|Top Chef host Padma with her octopi|
Here’s how they stack up in our minds, going into Wednesday’s episode:
Sheldon Simeon – 7/2
It’s hard not to root for Sheldon, the Hawaiian teddy bear wearing a perpetual smile. After emerging as a real contender in the second half of the season, Sheldon picked up a big win in Restaurant Wars for his undoubtedly risky “Modern Filipino” dining concept (made even riskier considering most of his team had never tasted Filipino food, let alone prepared it). However, the James Beard semifinalist stumbled last week when he went all Captain Obvious in the surf & turf challenge, selecting lobster and filet for his proteins instead of something a bit more out of the box (see Brooke’s Frog Legs and Mussels). While Sheldon is our front-runner at this stage, let’s not forget that he’s also the guy who made Panda Express-caliber stirfry for Wolfgang Puck. Can his Asian-inspired cuisine go the distance? Or will he sit on the forgotten heap of TC runners-up?
|The Next Top Chef? Or Team Zissou?|
Brooke Williamson – 4/1
L.A. gastropub owner Brooke is on a roll right now in terms of challenges, picking up a double win last week. Although her concepts are risky, she almost always manages to execute them well. Brooke pulls combinations like frog legs and mussels and lamb-stuffed squid out of her ass and somehow makes them taste incredible. Brooke may be killing it right now, but I fear she’s peaking too early.
|Brooke thinks outside the box|
Lizzie Binder – 6/1
Just try doing Lizzie’s accent. You’ll sound like a wounded, vaguely retarded house pet from the British Isles. Lizzie actually hails from South Africa, where her claim to fame was cooking for Nelson Mandela (uh… take that, pissants!) Lizzie is perhaps the most consistent chef still left in the competition, but when she fails, she fails big. Like that fried chicken debacle. And her inexplicable love affair with cabbage. Lizzie needs to knock it out of the park this week to make the finale… or at least beat out Josh’s next dish.
|Lizzy is the only non-American left in race for Top Chef|
Joshua Valentine – 9/1
Whether or not you like Josh depends entirely on how you feel about his hipster mustache. If you like ginger facial hair waxed into a sharp, upturned pair of parentheses, well, Josh is your man. Josh has had a few decent weeks on the show, but let’s not forget this is a guy who ran a restaurant called Divine Swine, yet managed to completely fuck up every pork dish he made on the show. And when he does mess up a dish, he turns it into breakfast (bacon sushi, anyone?) Unless he pulls out some sort of culinary miracle this week, I see Josh bubbling the finale.
|Josh is a favorite submission for the Tumblr page: Hipster or Top Chef?|
Kristen Kish (reigning champ, Last Chance Kitchen) – 6/1
Despite the fact that she still needs to win two more heads-up cookoffs to earn a spot in the finale, I’m still giving Kristen better odds to win than Josh. This icy-cool, classically trained French chef will dust her remaining competition and I see her giving Sheldon and Brooke a huge sweat when it comes to the grand prize. I mean (a) she was only eliminated because she took the fall for Josie in Restaurant Wars and (b) lest we forget, she won an elimination challenge with mushrooms and fried onions!
|Kristen is the most-skilled chef remaining, but fighting to stay alive|
C.J. Jacobsen (“Save a Chef” reigning champ) – 12/1
This is a hard one to handicap, seeing as whoever wins this mulligan will ultimately have to compete against the Last Chance Kitchen champ in order to win a spot in the finale. Right now Big Ceej is winning this popularity contest, but I don’t see anyone beating Kristen. She’s why LCK was created and while CJ has a loyal fan base, Kristen’s comeback story is the happy ending Top Chef is looking for this season.