Top Chef Power Rankings

By David Mumpower

December 4, 2013

Royalty indeed.

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Last week’s episode was confusing in that everyone did so well that differentiation is a virtual impossibility. I will try to do it anyway because I’m just that naïve. Spoilers: odds are that I get it very, very wrong.

1) Nina
Despite not winning for consecutive weeks, Nina remains head and shoulders above the competition. Her “losing” performances have both seen her finish in the top group. If being a medalist but not a gold medalist is her worst crime at the minute, everyone else on the show would KILL to be struggling like that.

2) Carlos
I am shaking things up a bit this week. A key reason for my adjustments is that there are a lot of tiers this season. I should not fall guilty to finite thinking with regards to how I perceive the individuals within those tiers. I have had Carlos at the bottom of the Not Nina But Still Strong grouping for a while now. When I watched the most recent episode, I had the epiphany that what I have viewed as a weakness of his is also a strength. Carlos may not have the range of some of the other contestants this season. Sometimes, that helps. It’s the Carla Hall scenario wherein Carlos can attain momentum if he keeps focusing on what he does well rather than attempting to be something he is not. From that perspective, he is a viable contender. In addition, he gets bonus points this week for winning a challenge where all the players killed it. Being the best when everyone else is at their best is all the more impressive.


3) Shirley
Out of all the players this season, Shirley seems to be enjoying the challenges the most. That could be reflective of her personality as a whole. She seems upbeat and optimistic at all times. Amusingly, this behavior bugs the crap out of her fellow players, as does her inability to allow a thought to go unspoken. Still, Shirley delivered an amazing dish last week that not only tasted great but received the praise of the locals for being the purest in tone for a boucherie. She is rising to meet the obstacles presented by Top Chef, so I have elevated her position in the game.

4) Carrie
Last week, Carrie created a hot sauce that was too hot for a Louisiana native. Personally, I think she should be lauded for this but she finished in the bottom group. She turned around and delivered a dazzling entrée in the Elimination challenge yet she wound up with nothing to show for her efforts. Out of all the great dishes, hers was one in the middling batch. I cannot ding her a lot for such “struggles” but momentum matters on Top Chef. Ergo, Carrie gets dropped a couple of spots today even though I still view her as a legitimate championship contender.

5) Nicholas
Nicholas is good people. His comments about how getting up at all hours of the night gave him an advantage over the others made me smile. Parents get used to some crazy stuff. That sort of standing chaos is good trading for the controlled madness of Top Chef. I had Nicholas ranked a bit lower last week due to the fallout from his illness. Now that he is on the road to recovery, I have slotted him ahead of a couple of players that I believe are better but that didn’t show it last week. Don’t sleep on Nicholas, though. Anybody who can cook a decent dish while suffering from strep throat is an impressive human being.

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