Top Chef Power Rankings
By Jason Lee
November 18, 2014
Was there really any doubt? Greg has won two Quickfires, one Sudden Death Quickfire, one Elimination challenge, three group Elimination Challenges, and two head-to-head duels with Mei Lin. Along the way, there’s been nary a bad word said about his food. To the contrary, Tom complimented the seasoning of his Elimination Challenge dish last week, saying that a grain of salt more or less would have ruined the balance he managed to achieve. When you succeed on that granular of a level, you’re the frontrunner by a mile.
2. Mei Lin
In my mind, Mei Lin is decidedly in the runner-up position. She’s clearly ahead of the rest of the pack, drawing compliment after compliment along the way for the food she’s put forth. At the same time, though, she isn’t close to matching Greg’s success and was soundly defeated twice by him in head-to-head battles last week (including on a dumpling challenge). If Greg slips up somewhere along the way, look for Mei Lin to seize the momentum. Until then, though, she’s playing catch up.
Welcome to the jumbled middle, where any number of potential power rankings would be reasonable. For now, I’m comfortable putting way-too-many-ingredients Katsuji in the number three spot. When he messes up, he does so spectacularly. When he’s on, though, the judges seem to love his big, bold flavors. Because of this upside, and in light of his double head-to-head victories last week and Quickfire win two weeks ago, he’s our bronze medal contender.
Katie seems like a sleeper to me. Or maybe Aaron’s (unfair) criticisms of Katie and her broccoli salad failure from the first episode colored my initial judgment of her. But when stacked up against the other chefs, she’s held her own lately. She won both her head-to-head challenges (though, granted, her second head-to-head win came against the worst dish of the night), and she got serious praise for her popcorn mouse in the baseball episode and the judges seemed to like her imperial chocolate cake last week. I’ll be interested to see if the culinary school instructor can keep it up.
5. Adam and 6. Doug
I essentially see these two chefs as tied right now. Early on, I tagged Doug as a chef to watch out for, as the judges really seemed to love his fried chicken. Since then, though, he hasn’t stood out at all, in either direction. Yes, he won the steamed mussel head-to-head battle against Adam, but then went on to lose to Adam in the Elimination Challenge. And speaking to Adam, since his group win in episode two, he hasn’t done much of note... even coming perilously close to being in the bottom three during the baseball episode when he “absolutely hammered” his halibut in the convection oven. Both chefs, I believe, have a chance to go far, but they’ll have to break out of the middle of the pack to do so.
I’m perplexed by Melissa. She’s clearly got a great resume and has a background in fine dining, but hasn’t done much to distinguish herself. She made the bizarre choice to cook scallops for her BBQ head-to-head battle against Katie last week, and almost went home for making a gazpacho that was both too watery and too sweet (at least in Tom’s opinion). I sometimes forget that Melissa is still on the show. That’s not a good sign.
Keriann, it seems to me, is always one step away from being a total disaster in the kitchen. Her corn salad in the group Elimination Challenge in episode two was awful, only saved by Stacy’s chicken. She served undercooked, underseasoned short ribs in the baseball episode. And it certainly sounded like her meatball dish last week in the head-to-head battle against Stacy was one of the worst dishes of the night. I’d look for her to go home in the coming weeks.
Oh Stacy. I enjoy rooting for the hometown chef, but I think her time on TC is going to be shortlived. She annihilated her vegetables two weeks ago, barely avoiding elimination as James and Rebecca were sent home. She was on the bottom again this week with a sage yogurt that lacked sage flavor, and a horseradish sauce that lacked the kick of horseradish. And as of yet, I don’t believe Stacy has been in the top three of any Quickfire or Elimination Challenge. She’s living on the edge and I wouldn’t be surprised to see her topple off this week