Top Chef: Alumni Predictions—Episode 7

Throughout the season, we’ve been asking local Top Chef alumni for their predictions on upcoming episodes.

Carla Hall says that Kenny’s dish had “too much going on.” Photograph courtesy of Bravo TV.

This week, Alchemy Caterers’ Carla Hall weighs in on last week’s hard lessons and which contestants might still be around because they make for good TV.

How did you feel about last week’s Elimination Challenge [episode 6 recap here], where the chefs got to judge each other’s food and then nominate one person for the winner’s circle and one for the loser’s circle?
“When I found out the chefs had the power to put their fellow chefs in the top or the bottom, I was surprised. My first thought was that they’d judge each other much harder than they’d want to be judged, because I think the chefs can be rather critical of each other and not very objective. As a whole, we’ve seen this group of chefs get quite competitive and seemingly nasty to each other. I’m hoping that the judges weighed in on this decision more than what we saw.”

Do you think the chefs put Kenny in the bottom as a strategic move?
“I think the other chefs went into the process wanting to strategize and knock Kenny out of the race. However, Kenny’s dish had too much going on. I appreciate the fact that he’s super-talented and fast, but I think the duo [of lamb that he prepared] needs to be a super-duper onesie.”

What do you think of Tamesha going home? Do you think she should have been able to last longer?
“I was surprised that two of my favorites, Tamesha and Kenny, were in the bottom. I expected Tamesha to go much further. Like I’ve said before: You’re only as good as your last dish, and Tamesha’s dish sounded a bit weird. It’s funny that the simple dishes were at the top and the ‘over-thought’ ones were at the bottom. Hmmm.”

What about the idea of Angelo influencing her food? What do you think of that?
“Angelo may have made suggestions, and Tamesha obviously trusts Angelo, but it was up to Tamesha to cook her own food. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but perhaps that was her take-away. Ahem! Been there, done that.”

In your early round of predictions, you had high hopes for Kenny, Angelo, Tamesha, Lynne, Ed, and Kelly. Do you still feel strongly about those who are left (Kenny, Angelo, Ed, Kelly)? Are you surprised that Lynne is gone?
“I still have high hopes for the chefs who’re left on my original list, but I’d like to add Tiffany to the list. I like her carefree but warm, homey style. I was rooting for Lynne because of her background. I was sorry to see her go on the double-elimination challenge. That was hard to watch. I actually felt badly for Arnold. He was hitting his groove.”

Also in the early rounds, you thought Tracey, Amanda, and Stephen might suffer. You were right about Tracey, but Amanda and Steven are still hanging on. Both of them have made some egregious mistakes. Why do you think they’re still there?
“I think the pair is still there because others have made bigger mistakes. Well, at least I think that about Steven. I bet he feels like he got lucky with the farm challenge when he made that soggy salad. Amanda is fiery and makes for good TV. Perhaps that’s why she’s still there. Hmmm.”

Do you remember how you felt at this point in the season (about a third of the way through)? Were you exhausted yet? What are some keys to keeping your spirits up as you get further into the competition?
“I was mentally exhausted, and I actually wanted to go home. I felt beat up. I remember [season-one contestant] Lee Ann Wong coming to the house to speak to us. She told us how lucky we were to be chosen, and how Top Chef was a wonderful opportunity. Most importantly, she told us to have fun! It took me two more elimination challenges for that advice to sink in.”

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