There Can Only Be One: Picking the Top Chef Winner

Top Chef 7: Hail to the Chefis down to its final three contestants: Angelo, Kevin, and Ed. Next week the three face off in their final challenge, which as always, will involve a few surprise guests and one or more twists and turns. For the finale, we’re profiling each of the three cheftestants and discussing why each of them Will or Will NOT win the competition.

Ed Cotton

Tom: My pick is Ed simply because of momentum. He’s done extremely well in the last few challenges and has trended upward the entire second half of the season. He started off under the radar and sort of in the middle of the pack, but has risen to the top as time went on, following the path of previous victors like Harold (season 1) and Hosea (season 5).

Why Ed Won’t Win: Ed has a tendency to make overly complicated dishes and put too many elements on the plate. In situations like that, one missed step will spell doom for the entire dish, putting extra pressure on him to execute everything perfectly. So far this hasn’t caused issues for him, but in the finale, using foreign ingredients and cooking in an unfamiliar setting, that could be his undoing. Add in the fact that at times Ed has been a little helter-skelter in the kitchen. In the finale execution and organization becomes more critical than it’s ever been.

Jesse:Ed’s my pick for the winner. Sure, he constantly grabs wins by making deep fried things, but good food is good food. More importantly, Ed just seems to be willing to push himself to the maximum. We’ve been seeing him not only make some amazing dishes, but embrace the spirit of most challenges. My biggest concern is him feeling overshadowed and over influenced by his sous chef, which could easily turn into another Carla situation all over again.

Kevin Sbraga

Why Kevin Will Win: Kevin definitely seems to be the underdog in the finale. He’s been hit or miss all season and even his hits haven’t been spectacular. He also seems to be the least familiar with the cuisine and cooking techniques in Singapore, which will definitely be part of the finale in some way.  That being said, he probably hasn’t cooked a perfect meal yet this season, so maybe he’s saving it.

Why Kevin Won’t Win: Temper, temper, temper. Kevin gets rattled and annoyed fairly easily and has had more than a few blow ups during the season, usually directed at other chefs. If even a few things go wrong in the finale, will Kevin be able to keep his anger in check or will the wheels come off completely?

Jesse: If Kevin pulls off a win here, I’ll be a lot more than just disappointed. When Hosea Rosenberg won Top Chef Season 5, a lot of people said it wasn’t that he won it, so much as Stefan Richter lost it. This is looking to be the exact same situation all over again with Kevin. I bear no ill will towards Kevin, but the stats are just not in his favor.

Kevin has won a single Quick Fire challenge, and it was the tag team cook-off so three other people won it too. But what’s most telling is how many times Kevin has been on the bottom during an elimination challenge. On five different occasions, he’s been up for elimination. That’s over a third of all elimination challenges! Meanwhile, Ed and Angelo have each been on the bottom only twice.

Angelo Sosa

Jesse: Angelo’s the best chef currently in the competition, but all bets are clearly showing he’s not winning the finale. Since the first episode, Angelo has clearly been at the top of Top Chef, but after Kenny’s elimination, Angelo lost his way. Without focus, he quickly faded from the front and other chefs started stepping up. So while he’s the best chef, a bunch of things have happened that are making it very clear he won’t win.

Tom: I actually don’t concur that Angelo is the best chef left. All season he’s only made Asian inspired cuisine. Every step of the way with the exception being that pastry dough pizza that nearly got him booted off. He hasn’t really shown range in the kitchen, so its hard to say he’s the best chef when his variety of dishes seems pretty narrow. That being said, the way he dominated the early portion of the competition shows that he is more than capable of completely overwhelming the other two, but I’m not picking him to do it.

The teaser for the finale showed Angelo plagued and bedridden, going as far as having a doctor making a call to his room. Could it be cheap editing to make for a more stressful finale? Possibly, but the whole thing shaped up to look like Angelo is staying in bed and missing his chance for a win. The other reason stems from some rumors about the next season of Top Chef All Stars.