Top Chef Season 17 Power Rankings
By Jason Lee
June 4, 2020
It’s so hard to predict how things are going to shake out in this season’s finale. Sometimes, it comes down to who can best integrate the ingredients and flavors of the host country into their cooking, as in last season’s finale in Macau. Other times, it can come down to who avoids a bone-headed mistake, like when Sheldon’s failure to oil his grill in the finale of Top Chef: Charleston led to the massacre of his fish filets.
While I think you can make a case for almost any order of the remaining five chefs, here are my personal Power Rankings as we head to Tuscany.
1) Melissa. She won both the Quickfire and the Elimination Challenge on the last episode, she makes food that Tom loves, and went home in the first part of the finale on her original season. In my mind, she’ll be laser focused on making it further this year.
2) Bryan. To be fair, the first episode of the finale usually involves cooking for a crowd, and Bryan’s cooking is more fit for the type of fine dining seen in the second episode of the finale. And yet, other than some dry pork in the Art Challenge, the judges have not had any complaints about the flavors in Bryan’s food. He’s strong enough to make it through.
3) Kevin. How do you bet against someone who took out Nini, Lee Anne, Karen, Malarkey, and Gregory to make it out of Last Chance Kitchen? My only reservation is that Kevin has a tendency to boom and bust, and while we’ve seen more of the former and less of the latter lately, I wouldn’t put it past him to swing for the fences and potentially strike out.
4) Gregory. The strongest, most consistent competitor all season slipped up twice in the last two episodes. He’ll most certainly come back mentally refreshed for the finale, but will he have the same level of confidence? He’s got the advantage of having Tom solidly in his corner, but with only five chefs left, he’ll still need to deliver.
5) Stephanie. It speaks volumes that the chef who won the Elimination Challenge two episodes ago and nearly won last week’s challenge is in fifth in my rankings, but there you go. Stephanie doesn’t have the refinement, clarity of conception, or bag of tricks that the other chefs do. In my view, she’s the most likely to be eliminated unless she can bring back the level of cooking she demonstrated in the kaiseki challenge.