Top Chef: Alumni Predictions—Episode 3

Throughout the season, we’re asking local Top Chef alumni for their predictions on upcoming episodes. This week, Spike Mendelsohn (season four) gives us his thoughts on who was “an idiot” last week, who can “bring it on,” and who’s going home next.

Spike Mendelsohn, chef/owner of Good Stuff Eatery, called Angelo’s celery-and-peanut-butter dish “insane.” And not in a good way. Photograph courtesy of Bravo TV.

Jacqueline went home last week after making banana pudding. Making desserts seems to be a sure-fire way to get booted. Why do you think this is?
“Dessert is always tricky, but she signed her own ticket when she used so much sugar. The show’s about thinking on your feet. If they were taking things out of her budget, she should have stepped it up and maybe done something fresh with just strawberries, some herbs, and a little bit of honey or strawberry ice—something with way, way, way less sugar.”

Can we also talk about Amanda using booze for a kids’ dish? What’s up with that?
“What an idiot. I mean, ‘you like sherry’ isn’t a reason. I love how Gail gave it to her by telling her she liked vodka—hilarious. Amanda is next [to go], I think. She should’ve gotten voted off for being stupid. It was supposed to be a healthy lunch—you can’t be making stuff with sherry. There are a thousand ways to make chicken, and she chose the wrong one.”

Angelo came out of the gates strong, but then he kind of punked out when he got immunity. What do you think of that? Does it make you question his cooking abilities?
“Yeah, the key to the show is staying in the middle and then kicking it up a notch. He came out too strong, and he looked like he cracked under the pressure. You still want to put your creativity and touch on a dish. His celery and peanut butter? That was insane—old-school style and not in a good way.”

This week’s episode looks to be about making a dish for a picnic. What are the keys to making a dish that’ll be served to lots of people, something you have to prep in advance, and something you’re serving outside?
“Try to make something that won’t get soggy. I feel some people might fall into this trap with sandwiches. You want like a quiche and a salad. Cut the quiche on-site and dress the salad last minute. Avoid sogginess, and it’s delicious. Also, this will hold up in the heat, and as well all know, DC is crazy hot in the summer.”

Based on what you’ve seen, whom do you have high hopes for going forward? Why? If you had to put your money on one contestant to win, who would it be?
“Kenny is the man! That dude looks cool, and he’s got some skills. I’m already over Angelo. He can go home now.”

Which contestants are the low-hanging fruit for the judges to boot off? Why? Any underdogs—people who haven’t shone yet but who you think will turn out to be great?
“I think Tamesha can bring it on—it’ll be interesting to see what happens there. Lynne seems like she’s got some game, too. I do think Kenny’s the one to beat, though. He seems consistent. Off the list: Arnold and Ed.”

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