Top Chef All-Stars: Power Rankings Week 14
Author: Mack Rawden and Jessica Grabert
published: 2011-03-19 17:34:23
After the contestants combined for three sketchy dishes last week, I wasn’t sure what we might get moving forward. Sometimes the finale is a brilliant back and forth where all involved step up and produce wonderful and inventive courses. Other times it’s a choke fest of muted flavors and safe offerings. You would think a season filled with all-stars would produce heightened drama near the end, but the judges were given three very poor dishes during the last episode. I was skeptical how the remaining four would fire back. Turns out that nervousness was misplaced.
Cooking on the beach with conch the chefs were forced to catch themselves, they all battled the elements and ultimately came out smelling like roses. For the second week in a row, there was no topping emerging juggernaut Mike Isabella. He crammed pineapple, conch and a few other flavors into a seaweed wrap that once again narrowly edged Richard who screwed himself with one underdone piece of lobster that happened to go to the guest judge. Chef Tom ranted and raved about Blais’ sweet potatoes he deftly turned into pasta, but his praises couldn’t sway the others enough to top Mike. Antonia and Tiffany also did their part, though the former’s dish was a little too safe for Padma’s liking and the latter had some hot and cold problems with her chowder ceviche. In the end, Tiffany’s chill was enough to send her home, leaving us with three remaining competitors, each confident he oer she could win.
The Top Chef Power Rankings are a combination of ordered lists put together by Cinema Blend writers Mack Rawden and Jessica Grabert, as well as professional poker player and hungry hungry carnivore Brain Carraher. A first place vote is worth eighteen points. This week a last place vote was worth sixteen. Fifteen chefs have already been eliminated and therefore automatically occupy the bottom slots. For the first time, we’ve done away with the separate categories of favorites and contenders. Three chefs are left, and while Richard should still be considered the favorite, all three have legitimate chances to win. Here’s a look at how the voting shook down…
#1) Richard Blais (54): Richard needs to stop putting so much goddamn pressure on himself. Everyone else wants to win, but he treats the competition like his wife is strapped into a dunk tank and will be dropped if he doesn’t execute flawlessly. I’m all for mentally preparing to win, but once you get out there, you need to stop focusing on long-term repercussions and just execute like you know you can. If Richard can do that, he should thrive in the finale format that will likely allow him to pursue as many crazy recipes. If not, he’ll be left bitter and angry until Top Chef has another all-star season in five or six years.
#2) Antonia Lofaso (51): It’s a good thing for Antonia it was Tiffany’s time to go. Her dish this week lacked focus, and the Top Chef judge regulars weren’t particularly pleased with several components on the plate. Antonia did have two outside factors going for her. The first was guest judge Lorena “bad opinions” Garcia was all over her dish. The second was Tiffany serving a hot soup with a cold ceviche that made for one lukewarm dish. Antonia’s had a rough few weeks, and she’s not normally the type of person to land in the middle. She’ll either rise to the occasion, or she’ll sink like she’s got lead weights tied to her. She’s a variable, so there’s no telling how these next few weeks will go.
#3) Mike Isabella (48): Mike began the season with a solid always-in-the-middle performance. Following this he had one high week and then several lows. If he had gone home then, I don’t think anyone would have been surprised. However, in the past two weeks, Mike’s been on the top of the game. He's worked on trying new dishes and has learned new techniques and this has garnered him back-to-back elimination challenge wins as well as one quickfire win. Brian’s been all over Mike’s shit all along, but I would have been hard pressed to believe he’d make it into the finals until the past few weeks. As it currently stands, he’s looking more and more like the man to beat.
Here’s a look at how each of the three ballots shook out:
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