Top Chef Power Rankings
By David Mumpower
February 13, 2013
The herd has been thinned. There are three remaining players in the competition, one of whom will emerge as the champion of Top Chef: Seattle. Probably. There is also a looming heavyweight in the loser’s bracket that is Last Chance Kitchen. And the Save a Chef Twitter hashtag voting process has come to an end, meaning that another player may also have a chance. Drawing any conclusions about the next two eliminations is difficult due to all of the unpredictable mayhem surrounding the previously eliminated players. Keeping the above in mind, I strongly suspect all of us can agree on one aspect of Top Chef.
1) Brooke: The Los Angeles chef has won six challenges this season, the most of any single player. Brooke is also streaking at the right time, emerging victorious in each of the last two Elimination challenges. Her disastrous fried chicken experience caused Brooke to re-focus on each meal. The end result has been that the most consistent player this season has separated herself from the pack. If Brooke does manage to win Top Chef, she will become only the second woman ever to do so. She will also be the rare player whose talent stands out for most of the season. I’ve had Brooke in either first or second place in the power rankings for most of this season. She is confident, she is creative and she is calculated. Independent of what happens next, Brooke is the best player on Top Chef this season.
2) Sheldon: Just as Brooke has won the last two elimination challenges, Sheldon has been chosen the winner of consecutive Quickfire battles. Individually, Sheldon has won four challenges this season while also sharing two others as a team player the first week and with Bart as a duo. Sheldon is professional, kind-natured and respected. His island flavors are also novel for a player at this stage of Top Chef, an advantage that could elevate him above his peers at the end of the game.
The problem Sheldon faces is that he is not as consistent as the other two players. There have been four times this season when he crafted a dish so questionable in quality that he was not only in the bottom group but also in serious danger of being the odd player out. I keep ranking him above Josh because Sheldon keeps winning Quickfire heats. Josh has only one challenge this entire season. Sheldon’s ceiling is clearly higher; conversely, his floor is undeniably lower.
With a single elimination challenge remaining, I honestly have no idea which of these players is most likely to go home. I eventually decided that Brooke has about a 20% chance, Sheldon a 35% chance and Josh a 45% chance. The judges seem to like Sheldon more. He needs to stop being such a danger to himself, though. Chum salmon was a poor choice last week and the freezer ingredient paralysis the previous week was alarming as well. Sheldon needs to get out of his head and rely on his unmistakable natural skill.