Top Chef Power Rankings
By David Mumpower
December 26, 2012
I experienced a rare moment of vindication with last week’s Power Rankings. The way Top Chef is designed, there are few scenarios wherein a person’s relative worth can be specifically measured. The head to head competition was refreshing in this regard. In every instance but one, the higher seed in my power rankings emerged victorious in head to head battle. Damn you, John Tesar! Also, the person I had freshly anointed as the top player in the game, Kristen, swept both challenges, while the player I ranked in last place, Danyele, was eliminated. I will never get this lucky again…err, demonstrate this much skill again, so in the Blackadder vernacular, I wanted to come in for a gloat.
1) Kristen - Two challenges, two victories. Also, Kristen is still one of only two players who has never been in danger of elimination during Top Chef: Seattle. She is no Paul Qui thus far but if that is the bar that we are going to use for excellence, Paul Qui is the only player ever on Top Chef who could clear it. What Kristen has done in Seattle is create a foundational assumption that she is one of the most talented under-30 chefs in the world today.
2) Sheldon - Sheldon was one of two people last week who picked an opponent because he wanted a challenge rather than an easy victory. And he won handily. Sheldon’s resume thus far includes two (team) Quickfire victories and three elimination finishes in the top group opposed to a single challenge in the bottom group. I think he is a culinary star in the making.
3) Lizzie - Lizzie’s Seattle resume includes three finishes in the top group with none on the bottom. While she has yet to win a challenge, she also maintains her place alongside Kristen as the only two players who have never been in danger of elimination. What impresses me about Lizzie is that she has a startling combination of creativity and poise. Out of the current participants, I believe that Lizzie has demonstrated the best grace under fire. That is a key ingredient to becoming a Top Chef champion.
4) Brooke - Let me be clear. At this point in Top Chef: Seattle, I believe that the likely winner of the competition is one of the four names I have mentioned. I believe Sheldon is the total package, Lizzie is the best prepared and Brooke and Kristen have the most talent. The drop-off from here involves the fact that I believe that Stefan and John would have to do more in order to win. And anyone in the bottom group needs to catch fire a la Tiffany Derry and Carla Hall to enter the discussion. We are at the stage of the show where separation has occurred.
5) Stefan - As harsh as I was in my criticism of Stefan during last week’s Power Rankings, the reality is that The Thumb stepped up his game last week. He took on the man he perceived to be the strongest competitor and he won. More impressively, Stefan won with an ingredient that his opponent believed to be inferior. This episode was Stefan’s finest moment in Seattle. If he can sustain the momentum, he will again become a legitimate contender for the title of Top Chef.