Who Will Win Top Chef Season 20?

We lay the odds: World All-Stars edition

Top Chef is back! There’s no better cooking competition on the planet, and this season “planet” is the operative word: it’s “Top Chef World All-Stars,” inviting chefs from the various national editions of the show to come to London and compete for bragging rights and a cool $250,000. Admittedly the list of invitees seems a bit arbitrary, but many Top Chef alumni have made comfortable landings on the Food Network judging circuit by now, and this season’s contestants do represent a healthy cross-section of those who have excelled on the show’s various iterations.

It should be noted that modern British cuisine is far from the stodgy punchline it used to be. Much of it is eye-wateringly expensive, directed at oligarchs, aristocrats, and the fashionable and moneyed of London’s social set. But there are important, Michelin-starred West African, Mexican, and Chinese fine dining restaurants, to name just a few, and the innovations pioneered by the likes of Heston Blumenthal and Fergus Henderson have greatly influenced global trends in molecular gastronomy and nose-to-tail cooking, respectively.

In other words, don’t expect too much of this season to revolve around cliches like beans on toast and mushy peas. This all seems obvious, but we still do live in a world of listicles demeaning British food. Top Chef is well-positioned to change that.

So let’s get to the fake odds, shall we? This year’s predictions are made slightly trickier by the fact that many of these chefs are completely blank slates to US viewers. Nonetheless, we can make some solid inferences based on the first episode.

Begoña +150

Already has a Michelin star, posing the question of what she’s even doing here. Made something complicated and beautiful with butternut squash that I didn’t completely understand, but the judges raved. Before the premiere I blindly predicted Buddha would be the one to beat. Now I’m not so sure.

Buddha +180

Top Chef Houston winner, fan favorite, arguably one of the most talented chefs ever to compete: no need to introduce Buddha. Flexed in the Quickfire by churning his own butter. The forearms on this dude are straight out of a Rob Liefeld comic. Hard to imagine him not making the finale.

Charbel +300

Sometimes ideas are just crazy enough to work. Given £250 to buy groceries, he bought…onions. He then did something even conceptually weirder, making a roasted onion dish with a soubise that he then reassembled into the shape of an onion. The level of effort here was absurd, and he won the Elimination Challenge for his efforts.

Dale +500

Top Chef Canada’s first winner, and also a major hothead who became Top Chef Canada’s first villain. That shit might fly in Saskatoon, but this is London, bruv. Won the Quickfire and had immunity, but didn’t play it safe later, which is notable. Clearly talented, but chefs like Dale often flame out during Restaurant Wars when their ego gets the best of them.

Tom +800

Current residence is “worldwide aboard the scenic ocean vessels,” i.e. he’s a cruise ship chef, and the only one in the field not to win his series or finish runner-up (he was third on the first season of Top Chef Germany). Made something unappetizing with red cabbage in the Quickfire, but redeemed himself, and then some, by making a bunch of technically difficult variations on the humble carrot during the Elimination Challenge. Points deducted for naming it “Carrot Houdini,” however.

Sara +1000

Immunity earned by an excellent Quickfire gave her the chance to make cover crops and potlikker, which were visually unappealing, plus these are mostly British judges, who seem to not “get” rural Southern food. Sara’s intransigence when it comes to her cooking served her well in Kentucky but may not be a boon here. Has apparently never been to London, so expect her to say “wow” a lot.


Shout out to Dawn for avoiding our first Top Chef homicide when that hyper little dipshit Gabri spilled water all over her station. I’m giving her a free pass this week, because the flaws in her dish were not entirely of her own making. Feels like she should be in the middle somewhere around here.

Luciana +1500

Self-styled “ambassador for Brazilian food” in the UK, which does give her a home-court advantage of sorts. Did well in the Quickfire, later made cassava three ways with a completely superfluous protein. If she starts to take the constraints of the challenges seriously, she could be one to keep an eye on.

Amar +2000

Amar also made a classic “play it safe” move in the Elimination Challenge, cooking scallops. Thing is, the Elimination Challenge was meant to be vegetable-forward, which scallops are not last time I checked. He’s clearly a personable guy, and personality goes a long way in this game. But you can only coast by on it for so long.

Ali +2400

Similar to Amar, Ali cooked sea bass with cauliflower, emphasis on the sea bass. You won’t wind up in the bottom as long as dishes like that are executed properly, but they also won’t win you any points later on.

Nicole +2800

“Summer bass with garden vegetables.” Guess what the problem was.

May +3000

Strong competitive record on the Thai versions of things like this show and Iron Chef, which seem like pretty impressive accomplishments. Made a deceptively simple-sounding garden salad with fish, which looked and apparently tasted lovely. Obviously a strong competitor who can go outside her comfort zone. It just would have been nice to actually see her cook a little.

Sylwia +3500

Hey, somebody named Sylwia is apparently also on this show! Made virtually no impression despite pairing with Buddha (and immediately talking shit about him behind his back) in the Quickfire and later cooking a beet and goat cheese dish that looked…okay? It looked okay. You can tell a lot from the editing of the first episode of Top Chef, and she’s either going to be this season’s heel or quietly pack her knives and go.

Victoire +4000

Chose to make risotto during the Quickfire. Surprise, it was horrible! And she’s Italian! Her cassava-based Elimination Challenge dish fared a bit better, but she needs to self-edit to have the slightest chance.

Gabri +5000

Jumpy little weirdo who seems to move at 1.5x speed, which would be an advantage if he didn’t do things like spill entire pans of boiling water onto Dawn’s food. Got props for his raw scallop in the Quickfire. Burned his dish and forgot a key component during the Elimination Challenge. Hard to know what to make of him, at least until he figures out how to get Adderall in the UK.

Samuel OUT

Poor old Samuel. He started off awkwardly by noting that in France, they get 90 minutes for Quickfires, and it only got worse from there: apparently there’s no shopping phase in France, either, and the judges pick out the ingredients. Had the quote of the episode, extolling the historical spirit of friendship between his people and the Germans. I think he was joking. I think. His fate was sealed when he failed to devein his prawn carpaccio (ew), and it’s a shame: they looked like pretty nice shrimp before he hammered them into submission and forgot to remove the poop.

 You May Also Like

Daniel Cohen

Daniel Cohen is a software developer who lives in Syracuse, New York. He has written for Yard Work, The Guardian, and Maura Magazine.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *