Top Chef: Episode 4.8 Predictions
Last week saw the somewhat surprising departure of Jennifer Biesty from Top Chef 4. The elimination reminded the chefs that anything is possible in judging and you are, quite literally, only as good as your last dish.

So, of course, it's always possible that one of the chefs who has yet to really stand out in this competition (cough cough Nikki Cascone) could pull out a genius dish and wow the judges. And, of course, chefs like Dale Talde and Richard Blais, who have seemed to dominate the competition recently could falter and be sent home as abruptly as Jennifer. But since all we at home have to look at is past performance, here are some thoughts on what could happen in this week's episode of Top Chef 4.

Obviously, Nikki still seems to be on top of everyone's list, seeming to have scraped by too many times. Last week she was paired with Mark Simmons, and while he has done well in some challenges, he seems to be slipping recently. Although their dish was not among the worst, Lee Ann Wong said in her Top Chef blog that their “pork tenderloin was good, but boring, the bacon looking very similar to Lisa's winning bacon a few episodes before (he even baked it the same way Lisa did). It was pork tenderloin over sweet potato puree, nothing to write home about.”

Lisa Fernandes and Antonia Lofaso have both shown that hey have good palates – after all, it wasn't for a bad-tasting dish that they landed in the bottom two. But one has to wonder if Lisa's sometimes (oftentimes?) negative attitude won't shoot her in the foot. Antonia also seems like she might have a great palate but be challenged with the conceptual aspect of the dishes. Most of the time she's come in front of the judges, her critique has been for failing to really support the concept behind the challenge, or not carrying it through as well as other chefs or teams.

Dale and Richard are clearly strong contenders right now, but you have to wonder if Bravo would be giving a relatively one-sided edit highlighting their strong skills if there wasn't a twist coming at some point. I mean, right now, it seems pretty apparent that they can knock out a stellar-tasting dish AND make it a fun, appropriate and clever concept. Certainly they won't just continue in this vein until the end; where's the suspense in that?

It was appropriate that Andrew D'Ambrosi and Spike Mendelsohn were paired up last week as they seem to be similar players in the competition. Both a little brash and arrogant, but with good palates and some good ideas. It will be interesting to see if they can keep their young buck energy and arrogance in check and continue to produce food that impresses the judges.

And my girl Stephanie Izard. Well, if anyone was getting a perfect edit for a photo finish win, it would be her. The ups and downs! No one could doubt her palate based on the food she's produced solo…except that she lost the palate challenge. She veers from clear success to teetering on the edge of failure, but she's remained relatively likable throughout it all, so I am still rooting for her to go far.

What do you think?

- Leslie Seaton,  BuddyTV Staff Columnist

(Image courtesy of Bravo)