We have ten cheftestants still in the competition on Top Chef 4
, and based on the comments to our recent Top Chef
articles, it appears clear there is one chef that many of you think should be packing her knives soon, like yesterday: Nikki Cascone
. Will you all get your wish this episode?
Well, there's a preview out for the episode on Bravo's website, and here's an interesting tidbit about Nikki for all of you.
She's hardly in it.
She's featured briefly speaking with Stephanie Izard, and then again as the chefs sit in the stew room. But much of the preview focuses on the chefs getting feedback from the judges and she is nowhere to be seen in that. Hmmm…what could that mean? Are they trying to build some level of suspense, since from a sheer skill perspective, many viewers think it's obvious she should be gone? Or does luck shine on Nikki once again?
This week, the challenges appear to involve both doing pastries/dessert and doing something improvisational. The pastry challenge could be tough for most of the chefs; Top Chef contestants generally haven't exactly wowed anyone in the pastry world. There is also some element of improvisation based on the previews, which could work against any of the chefs who have struggled with concept in the past.
Here are a couple of other things I noticed in the preview. Antonia Lofaso is seen explaining her dish with the kind of deer in headlights look that the chefs generally have when they are in the hot seat. Now, this doesn't necessarily mean she's in trouble; sometimes the judges like to fake out the chefs by acting critical prior to announcing the winner.
Spike Mendelsohn is also seen either explaining or defending a dish. Based on his previous middling performance, I'd assume defending, but he seems rather blasé in the preview, so it could be either. However, he's seemed to be on teams that struggle with conceptualizing a strong dish within the confines of the challenge. It's hard to know if that was his challenge or his teammate, but I can't help but wonder if the improv concept could work against him.
Richard Blais is also seen explaining himself to the judges. However – and this is all, essentially, reading some tea leaves – he seems rather relaxed in his explanation, and does not have the deer-in-headlights delivery, so maybe he did well.
Stephanie is featured a few times in the preview, and she looks like she thinks she's in trouble. Then again, Stephanie always kind of looks like she thinks she's in trouble, which is part of what makes it so adorable when she wins: she always looks shocked. I'm hoping she isn't in the hot seat herself; she has thus far proven to be talented (and likable, which is a bonus) and the eliminated chefs I've interviewed have mentioned her skills, so I would like for her to stick around. This week, there appear to be factors that would work both for and against her. At least one of the challenges this week does involve improvisation, and Stephanie's admitted difficulty with performing under the think-fast constraints of the Quickfire challenge could impact her. However, another appears to be a pastry challenge, and she's proven to do well with sweet dishes as well as savory.
As to the others, Andrew D'Ambrosi has been a little under the radar in recent episodes, could it be time for him to start becoming a major part of the story again or will he slide off it entirely? He's featured in the previews doing more bravado posturing about how he's not going home, which, around 80% of the time in reality world, means you're going home.
Dale Talde seems safe for at least another episode, as does Jennifer Biesty and Lisa Fernandes. Mark Simmons' logistical and hygienic meltdown last week on Top Chef didn't bode well but somehow I think he'll pull out at least another week.
- Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
(Image courtesy of Bravo)