Top Chef All-Stars: Power Rankings Week 13
Author: Mack Rawden and Jessica Grabert
published: 2011-03-12 15:11:55
Remember last week when all five of the remaining chefs performed so well the judges couldn’t bring it upon themselves to eliminate anyone? That certainly wasn’t the case this week. Maybe it was the hustle-bustle of the Bahamas, maybe it was a fire that nearly burned the kitchen down or maybe it was just finale jitters. Regardless of the reason, most of the contestants choked in the paradise air, both in the quickfire and elimination challenges.
Soon after arrival, the competitors were greeted with some familiar faces, the chefs who won their particular seasons. Unfortunately, only four of the cycles feature contestants that made it to the finale, but even without Harold, it was nice to see Stephanie, Hosea, Michael and Kevin. They were decked out in full cooking attire and ready to compete against the challengers they already bested to win ten thousand dollars. Carla made an absolute mess of her dish, and Hosea easily took the win. Antonia also fared horribly, though Stephanie’s C- effort barely bested her. Needless to say, Richard had no problem securing his ten grand. Beyond that, both Michael and Mike did season six proud with superb offerings, and Mike took the win in a split decision. Tiffany and Kevin also kept their pride with Tiffany narrowly edging season seven’s surprise winner. After that, it was all down hill.
The chefs were told they’d be cooking for royalty, but that royalty ended up being the king of a street celebration. All but Tiffany who decided to go low class anyway were less than amused, but a seemingly serendipitous grease fire allowed the contestants a chance to reconsider their dishes after the sprinkler system laid waste to their prep work. Richard and Antonia changed gears while the other three stood pat. It was a good decision on Richard’s part as his new offering went over very well, ultimately placing second behind first time winner Mike Isabella. The other three dishes were disasters. Nothing worked about Antonia’s dish, Tiffany’s was easy and boring and Carla severely undercooked several pieces of pork. In the end, inedible trumps ill-conceived and basic every time. Carla packed her knives and went, though I was ultimately less pleased than expected.
Throughout the Top Chef Power Rankings, we said repeatedly Carla had no chance of winning. This proved to be correct, but along the way, she far surpassed my own expectations and afforded herself quite nicely. It was truly a shame to see her go, even if she’s not quite as naturally talented as Richard, Antonia or Mike.
The Top Chef Power Rankings are a weekly ordering of lists put together by Cinema Blend writers Mack Rawden and Jessica Grabert, as well as professional poker player and food fanatic Brain Carraher. Eighteen points are awarded for a first place vote, and this week, fifteen were given for a last place vote. Fourteen competitors have already been eliminated; therefore, they automatically occupy the bottom slots. Here’s a look at how this week’s votes broke down with analysis on how each chef may far moving forward…
#1) Richard Blais (54): Angelo may have been the king of weird palates, but Richard is the king of weird ideas. This week, he finagled a turnip cannelloni that managed to gain him a spot in the top 2. While Tom was all over the odd dish, unfortunately Eric Ripert’s delicate constitution wasn’t as enthused. Ultimately, Ripert’s opinion may have cost him the elimination challenge. Although, honestly, with Dale and Angelo out of the way, it’s nice to see Mike give Richard a run for his money. It makes things fun. Only three more episodes will tell if Richard can pull off the title of Top Chef. Until then, I’m glad he’s rocking the playoff beard.
#2) Antonia Lofaso (51): Antonia may be the type to falter when the going gets tough. Expecting to cook for the King and Queen of Barbados, she created a dish fit for royalty, only to find out the contestants would be cooking for the king and queen of Junkado, a street celebration, much to Antonia’s chagrin. When a kitchen fire gave each of the contestants the opportunity to remake his or her food, Antonia realized she could change her dish; but, by doing so, she cooked a limp and tasteless shrimp and grits dish that was entirely out of her cooking realm. As Richard put it--Antonia is competition, and if her courage falters it can only help the others to come closer to a win. She needs to maintain a steady outlook to make it to the final round.
#3) Mike Isabella (48): Mikey! What a stage to finally break out in. He knocked on the door last week with his wonderful pasta dish, but throughout the whole of the elimination challenge this time around, he gallivanted about with a certain swagger. He beat Michael in the quickfire and he bested Richard in the elimination. Now he knows he can do it, the only question is whether he will. Throughout his largely middling competition results during the season, he rarely found himself in play for elimination, but it takes a lot more than pretty decent dishes to win the title. Odds are he won’t get there, but if he can mount a charge, he should be able to take that confidence with him throughout the rest of his culinary career. For a chef like Richard, winning is the only prize. For someone like Mike, being considered one of the best probably feels pretty damn good.
#4) Tiffany Derry (45): Tiffany is not at the level of the three other chefs. Her dish conception is frequently weak, and at times her execution can border on disappointing. That being said, if she makes it to the finale, the format should suit her, perhaps more than the other contestants, very nicely. The last competition is almost always a challenge to make the best meal of your life. Tiffany struggles when she lacks time or the resources she’d like to use. Richard could burst into a gas station, shop for ten minutes and come up with multiple Michelin star ideas. Tiffany can’t, but with a wide open task, she can play to her strengths and cook multiple down home courses that taste great. I’m not confident she’ll get there, but if she does, she could potentially best anyone remaining.
Here’s a look at how each of the three ballots shook out:
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