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Top Chef Season 5, Episode 14 — Last Chef Standing



OK, so what happened last night wasn't exactly my worst nightmare as far as Top Chef is concerned (That would have been Lisa pulling the upset last season. If that had happened, I might have been too upset to even watch this season). But it was still, well, sad.

Sad. Sad. Sad. Sad. Sad. Triple times sad.

On so many levels, sad. From the demise of Carla because she was a bit too loving and open, to Stefan showing he was a human being by comforting Carla, to Hosea being rewarded for playing it safe.


And the saddest part of all? That a truly exceptional season of Top Chef went quietly into the night with a mediocre winner. A winner who, until last night, had NEVER done anything spectacular. Who wouldn't fit anyone's idea of "top" of anything except maybe in some reference to height.

Yes, even if you didn't watch last night's episode you can guess who I'm talking about: Hosea.

Hosea is the new Top Chef. Yet I'd never want to eat anything the guy cooks. Every summer, we go hiking in Colorado and we always spend a day in Boulder shopping. I can safely say that no matter how starved I am after checking out the overpriced stuff on Pearl Street will I beg to eat at Hosea's Jax Fish House. I wouldn't even give it a second look. I don't care if the guy won, his food won't be worth the mark up it is surely getting this morning.

So, how did this happen? The set up began weeks ago and I feel with 100 percent certainty that it never would have happened had Jamie not over-salted her celery. Had Miss Scallop not been eliminated, then surely Hosea would have been a goner much, much sooner and tonight would have had a different outcome.

Of course, there were many other follies that led up to this injustice. Most notably, the problems caused by Carla's and Stefan's character flaws. Really, when you get down to it, Hosea won because he didn't have much of a character, unless you could "jealous of Stefan" as a defining feature.

You see, Carla is all about the love and peace and harmony and that's why I love her. But it's also what did her in. She was so open to the suggestions of Casey, who was a fantastic runner-up in season 3, that she didn't cook "her food." Casey is a sweet girl, but she hijacked Carla's third and fourth courses (meat and potatoes and her cheese dessert) and Carla was left with tough meat and no cheese tart or souffle. Not good, even if all the love in the room came and sat down on the plate.

Stefan, meanwhile, is one cocky, arrogant guy. He wins, that's what he does. He's been cooking for more than half his life and he's the son of a chef. He has the same God complex heart surgeons have on Grey's Anatomy. But, in this instance, he was a bit too hard-headed. He HAD to freeze his fish for his second course. He HAD to finish with an ice cream. He HAD to question the judges at the final judges' table. He basically dug his own grave by being too confident.

So, it had to be Hosea. Who didn't even have the favorite dish of the night (that would be Stefan's squab). Who never did much of anything in any of the challenges. Who didn't even do a dessert for the final course. Yes, he didn't have to do a dessert, it wasn't a requirement, but after three courses wouldn't you love a dessert? He tried to play it off at the judge's table like he just wanted to showcase savory foods, but in his interview he admitted that dessert wasn't his strong point. But if you can't make a dessert are you even Top Chef material? NO. But who am I to decide?

Ugh. I'm so disappointed that I can't decide if I'm sad or happy that this season is over. All season, I would have said I'd be sad when it was over because I thought it was such a great season. But the ending just put a serious bad taste in my mouth.

Some final random thoughts:

— How about Stefan showing his softer side by comforting a crying Carla. He's not so bad after all.

— And how about Hosea just standing there while Carla was crying and not even blinking. Jerk.

— And Carla was good enough not to even throw Casey under the bus. She took responsibility and a lot of reality show folks can learn from that.

— More air time for fabulous Fabio. That was definitely the high point for me.

— Drat that salted celery, Jamie. Drat!

— Well, moving on ... make sure to check out Culture Crumbs for an American Idol blog once the show is down to the Top 12. And if this season of Project Runway ever gets the green light to be aired, we'll have a blog on that, too.


mom_of_three 9 years, 1 month ago

I totally agree with you. This season, a chef won who had never won a challenge, and who was always in the middle playing it safe. I feel this was a big letdown and the judges made a huge mistake this season. How can he be a TOP chef when he was never tops at anything? Hopefully, the judges and the producers realize the error, and make it better next year...

nesbik 9 years, 1 month ago

I am proud of Hosea! After growing up in Boulder and knowing the mentality around food in this foothills hamlet, it's quite an accomplishment for him, even at his young age. http://www.dailycamera.com/news/2009/feb/25/boulder-top-chef-hosea-rosenberg-finale/

missmia 9 years, 1 month ago

totally agree! he never did exceptionally well, he just did well enough to not be worse than the loser. and i really think they kept him around on some challenges because of the drama that he and leah brought.

who knew stefan had a heart? it was good to see!

poor carla, she took some suggestions from casey and it didn't work in her favor. she should have won. but she did get super bowl tickets and a car in other challenges, so at least she didn't go home empty handed.

i think Fabio will get "fan favorite" - he was precious.

d_prowess 9 years, 1 month ago

Did anyone else notice the kiss Leah planted on Hosea right before the show ended during the credits. It was not the type of kiss you give if you are not with that person...

mom_of_three 9 years, 1 month ago

I don't think Hosea won any challenge this season on his own, which is so odd....

supercowbellninja 9 years, 1 month ago

This was quite a lame finale. Stefan should have won.

calvin 9 years, 1 month ago

Too bad Carla did not stick with 'her food' that got her to the finale and Superbowl tickets and a car along the way. I was stunned she chaged her ideas in the finale.

By the way, I think Gail needs to keep her girls covered, holy cow!

DonnyWallace 9 years, 1 month ago

First of all we tend to forget that Carla was in many eliminations and more than once judges hinted that somebody else or everyone needed to go- and if I'm not mistaken Carla got under the radar a few times albeit some of her simple dishes look great to me and while the spreading the love thing sounded like the race card one time to me- I like her. But that said Stephan was the real winner and so he made a few mistakes- getting the Hue wrong for Gumbo- he could learn on that one, he didn't know- that was probably the soul thing to favor Carla and get the Italian block to mess-up. But who knows? Yes he overcooked a fish and froze a fish- big mistakes at this level but he was the most winning contestant and Josea was mediocre. Of course as an executive chef mediocre might be great and who knows with the judging albeit in some ways it seemed very good. Although Stephan might have won again if Martha didn't favor the Tattoo chick- there seemed like a little bonding going on on that one. If the producers had balls they could easily fix these problems by going with a round robin format. Look I know Stephan's desserts were real country club for the final and the Chicks told the men how to vote and the British guy totally rolled over and shocked me but even if you hate him in terms of cooking he clearly won overall. And if he had skipped dessert they would have nowhere to hide if he lost. Please go to a round robin format...

missmia 9 years, 1 month ago

logic- I read an interview with Hosea on people.com and he just says that they're still friends. Kinda kills the build up for the reunion show! oh well, they were definitely not the favorites!

calvin- yeah! she was bustin out last night! she did just get married so i wonder if maybe shes pregnant?

either way, can't wait for the reunion and to see who is the fan favorite!

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