Last night’s episode of Top Chef was a critical one. With five contestants left, the crew left Seattle to take a cruise toward Alaska, where the last few episodes will take place. Top Chef Masters host Curtis Stone was the guest judge this week, and after a tough quickfire in which the contestants had to create 200 single bite dishes for some of the guests on board using iceberg lettuce as a main component, Sheldon took home the quickfire win. Luckily, after that tough event, the contestants were given some downtime.
The cruise was pretty and gave some of the final five a chance to relax. Lizzie and Sheldon opted to go for a manicure and Stefan, Brooke, and Josh unsurprisingly opted to drink during the afternoon. Things got a little tense and catty that evening during dinner, which isn’t something Top Chef audiences get to see quite as often as on other reality competition shows like Project Runway.
The final challenge was supposed to be a whimsical event. Each of the contestants was told to pick two proteins, a “surf” protein and a “turf” protein, and create a playful dish. Since Sheldon won the quickfire, he was given the opportunity to choose his ingredients first. It was surprising that he went for some basic beef and lobster while other contests chose pork and eel combinations or frog legs and mussels.
If that latter combination sounded like it had real possibility, it did. Brooke’s frog legs and mussels dish attracted high praise from the judges panel and earned her this week’s win, which was sad for Josh, who probably had the best plating and an oddball scallop scrambled egg with his dish. Unfortunately, things did not go so smoothly for a few of the other contestants. Lizzie’s dish was a little undercooked, but it did land her in the middle. Unfortunately, Sheldon’s attempt at fried food fell flat a second time and the man only made a feeble attempt to defend himself when called out as one of the worst two dishes. Luckily for him, Stefan really missed the mark, overcooking his pork dish to the point where Tom really thought he had cracked a tooth when biting into it. What’s popular in Finland, apparently doesn’t work on a cruise ship and, unfortunately, Stefan was sent home.
The Top Chef Power Rankings are an ordered compilation of weekly lists put together by TV Blend writers Jessica Rawden and Mack Rawden. Each week after viewing the episode, they each rank the competitors in order. Eighteen points are given for a first place vote, and this week, fifteen were given for a last place vote. Fourteen competitors have already been eliminated (not counting those chopped in the early rounds); therefore, those people automatically occupy the bottom slots. Here is how this week’s voting panned out, complete with analysis on how the contestants might fare moving forward.
#1) Brooke Williamson (36): Brooke took quite a misstep last week with the skineless, boneless fried chicken breasts that almost sent her home, but thankfully, she was back in the sweet spot this time around thanks to her colorful and inventive take on frog legs and mussels. The judges universally raved about both her originality and the flavor, and with any luck, they’ll largely do the same about the final few dishes she cooks in this competition. I can’t guarantee she’ll win, but if I was in Vegas, there’s no one else I’d even think about betting on.
#2) Sheldon Simeon (33): Sheldon had a really up and down week on the cruise ship. He landed in the top in the quickfire and really screwed up his dish in the final challenge. If it hadn’t felt like Stefan’s time to go, he very well could have packed his knives and gone home. Still, throughout the competition, Sheldon has had some home run dishes and his menu for Restaurant Wars led the team to a win. Sheldon’s food packs a lot of punch and we have to hope his menu chooses will be completely sound moving forward.
#3) Josh Valentine (32): Josh started out this competition as a nervous guy landing in the bottom over and over again. He seemed destined to fail, but then a miracle happened. He sat down and got his act together, creating meals that anyone, judges included, could get behind. The last few weeks have shown a man who has overcome odds and who could very well cook his way into the finale.
#4) Lizzie Binder (31): There are conception mistakes, there are execution mistakes, and there are unlucky random chance mistakes. This week, Lizzie made one of those latest blunders by forgetting to turn her steamer on. Fortunately, she was able to recover in time to make the dish seem slightly undercooked rather than fully undercooked. The quick thinking was actually a pretty impressive feat, but one of these days, she’s still going to need to cook something that blows everyone away instead of yet another dish the judges universally think is good.
Here’s a look at how each of the two ballots shook out: