If you trust the Top Chef expertise of the writers weekly charged with recapping the show, you'll want to put your money on Brooke Williamson, the self-taught Los Angelino who was the youngest chef ever to cook at the James Beard House.
With the number of remaining cheftestants dwindling, I surveyed my fellow professional Top Chef watchers for their finalist picks. Of the dozen or so writers I invited to participate in my version of the AP college football poll, nearly half of them responded, voicing strong support for the women.
"It's time to take away Stephanie Izard's title of "only female Top Chef winner"," said the Washington Post's Carol Blymire, who's boldly projecting an all-X chromosome finale. She thinks Lizzie Binder and Kristen Kish, the only other woman to draw multiple mentions, will finish behind Williamson. Using a scoring system in which predicted winners were assigned two points and predicted finalists were assigned one point apiece, Williamson emerged as the clear writers' favorite.
"I pick Brooke to take the whole thing," writes Mary Alice Yeskey of the Baltimore Sun. "I hope I'm right. Brooke kicks ass and I think she's an underestimated culinary juggernaut."
Among the male cheftestants, CJ Jacobsen - now trapped in Last Chance Kitchen - and Josh Valentine were singled out as potential winners.
"And not just because he's Dallas' last chance to shine, but also because he's got a bang-up hipster mustache," according to the Dallas Observer's Scott Reitz. "Valentine has finally proven he can prepare pork with the best of them, and I'm certain he's going all the way."