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After last week’s horrific food flub, I was a little worried for the contestants, but between a homey quickfire challenge and creating food for Anna Faris and Chris Pratt (competing for a car, nonetheless), the contestants really pulled through. The quickfire left Bart and Micah on the bottom, but Josh, Stefan, and Brooke all made dishes that made the quickfire judge—the infamous Olive Garden reviewer Marilyn Hagerty—smile, and Brooke nabbed the win.
Dinner was pretty uncomplicated, with Faris and Pratt being generally open to all kinds of good food, although they did note they hate hummus and like game meats. Overall, the dishes were pretty good. When the contestants were called in for judging, Tom even noted that those on the bottom hadn’t done horribly and had simply had some minor stuff wrong with the dishes. Danyelle had a crisis of confidence, poor Micah was on the bottom twice this week, and Josh cooked pork inappropriately, again. Still, it was Eliza’s undercooked carrots that landed her with the loss and Padma asked her to pack her knives and go.
On the bright side, there were four top dishes this week. John, Sheldon, Brooke, and Kristen all landed in the top, and quite frankly, the judges liked a lot of the other dishes, too. For John, landing in the top was especially sweet, as he made a clam chowder base taught to him by his mentor, Rick Moonen…only to learn later that Moonen was actually the judge for the final challenge. Sheldon’s story about bringing the food he liked to cook to the table was also compelling, but ultimately Brooke landed the win in the main challenge, as well. The judges thought her dish was complicated and ballsy, which is exactly what a dish should be if it’s trying to win a Toyota Prius.
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, eight were given for a last place vote. Seven 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) John Tesar (36): John may not have been pleased to see Rick Moonen as this week’s judge, but his apprehension quickly turned into elation when his former boss gushed about his chowder. Had Brooke not gone out on a crazy limb thanks to her immunity, he likely would have won his first elimination challenge. Still, with two highs, two quickfire wins and numerous positive responses from the judges, John remains the odds on favorite to take home this year’s title.
#2) Sheldon Simeon (33): Sheldon has had a few flubs during the competition, but has totally redeemed himself over the last few weeks. This week he created a well-balanced dish with unique components that the judges seemed to fall in love with. I would have bet him to earn the win, but it’s a good thing I didn’t try to call it. Still, if he continues this upward trajectory, he may find himself in that top slot.
#3) Stefan Richter (32): Stefan was singled out and put in the top three during the quickfire, and while he didn’t make the top four during the elimination challenge, the judges had nothing but nice things to say about his dish, meaning he either finished fifth or sixth. Altogether, that amounts to a solid and comfortable week. Unfortunately, given the crazy heights he reached during Season 5 (four elimination wins and three quickfire wins), we’re all still waiting for a little bit more.
#4) Kristen Kish (31): Kristen spent several weeks sliding through in the middle of the pack. Since then, she has really upped her game, landing in the top several times and winning one of the elusive four challenge wins this season. This week she paired dried fruit with cheese in her balanced dish, and the judges loved it. Let’s hope she carries the momentum into next week.
#5) Brooke Williamson (27): It’s definitely not a stretch to say this was Brooke’s best episode during the competition. Not only did she win the quickfire, she used her immunity and newfound confidence to throw out lamb-stuffed squid on black rice with coconut milk. The dish absolutely blew the judges away, took home the top prize and netted her a Prius. Maybe this is exactly what she needed to realize she belongs here and can compete with anyone. Fingers crossed.
#5) Lizzie Binder (27): Lizzie has been doing well throughout the competition. She’s been high on several occasions, and she’s never landed in the bottom. However, she’s never won anything, either. I don’t want to see Lizzie sit on her haunches and slide her way into a finale slot. I want her to give some bold dishes a shot and pull through with the win. That’s how a person wins the title of Top Chef, and that’s how a person gets ahead in these power rankings.
#7) Micah Fields (22): Micah had a bad week this week. He chose the wrong dish to make in the quickfire, as the Olive Garden lady didn’t even know what his food was, calling a tamale a “taco.” His main dish also landed in the bottom, although he seemed to just have the wrong ratio of components and Tom only gave him a slight slap on the wrist for it. Micah’s young, and he needs to be on his A game to compete with the best of the best.
#8) Bart Vandaele (21): One week after finally being singled out for a winning quickfire dish, Bart returned to his nondescript self with an elk dish that received a pretty positive response from the judges. It wasn’t enough to put him in the high group, but it was enough to net him his fourth straight safe/ middle of the pack showing. Putting out pretty good dishes will likely keep him around for another few weeks, but as the shitty places get chopped off, pretty good is going to start turning into not good enough.
#9) Danyele McPherson (21): Danyele seems like a broken woman. She was ready to put herself in the bottom before the judges even tried her food, and even worse, she offered up a couple of horrible voiceovers about not being sure whether she has what it takes to compete at this level. That’s loser talk, and if she doesn’t right the ship quickly, she’ll be heading home. Luckily, since she actually seems to have some talent and found herself safe for the first four weeks, it’s not hopeless yet.
#10) Josh Valentine (20): Josh has actually been pretty good during the quickfires. He was singled out as one of the three best again this week, but for whatever reason, he’s been godawful during the elimination challenges. This was the third week in a row he’s been up for elimination in the low group. This time it was for a giant, unseasoned hunk of pork. Josh needs to improve immediately. I highly doubt the judges will let him come back from the chopping block for a fourth time in a row.
#11) Josie Smith-Malave (16): Josie has been in the middle over the last several weeks, but despite her high confidence, she hasn’t shown any real capacity to create a dish that has wowed the judges. In fact, she would already be gone from this competition if she hadn’t had one brief moment of inspiration in a quickfire and landed immunity. Her turkey flub from a few weeks ago was one of the worst mistakes in Season 10, and until she creates a legitimately great dish, I doubt she’ll move very far up in the power rankings.
Here’s a look at how each of the two ballots shook out: