. After trying too hard to impress the prior week, Chris focused on the flavors with the results speaking for themselves.

10. Sarah - After talking too much in the first episode, Sarah has vanished into thin air. She is rarely shown on camera, which means that she either has a deep run ahead of her or she just isn’t that interesting a reality show personality.

11. Ty - I hadn’t been a big fan of Ty prior to last week. It was only in total failure that I was impressed by his behavior. Ty had more built in excuses than any chef I have ever seen with regards to why he finished in the bottom group last week. Rather than mention any of them, he accepted full responsibility for something that wasn’t even his fault. That’s how upper echelon professionals behave. They expect to do well and apologize when they fail.

12. Chris C. - Chris C. is probably better than his performances thus far would indicate. In terms of reputation matching reality, however, he has struggled mightily this season. Being one of the four chefs responsible for the ill-fated ribeyes last week is only the most recent example of his struggles. Out of the remaining contestants, Chris C. has clearly the worst track record in terms of the competition.

Note that the difference between first and 12th is not particularly significant thus far. It’s rare in the history of Top Chef to see so little separation after this many episodes.



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