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There’s a certain amount of making your own luck that plays into Top Chef. You can’t control the challenge, but you can control how you spin that challenge. Case and point: Ilan. That son of a bitch made Spanish food week in and week out, almost regardless of the parameters. If there was any way he could justify it, he was going there. Then again, every once in a while, it’s really all up to the late night talk show host gods.
This week, the contestants were surprised with a visit to the set of Late Night With Jimmy Fallon where they were informed they’d be cooking lunch for the host’s birthday party the following afternoon. Each chef was asked to take out his or her cell phone, and they randomly snapped a picture as images rapidly flashed. Carla, ever the out loud thinker, openly bloviated about wanting chicken pot pie. She got it and turned the dish into the Elimination winner. Fabio, not quite running as well, was forced to make his first burger. He treated it like meatloaf, and the judges sent him home.
With only seven contestants left, Top Chef is once again a game of survival. Stave off the competition three or four more weeks, and you’ll find yourself with a spot in the finals. Go big and you could wind up like Jennifer, Stephen or Fabio. Not that I endorse shooting for the middle, but expect plenty of good chefs to tread cautiously as the slightest mistake could send you home from here on out.
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 food fanatic Brain Carraher. 18 points are given for a first place vote, while last place tallies received 12 this week. 11 chefs have already been eliminated, therefore they automatically populate those bottom slots in the ordering. Here’s a look at how this week shook down…
#1) Angelo Sosa (53): High praise followed Angelo this week when he made the craziest pulled pork dish an imagination could concoct. The dishes’ main components? Coffee, dill, allspice, and chipotle. Even Tom didn’t think he could pull this shit off. This was after he made the top notch but equally bizarre quickfire dish composed of a fondue with a beet juice shooter. Angelo is a creative, spontaneous, and chancy machine, and I’m surprised it hasn’t come back to bite him at any point. But maybe that’s also why he’s this week’s best.
#2) Richard Blais (52): Poor Richard. He tries to tone it down in honor of drawing Ramen Noodles, and he pisses off a Jimmy Fallon hellbent on seeing some wild gastronomy shit. I guess there are downsides to having a glowing reputation. Once again, I was the only panelists to vote for Richard, and let me tell you why I did so. He was almost exclusively responsible for Antonia’s near victory. He was the one who explained to her, blow by blow, exactly how to cook the beef tongue. This even led to an aside from Mike bitching about how Richard helps everyone. It’s very clear who the other chefs think sits at the top of the heap. For me, it’s impossible to argue against that.
#3) Dale Talde (47): This is two weeks in a row Dale has come within a chopstick of Valhalla. He just lacks the consistency of Richard and Angelo. When those two screw up, more often than not, they find themselves in the middle of the pack. When Dale blows it, he’s very firmly in the conversation for elimination. Still, he won the fondue Quickfire this week, and his numerous challenge wins are a strong indication if he maeks the finals, he’s more than capable of beating everyone. Side note: if we were voting for best interview, Dale would win in a landslide. He’s just the right amount of asshole.
#4) Antonia Lofaso (45): If Antonia is the female foil to Carla in this Top Chef competition, I consider her the protagonist. Though she dipped a few weeks into the bottom, she’s managed to more than make up for her various lows. While she and Mike are consistently at each others throats, Jersey Shore style, they both seem to be able to put silly tiffs aside to create good and professional dishes. This week Antonia pressure cooked the shit out of beef tongue. Beef tongue. Not chicken pot pie or pulled pork or Ramen. She was given the shaft and turned the opportunity into a delectable hunk of meat. She’s got chops, that’s for sure, but is it enough to land her in the finals?
#5) Carla Hall (41): In many ways, Carla’s most recent victory was a byproduct of obscene luck, but in many other ways, it was a byproduct of her ability to make good food. Most of the other contestants here are very concerned with all the other ingredients that go into being a chef. Presentation, sophistication, originality, etc. Carla couldn’t care less about any of that pretentious nonsense. She just wants to make delicious food, whether it be simple, messy or overdone.
#6) Mike Isabella (41): Some Top Chef contestants are continually lucky ducks. When Jimmy Fallon’s cell phone shootout device assigned dishes to everyone, Mike got to make a sausage and pepper dish. Granted, he showed some skill and made his own sausage, but all his work merely served to land him in the middle. If he’s getting dishes in his wheelhouse, like Carla, and he still can’t highly compete, it’s only a matter of time before the lucky duck becomes a losing schmuck.
#7) Tiffany Derry (36): For the first time, Tiffany picked up all three last places votes this week. It’s not that she’s been terrible as much as she’s been uninspired. You don’t suck and beat more than half the contestants, but you also don’t get picked last by everyone if you have more than a few inspired performances. Not only is she yet to win an elimination or quickfire, she’s been nearly eliminated four times. There’s no where left to hide. With seven people left, you either need to perform or pack your shit and go.
Here’s a look at how each of the three ballots shook out: