Bravotv.com's Editor comments on the Season 5 finale.
Phew! Every season I anxiously await the finale, so I can finally let the cat out of the bag of who won. And now we know that Hosea won. I have to say that this is the first year I'm actually shocked at the outcome, and the second year I chose the wrong winner. I picked Richard to win from the first episode last year and I picked Stefan to win this year. So, now I have two runner-ups on my hands, but who knows, maybe Stefan will help another chef to victory in the finale of Season 6 just like Richard did this year.
Let's start from the beginning. Tom gave his "Cook the Meal of your Life" speech, and the chefs were all "OK." As is customary, they each got a sous-chef, and this season, they each got a former Top Chef contestant who just fell short of victory. Two of the three were my favorites their respective seasons (Sorry Casey! I was a devoted Hung fan from the start.) It seems like they each chose pretty appropriately for their personalities, and all of the teams seemed to work well together. Who would I want as my sous-chef? Maybe Marcel. The only reason I maybe would have chosen Marcel over Richard is because Richard has more experience as an Executive Chef, so I would want someone who has followed another chef's orders more recently.
Anyway, the chefs were thrown a curveball, obvi. They had to create another course. They drew knives to see who would use what protein, and of course, the gentleman that Stefan is let Hosea go first. Unfortunately for Stefan, Hosea got to choose who cooked what. In the immortal words of Stefan, he basically got the sh-t stick. So Hosea made him cook alligator. And you know what? Stefan nailed it. All of the chefs did very well with their appetizers.
But then came the next courses, and the chefs had to present to a pretty esteemed table of tasters, including Branford Marsalis, who I think should become a permanent judge. You hear me, Andy Cohen?! Seriously, every time he spoke, I giggled. And for the record, however politically incorrect, I could eat foie gras every day too. Well, the foie gras from Irving Mill. Delish! Anyway, the chefs presented their second course. Stefan's method of cutting his fish really thin by freezing, which I have heard of before, seemed to really bite him in the ass. Some of the chefs really enjoyed it, while others thought the dish was watered down. Hosea's sashimi trio actually looked kind of unappetizing to me, but I think it was actually just because the pieces of fish looked huge. Carla had her last good dish of the night. Next, Stefan presented what the judges called their favorite dish of the night, squab and cabbage. Whenever I hear cabbage now it just makes me want a slow-roasted pork sandwich from 'wichcraft. Tom makes a good sammy. Hosea follows up with scallops and foie and Carla starts her downward spiral with the sous-vide beef. If you know how to sous-vide, it's a pretty safe method, but why on earth would you use a technique you've never used before, especially on the main protein in your dish? The real problem was that she really did let Casey railroad her, and this has been Carla's fatal flaw from the beginning. Remember when she let Gene and Danny (remember them?) talk her into that deconstructed sushi fiasco for Gail's bridal shower? Same thing, different challenge.
Finally, the chefs presented their last courses. Hosea's savory dish was met with favor, Carla's dish was missing a major element (although I thank her for not serving curdled souflee — yuck!), and Stefan started The Great Dessert Controversy of 2009. What's so ironic is that Stefan, and one could even add Carla, have demystified the creation of desserts on Top Chef. Remember when chefs had problems making them? These two have not only moved on but won multiple challenges with desserts. Hell, Stefan even won Restaurant Wars for his team with his desserts! But dessert finally got the best of him. I have to say that I was unimpressed with his choice as well, but I think he literally just could have taken a few things off the plate and maybe been saved. I don't know if you recall, but there were two instances where he was complimented on the consistency of his mousse in Quickfires. What if he had just put an exceptional mousse on the plate and maybe added some fun element to it? Certainly Marcel could have thought of something a little out-of-the-box to bring to the table. Then his plate wouldn't have looked like the final product of a trip to a Bar Mitzvah dessert buffet. There's nothing wrong with giving a table chocolate, but it needs to be refined, and I'm afraid Stefan's wasn't. Hung won the title in Season 3 ending his meal with a molten chocolate cake, and although that choice was controversial too, the plate looked damn good, and he won. I do love the fact that Toby really fought for Stefan, and even Gail has admitted that she still wonders if they made the right decision, but Hosea won fair and square, and I'm interested to see what he'll do in the future. And trust me Stefan and Ms. Carla — G-d bless her — will be just fine.
I'm not signing off for this season just yet, as next week's finale is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. I haven't seen it yet, but I cannot wait!
Before I go, I just want to thank you all for your comments about the new site and your patience. And to our faithful Message Boarders, I see your comments about the problems, and would love you to explain in detail the problems you're experiencing (browser/operating system information) so we can give you the best Message Board experience possible.
Till next week,
Monica A. Reyhani