Top Chef Power Rankings

By David Mumpower

November 20, 2013

I'm dating which season 5 contestant? Please be Fabio. Please be Fabio.

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In last week’s initial Power Rankings, I positioned Nina in first place with Patty in last place. Two of Nina’s three work stations finished in the top group with one winning. Meanwhile, Patty was eliminated. In the Inglourious Basterds vernacular, that’s a bingo. I fully expect the most recent episode to be the only one I get correct the rest of the way, though. There has yet to be a great deal of separation among most of the current contestants, especially the ones not in the top five. I view them all as interchangeable thus far.

1) Nina
The one statement I have complete confidence in making is that Nina is the class of New Orleans thus far. I noted in last week’s Power Rankings that she has more victories and finishes in the top group than anyone else this season. During the Jazz Hands episode, Nina failed to win in the Quickfire Challenge, at least technically. 75% of her work was lauded, however, and Brian emerged victorious thanks in part to the sweat of Nina’s brow. During the Elimination challenge, Nina’s Green Team out-dueled the other groupings with the Floridian provided glowing praise for another gnocchi masterpiece. If Top Chef were scored like boxing or MMA, Nina would already be so far ahead on points that the other chefs need a knockout to win.




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2) Justin
I recognize that his Blue Team failed to win while my third place selection was in the winning group. I will explain my thoughts on why below. What I will say about Justin is that the previews for this week indicate that a player I had believed to be so calm that he may not have a pulse instead has a fiery Cajun temper. Thus far, Justin has been presented as a genteel individual whose culinary skills are sublime. When Top Chef announced the online challenges to round out the cast this season, I presumed that the desire to add a local flavor was due to Anthony Bourdain. The frequent participant on the show in past seasons assailed Top Chef’s producers for accepting Hurricane Katrina relief fund money this season. Adding a pair of local chefs counterbalanced his concerns at least somewhat by demonstrating loyalty to Louisiana natives. Michael proved that he did not belong. Conversely, Justin is capable of winning this season based upon what I have seen. It would be unfortunate if his emotions cost him the opportunity to win the season in his backyard of New Orleans. I am very much looking forward to tonight’s episode for this reason. Hopefully, the editing proves to be much ado about nothing.

3) Carrie
Yes, Carrie’s team was the best last week. What cannot be denied, however, is that Carrie’s tiramisu was the least favorite item that the judges tasted from the Green Team. Had she and her companions finished on the bottom, Carrie would be in Last Chance Kitchen right now. Since the meal was a dessert and I am talking about a hypothetical that did not transpire, I feel no need to move her down any this week. If she struggles again, Carrie could slide quite a bit in next week’s Power Rankings. Two consecutive sub-par dishes is more difficult to ignore than a single hiccup on dessert.


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