‘Top Chef’ predictions: Why we’re rooting for ‘quiet force’ Mei Lin to win Season 12

It’s no secret that Contributing Editor Ralph Galvan and myself are sworn enemies here at Gold Derby. In fact, we disagreed so much when predicting the Emmys that we ended up writing competing articles over who’d win the various acting races. (Here’s one, and here’s another.)

When Ralph and I sat down to discuss our new obsession — “Top Chef” Season 12 — you could cut the tension with a butcher’s knife. Below, read our feisty Q&A about the current season and see why we’re both predicting Mei Lin as this year’s winner.

Psst: Here’s how to predict reality TV shows and win bragging rights AND prizes!

Marcus: Hello Ralph. We meet again. So tell us, what keeps you coming back to “Top Chef” year after year?

Ralph: How’s it goin, MD? What keeps me coming back to “Top Chef”? Well, it’s the ultimate reality competition program. So much better than your favorite, “Survivor.” Boring, dude.

Marcus: Here we go again.

Ralph: “Top Chef” is the most demanding of all competition because it requires so much more skill than just pure physical, business, or talent. It combines all these and more with zero room for error. What other competition do you know can get you kicked off for something as simple as salt? Salt! None. You put a “Top Chef” winner on “Shark Tank” or “The Amazing Race” and they would probably do okay to potentially winning it. You put a contestant from any other reality show on “Top Chef” and ask them to participate in any quickfire, no matter how much they love to cook, and they would all be the first contestants to go home. No question. So, that’s what keeps me coming back. And Gail Simmons.

Marcus: Whoa, that was a long answer. So tell me, now that we’ve all seen the Season 12 premiere, what do you think of this year’s crop of aspiring cheftestants?

Ralph: It usually takes a few episodes for me to warm up to any contestants on any type of show, but it’s pretty obvious that Aaron Grissom is pompous (which makes no sense since he was pretty close to being at the bottom for his first “Top Chef” challenge ever) and Mei Lin seems like a quiet force to be reckoned with. A pretty good diverse group though, so should be fun, as usual.

Marcus: Of the remaining Season 12 contestants, who is your pick to win and why?

Ralph: Tough. I’m going to go with three possible picks: Mei, Adam Harvey and Doug Adams. Mei won the first challenge and as timid as she may be, she seems very confident in her food. Adam and Doug each seem like the types that can adapt to different challenges rather than only being good at one type of cuisine. Then again it could go completely off course and be whoever wins the “Last Chance Kitchen,” like Kristen Kish.

‘Top Chef’ Boston preview: ‘The challenges are just gonna get harder’

Marcus: I actually agree with you for once! Isn’t that something? I agree that Mei is the spoiler to win, being so focused and determined from what we’ve seen so far. Do you think Boston is a good setting for this season? What was your favorite city setting from years past?

Ralph: For sure Boston will be a great setting. Awesome food there and it’s never taken place in Boston. That’s crazy. My favorite though was probably Seattle. Had some of my favorite contestants ever on the show and the Pacific Northwest let them explore so much more than just stuck in one type of setting. They even explored Alaska! I hope they head to Portland next.

Marcus: And which aspiring chef do you think is going home next?

Ralph: I’m going to say either Joy Crump or Rebecca LaMalfa. Neither seemed over confident with their dishes, though Crump did get some good word from the judges. Still, as you see with all “Top Chef” winners, all are confident in what they cook and the over- and under-confident ones usually fall out pretty quickly. In all honesty though, I wish Richard Blais would go home next, this year’s new judge to “Top Chef” and past champ of “Top Chef: All-Stars.”

Marcus: Oh really? Come on, he’s not that bad.

Ralph: Something about the guy just irritates me and there are just so many past “Top Chef” champs (see our photo gallery below) that have more of a personality and swag to stand alongside the likes of Padma, Gail and Tom.

Marcus: Thanks Ralph! Happy cooking. (Food, not meth.)

‘Dancing with the Stars’ mystery: Why is Michael Waltrip still on despite two left feet?

Show us that you have what it takes to win the cutthroat TV competition here at Gold Derby and win our prizes, including a $100 Amazon gift certificate.

To get started, click here or scroll down and make your first prediction using our easy drag-and-drop menu. Don’t worry, you can keep changing your predictions right up until show time. But we urge you not to wait till then.

To enter your predictions, make sure you are logged into your Gold Derby account or register for a free account via Facebook, Twitter or Google. After logging in, click on the “Predictions” button found at the top-right of every page. That will bring you to a list of every event currently being predicted at Gold Derby.

We are forecasting everything from the results on reality TV shows like “The Amazing Race,” “Dancing with the Stars” and “Project Runway” to the body count on “The Walking Dead” to the winners of the Oscars, Golden Globes and Grammys.

Click on any box to bring up that event, then scroll down to start making your predictions. For each TV show, cast your votes on several different questions relating to the upcoming episode.

Did Pharrell Williams make two critical mistakes on Monday’s episode of ‘The Voice’?

To vote for who think will win, drag contestants over from the left to the right and arrange them in your predicted order of finishing. For example, if you think Mei will win the season, make sure you put her in first place. You can continue to update and change your predictions throughout the week, just click “Save Predictions” when you’ve settled on your choice.

Every time someone logs their predictions, the racetrack odds of the contestants are automatically updated. If the majority of users think Mei will win, that means she’ll have the best odds and will go to the front of the pack. Conversely, the players who don’t receive many votes have the worst odds and will go to the bottom of the pile.

The standard bet for each question is 100 points, which are wagered against the odds you locked in when you saved your predictions. However, for each TV episode you are given one special 200 point bet that you can use strategically to gain more points.

Here’s how racetrack odds work. If you bet 100 on something that has 50/1 odds and you end up being correct, you will receive 50 x 100 points, which equals 5,000 points. You’ll also get your original 100 points back, for a total of 5,100 points.

Get started by making your prediction as to which of the remaining “Top Chef” contestants will win the season by using our easy drag-and-drop menu below.

More News from GoldDerby