Tom Colicchio

Tom Colicchio talks about the twists the chefs faced in the first part of the finale.

on Feb 18, 20090

Nodding to New Orleans' traditional Monday meal, Louis Armstrong famously signed his letters "red beans and ricely yours." I can't think of New Orleans without an instant sense-memory flood of the flavors that are uniquely its own. But you don't need me to tell you all of the gigantic contributions, from culinary to cultural (especially musical), that have sprung from this little city. Let's just say that I was as excited as our Final Four to be there. And I was very pleased to have Emeril Lagasse with us as our guest judge. When it comes to Cajun flavors and New Orleans cooking, there was no better chef we could have had. We so appreciated, too, that he invited the chefs to come in and have dinner the night before, to give them a direct experience of New Orleans flavors.

As you saw, we did something new this season, inviting three of our strongest past contestants to vie for the chance to get back into the game. We felt that the requirement that the winner of this Quickfire Challenge win the Elimination Challenge in order to go on to the finale was a way to keep it fair to the other finalists, who, after all, had never been eliminated and didn't deserve to suddenly find themselves on fully equal footing with someone who had. But we liked upping the stakes for them all by lengthening their odds. It put a bit of extra heat under them to work that much harder to excel. Jamie, Leah, and Jeff all did a good job, but Jamie's dish looked better than it tasted, while Jeff's dish had a layering of flavors that put it far above either Jamie's or Leah's dishes. So Jeff was back.

That night, however, Jeff was never in the running for a reason that didn't make it into the final edit. He did a very fine job, however he used a sterno chafing dish to keep his oysters warm that, for whatever reason, imparted a taste of burning sterno to the oysters. We all smelled it and remarked on it while the chefs were setting up their stations, and then we tasted that horrible taste when we sampled his selections. So, unfortunately for Jeff, who otherwise was cooking very well, he could never have taken the top spot of the evening.

Hosea's gumbo was the best of the three gumbo-type dishes. But I wasn't crazy about the catfish, personally. I know that he was originally going to use another fish, but it wasn't fresh enough and he swapped it out for the catfish. The pecan crust could have been ground finer and didn't adhere well to the fish. Still, it was nice to see him cook fish to order, and, ultimately, he cooked two dishes that were strong enough to get him into the finale.

200 comments
Aussie Viewer
Aussie Viewer

I am an Australian viewer and have watched every season of Top Chef since it aired here. I will keep it simple, for someone from outside of the U.S. it seemed completely biased in the last episode towards Hosea, not because he was better, but because Top Chef an American show couldnt bear to see a European chef beat them. Tom C. was trying to pick and holes in Stefans dishes that he could, i mean.... The salmon overpowers the other fish in the carpaccio? What a ridiculous statement. I think that for the next season the bias towards international chefs needs to be addressed, otherwise you may as well call it American Top Chef. I could go to over half of the restaurants in Australia and pick a better chef than Hosea, actually i think that it would not take much for me to pick a dozen better chefs from just Tasmania, the smallest state in Australia.

CHARLOTTE MCCOY
CHARLOTTE MCCOY

Hi Tom,

I read some of the comments and I thought about the President. He is in an awfully tough spot, one I am sure he didnt see coming and he is under the criticism of a lot of people now. I suppose you feel that way. No matter what someone, somewhere is going to criticize. They dont have to produce the show, conduct the competition, judge. And of course most of us out here dont have the ability to do any of that professionally. I truly enjoy your program. I grew up in Galveston Texas and my father and uncle worked for the Maceos, the brothers that owned all the gambling clubs all of which had restaurants. They were not chefs, they were bouncers. But I as a child made friends with one of the old chefs who, believe it or not, fished through a hole in the floor of the restaurant , the Balinese Club, which was destroyed by hurrican Ike. It was a 600ft. pier over the Gulf of Mexico and Jaylo (originally from New Orleans) delighted in fishing through that hole. As a child I was fascinated with it and sometimes he would let me "tend the line" while he prepped food. The Balinese in its hey day served a lot of Hollywood people such as Frank Sinatra, Burns, Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Peggy Lee, and they always had the big bands of people like Phil Harris, Guy Lumbardo. It was an exciting place. But I dont think they had the quality food that your contestants produce. I truly enjoy your program and I appreciate your genuineness. You dont smile a lot but when you do, it is truly a gift to the veiwing audience. I just think you are great. I cant wait for another season.

sincerely Charlotte

Never Again
Never Again

The "winner" cheated with his competitors by hoarding food! He cheated on his girlfriend! He was definitely not a team player and he cooked mediocre food. I would never go to a restaurant of his nor would I buy a cookbook of his, nor would I watch him on TV.

You've burned your bridge with this viewer. I'm OVER Top Chef.

Viewer
Viewer

Stefan should have tied TOP CHEF. I hope Bravo would give him something being the runner up. This season is not the best and will go down as the worst boring one. Of all the atop CHEF's winner, Hosea is the least one. I still like the first few seasons. The winners deserved their title and by finale, it was expected based on past performances and winners. This season is a big surprise and maybe not so. It was a sabotage to make sure Hosea could win. They know he couldn't make a good dessert. Is that TOP CHEF? Stefan if thrown to anything can make anything. ALLIGATOR? to Hosea's surprised, Stefans' alli soup was superb. Bravo just lost a lot of viewers in this season. Soon if they continue to run a competition like that, they'll be history. Remember, in inorder for a show to last season after season, it's the viewer's. No enough vieweres, no show. Ba byeeeeeeeee.

Top Tool=Hosea
Top Tool=Hosea

The name in the above title is easily interchangeable with 'Tom'.

cc
cc

I love the show, but I hope that the rules for next season will be revamped. This seasons finale just didn't seem right or fair and was very disappointing. It feels like a medicore chef, that had a good night, won. Please rethink the rules so that a contestant that preforms consistently well can win the title they deserve.

Dave
Dave

Tom, When starting the show next season, how about a contest within a contest where the previous runners up compete to get a wildcard into the Top Chef finale?

Rich
Rich

I'm surprised Hosea won and even made it this far. He should lost a long long time ago. It would have been a great finale if Fabio, Stephan, and Carla was the final 3. That would have been much more exciting.

I think the sous chef had way to much control this time around. So looking at everything objectively, Stefan should have been the true winner because he had control of his dishes as compared to the others. Isn't that what a Top Chef is all about!!!

Ray
Ray

Chef Tom, You robbed Stefan from the Top Chef title. What a pity. But for the fans (and the Top Chefs that you invited for the finale) there is only one winner: Stefan.

Lost Viewer
Lost Viewer

Normally I find it lame to comment regarding a TV show,however, of all the reality shows on TV I thought Top Chef is the one with most quality and sincerity until this season. Total DISAPPOINTMENT with the choice of Top Chef.

You lost a good percentage of viewer from the South Bay area of CA.

David
David

Tom,

It saddened me that you "submarined" Stefan for preparing a dessert in his final offering. It seems clear you let your emotions towards Stefan's arrogance and the fact he had done his "lollipops" before influence your judgement.

Stefan was consistently more innovative and technically superior than Hosea throughout the season. I wonder if the contestants had all had access to the same quantity / quality of ingredients and if there meals were tasted "blindly" if the results would have been the same.

Madeleine J.
Madeleine J.

Would people stop blaming Casey for suggesting to Carla to make the cheese souffle. My goodness - it was Carla's decision whether or not to do it. Casey was acting like a good sous chef and made some suggestions. Why wouldn't she? She is there to help Carla. Casey, as seen in her Season of Top Chef, is the nicest person on the planet and would never do anything to jeopordize Carla's chances. Give the girl a break!

bean
bean

Tom, if personality played no part in your decision, why did you talk to Stefan about his attitude? Also, I don't know who thought up the part about the fish, alligator and crab but leaving anything to "luck of the draw" for the final episode has nothing to do with being top chef. For the most part I enjoy top chef but I don't think it worked out well this season.

Jane M.
Jane M.

I don't think viewers remember the rules of the game. The person who makes the best meal AT THAT CHALLENGE, wins that challenge, and ultimately that was Hosea. He just lucked out that it happened to be the finale. I don't think Tom not caring for Stefan, which I don't believe, made his ultimate decision on that but I do feel that the format of the show should change. I mean, come on. Stefan won the most challenges, he proved he is a great cook, and Hosea took home $100,000! See what I mean judges/producers! I feel that this Season will be looked at closely and next Season it will change. Otherwise, you will have lots of angry fans out there! How about this: The top contenders should be the 3 chefs that won the most challenges (including quick fires) and they should face off. I think that's fair. That way everyone knows the top three deserve to be there. What do you think?

Dee
Dee

I can't get behind this decision at all. Hosea seemed like the "real" villain of the season, despite the attempts by the editors to portray Stefan as one. Sure, he may be confident and a little cocky, but he has the skills to back it up. Unlike Hosea who came across as petty, insecure, and a cheat to boot! I'm not talking only about the Leah indiscretion (yuck!) but how he handled himself in the finale by hogging ingredients and generally being a schmuck. Those of us with half a brain could see right through the editing antics - sorry editors, but the "evil euro" spin didn't work. Nor did the rehabilitation of Hosea with that half-a**ed "apology" and the attempt at a positive spin on him in the interviews. If that's the best they could come up with in trying to portray him in a positive light, then wow! This is indeed Top Schmuck.

No, Hosea may have the title but Stefan is Top Chef in my opinion. Poor choice there, on the parts of both the judges and the powers that be at Bravo. I certainly wouldn't want Hosea representing me, my taste buds, or my judgment in any way.

Viewer
Viewer

Hosea is the biggest chump. Nevermind the fact that he can't cook, it seems his motivation (and obsession) by the end of the show was beating Stefan (agreed, could've been worse in that the judges could've awarded the title to an even bigger dip-stick but I thought this was supposed to be about the food...in which case Jamie and Fabio should have been in the finale). Carla could have served cornflakes and probably won. Thanks, Casey, for reminding us once again why you definitely are not a Top Chef. Love you Carla; next time, cook who you are, not who losers tell you to be!!

redbud9
redbud9

SHAME! Your obvious bias against Stefan was more than evident in the finale. To say that Hosea, who was middle of the road all season long, is Top Chef is a a sad joke. Throughout this season he was out shone and out cooked by Stefan. Stefan go ALLIGATOR for crying out loud and STILL put out a decent dish. You KNOW Hosea could not have done that. Tom, your arrogance is only too obvious on the show. It was clear you didn't like Stefan and so there was no way you would elect him TC....he wouldn't run around and bow down to you like past winners. My guess is that he can out cook you any day of the week, and you were threatened. Think about it.

Viewer
Viewer

I understand that this is a cooking competition. However, nothing exists in a vacuum. To not foresee in the rules that a blatant cheat like Hosea can win is just silly. It would have shortened your season (and revenues), but Hosea and Leah should have been sent home with Ariane. Nor should Hosea have been allowed to 'hog' ingredients during the finale. I found Stefan arrogant, but he is the one who, in the premier, told the culinary student that the fellow from Long Island had lowered the temperature in his oven. Stefan, and the others, stepped in when the refrigerators of Hosea and Radikha failed. And Stefan, not Hosea, tried to comfort Carla both at judges table and in the hotel suite. While this is not a criterion for judging a cooking competition, Stefan's conduct is more in keeping with the sort of behavior I want my children to emulate. This is why my family and I have vowed to break our Top Chef habit. Sorry, but you just lost five viewers. Bring back (or allow to be shown on another network) Project Runway: the competition is fierce, but at least no one wins by sabotaging someone else's project.

Carlotta
Carlotta

I can't help but feel that you had a personal bias against Stefan because you didn't like his attitude.

This season made me question the format more and more. Watching clearly more talented chefs get eliminated week after week while mediocre non-entities skated by was just painful. Hosea winning was a culmination of that.

Viewer
Viewer

Did anyone read Stefan's interview, he said he was BORED with Top Chef by the final episode. Does that sound like the makings of a Top Chef to you??

BurnedToACrisp
BurnedToACrisp

Top Judge Tom,

I can't believe how strongly I disagree with you. You were so heavy handed in NOT wanting Stephan to win that it seemed you were ready to club the other judges to death to get your way. You do tend to seem more comfortable with chefs that are more like yourself. I really think you could see yourself more in HosEah than in Stephan. Stephan was clearly the Top Chef. You were so heavy handed in your insistence that HosEah's venison was a win versus everything Stephan did. Did you note that even Keller disagreed with you? No one could get through to you. Should we reduce the judges to you and one model type female who is easily influenced? Toby, who we were all prepared to hate, was far more reasonable than you.

You more than anyone else have made top chef this thing of beauty. Your guidance and influence have helped keep this show focused on the food. You need to take a break and dive into a huge heapin helpin of humble pie and get back on track. You are not The King of TC.

Viewer
Viewer

Tom, how come last season Lisa had a better meal and Stephanie won the title? I mean, I agree that Lisa shouldn't have won... she should've gone home before Dale, but I don't know why the rules were violated for that one episode? One or the other... judge on the current meal or judge on past performance. Be consistent.

Awesome show, though. I learn so much and I really love watching. I wish that it was a longer season because I really look forward to it. I will probably watch all episodes in re-runs again and then get burnt out and find something else to watch for the next 9 months. Thanks!

Disgusted in New York
Disgusted in New York

I'm truly disappointed with the regular judges this year! I'm glad Toby was on this season, he was a breath of fresh air. I believe that the rules were changed this year in the finale to help Hosea to win. I have watched top chef every season and the regular judges should be ashamed of themselves..it's suppose to be Top Chef not Let me play it Safe and manipulate my way to stay Mediocre Chef! HOSEA IS MEDIOCRE AT BEST. I BELIEVE THAT RIGHT IS RIGHT and Stefan did consistently better than Hosea the whole season and it always mattered in the past seasons when it came to break a tie for the title of top chef but was totally disregarded in this one. I WILL NOT WATCH ANOTHER SEASON of Top Chef, it's not based on how well the chefs cook it's based on how well they can kiss butt. Hosea did all he could with his sidekick Leah (the worst chef) to stay alive! It was disgusting to watch, I mean really alot of better chefs were sent home while he remained. Whereas Stefan was a bit arrogant at times but he was a darn good chef and friend to many on the show. I thought this competition was based on the chefs ability to cook not on their personalities. I believe Tom Colicchio didn't like Stefan and exercised his persuasive power on the other regular judges to vote against him. In addition Tom made good on his threat to Stefan(at the judges table in finale part 1), when he told him "you come in here confident almost cocky and with that attitude you better be able to deliver!" by holding Stefan to a higher standard than everybody else. By the way, I wouldn't be surprised to find the recipes of the food Hosea cooked in the Finale in the cook books of the Best chefs of New Orleans (he has no originality)!!!

Viewer
Viewer

I think the villain in this Top Chef season was actually you, Tom. Who knew?

Max
Max

Hey Tom,

Get out your DVD player and re-watch the season 3 finale when you defended Hung's mediocre chocolate cake as being something the meal needed...

Viewer
Viewer

Tom - do you SERIOUSLY believe that Hosea was the Top Chef. I think in your heart you know it was Stefan. What held you back from making the best choice???

Morebrew
Morebrew

Hosea = worst top chef ever. What a farce. The producers needed a bad guy this season and made Stefan it. Look at the true Stefan, comforting Carla at the judges table, while Hosea looked on with his usual dumb expression on his face.

Stefan - sorry to see you lose - but know that you are the best Season 5 had to offer.

disappointed fan
disappointed fan

This final show has probably made me never view any future series of this show. It is really bad when a qualified chef like Stefan is overlooked to win by an inferior chef like Hosea.

Take the instance of the quickfire with the fish. Hosea had no idea what to do with the eal he was handed. He began to work on it completely wrong and then Stefan started by hammering the eal to the board and going on to do a perfect job. Right there, Hosea showed that his technical skills were not up to par and his ability to cook with all materials handed to him was not possible.

Then look at Hosea handing the crocodile (or alligator not sure which) to Stefan. Stefan took that material and made a soup out of it that every judge was more than happy with. Again, technical skill and ability in Stefan that NEVER was shown by Hosea.

Tom is your going to bust a guy for being to cocky; look in the damn mirror. Everything you dislike in Stefan is everything you have shown as a judge. Let's see you turn eel and crocodile into an edible meal let alone a great dish you arrogant bas----.

ugh
ugh

horrible finale.

Derek
Derek

Tom,

You are crazy! Stefan should not only teach you how to cook but teach you how to make decisions! Hosea you are terrible! your cooking skills are not even as good as our New York deli stores...

Stephan bonne chance frero, you rock!

jimgag
jimgag

Carla helped get the woman of Indian descent (whose name unfortunately escapes me at the moment)off the show by sending out "bad food with love". So now that it is her "proverbial" on the line, she decides to not send out bad food! I don't feel sorry for her.... what goes around, comes around!

Kathi
Kathi

I thought the judges made the right decision. I would have chosen to eat Hosea's meal over Stefan's. Although that alligator soup sounded amazing and ranks up there with some of the most memorable dishes in Top Chef history - like Dave's truffle mac & cheese and Marcel's sea urchin gelee and, oddly enough for me, Sam's popcorn. And Stefan is actually a sweet guy - comforting Carla like he did - and who can forget the sweater he made for Jaime's teddy? But Hosea's meal is the one I would most like to eat.

I LOVED everything about the Mardi Gras episode. Perfection. But in future finals, please make it clear that they should either make a dessert or not -- too much drama around something that shouldn't be this deterministic.

Love the show - always. Casey, you blew it.

Viewer
Viewer

Carla's bonus for winning last week's challenge wasn't even a bonus. If she had first pick of the sous chefs, rather first pick at the knife, she would have received a real advantage. Instead, she got a big ole goose egg by getting stuck with Casey.

This was the most unsatisfying Top Chef finale ever.

WTF
WTF

You should change the name from TOP CHEF to TOP JOKE. Hosea, Top Chef?!? Are you kidding me????

Tom, it's time for you to retire from Top Chef. It's time to get some new blood. Anthony Bourdain, where are you!?

Jane M.
Jane M.

To "disqualify" Carla on account of her leaving off a part of her 3rd entree, well, that is wrong, wrong, wrong. I am sorry but you guys keep flip flopping back and forth on your judging. That is just like having a bad entree which the other two did have. I am really disappointed on this show and at you. You are the head judge and you must have some pull with the producers, never mind the other judges, as far as being consistent with your judging. I don't know about this show anymore. I am disappointed at Hosea winning because of what happened with him and Leah. I didn't like him after that and I think he is a mediocre chef. That's my opinion......

Tedi
Tedi

TC 5 finale was a HUGE JOKE announcing Hosea Top Chef. LOL

Sue
Sue

I turned off the tv as soon as Padma said Hosea. Are you kidding me??? Did he EVER win a challenge? Was he ever even in the top 3? Even Leah and Jaime are more deserving than Hosea.

And poor Carla! Casey single-handedly destroyed any chance she had.

Viewer
Viewer

Tom, you could be blind and see that you had a personal problem with stefan being so cool about everything. in the beginning i thought you was great, cuz you are straight forward and objective. But now you showed this is not the case. You went on a primitive level and let your imotions do the talking. Thats just something we did not expect from you. your pathetic.

Kathy
Kathy

Tom and Bravo, How is Stephan the "villain"!?!? I don't get it, you guys tried so hard to convince people Stephan is this cocky villain who is "un-American" that we should all hate, but from what I've seen all over the internet (blogs and message boards), Hosea IS the true "villain" of this season among us audiences! He came off whiny, petty, unhelpful, stab people in the back (remember Arianne), pathetic whenever he mention beating the "euros" and a freaking cheater! And during the finale he was incredibly selfish, hoard all the good ingredients and just came off so unlikable!

You guys really drop the ball this time when most of your audience rather have this "intent-villain" Stephan to be the winner (and he deserves it anyways) instead.

Michelle
Michelle

Chef Colicchio!

I have been checking the website for your Finale: Part 2 post every hour since last night! Looking forward to your thoughts.

Lame
Lame

I don't even care so much who won, even though I don't think Hosea was as talented as Fabio, Jeff, Jamie, Carla or Stefan, my biggest problem was that the show was just awful. The editing was terrible, the food seemed unoriginal and the judges seemed bored. There was no excitement or energy...it was the worst produced, edited and presented show of the season. The Finale is supposed to have some excitement.

LAME!

scribble scribble
scribble scribble

Would you want to be operated on by a surgeon who got an A in his last course at medical school but Bs and Cs in the others? Or a surgeon who got A-minus in his last course and an A in the others.

The judging on this show needs to be revamped. If a chef who wins numerous challenges throughout the season can lose because of one mistake in one meal, the result will be "winners" who are, overall, second or third best. Would Stefan now be Top Chef if he hadn't succumbed to the perfectly normal desire to have dessert instead of two main courses? (Ask most people whether they'd rather have venison or ice cream to conclude a heavy meal. And why WASN'T dessert required?)

It's hard to second-guess the judges on the final meal since we can't taste the food, but it's really bad when the judges' own judging all season long seems to indicate that the winning chef was not the strongest. Some sort of score needs to be kept all season long -- an accumulation of points for each win or something, perhaps different levels of points for different challenges -- that can be used to counterbalance one or two fatal mistakes down the road.

Until then, it's purely entertainment, another reality show -- not a true competition for best chef.

>.<
>.<

and wtf! All he could ever talk about was how he hated Stefan and wanted to be Stefan. He didn't care about winning, he just wanted to beat stefan because he's an insecure, stupid, person who can't cook decent food and won on technicality and ugliness. This is the worst decision since you guys chose Ilan and I hate that you're defending it

aika
aika

stefan is top chef. (well at least for me)

Zed
Zed

Hey Tom, nice job! I think you pushed for the right decision. Although it appears that Stephan might have been the emotional first choice this is about quality, not emotion. It was another very enjoyable season!

dcgirl
dcgirl

Tom, I think you didn't like Stefan. How can you pick Hosea as Top Chef? Stefan deserved to win.

Ivy
Ivy

I detested Hosea - would never eat at a restaurant where he cooked. He reminds me of immature Elan (or Ilan). What a complete letdown.

Stefan was robbed.

amy
amy

Stefan, who was clearly the most talented contestant throughout the season, should have been Top Chef.

Viewer
Viewer

Very disappointed in outcome. Hosea doesn't deserve it.

Mad in San Francisco
Mad in San Francisco

It's official Top Chef is bullsh*t!!! I can't believe you gave the prize to that hack from Colorado. Did he ever even win a challenge? You should have given it to the guy who won all season, Stefan. That would have been the right thing to do. You have lost me as a viewer.