Top Chef Power Rankings

By David Mumpower

February 6, 2013

Lizzie is happy that she finally got her picture posted after three months.

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The power rankings are largely unchanged from last week. The person I had in first place won the Elimination challenge, the person I had in second place won the Quickfire challenge and the person I had in last place lost. There is one change to today’s rankings, though. Read on to discover what it is.

1) Brooke: I like that drunken Brooke got a little lippy when Joshua slammed her over the fried chicken challenge. In Kristen’s absence, Brooke has asserted herself as the best remaining chef. In fact, Brooke has now tied Kristen with five overall wins in the competition, three in Elimination challenges and two in Quickfires. Kristen won four Elimination challenges but one Quickfire. Brooke will have two opportunities this week to surge ahead as the overall leader in wins this season. She is also the solid favorite to win Top Chef.

2) Sheldon : Yes, Sheldon delivered the worst Elimination challenge performance of anyone remaining in the competition. This is counterbalanced by the fact that he also won the Quickfire challenge. Furthermore, I am inclined to give Sheldon a pass for his surf and turf performance in the most recent episode. From the moment he studied the potential ingredients, he was instantly overwhelmed by freedom of choice. Tom noted that this indecision paralyzed an ordinarily great chef. Perhaps ironically, Sheldon has been cooking modern takes on Surf and Turf all season. The one time he was instructed to do so, Sheldon got in stuck in his head too much, the same issue Brooke faced the previous week. I did not punish her in last week’s Power Rankings for this mistake so I would be inconsistent to ding Sheldon now.

3) Joshua: Scrambled scallops? Damn, that’s brilliant. With 11 minutes left in a challenge, Joshua was facing an almost impossible task in saving his dish. The solution he provided is one that others in the food industry who watched Top Chef last week will be discussing for years to come. What other dishes can be scrambled? This is something we all need to know. Anyway, Joshua is not winning much on Top Chef, but he has finished in the top group in six out of the last seven challenges. He has inserted himself into the conversation as a potential Top Chef winner, and a respectable one at that.


4) Lizzie: Lizzie may have hated cooking in a cruise kitchen yet she still delivered delicious flavors. If she had found the time to cook her cabbage a bit longer, she may have won the Elimination challenge. This is still something that has eluded her. Lizzie is the only remaining contestant who has yet to win a single challenge this season. I am going to go out on a limb here and predict that if there are two heats in the next episode, Lizzie’s losing streak ends. With reduced numbers and very little difference in overall culinary skills between the remaining players, the odds say Lizzie should win something. She is too good to have nothing to show for her performance this season. Also, she remains the strongest performer in terms of avoiding the bottom group.

5) Kristen: Yes, I am adding Kristen back into the discussion. She has left the Last Chance Kitchen in Seattle and made her way to Alaska. That is reason enough to believe that she is not that far away from earning a spot back in Top Chef’s winner’s bracket. The speculation is that one more victory will secure her return, although there is also a chance that two wins will be required. As mentioned above, Kristen has been gone for two episodes yet she has maintained a tie for the most victories this season. And the reason she was eliminated was total bullshit. If Kristen gets back in the competition, she immediately becomes the co-favorite to win, just as she was before The Josie Show imperiled her status.

6) C.J. : I am choosing to include C.J. but not Stefan because I cannot imagine a scenario wherein the latter gentleman wins a popularity contest over his much taller counterpart. C.J. is just coming off a borderline undemocratic trouncing of Josie. He received approximately 19 out of every 20 votes cast. Even *I* feel bad for Josie after that sort of public humiliation.

I have very little understanding of how the Top Chef Hashtag Vote will be implemented in the final stages of the game. After all, the filming in Seattle occurred during the summer of 2012. The remaining players should have reached Alaska by November at the latest. Several anecdotal comments noted the presence of celebrities there in early August. So I do not understand how the most popular eliminated player can be brought back into a finale that by all reasonable conclusions has already been filmed.

Ignoring all of this, everybody loves C.J. As long as Kristen is not eliminated at Last Chance Kitchen, I think he has a good shot of winning the Save a Chef portion of the competition. As such, I am slotting him in his rightful place as the player with the smallest chance of winning Top Chef among the people who are still at least technically alive. I still have yet to decide how I feel about the Save a Chef concept. I will need to see how it is implemented before making a determination. I do like that CJ is still in the conversation, though. His performance in Last Chance Kitchen merits this sort of attention. Also, if Josie had been eliminated instead of Kristen, I have every confidence that CJ would be on a nine win streak right now.



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