Top Chef Boston Power Rankings
By Jason Lee
December 2, 2014
1) Mei Lin
Let me preface my rationale with this caveat: the top three TCers atop this week’s Power Rankings are, in my view, extremely close. You could make valid and very compelling arguments for any one of these three chefs being at the top right now - and indeed, coming up with a rank order almost feels like splitting hairs too fine to split. But rank I’m asked to do, and thus rank, I will.
After much internal hand-wringing and consternation, I believe Mei Lin deserves to be at the top of the rankings this week. Yes, she hasn’t won a single Quickfire this season, and yes, her only Elimination win came six weeks ago on Episode 1. But she is the only chef other than Doug (!!) who has not once been in the bottom of a Quickfire or an Elimination. She also receives near constant praise for the food she puts out. Finally, I’m also taking into account the fact that in the last episode, she (along with Doug (!!)) made it into top three for the Quickfire and the Elimination Challenge. Thus, her consistency and recent success gives her the top spot in my view
Katsuji gets the runner-up slot this week. Though he can flame out just as easily as win out on any given week, he’s more often than not been on the winning side of things lately. He’s already won one Quickfire, and in the last episode, he won his first individual Elimination Challenge (his team wins don’t count for purposes of this analysis). So far, he’s the only chef I can imagine challenging Greg and Mei Lin for the title, and given his form in the past couple of eps, he’s still a credible threat.
What a nice comeback for Katie in recent weeks. I think she could have easily gone home in the first episode for that horrendous broccoli salad, but she’s now got a Quickfire win under her belt and seemed to just miss getting into the top three of the Elimination Challenge in the last episode. Couple those performances with her double head-to-head wins in the “It’s War” episode, and I stand by my conclusion during last week’s Power Rankings: she’s a sleeper pick to win the season.
Don’t expect Greg to stay in this spot long. Greg is by far the most accomplished chef on TC this season, with two Quickfire wins, one Elimination Challenge win, and two head-to-head defeats of Mei Lin. Yes, he slipped up in the last episode, not making it into the top of either the Quickfire or the Elimination Challenge. But chalk the Elimination errors up to his choice of a difficult protein to cook and the rudimentary cooking equipment available. He’s down but not even close to being out.
Doug does a nice job breaking out of the muddled middle this week. Since Episode 1, where he was in the top three of the Elimination Challenge, he’s been in neither the top nor the bottom of any Quickfire or Elimination Challenge. Thus, he’s been neither really great, nor all that bad. That changed in the last episode, where he (along with Mei Lin) was in the top three for both challenges. I think he’s got an outside chance to make it into the finale, and until then, expect him to stick around.
Adam’s cooking prowess is often overshadowed by his outsized personality. Frequently, I find that when the TC producers need some type of hyperbolic commentary about a challenge, they look to Adam. I hope Adam finds some way to bring a little fire to the kitchen as well, cause hasn’t made as many waves there as most viewers might think (given the amount of airtime he gets). Adam, by my count, has been at the top of one team challenge, the bottom of another team challenge (It’s War, where he won his head-to-head battle as was picked as one of the standouts on his group), and the bottom of one Quickfire (last episode where he messed up his “cranberry dirty water”). To me, these results are emblematic of mediocrity. He’s skating by so far based on the failures of other chefs. It’s getting to the point where that’s not going to be enough.
Oh, Keriann. You always seem to be flirting with disaster. You barely managed to turn pie filling into a sauce for venison in the last episode and had one of the worst dishes in the It’s War episode (despite being on the “winning” team). You’ve picked yourself up from your early stumbles in Episodes Two and Three where you were on the verge of going home, but I still can’t shake the feeling that you’re one slip up away from going home. Could it be this week? I wouldn’t be surprised.
I’m reluctantly slotting Melissa at the bottom of these Power Rankings. All the chefs seem to have high regard for Melissa’s training and background - Katsuji always mentions her experience in fine dining, and Adam specifically named her as one of the stronger chefs in the last episode. And yet, her results don’t bear that out. She was in the top three of the Quickfire and Elimination Challenges in Episode Three, but since then, she hasn’t been anywhere near the top of any challenge. In fact, she escaped elimination two weeks ago for a watery gazpacho, and again last week for a simplistic vegetable medley. Can she dodge danger for yet another time?