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Top Chef Chicago-- Do you have a favourite yet?

I love Jen, Andrew, Mark, and Stephanie

I think Lisa has a lot of work to do do bring herself to the top of the pack, but she shows promise.

Dale would be so much more likeable if he wasn't so self righteous all the time. Stop complaining about everyone else and comparing them to you.

I've barely noticed Antonia so far.

Does anyone else think that Richard might be overqualified?

Nikki isn't good enough to be there. Period. Never was. I can't believe she made it this far.

I hate Spike with the burning passion of a thousand suns. If he was a good enough cook, he wouldn't have to make snide comments and bring other people down--- Charcuterie platter? Come on.

Your thoughts?

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  1. Don't hate anyone, except for Zoi and and Ryan both are already gone.

    Can't tell the difference between Spike and Andrew.

    No real favorites. Richard and Stephanie if you really pushed me.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Phaedrus

      I like Stephanie and Antonia seems okay but I will reserve judgement until I see more from her...not seasoning the beef was pretty terrible. Don't hate anyone either, I do find Andrew grating in that tweaker, suck up kind of way but hate....no. Nikki is a giant yawn and for the life of me I cannot figure out why she has stuck it out this long, her food looks so dull. Spike had me at the street taco he made that sent Bayless swooning but has lost me with his, "I'm too real" attitude. Richard seems like a very edgy chef but I'm just not into that kind of food....seems to lack soul and needs a dash of passion. Who else? Lisa is that the bacon girl? That bacon sounded so delicious I can overlook the negative grumbles for now. I still like the show but so far 1 & 3 seemed to have better chefs.

      1. re: Phaedrus

        Andrew is jumpy and seems to be jacked on cocaine all the time

        Spike has an annoying accent, a stupid hat and an undeserved superior air

        1. re: hungrystudent257

          correction--spike has many, many hats. sometimes he wears more than one per episode.

        2. re: Phaedrus

          I know Stephanie from her restaurant which was walking distance from my house. Shame it closed. She does good work.

          Anyway I'm leaning in her direction, but also very impressed with Richard's kitchen and people skills.

        3. Stephanie has been my favorite since the first episode. I like her calm, cool collectedness (not a word, but it works for me). She's a good leader, and is able to turn around a potential mishap (shopping in WF and seeing someone else buy shrimp and changing the menu on the fly) and keep everyone on a mostly even keel.

          Richard is inventive, and he's grating less on me. I also like Mark, but he's the exact opposite to Stephanie when it comes to organization and thought pattern.

          Dale's good - but I agree - his "in your face" business is more obnoxious than Hung was last year. Hung had the chops to win; but I'm not sure Dale does.

          Dislike Andrew and Spike both because of their "I'm better than all of you" (but then can't understand why they don't win every time when their food sucks). I also disliked Zoi and Ryan, but they're both outta there, so that's a moot point.

          Antonia, until Ep. 6, was sort of invisible. Nikki should have been gone a long time ago - she's been lucky because others have cooked worse that she has. But her stats prove she can't hang with the big boys/girls.

          1 Reply
          1. re: LindaWhit

            No one is more obnoxious than Hung was!! Dale doesn't come even remotely close.

          2. Kiwi Mark gets my vote thus far. Seems like a drama-free person who'd be fun to crack a beer with. There are likely better cooks in the group, but I like that they cast somewhat of an outsider. Props to him for being self taught and finding his way from a sheep farm to NYC. He almost got booted for being a mess at the tailgate, but hey - I can totally relate. Who among us can't BBQ a new meal for a big group without being totally covered in sauces, tasting things with the fingers and generally managing chaos?

            2 Replies
            1. re: tastyjon

              "Who among us can't BBQ a new meal for a big group without being totally covered in sauces, tasting things with the fingers and generally managing chaos?"

              Apparently all the other contestants.

              1. re: tastyjon

                oh, i agree. i think mark is a dark horse. i just like his palate, it's very different. and he seems quite competent and well-skilled, especially for being self-taught.


              2. As I was telling a friend I don't find anyone on the show particularly likeable. Ryan was a joke from the start. He appeared to me to be one of those people who is in love with idea of cooking and not with cooking itself. Thus he has all these bright ideas but doesn't have the chops to pull them off. Lisa and Stephanie both definitely have good chops but both are a bit abrassive to me. Why must anyone (and women in particular) use the f-bomb so casually. Nimma and Nikki are just underqualified and never belonged on the show.

                7 Replies
                1. re: Chinon00

                  While I completely agree with you on Lisa's abrasiveness, I can't see how you can consider Stephanie to be the same way. That I can recall, she's never dropped the F-bomb, and is relatively calm, cool and collected - even to the point of resolving issues between Lisa and Dale a few episodes back.

                  1. re: LindaWhit

                    The amuse-biatch blog actually counted profanities in an early episode, and Stephanie actually beat out Andrew and everyone else. I have no memory of what words were actually bleeped. I agree that Steph is coming across as calm, cool, and controversy-smoothing. She's definitely anti-abrasive in my book, and my current fave.

                    1. re: momjamin

                      Stephanie and the Bleep-O-Meter? LOL I'd have to go back and watch that episode - I honestly can't recall her doing that!

                      1. re: momjamin

                        Hey I think of myself as a level-headed person (in the kitchen or elsewhere) but I swear like a sailor (when not at work or on Chowhound ;) ). I guess that can be seen as a bad trait but the swearing doesn't bother me at all. It's a kitchen...if you've ever worked in a kitchen or restaurant you realize that a lot of the time curses are being thrown around left and right (and usually in multiple languages).

                        1. re: Elyssa

                          It's the cursing in the kitchen AND during one on one interviews that can become tiresome (and contrived looking).

                    2. re: Chinon00

                      "Why must anyone (and women in particular) use the f-bomb so casually"

                      I agree that the F-bomb is thrown around wayyyyyy too much this season, but I don't see why it is worse when women do it. Professional kitchens are among the most verbally vulgar places in the world, so it is unsurprising that the profanities are flowing so freely, however.

                      1. re: Greyhoundgrrl

                        This is way off topic but I see it as an attempt by some to blur gender in society. You see it in women's athletics too.

                    3. gotta go with richard. i really appreciate how inventive his food is. as i said in the most recent episode's thread, few of the top chef contestants make what i'd call boring food, but everything he makes gets me really interested, and wanting to not only eat but cook.

                      1. I am definitely on Team Steph!!

                        She's a CT girl, glad to see she's representing us all so well :)

                        1. to win, i like stephanie, richard, dale-- in no particular order. they are the top tier. it would be cool to see stephanie win because it's top chef chicago and her restaurant is in chicago. dale also has hometown rights.

                          wildcards: antonia, jen. i think jen could do better if she focussed a little. i think they both are solid cooks who have turned out some nice things, great palates, but they might not have technical chops to pull out the big wins at the end.

                          and the rest:
                          nikki sUUUUUUUUUUUcks with her boring housewife food

                          spike sUUUUUUUUUUUcks with his cluelessness, condescending attitude toward his audience and the other contestants. he's that guy from some backwater who moves to nyc for a year and then proceeds to talk down to everyone in the entire world because they don't live in nyc. meanwhile his cooking isn't nearly as sophisticated as he thinks it is-- botched summer roll, for goodness sake(?). he can't execute nearly as well as he thinks he can (everybody else just doesn't get it), and he suffers from the delusion in team challenges that his teammates are working *for* him (poor memo).

                          andrew drives me nuts with the constant tweaking and 12 year old sense of humor, but i have to say he cooks better than other people in the competition. maybe he could pull a 3rd place if he'd just chill a little bit. oh, and if he *never* pulls the tapioca box out for the rest of the competition. or dresses like a "little chef". or wears a silly helmet while cooking.

                          mark is definitely playing with bigger dogs than himself, but he's shown interesting innovation, perspective, and flavor. heck he can use marmite in fine cooking successfully. he's really taken a beating lately, and it shows in his attitude and execution. he's a goner if he doesn't adjust his attitude and clean up his work area--as the competition tightens i'd wager mark gets eliminated for a small oversight or error, or for a more serious one, like sanitation, that he doesn't seem to focus on.

                          i almost forgot about lisa because she's such a black hole, personality-wise. she has good execution but seems to have trouble conceptualizing whole dishes & plating. we've seen her rely heavily on stephanie in team competition, her individual plates tend to fall flat. i don't think she'll be in the competition much longer unless she can step it up.

                          as long as nikki and spike go next i'll be stoked to follow along. it should get more interesting as the fat gets trimmed and the contestants have more opportunity to shine individually.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: soupkitten

                            Soupkitten, that's really odd because I have the exact same take of the contestants as you do! And I mentioned in another TC thread about your take of the episode coincided with mine (pretty much word for word).

                            Yes, Nikki and Spike must go! Nikki reminds me of a more homemade version of Sandra Lee. And the more I see Spike, the more I get annoyed with him -- probably because I know so many people like him. They just move to NY and think they're so cool and they like to "keep it real."

                            1. re: Miss Needle

                              that's so funny, twice now! i love your posts too Miss Needle btw! we are on the same wavelength halfway across the country & that's why i love these boards! :)

                            2. I don't see anyone as a Top Chef. Season Chicago is boring. Last season was more exciting.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: paris221966

                                I agree, this is the weakest group.
                                Not sure the winner of this seasoun could even touch any of the previous losers.

                              2. Spike is definitely my least favorite of the group.

                                My favs (as in I like, not necessarily will win) are Andrew, Richard, Mark and Stephanie.

                                Who might win? At this point, Richard or Dale look strongest.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: HarryK

                                  Richard and Dale, they seem to come up with real 'inventive' dishes

                                  Stephanie has executed pretty well, but so far i haven't seen anything creative or something I haven't seen that could potentially come out of a cookbook

                                  1. re: attractivekid

                                    "Stephanie has executed pretty well, but so far i haven't seen anything creative or something I haven't seen that could potentially come out of a cookbook"

                                    Given that chefs author many cookbooks I'm not sure that this is a negative.

                                    1. re: attractivekid

                                      A few judges said on the movie challenge that it seemed like a real original idea. I think that was the challenge at least.

                                  2. Well, hate's too important an emotion to waste on someone you don't even like (or know, for that matter...)

                                    My favorite, going away, is Stephanie. I also like Richard and Mark. Antonia seems to be peeking through.

                                    I don't care for either Spike or Andrew. Spike is just nasty. Is Andrew on Speed?

                                    The others are just "there," imho. Dale is probably the best of the rest imho. His attitude is tiring, more than anything. Old stuff.

                                    I think Stephanie and Richard show that they have lots of head chef experience. Richard isn't overqualified by TC standards, or they would not have accepted him for the show. He probably is the most experienced chef of the bunch. and he has a lot of poise. Stephanie seems more confident now that in the earlier episodes. I hope she wins.

                                    1. I'm a big fan of Stephanie's, plus, she's a hometown girl! I'm also really digging what Richard does. I think the top 3 will be Stephanie, Richard and Dale.

                                      1. Speaking of Spike, he is opening up a restaurant in DC in May. I wonder if he is doing this with his Top Chef winnings? Hmmm....


                                        8 Replies
                                        1. re: Phaedrus

                                          Oh please no. He cannot win. Please.

                                          But it also looks like family members (mother, father, siblings, cousins) are involved as well. Perhaps just cashing in on the potential success with Spike being on the show? And looks like his mother was a former chef as well and she and her husband have owned other restaurants.

                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                            Given his demeanor as a "professional" chef, do you think he was adopted?

                                          2. re: Phaedrus

                                            I don't think they've actually filmed the finale yet.

                                            1. re: Phaedrus

                                              Don't worry.. they haven't even filmed the finale yet, and they go to elaborate lengths to prevent leaks, including redundant filming, etc. They aren't going to let a contestant go "Hey, I'm in the top 3.. lets open a restraurant!" I have a relative who works on the show, and that person is close lipped even when we the family members ask for a clue.

                                              1. re: grant.cook

                                                Since you're family, couldn't you blackmail them with unflattering childhood photos? Like posting that posed baby picture on a bearskin rug on Chowhound. :)

                                                1. re: Phaedrus

                                                  No, they have to agree to "take my first born child" sort of penalties, so its not worth it. And it is exciting to watch the show, not knowing what might happen.. I can always ask about the backstory later..

                                                1. The way I look at the cheftestants is by breaking them into groups/tiers

                                                  Top tier:
                                                  Dale, Richard, Stephanie and Antonia (being on the border between tiers).

                                                  I find that Dale and Richard have the basics and do take risk with their dishes. However, that might be their downfall too. They might try something new where it just won't fly and they're out.

                                                  Stephanie is very solid and seems to have a very good, sensible palate. She may win by playing it towards the safe side.

                                                  Anotnia has not seen much airtime, but she seems to have some solid skills too.

                                                  Middle Tier
                                                  Andrew, Jennifer and Mark/Lisa

                                                  Andrew seems to have good skills but can't seem to focus.
                                                  Jennifer seems to have her mind elsewhere.
                                                  Mark/Lisa are inconsistent. They do well and next they're making terrible stuff. These two can be middle or bottom tier. These two need more time ojt to mature their skills a bit.

                                                  Bottom Tier - the one trick pony group
                                                  Spike... Vietnamese spring rolls. Spike is definitely play the game as a game. He's trying to throw people off by being the abrasive, unlikeable sort. However, he doesn't have the skills to be the closer.
                                                  Nikki... handmade pasta

                                                  8 Replies
                                                  1. re: dave_c

                                                    "Spike ...He's trying to throw people off by being the abrasive, unlikeable sort. "

                                                    The funny thing is he thinks he's such a great upstanding guy.

                                                    1. re: Miss Needle

                                                      Kind of like Howie and Joey on Season 3?

                                                      1. re: Phaedrus

                                                        Similar -- except that Howie has kind of redeemed himself in my eye because he finally came to the realization he was a bit of an a**, even before he saw himself on TV. And I don't think Spike will ever come to that because he thinks he's so enlightened.

                                                        This pic of Spike with the old woman sealed the deal for me:


                                                        1. re: Miss Needle

                                                          <This pic of Spike with the old woman sealed the deal for me:>

                                                          heheheh if he likes the "older generation" so much, why wasn't he looking at the woman instead of the camera?

                                                          Send that boy home!

                                                          1. re: ChefJune

                                                            oh my god- the spelling in that caption made me want to die.

                                                            "i love the older *genertation,* *there* always so interesting *to."

                                                            im no grammatical genius but that's just terrible.

                                                        2. re: Phaedrus

                                                          I see Spike deliberately stirring the pot and pushing people's buttons more in an Ilan sort of way, while Howie and Joey both had big egos and butted heads with one another. Ilan, however, would incite other's on his behalf while he dropped back behind the scenes.

                                                          1. re: dave_c

                                                            That's a great comparison. I sometimes block Season 2 out of my head.

                                                            1. re: dave_c

                                                              Look how well it worked for bratty little Ilan.

                                                      2. I disagree about the chefs this season not being as good as other seasons. The top three will likely be some combination of Stephanie, Antonia, Dale or Richard. I'd put any three of them against the top three of any of the previous seasons.
                                                        I don't think (last year's) Dale, Casey, Ilan, Ilia, Marcel or Dave could challenge any of them. In my opinion only Harold, Tiffany and Hung are in their class.

                                                        1. Stephanie is unstoppable!

                                                          Looking at elimination results:
                                                          As of episode 6, she has 5 "highs" two of which are wins! No other cheftestant in the history of the show has such a stellar record.

                                                          To compare, as of episode 6 in past seasons:
                                                          Hung had 2 "highs" and zero wins
                                                          Ilan had two "highs" both of which were wins
                                                          Harold had two "highs" one of which was a win

                                                          Add to this her winning personality, her calm under pressure, and her wide range of skills, and I think we're looking at the first female Top Chef (just as long as she doesn't screw up the restaurant challenge).

                                                          And no, I don't keep track of all these numbers, that's what Wikipedia is for.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                                            compared to a lot of other folks in the mix since she's actually been a chef/owner of a restaurant already - hopefully she'll do well!

                                                          2. I'm cheering for Stephanie right now. She clearly has the chops, is funny and stears away from the drama.

                                                            I think Dale has some interesting ideas and doesn't seem to bother me as much as he does other people.

                                                            Andrew entertains me to no end plus I think he's a damn fine cook. I also think Jen can stay in for awhile longer, Mark too.

                                                            Lisa--annoys me. Her negative attitude really grates me the wrong way. Don't care how she cooks, I wouldn't want to be in the kitchen with her.
                                                            Antonia--She seems fine enough. She's not going to make it to the final 3 though.

                                                            Richard--I can't decide how I feel about him. I'm sure he's talented but I like things with a little less technology, smoke, and stuff.

                                                            Spike--BOOOOOOOOO! He (or his family---it's a little unclear) is opening up a burger joint near my office in DC and I hope I get a chance to meet him to see if he's really that big of a tool.

                                                            1. I like Mark. He brings an interesting perspective to the kitchen. I'd like to see him do well.

                                                              1. Dale and Richard. But this is a far less likable bunch than in past years.