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December 20, 2014

Top Chef serves up a new winner

by Allison Waldman, posted Feb 26th 2009 3:02PM
The fifth edition of Top Chef came to a conclusion last night. I'd like to say it was one of the all-time best seasons, that I was on the edge of my seat with excitement, that I was really rooting for one competitor more than another... I'd like to say that, but I can't. All in all, Top Chef New York, which became Top Chef New Orleans in the last few episodes, was kind of a dud.

Before I talk about the winner and what happened specifically in the finale, I have to ask why Top Chef failed to really make use of the location this time around? New York is all about food and great restaurants and amazing chefs, but I can't think of one episode that really used the city in a creative way. Where was the Little Italy challenge? What about a trip to Chinatown for wild ingredients? Gail Simmons' bridal shower could have taken place anywhere. The Super Bowl challenge was generic. And when it was time for the finale, TC went to the Big Easy. Is that any way to honor the Big Apple?

So, last night's showdown was really a case of Colorado chef Hosea Rosenberg, nice guy in the tradition of first season's Harold; Euro-chef Stefan Richter, the guy you love to hate, but technically brilliant; and Nashville sweetheart chef Carla Hall, the underdog who's been coming on in the last few challenges by making simple, but delicious food. The assignment they faced was to create a three-course meal of their choosing in the kitchen of a world-class restaurant, Commander's Palace.

Former chefs were brought on to help out, and Casey Thompson from season three wound up giving Carla some lousy. Taking the advice, Carly would up third in a three-person race. Carla would have been better off following her instincts. Stefan got to work with Marcel Vigneron, the molecular gastronomer from season two. Ironically, Marcel kept his head down and followed orders. He might have done Stefan a favor if he'd told him that what he really thought about the fish course. Hosea lucked out with Richard Blais from last season, who was supportive and kept his ideas to himself.

With Carla's main course and cheese courses dead on arrival, the judges didn't even consider her in the final tally. To that I say, FOUL! I realize the rules say that the judges don't count the previous weeks of cooking, just that final meal, but it's not fair. Essentially, Hosea was rewarded with a victory simply by not screwing up. Stefan was a notch below because he decided to make a dessert -- ice cream and chocolate something with a banana -- that was deemed pedestrian by Padma and Tom. Hosea's third course was meat; he didn't attempt a dessert because the judges didn't require it. He played it safe and was the winner.

Overall, not a very exciting finish. I really wasn't rooting for anyone, although I did like Carla's spunk and I did hate Stefan's arrogance. Hosea, to me, was fortunate that he wasn't facing some of the previous season finalists. They might have blown him out of the water.

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Sean Patrick

I cannot disagree more.

While I was rooting for Fabio first, Hosea was very likeable and I had hoped that when Fabio and Stefan were up for elimination, Stefan was chosen to go home. Stefan has one of those 'superior' attitudes in that nobody can come close to his self-delusional greatness.

Fabio cooked from the heart with a lot of his meals, and while Carla professed to cook with love I think Fabio showed us who the passionate chef was.

Since the start of this season's TC I thought that Carla was flakey. She started off weak, and grew to become a better competitor. In the end though she gave Casey too much control, and it screwed her over.

Hosea on the other hand was pretty consistant all season. Sure he had his off days but he often produced quality stuff.

In the end, Stefan's ego was his downfall, along with his mouth. Why he was chosen over Fabio is beyond me. Hosea won hands down because of hsi opponents lack of or over abundance of confidence.

Carla is a sweetheart, plain and simple. She let Casey push her ideas over hers. If Carla was a bit more organized and a bit more assertive I think that Casey would have been put in her place.

Hosea is charming, funny, and the kind of guy you'd want to hang with. He worked hard for his win. It's a shame he isn't ready to commit to a relationship with Leah, as it is obvious that they really have a connection there.

Stefan, well the only reason I hated him was because of his pompous attitude and lack of humility. He may be damn good, but he's human and prone to bad days and bad judgement calls. He needs a nice big slice of humble pie. Oh wait, he came in second....

March 27 2009 at 1:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rob

Back to the proofers:

"Former chefs were brought on to help out, and Casey Thompson from season three wound up giving Carla some lousy [advice]. Taking the advice, Carly would [wound] up third in a three-person race."

Also, thank you for leaving spoilers after the jump. That was unfortunate last season.

February 27 2009 at 2:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jim Kosmicki

do you people not remember Ilan? slow and steady does win in this competition. And if you honestly hate Stefan, you are simply a victim of believing the editing. It was clear that this group of chefs really cared for each other. it wasn't Hosea who comforted Carla when she broke down at judge's table -- it was Stefan. Stefan made the clothes for Jamie's stuffed animal. Stefan believed in the quality of his food, but over the course of the show, that belief was justified.

i honestly think that Stefan got bored with the competition element. It was clear that he felt that he had shown his superiority multiple times (and he did if you look over the entire season). But when he didn't like the challenge, he didn't take it seriously. That's what cost him the competition.

Hosea studied New Orleans cuisine. Carla kept mentioning how she was from the South and knew this food, but Hosea was the one who could articulate what the judges would be looking for, and then cooked that food. As a college instructor, I have to give him props for doing his homework, having a plan, and sticking to it. When Tom is the head judge, finishing with a strong meat dish is always going to work in your favor.

February 27 2009 at 10:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Julien

This season was weak at best, i liked Jeff, he tried stuff and if i had to go eat in any of their restaurant it would be his and in my opinion he did the same mistake as richard or marcel did, overthinking

There was no chef that had a lot talent (Richard, and of course Hung were for me the real great chefs of Top Chef (Tre too was great, im still angry about that elimination) this season, Fabio was okay but not that great

Stephan was just so much of a dick (and by the way, being european doesnt mean you can cook, he's not even from a "great" country of cooking like Spain or France) and overconfident

It doesnt surprise me that Hosea won, he was a bit above average but a lot focused on what he did and he had the best sous chef for this challenge so ...

And by the way, i think what Hubert Keller said about "you should be able to produce a dessert" is so stupid, if you really aim high in the culinary world, no you dont have to know how to produce a dessert, you might produce something "pedestrian" like Stephan at best, is that really what you want to produce on one of the most important meal you will ever cook ? as long as it's not forced you shouldnt do dessert when you dont have the training and skills for it, it's really another ball game

I dont think Hosea played it safe, i think it was smart

And all in all it's the best of the three that won (Carla should have been gone SOOOOO long ago, remember in the beginning she produce crap on top of crap)

I do hope they change the concept a bit for the next season because i dont want to watch top caterer i want to watch top chef (the only great episodes for me where at the bernardin and in the garden where they took the products themselves)

February 26 2009 at 10:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Julien's comment
KTR3

I see what you're saying, but Carla winning wouldn't have been an instance of "Top Caterer." I think what made her such an interesting person to have this season was that we got to see her grow from a caterer into a force to be reckoned with. If you would've told me, at the beginning of the season, that she was a top 3 contender, I wouldn't have believed you. But towards the end (with exception, of course, of the very end) something clicked and she started showing many top chef qualities.

I think this season had a fair amount of very talented chefs, but there were more times than I'd like to admit that the wrong chef went home. It was fairly obvious, to me, that Stefan would be in the finale, but I also really expected Jeff and Jamie to come closer, or even to be finale contenders.

All-in-all I was left pretty disappointed, and I definitely know I'm not alone or in the minority here.

February 26 2009 at 11:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
supidupi

The only thing that cost the title for stefan was his attitude, nothing more, nothing less. Hosea is not more than average. But stefan thought he will win anyway because of the many competition wins through the season. But i guess he is not familiar with playoffs, you blow the final, you're done.

February 26 2009 at 5:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tom

Next season -- if there is one -- can we do away with the whole 'faking the holidays' thing? It's annoying as all hell to see them cooking for "Thanksgiving" when we all know this was taped during the summer.

By all means if they want to do a Holiday challenge, do so but simply acknowledge the time frame: "We know that Christmas is # months away, but we're going to have a little holiday spirit here in the kitchen for your challenge..."

February 26 2009 at 4:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Andrew

Casey spoke out about the show, which is worth noting...

http://sidedish.dmagazine.com/2009/02/26/casey-thompson-speaks-out-about-top-chef/

February 26 2009 at 4:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to Andrew's comment
anthony

Stephan was a douche throughout the entire season & you could see the attitude starting to grate on Tom Colicchio in the last few episodes. It cost him in the end....

February 26 2009 at 4:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
DJ

i dont understand all the carla support. she was so annoying and i wish she would have left early on. i have no idea what "cooking with love" means. she was always so unnecessarily excited and yelling.

not taking in previous challenges is completely appropriate. granted stefan was on the top a lot, but he completely blew the final. because of that he deserved to lose. hosea didnt win as much, but he was usually pretty high up and never a clear possibility for leaving, like stefan after the superbowl nonsense.

it was a dull season but the winner was clear. stefan blew it. frozen fish, really??

February 26 2009 at 3:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tollendyr

Was this the last season? If not they needed to do something quite a bit more entertaining if they expect to have a healthy audience for TC6.

February 26 2009 at 3:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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