With Restaurant Wars over and the competition turning back to a more standard format of one chef, one dish, viewers were treated with quite possibly the most ludicrous Quickfire Challenge since the Vending Machine gourmet in season 2. Guest Judge Isaac Mizrahi waxed poetic about food as art and propositioned the contestants to make a visually appealing dish that didn’t need to be tasted. Most of the chefs seemed lukewarm at best to the idea, but amusingly, this seemed to have little or no correlation on the final results. Angelo, perhaps the most gung ho of them all, ended up on the bottom with his disgusting, ill-advised tribute to alligator skin and Richard took home top prize for a white and black ice cream.
For the Elimination Challenge, Top Chef took over an exclusive, high class Italian restaurant and treated the owners to a three course feast of traditional offerings including an appetizer course, a pasta course and a final meat course. The pasta course was an absolute disaster (Tre, Mike and Dale) and the other two were big hits. Tre was sent packing and Antonia was eventually declared the winner, with Fabio, Tiffany and Carla all receiving special recognition for their efforts.
Last week, I said the following about Tre: I can’t shake the feeling that the aforementioned horrible effort will rear its head at the wrong time in an upcoming week. Little did I know that horrible effort would involve risotto and happen sooner, rather than later.
The Top Chef Power Rankings are a weekly compilation of ordered 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, eleven points were given for a last place vote. Ten chefs have already been eliminated, therefore, they automatically receive the bottom ten slots. Here’s a look at who ended up where…
#1) Angelo Sosa (53): Angelo was on a team that should’ve been stacked, could’ve cleaned up this week, and would’ve won enough praise to leave them glowing in the otherwise scary waiting room. Should have, could have, would have been. Instead, the triumphant trio became only the nearly triumphant trio as Fabio became the one competent chef to create a successful dish in his course. Not to say Angelo and Richard ended horribly—they scraped by in the middle—but when you’re given the task to cook an Italian meal and you have the meat course, how could you possibly fuck up? The middle is dwindling, and so are Angelo’s chances to dick around and still be in the game.
#2) Richard Blais (52): Richard was on the top of my rankings this week, but Jessica and Brain still aren’t quite sold he’s regained the edge of Angelo. Personally, I don’t see it. He crushed last week’s Elimination Challenge, won this week’s Quickfire and was a tweak or two away from being recognized this week. One of the restaurant co-owners even said Richard’s dish was his favorite of the meat course, but at this point, we’re really arguing over nothing. Angelo, Richard, Dale and maybe even Antonia have solidified their places at the apex of the Top Chef heap. Richard screwed up the finale once; here’s to hoping he doesn’t blow it before he gets a second a chance.
#3) Dale Talde (48): Did anyone else think Dale’s dish resembled something that had sat in a wok for too long in a Noodles and Company? Even the cameramen who have been trained to make food look good for television couldn’t make that mess look anything but…soggy. I’m sorry Dale, but Tre’s risotto must have been truly horrible to have kept you in the game, no matter how great you’ve played thus far. If Marcel’s fall last week taught us anything, it’s that it is anyone’s game at this point. Equally, it could be anyone’s time to go home. Watch yo’ back, son.
#4) Antonia Lofaso (45): How happy must Antonia have been to finally get to compete individually? After being saddled down by awful teammates several weeks in a row, she was finally able to stand on her own merits en route to a victory. Interestingly, Antonia was the consensus choice among all three panelists this week as the number four chef. For the record, during the inaugeral rankings, she placed seventeen out of eighteen. I’m ready to admit I was wrong. Throughout this season, Antonia has shown a poise and confidence that warrant her fourth place rating. I’m still not sold on several of the chefs still around, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see her in the finale.
#5) Tiffany Derry (40): It seemed like it was Tiffany’s week. While the other girls who created appetizers seemed to do well, the sophistication invested into Tiffany’s polenta seemed to place her a notch ahead of Carla’s soup and Antonia’s mussel dish. Although Antonia ultimately won this week’s title, Tiffany’s call to the top means she’s a medium contender, at least for now. She, along with Fabio and Mike, now just need wins. Getting a “high” score every week is bittersweet if you never go home the champion.
#6) Mike Isabella (38): Good God, Mike is fortunate to still be around. Cooking in his Italian wheelhouse, he absurdly didn’t leave enough time to cook the pasta, ultimately serving a dish that was borderline inedible. Some might argue his horrible showing should have dropped him to the bottom of this week’s rankings, but in the grand scheme of things, I’d rather see a time error than a conception error. Still, with only eight people left, it’s hard to imagine misfiring that badly won’t result in knife packing next time around.
#7) Carla Hall (37): Ok. Carla can cook. Somewhat. We’ll go ahead and admit to the fact that she is tied in the lead for wins and was in the top again this week. We top chef power rankers were somewhat wrong. We’ve pinned her and Fabio at the bottom from the beginning, and yet, there they are, defying any calculated or accumulated odds. Here’s the thing: Carla was always thrown to the bottom of these lists, not because we thought she was insipid or incapable of producing great things. We just never thought she could win the whole shebang, and we still don’t. But don’t be surprised if she doesn’t make a name for herself and win a few more rounds of this thing.
#8) Fabio Viviani (35): Despite being ranked last, Fabio has been very impressive the last two weeks. Then again, the two episodes saw him working in the front of the house and cooking traditional Italian food, easily his two strongest skill sets. If next week’s challenge allows him to cook gnocchi, we’ll be having this same conversation, but if the task sways too far into some other ethnic cuisine, it’ll likely be the end of the line.
Here’s a look at how each of the three ballots shook out: