With a freshly minted – either the best episode of the season or … well, let me give another spoiler alert. If you have in on your DVR, why are you reading this? Top Chef in the can, let’s get right to it:
- The quickfire was total genius – and almost certainly the least appetizing quickfire of the season, maybe any season. Having all processed food, and only microwaves and a rolling hotdog griller to cook on (you know what I mean, the thing that rotates the hotdogs and taquitos so seductively to drunken customers at 7-Eleven) – Tom Hanks had an easier culinary challenge in Cast Away. Throw in the the indefinite duration and we had a real McGyver problem.
- Of all people, who’da thunk that Carla would have the MacGyver solution? She just planned well and her dish seemed easily the best of the bunch. Mike Isadouche’s soup was a heartfelt attempt but looked pretty disgusting. Richard was angry about the loss – which inspired a snappy comment from LG. Honestly chefs have such massive egos – of course they think they are brilliant.
- The Ellis Island challenge was cool. You always get the weepies when the cheftestants get to see loved ones. This was no exception – although Carla’s husband did not resemble what I had in my mind’s eye, while Tiffany’s mom absolutely did.
- Antonia’s dish looked brilliant. The risotto and … well, I don’t do veal for moral reasons, although it clearly has the characteristics as a protein of the sorts of meats that I would LOVE. It is a clear winner. She has been strong the last month – and she has sort of moved to tops on my rooting list.
- The prize this challenge might have been the sickest product placement in television history. Tiffany in particular in a confessional gave a virtual TV commercial testimonial.
- The elimination – well the judge’s decision was not a surprise. Considering the quality the judges got to taste – and their raving comments – how can you tell someone they cannot advance to the finale set? That said, eliminating nobody was a bit of a cop out. These people are pros – shouldn’t Tom Collichio be able to identify someone slightly worse than the others? But this is better television.
So, how to we rank order the chefs at this point – the same Furious Five?
- Richard – he can do things nobody else can do. His creative brain creates ideas nobody can create. He is not a slam dunk, but he has it all.
- Antonia – the big closer, has been rock solid since early in the season. Has a lot of versatility, and is peaking. Of course there is a time gap with the change in venues, so as long as her life did not fall to pieces in the interim, she should be a serious contender.
- Carla – deciding between Carla and Isadouche is a matter of ceiling vs consistency. Carla has won three times this season, but she also has been on the chopping block a lot. At this point, where you only need to be great twice, I’m betting ceiling. After all, last season’s Top Chef won on the basis of a single great week.
- Mike Isabella – Isadouche has been pretty steady. He has been in the bottom a couple of times, but most of the time has been solid. Solid won’t get a win.
- Tiffany – she has been the clear borrowed time cheftestant all season. That said, her performance was heartening. But I cannot see her winning, while the other four all could.