It’s been 14 episodes since we first met the 17 chef’testants competing on the sixth season of Top Chef set in Las Vegas. Over the past months, we’ve watched them stir talent with creativity and fold in practiced cooking skills on their quest for the game-changing $100,000 check and the title of Top Chef. We’ve seen them flub pasta salads, serve TV dinners, deconstruct mole negro and create meals inspired by everything from fine wine to Circus Circus. Along the way, most have heard Padma’s dreaded directive: “Please pack your knives and go.”
This Wednesday, the three survivors, Kevin Gillespie and Bryan and Michael Voltaggio, will do battle in the finale, but before we see how Wynn Las Vegas’ Director of Race & Sports Operations Johnny Avello has them ranked, let’s look back at where the odds stood before and after the first week of competition…
Week 1: Having no real way of knowing the chef’s skills and evaluating their chances, Avello’s top five were Eve Aronoff (5/1), Preeti Mistry (6/1), Ron Duprat (7/1), Kevin Gillespie (8/1) and Mattin Noblia (10/1). So much for the power of largely uneducated guesses.
Week 2: After watching just a single episode of the culinary competition the season’s strongest chefs were already evident and the lines were already impressively predictive. Based on a premiere that had Jennifer Carroll (5/1; sent home in part 1 of the finale) taking the Quickfire challenge and current favorite Kevin Gillespie (6/1) with an elimination challenge win under his belt, Avello ranked the top three chefs Michael V., Jennifer and Kevin. The only finalist missing from the top four was Michael’s older brother, Bryan, stuck in the sixth spot at 12/1.
Week 15: Here were are at the finale episode in Napa Valley. Three great chefs. Three practiced palates. Three worthy competitors. Will the win go to Kevin’s brand of flavorful comfort food simply prepared? Or will Bryan’s delicate balance of flavor or Michael’s wit and technique take the top prize? Avello’s got his money on the red-bearded chef from Atlanta, and based on past precedent, I have to agree. In three out of the past five seasons the chef who won the first elimination challenge has gone on to win the title of Top Chef. Frankly, I like those odds.
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