I’ve taken the liberty of writing out my predictions for season 8. If I knew more of you personally, I would try to set up a betting pool, but sadly that’s infeasible. Without further delay:
18. Stephen (season 1)
He’s the most likely to enter the competition rusty from too little time in the kitchen and whiff big-time on the first challenge. Also, while his plating was fantastic, I’m not convinced his cooking was ever up to the same high standards.
17. Elia (season 2)
Out of her league in this company
16. Spike (season 4)
Also out of his league. I wouldn’t be too surprised though if he made it further powered soley by spite.
15. Dale Levitski (season 3)
Yeah, he made some really great dishes in the final episodes of season 3. I’m sure he’s talented. But don’t forget he made few great dishes before then. And he made big mistakes often (including the finale). I’m predicting a poorly conceived dish sends him home early.
14. Fabio (season 5)
I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s pretty rusty coming into this season. He’ll go home for a poorly seasoned dish.
13. Carla (season 5)
Her classical training and likeable but safe flavors will keep her safe for a while. Then at some point, everyone else will just make a better dish. And she’ll go home.
12. Casey (season 3)
She’s talented. But her thinking on the fly is inconsistent. This will cost her.
11. Antonia (season 4)
She tended to play it safe, and that will get her about midway into this competition.
10. Dale Talde (season 4)
A minor upset. Dale is super competitive. His style (vaguely pan-Asian) tends to play well on Top Chef. And I bet he prepared his ass off for this season, now knowing how the whole thing works. Wouldn’t be surprised if he finishes even higher.
9. Jamie (season 5)
Getting tough to pick now. Jamie is quite talented. She’s also moody, occasionally failing miserably at some challenge. The pressure gets to her here. Could be earlier.
8. Tiffany Derry (season 7)
A very good cook. I predict her demise will be the same as on season 7 – one challenge, everyone else will cook something better, and she’ll go home for a good-but-not-great plate.
7. Mike Isabella (season 6)
He’ll look better without Kevin Gillespie and the Voltaggios kicking his butt.
6. Marcel (season 2)
A bit of an upset here too. Marcel didn’t really cook anything in season 2 up to the caliber of Top Chef’s more recent finalists. But I have a hunch Marcel may have developed more as a cook since his season than anyone else. If his technique caught up to his imagination, watch out.
5. Tiffany Faison (season 1)
Quite possible a better cook than the beloved Harold, Tiffany is very talented and competitive as hell.
4. Richard Blais (season 4)
Obviously talented. Why doesn’t he win? His cooking is too technique-forward. It doesn’t have the subtlety and appeal of the cooking of someone like Michael Voltaggio.
3. Angelo (season 7)
You guys notice that most cooks tend to get better as the season progresses? I think the back-to-back seasons work to his advantage. He can be inconsistent, but his recent loss should provide him with the motivation and focus he needs. At his best he holds his own with the best of these competitors. I think he'll be at his best.
2. Tre (season 3)
He has a lot of tricks up his sleeve. And season 3 surely taught him the lesson he needed – not to bite off more than he can chew.
1. Jennifer Carroll (season 6)
She’s inconsistent at times and can be a bit of a head case. She’s also the best cook this season. Hands down. As long as she doesn't play to the level of her competition, she’s got this.
That’s it. Discuss, argue, ridicule.