Top Chef DC Alignment: Week 7

Only eight contestants remain on Top Chef: DC, and we are at that point in the season where chefs who really have no business still being on the show are finally getting cut left and right. The only reason these people stayed as long as they did was because other people made bigger mistakes, but as was the case with Andrea and Stephen the past two weeks, if you are consistently on the bottom, eventually you’re going home.

Before getting to the graph and the changes in trends, a word. Chefs need to stop saying “I didn’t get a chance to show who I really am” and “I don’t need four people at a table to tell me I can cook” when they get eliminated. Andrea, I’m looking at you specifically, but this is something that happens at least once or twice per season. If you survived more than half the season and still “haven’t shown who you are”, you deserve to leave. What are you waiting for? If you get eliminated in the first or second episode and there are some esoteric challenges that don’t fit your cooking style, then fine, that might be a legitimate gripe, but when you have plenty of challenges and even make a few recipes that “I’ve made before at my restaurant and they work”, I’m pretty sure we’ve all seen “who you are” (that was too many quotations marks). Additionally, everyone who is on the show can cook, they wouldn’t be there if they couldn’t. What the four judges are telling you is that on that particular night you weren’t good, end of story.

Ok, soapbox removed, let’s get to the graph.

  • Not a ton of movement the last few weeks but there were some shifts:
  • Angelo was pushed further into the chaotic and evil realms. We wanted to make him full blown super villain evil, but he never actually admitted to sabotage with Tamesha and Stephen. Needless to say his actions do raise questions about just how by the book he really is.
  • Alex cannot possibly slip any further into chaos. Between his fumbling about the kitchen, crazy comments and dishes and the whole “English pea puree” fiasco, he’s about as unpredictable as a blink dog (D&D monster).

Tiffany further cemented her position as the “most good” character this season. She’s constantly upbeat and has yet to engage in any sort of real confrontation with any of the other chefs and tries to play the role of the voice of reason. One might be inclined to think that killing them with kindness wouldn’t work, but she won the last quickfire and challenge so something must be working.

For the most part we’re seeing an overall shift in most of the cheftestants away from the extreme of lawful/chaotic and closer to the median. Alex and Amanda remain outliers so it’s no surprise that week to week we see them undulating between worst and first (mostly worst). This makes sense because in the earlier portion of the season when challenges tend to be more straightforward being calm and utilizing the skills and knowledge you have usually win out. There’s more freedom to the dishes. As the competition progresses, things tend to get more difficult and require more creativity. Chefs are pushed from their comfort zones and thus are forced to embrace chaos. Kevin is a prime example of this. Starting out well into the lawful realm, slowly he’s be pushed over the median into chaos solely because he’s had to change up his approach to the competition and take more chances. That and he admitted that the competition tends to get under his skin and test his temper a bit.

Conversely, the chefs are becoming more polarized with regard to the scale of good vs evil. This isn’t really due to the nature of the competition so much as time. The more time on the show the more comfortable the chefs get with their surroundings and allow their true selves to come out. Aside from people like Kenny and Angelo, most of the chefs at the outset were content with being a bit more reserved in order to feel out the game. That and as the pressure increases, true colors emerge and the particularly competitive people tend to show through.

So heading toward the home stretch of the show we have to wonder how Amanda and Alex will affect the eventual outcome. With “Restaurant Wars” next week they will both certainly have an opportunity to make or break the competition, not just for themselves but for their respective teams. The good money is on them ending up on opposite teams, but it should be high comedy if they don’t. Will the trends hold true as the chefs try to balance creative risk and going with what got them there? Will Kenny and Angelo take a stranglehold on their teams in “Restaurant Wars”? Will someone be forced to make a dessert that propels or eliminates them? Or will we see a double elimination soon? We’ll find out after two more weeks.