Top Chef Handicapping with Wes Mantooth

Fan fave Kevin. Photo courtesy

Disher Wes Mantooth just sent me a love letter. “The D-Empire blogs are all boring as spit today,” he says. Anyway, he wants to talk about Top Chef, and I know there are several TC fans out there. His thoughts are below.

Top Chef is coming to a close. Who’s not going to make it? We’ve got 5 left: Kevin, Jennifer, Eli, and the Brothers. The easy call is that Jen and Eli both wind up packing their knives, but we’ve seen in the past that it only takes one little slip for an otherwise more-talented chef to get packing before their time was due, resulting in a less-talented poseur to take the crown (i.e. Josea). So, here’s my handicapping on who makes it to the Final Table:

Kevin: 1:1.
The dude has given the Heisman to every challenge thrown at him. Guy has a pig tattoo but also swears off meat for the entirety of Lent? To paraphrase Winston Churchill, he’s a riddle wrapped in a mystery wrapped in pork sausage, then deep fried.

Bryan: 2:1
Even when he missteps, he doesn’t miss by much. He has confidence and maturity, something his brother desperately needs to borrow.

Michael: 3.5:1
Something about him just screams high-wire act. He’s got the plays-well-with-others skills of Marcel but the culinary talents of a Blaise. I’d love to see Eli do something intentional to light Michael’s anger on fire and then he’d go down in a blaze of self-destructive glory. Because, you know, it can’t be a reality TV show without paying homage to Bon Jovi. Still, I’d rather have him as a third in the finale than that worthless Lisa a couple years back. Oi.

Eli: 8:1
Eli used up all his goodwill last week when Robyn got sent home on her history of serving crap food and being out of tricks versus Eli’s history of mostly-good food despite serving up a hairball in last week’s elimination challenge. You know that the decision at Judges’ Table went like this: Eli’s “drink” was crap, but he won the quickfire and has been very good several times. Robyn just keeps skating by because someone else is worse than her; she has no upside. Eli had better pull something out of his hat or he’s gonna be done soon.

Jennifer: 20:1
She’s worked for Ripert for the better part of a decade, so we know that she has the chops, but Top Chef is a marathon, not a sprint, and Jen looked like she’d pretty much hit the wall at the Excalibur’s Medieval Times presentation. I think that the day-in, day-out pressure of performing a new and different trick every day has just worn her out. I hate to say this because she’s probably my favorite chef on the show (not to mention the only one I want to see in the pool at the house), but Jen’s performance the last couple of shows reminds me of Ali in Zaire, only without the rope-a-dope.

Mantooth, out.

10 comments on “ Top Chef Handicapping with Wes Mantooth

  1. To Wes Mantooth,

    I will smash your face into a car windshield, and then take your mother, Dorothy Mantooth, out for a nice seafood dinner and never call her again.


    But on the topic, I don’t think the gap between eli and jennifer is that big, and you’re right about the pool thing :-)

  2. No way it will be an all male final. Unless jen just absolutely crumbles, she’s safe. Its cool when chefs that have the skill to cook complicated food choose to keep it simple. I don’t think kevin can do anything except keep it simple. The brothers mano y mano in the final would make me happy and be the most reality tv-ish.

  3. @Champ: Dorothy Mantooth is a saint!

    My split between Jen and Eli is based really on the fact that Eli has a puncher’s chance, but Jen has kind of quit on us. Talent-wise, after a 6-month hiatus, I think she would destroy Eli. Right now, she’s just plum tuckered out.

    @snootyfoodie: I prefer to remain naive and maintain my belief that the judging on Top Chef is pure as the wind-driven snow, never falling prey to such parochial concerns as keeping around certain people due to their age, gender, sexual orientation, and/or race. I like to think that Top Chef is judged solely on what you’ve put on the table not on, for example, T&A (because if it was a T&A contest, Casey would have destroyed those guys; instead, she didn’t make it to the finals). But I think you’re probably right.

  4. Anybody who is not reading Kessler’s blog about the Top Chef episodes in the Atlanta Journal Constitution is missing out. His blog is funnier than the episodes. I do hope Kevin wins – if the Brothers V moan one more time about how “simple” his food is it will cause me to throw something at the TV. They just don’t get that simple + tastes incredible will beat complicated + okay tasting every time.

  5. Last night’s results pretty much tracked Mantooth’s predictions. The Washington Post’s food writer did a piece recently where he stated that Volt,Michael’s resto in the DC metro area, was helmed by the Top Chef winner.(?)
    Kevin has done a great job but telegenic may be the trump card this season.

  6. I read in the beginning of the season that the winner is someone you wouldn’t expect. Michael fits that description.

  7. Based on last week’s previews, I was really looking forward to this week’s episode. When we saw the previews at the end of last week’s show, I said to Mrs. Mantooth “Bocuse d’Or,” (and I think I pronounced it better than did Eli).

    I was glad to see Jennifer pull it out of the fire, but disappointed that nearly everyone failed to cook their food well. This was a big challenge, but so many underseasoned and undercooked dishes at this point in the competition is appalling. I know that lamb is tricky, but it’s not [i] that[/i] tricky. Lamb has been the downfall of an ungodly number of cheftestants this season.

    I’m going to pretend that I didn’t hear that about Michael and re-set the odds before next show. Especially because his platter looked like little more than a shiny plate of apps.

  8. It is really uncool to put up spoilers, even if they are mistakes. Bryan Voltaggio is the chef of VOLT in Maryland, not Michael. I won’t be reading any more SideDish Top Chef stories since people are inclined to be spoilery.