As usual, there's a lot of sneaky intel out there, but I'm endeavoring to keep this blog a spoiler-free zone. This isn't just for the readers, but for me, too -- I don't want to know what happens! As such, anything that's already been broadcast or has been posted on the official Bravo site is fair game for discussion. I will, for example, discuss the preview of next week's show at the end of the post. But if you've heard rumors that one chef has been hosting a lot of dinner parties, or that another chef was spotted boarding a plane to an exotic locale, please keep them to yourself.

« Top Chef - S5E13 Postmortem | Main | Top Chef - S5E14 Postmortem »

February 24, 2009

Top Chef - S5E13 Power Rankings

This evening's post written by guest poster, Jennifer Scudiere

I regret to inform you that in the course of preparing dinner for his family this evening, Dominic sustained a chef's knife related injury. Fortunately, there was a medical professional (me) on hand. Upon examination, my diagnosis was, "Yup... that's a bad cut." Though the injury is not serious, it does make the transcription of his usually voluminous Top Chef analysis much more difficult than usual, and as such, he would like me to pass along the following:

  • Carla has made a believer out of him.
  • He still thinks Stefan will probably be named Top Chef.
  • He'd be happy with anybody other than Hosea winning.

He apologizes for being unable to provide the Power Rankings this week, but having examined his wound, I feel confident that his fingers will be operating at full capacity next week, in time for an end-of-season wrapup. In the meantime, there will be a postmortem thread tomorrow as usual.

Thank you for your attention.

Jennifer R. Scudiere, MD
aka Dom's wife


Good luck with a speedy recovery, Dom. Thank you, Jennifer.

Dom, hope your hand heals quickly! Thank you Jennifer for the update!

Thanks for the update. Hope that the hand heals quickly and relatively painlessly.

I have to agree with Dom on all three points. I'll be happiest if Carla wins, however.

Aggh, Dom, at least you were actually cooking -- I was sent to the emergency room with a bagel-cutting accident.

Feel better, if only for selfish reasons -- I want to read what you have to say about TC!

Thanks for letting us know. Hope you feel better soon.

What, you didn't just sear it on the flat top to stop the bleeding?

No comments should be allowed after Sarah's hilarious brilliance.

Hosea is truly this season's champion of 'eh' wrapped in what appears to be a pleasant demeanor. Although at base, I don't think he's actually nice, it's more, as both Arianne and Stephan have pointed out, that he just lacks balls.

Stephan is my top choice for overall skill and experience, but Carla is definitely a contendor for flavor, style, and flair. I anticipate Hosea turning in a course or two that are quite good, but just not having any real punch to his overall meal.

Hope the hand heals quickly.

Yes, thank you Sarah -- a very TC-appropriate comment! We'll all miss Dom's in-depth analysis of the final three but will surely have plenty to talk about this time tomorrow night. And I'll add that I hope Dom's predictions come true.

anyone else think this means Dom is involved in the finale? Oh god I know is a long shot but please let Dom be the new Toby!

What a perfect opportunity to go all Fabio "I will sear it on the frekina grilla to finisha my blogga". I hope that he took license.

Get well soon!

Sorry that you had a Fabio, Dom. Fast recovery. Thx for your contributions!

I second (or third) sarah and wickedorchid's sentiments, this would be the perfect opportunity for a Fabio. But for the sake of all that is holy in the Top Chef universe - next year on the night before the big finale, just order some take-out, okay? :) Speedy healing!

"Hosea is truly this season's champion of 'eh'... both Arianne and Stephan [Stefan] have pointed out, that he just lacks balls."

Actually, I would have thought that Leah would be the authoritative expert on that subject :)



And yes, I'm crying out in my own agony at the thought of no Power Rankings - not in sympathy for Dom's injury. I'm a terrible, terrible person.

(but I do hope you recover well and soon) ;-)

Does anyone else prefer Jennifer's writing style? Dom, your blog authority has been officially usurped.

Hope it heals quickly :). Looking forward to a good finale this evening!

Oh my gawd!

Way to marry a doctor, by the way. No wonder you can set yourself up with this sweet gig eating and blogging. Now on top of that you get to lay up and eat bonbons for a week while your adoring public begs for you to come back.

Seriously though, just heal up, Dom!

Oh no!

Dom, I hope you recover quickly. I got all excited when I saw the Power Rankings logo and then I read the bad news.

Glad to hear you married well. Sounds like you owe her more than just your fingers! Here's hoping for a speedy recovery. Get well soon.

(This comment was typed with one hand.)

Heh... thanks, all!

But no worries, it looks ugly but it's nothing serious. Just enough to cause a goodly amount of discomfort, require a big bandage and leak precious bodily fluids all over the place... none of which are conducive to lengthy typing sessions. But I've done worse in the past. At least this one didn't have me searching for the piece I'd just lopped off :-)

A few days and it'll be perfectly usable. Sorry for the lack of rankings, but I'll get a short postmortem up tonight and we'll do a season recap next week.

Oh, and PS? The fact that I didn't hack it off and sear it on the flat top is precisely why Fabio's on Top Chef and I'm not.

(Well, that and the whole lack of multiple successful restaurants and awesome accent thing, of course.)

I could do with FAR less Fabio and MUCH more Dom. I'm so sorry to hear about your "chef's knife-related injury." Please heal up soon--for your own sake. Kudos to Jennifer for writing in your stead. What a great team.

Get better Dom -- don't worry about us this week. I'm sure we can all figure out the rankings ourselves by now:

1. Stefan
2. Carla
3. Hosea

Oh, and let's not forget...

4. Resurrected Jeff
5. Fabio

Oh, and even better, we get to move the shrug down to 7.

6. Jamie
7. Leah

Feel better, Dom.

And go Carla! She has made a believer out of me too. I am also a sucker for the comeback narrative.

Saw Ariane on Iron Chef Sunday. She seemed very awkward and not that good, although her chef did quite well.

"Saw Ariane on Iron Chef Sunday. She seemed very awkward and not that good, although her chef did quite well."

You think the TC challenges are stressful? Try cooking a 5-course meal in 1 hour from a cold standing start, with a "kitchen" which sometimes doubles as an electrocution chamber (just ask Bobby Flay about that.)

Actually, I thought Ariane did OK - after all, she *was* a sous chef, not the leader. Those stuffed cutlets she did were OK (not butchered, if you know what I mean.)


I am going to seize this opportunity to lobby for the return of the Skillet Doux Podcast :) What say you Mr. Voice Actor?

Ok so I understand Dom not wanting to place himself in situations where flat-top searing of appendages are actually a good idea, but any ideas how we can get him on there as a guest judge?? They had that food blogger Andrea Strong on, during Restaurant Wars no less, in Season 3, and personally I think Dom would do a much better job, not that I'm biased, heh.

As for Iron Chef America, I thought that the chefs are told ahead of time that the secret ingredient will be one of two things, and the surprise in real time only comes from finding out which of the two it is. (This I believe is a difference from the original Iron Chef.) If this is true, it means that if you want to you can do alot of prepping beforehand, designing dishes and practicing under time constraints. Of course, I think Ariane was a last minute substitute because Freitag's original souschef couldn't make it, which could be a contributing factor to why she burned the crab.

And speaking of other shows, is anyone watching Ted Allen's show Chopped? It's not TC, but I can't resist food porn in HD (I live in one of those areas without Bravo in HD, argh!!). One aspect of the show that I enjoy, and wish we could get in TC, is the running commentary provided by the judges as they watch the contestants cook. Like imagine Tom, instead of giving a little summary after his mid-prep visit to the chefs, just sitting there the entire time, with Gail and Padma, discussing in real time whatever thoughts pop into their heads based on what they see the chefs doing.

And hope you're feeling better soon Dom! and thanks to Jennifer for keeping us apprised :)

I'm afraid this one's on me. I clearly jinxed Dom the moment I typed that comment a week ago enumerating the myriad ways to maim one's self in the kitchen. At least it wasn't a mandolin accident...

Sorry for the inadvertent post...

Carla Hall is scheduled to do a live chat at the online Washington Post at 2:00 PM. This link should take you to the chat site:

If it doesn't work, go to and scroll down to the chat section - it will be on the left hand side of the screen.

At least there were no cleats involved, eh Dom? (Inside Joke) What happened exactly? Were you watching The Spanish Prisoner in wonderful Pan-and-Scan, and got so distracted by the "full" picture that you lost control of the blade? (Also an inside Joke, needless to say Dom will be wanting to kill me now) I agree that most likely Stefan will be named Top Chef. Carla has not won me over despite Amanda arguing with me over her skills. I just don't see her as a Top Chef. Sadly, Dom more often than not proves my opinions to be wrong, but at least he's on board with my top pick this year.

I also join the lobby for the return of the podcast!

As a very side note, I have also been enjoying Chopped on Food Network. It's a nice midpoint between Top and Iron Chef. Also when re-watching TC recently, I noticed that one of the diners at Craft (the ones who were rejected TC candidates?) was on Chopped. He did not win. ;-)

@ brother-in-law Jim

What is it about Carla that's lacking for you? What does the moniker Top Chef mean to you?

Thing about Chopped is lack of continuity from one show to the next. The four chefs move through the chairs and disappear before anyone has a chance to become invested in any one of them, leaving the viewer with a sense of indifference about who wins. And the wierd combinations! has anyone yet seen a dish they would like to try?

Iron Chef presents a new underdog each episode, with the known master providing continuity to the question of whether the upstart will prevail. While this offers a modicum of tension, the show would collapse without the wacky commentary of Alton Brown.

Niether can match the increasing level of tension and anticipation offered by Top Chef, despite all our griping.

"Iron Chef presents a new underdog each episode, with the known master providing continuity to the question of whether the upstart will prevail. While this offers a modicum of tension, the show would collapse without the wacky commentary of Alton Brown."

The best parts of the original Iron Chef were Chairman Kaga's introduction to the secret ingredient, and the brief biopic of the challenger.

I just can't get excited about the American version. The familiar aspects become alien, and the alien aspects just become cheesy.

I also think there was something to the translating. Iron Chef Japan is just funnier then the American version, but still interesting because of the food.

Here's a great article on Top Chef from the Star-Ledger of New Jersey:

I think the whole piece can be summed up thusly:

"If the judges deem Carla the best tonight, or even if Hosea somehow takes the prize, I won't be outraged. But I think I'll feel disappointed, because it seems like the show was telling me one thing for several months and is now telling me something else at the end."

It's a great story, I think.

I seem to recall Dom telling me Carla was likely to have captured the top spot in the rankings this week.
Go Hootie, go!
Get better, Dom.

Thanks for posting the article Bart. What's interesting is the rather inaccurate, selective look back I've seen in articles. Perhaps, as with the shows editors, bloggers and some reporters are suggesting that, as the article puts it, Carla was a hot mess in danger of elimination most of the season. Were we watching the same show?

While I don't/can't defend all that Carla's done this season, I wouldn't say she has not been a bottom dweller or just skating by. That catastrophic mess, aka deconstructed sushi, did not fall on her. If memory serves, the only real swing and miss was the desserts during RW. Even then, I didn't get the sense that Carla's desserts were that bad, just not great. I think it got blown out of proportion because Stefan's desserts were just better. The other gaffe seems to be the scallop and gremolata on the risotto. Compared to fish tacos and fried fish on a stick, I think Carla was never in jeopardy of being eliminated.

Additionally, I'm at a loss about Carla have creative flair, but not technical skills. What the...? Her recreation of the sauce in the Le Bernadin challenge suggests, to me, skills. The same applies to the Last Supper and Finale Part I challenges. Skill means knowing not to serve cold beignets.

I, for one, wouldn't be disappointed if Carla or Hosea win. I don't feel like there was a bait and switch by the show. To the contrary, I would be disappointed in Stefan for taking his foot of the neck of his competitors. He seems to have lost his competitive edge, and that cannot be blamed on Carla, Hosea or the post production magical elves.

Finally, could it be more apparent that the author of that story has a man crush on Fabio? Good grief.

David - Good points, all. But I do see where he's coming from, when he says that the editors have, for most of the season, set up Stefan as a competent, capable chef and Carla as the lovable kook who gets by on personality rather than her culinary skills.

You're right, his argument that she doesn't have technical skills is a bit weak...but honestly, when she revealed how she broke down Pepin's sauce, did your jaw drop? Mine sure did.

I guess what he's saying is that they concealed that part of Carla for so long, and part of the reason why her victories as of late have been so exciting (and flabbergasting) is that we're all sitting here wondering, "Where did SHE come from?!"

By now, a lot of us on this blog have readily accepted Carla's skill. But as the author of that piece demonstrates, not everyone buys into that.

One thing's for sure - Hosea's definitely been delegated to the sidelines, no matter how hard Bravo tries to tie him into the competition (which is why I think they keep showing the "I have such a boner for Stefan omfg" lines that Hosea seems to spit out every five minutes).

Coming into the show, all eyes are on two out of the three contestants. Hosea's gonna have to come up BIG if he wants to get noticed.

Get well Dom. Agree with your analysis.

Dom, I'm sorry to hear about your encounter with a sharp blade, but I'm glad to hear that you're recovering and that no body parts went missing. Also, glad that Jennifer was on hand & I enjoyed her addition to your blog -- I'm in a business school, how can I not love bullet points? Clearly, she's a smart woman who knows enough to marry a smart man who knows how to cook!

Missing the rankings, but that's OK under the circumstances. I agree with all of the bullet points.



I look forward to Dom's comments: "Despite what I wrote all year and your own eyes and judgment, the judges made the best decision ever because BLAH BLAH BS BRAVO APOLOGIST BLAH BLAH BLAH."

Over and out. Glad it's over.

It seemed like this was coming from the editing ... bummer.

Bah. Well, this confirms my dislike of Casey! Still, looks like Hosea earned it.

Well that sucked

Anyone else feel like this is Ilan all over again?

The whole time, I was thinking to myself, 'don't trust the editing, don't trust the editing...' Ah well, nice double feint by the Bravo staff. :p

Gratz to Hosea, condolences to Stefan and Carla... sous-vide? Seriously? I really felt terrible for her too. Oh well, she got the car. More in the postmortem.


We don't get to taste the food but on any given day I'd rather walk into a meal by Carla and sometimes Stefan. On a purely emotional basis I don't think I'd enjoy a meal by Hosea ... but that is how Bravo presented him. Show him flash the finger to Stefan probably pushed me over the edge - that simple.

I glad Carla got the car (and the same with Richard last year) but winning the penultimate seems to be a curse. I think that Stefan since got many wins shows his consistency and I'd gamble on his restaurant for a good meal. Hosea - well I'd just as soon go to Taco Bell - his attitude, relationships say he is too distracted to deliver.

Oh God

it sucked!

You think that it...

Totally bit as a finale

The comments to this entry are closed.