Top Chef Season 17: Power Rankings
By Jason Lee
April 29, 2020
Hot Stuff: Melissa, Kevin, Gregory
What can you even say at this point? We are six episodes into the season and these three chefs are the ONLY ones to have won a Quickfire or Elimination Challenge (setting aside the team Quickfire in episode one). When three chefs are winning literally every challenge, they’re your frontrunners for the title.
Room Temperature: Eric, Lee Anne, and Stephanie
Like last week, we have a bit of a mishmash in the middle. Eric, with his partner Bryan, made a fine dish last week. Yes, he was in the bottom, but given the strength of every single dish, we can’t knock him too badly for ending up in the bottom four. Lee Anne moves up into this category for nearly stealing a win in the Elimination Challenge and accomplishing something close to heroic: reining in Brian Malarkey during a team challenge. Finally, Stephanie showed last week that when she has a calming force to steady her, like Gregory, she can deliver the goods.
Cooling Off: Bryan, Brian
Somewhat controversial, I know, to have Bryan Voltaggio in the bottom category, but hear me out. Despite his impeccable credentials and the sheer deliciousness of what he’s turned out, last week’s episode marks the third time in four challenges where he completely missed the point or a key component of the challenge. In the telephone Quickfire two weeks ago, he botched the selection and preparation of his fish (although it tasted good). In the Elimination Challenge, he made a bizarre calamari pesto that, though delicious, would not have appealed to any type of home cook. In last week’s Quickfire, instead of highlighting an alternative flour, he used it to make a kalamata olive crumble. Each time, Bryan has been saved by his strong flavors, but an inability to address the point of a challenge could be his undoing.
As for Brian Malarkey, I give most of the credit for his success in the last challenge to Lee Anne, who kept him from self-destructing (carrots? For a dish highlighting umami and sour? Really?).