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As I told many friends and family way back before the first episode even aired: I predict Padma will stick around the whole way to the finals, win the show, and return next season to defend her title again. And I'm sticking by that prediction.

OK, so seriously...

Before we get to the final four, just let me say that right before the Restaurant Wars episode, I told my wife that I thought the final four would be Radhika, Jaime, Stefan, and Jeff. Shows what I know. So who's left?

Hosea started out strong this season, but he has been just hanging around for the second half of the season, always slipping by in the middle somewhere. He's fading down the home stretch. I think Hosea is the weakest link here, and goes home first.

I think Fabio clearly wins "fan favorite". He started the season strong, hung around in the middle for a while, and has gotten a second wind and come on strong again in the past few weeks (he did win last week with a broken hand). I like him, but I just don't think he's as much a threat to win as Stefan and Carla. It's a tough call, because he's my favorite, but I don't feel like he's the judges' favorite. Maybe he gets his own TV show after this is over? Fabio has "future celebrity" written all over him.

Stefan has been the strongest chef all season. He has won 4 episodes plus 4 quickfires, way more than anyone else. He's been slipping a little lately, but I still think, alone in the kitchen, he's the best chef. But the finals always involves working with someone else. They always bring back the old competitors somehow. And Stefan cannot work with anyone else and has irritated or angered almost everyone who could come back to help or hurt him now. He reminds me of Tiffani from season 1 in that regard: runner-up because she couldn't play nice with others. I think, like Tiffani, Stefan comes in second.

Remembering back to the Christmas episode, I thought Carla was going home for sure that week. And then Tom came in and announced that nobody was going home, because it was Christmas. After that, Carla seemed to suddenly have an epiphany (right time of year for it!) and start just cooking her own food her own way, and she's on a roll ever since. That's the sort of attitude and cooking that seems to win the judges over in the finals every season. Plus, the final is in New Orleans, and I think New Orleans food is right up her alley (she won an episode three weeks ago making gumbo). I think the cards are all lined up for Carla to be the final winner.

Or, should I say, the co-winner with Padma, who wins every season at our house.
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