The culinary reality show franchise Top Chef which has done numerous configurations on the chef competition theme now brings us Top Chef Duels premiering August 6th. Bravo just released the names of the competitors in these culinary cook-offs; runner-ups versus runner-ups, winners against winners, finalist against finalist, men against men, women against women and men against women. I wonder if Las Vegas will announce the odds? As an aficionado, avid fan and devout viewer of the Top Chef shows, I’ve picked who I think will win each chef- versus-chef battle. See the competitors list of dueling chefs below and my picks for winners from each head-to-head battle.
In Top Chef Duels, competing cheftestants take part in 3 challenges; two based on each chef picking a challenge that will focus on the other’s perceived weakness, i.e. baking, butchering, unlikely international cuisines…we don’t know but it will make it interesting. The third and final challenge decides who moves on to the finale where the 9 duel winners compete for $100,000.
Host and judge will be Chef Curtis Stone. Gail Simmons, Chef Wolfgang Puck and Chef Hugh Acheson join Stone at the judges table along with celebrity judges like Pink, the cast of Brooklyn Nine Nine and Grey’s Anatomy.
From Bravo’s Top Chef Duels blog here are the chef duels with my choices of each duel’s winner:
Episode 101: Richard Blais (Top Chef Chicago runner- up and Top Chef All-Stars winner) vs. Marcel Vigneron (Top Chef Season 2 runner up) Dara’s winner: Richard Blais, I think he can handle the molecular style cooking that seems to be more Marcel’s style and I think he is a fiercer competitor.
Episode 102: Shirley Chung (Top Chef New Orleans finalist) vs. Brooke Williamson (Top Chef Seattle runner up) Dara’s winner: Brooke Williamson, I think Brooke has more to prove after the last minute loss to Kristen Kish.
Episode 103: Mike Isabella (Top Chef All-Stars runner up) vs. Antonia Lofaso (Top Chef Chicago finalist) Dara’s winner: Mike Isabella - I’ve seen Mike Isabella compete at Cochon 555 and no hold bars – he’ll go above and beyond.
Episode 104: CJ Jacobson (Top Chef Miami contestant) vs. Stefan Richter (Top Chef Season 5 runner up) Dara’s winner: C J Jacobson, he recently proved his skills by winning numerous a la minute Last Chance Kitchen challenges.
Episode 105: David Burke (Top Chef Masters Season 5) vs. Takashi Yagihashi (Top Chef Masters Season 4) Dara’s winner: Takashi Yagihasi, knows what he is walking into and he will be on his game. With a lot of quick fire wins under his toque he will take if from the “flavor” master David Burke.
Episode 106: Tiffani Faison (Top Chef Season 1 runner up) vs. Dale Talde (Top Chef Chicago and Top Chef All-Star contestant) Dara’s winner: Tiffani Faison, who fears none and wouldn’t hesitate to throw her competitors in the salamander if it meant a win.
Episode 107: Nyesha Arrington (Top Chef Texas contestant) vs. Jen Carroll (Top Chef Las Vegas finalist) Dara’s winner: Jen Carroll, this Top Chef Season 6 finalist and a favorite to win Top Chef All-Stars let her temper scoot her out the door way too early in that competition. I really think she has something to prove and this just might be venue.
Episode 108: Stephanie Izard (Top Chef Chicago winner) vs. Kristen Kish (Top Chef Seattle winner) Dara’s winner: Kristen Kish, no doubt on this one. She fought her way back in the Last Chance Kitchen in a history making run to take the title. This will be the most watched episode, winner against winner. I believe Kish’s culinary chops have a broader range.
Episode 109: Kevin Gillespie (Top Chef Las Vegas fan favorite) vs. Art Smith (Top Chef Masters Season 1) Dara’s winner: Kevin Gillespie, I love Art Smith but this is a young person’s competition and I don’t think that head-to-head competition bodes well for him. This is the battle of the Southern chefs so get your pimento cheese ready.
Episode 110: Championship Finale – Who out of the nine semi finalist, winners of their duels will walk away with the $100,000, bragging rights? Dara’s winner: Kristen Kish.
Back again with initial question, who will the winners be? You’ve seen my choices do I have it correct? Am I now Carnac the Magnificent – the all knowing or a flash in the frying pan. Do share your choices!
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