Thursday, February 26, 2009

Top Chef finale: Casey, Casey, Casey...

Since I wrote a column about it yesterday, might as well way in on the actual results of the "Top Chef" finale, just as soon as I get a golden baby...

Talk about leaving a bad taste in your mouth.

Though my column was largely about how I'd feel unsatisfied if Carla beat Stefan, I still think that result would have been infinitely preferable to what we got with a Hosea victory -- and with the way that Carla lost.

Based on what we were told about the dishes, and on the show's insistence of judging meal-by-meal and not cumulatively, Hosea won fair and square. (When even Fabio is admitting he was better than Stefan, you know he deserved it.) But he was such a smarmy tool in the way he did it -- it takes a real gift to out-smug Stefan(*), you know? -- and he was so mediocre, relative to Carla and Stefan, throughout the season, that it really displeased me to see him get the win.

(*) As sad as Carla's breakdown in front of the judges was, it was nice to see how badly Stefan felt for her, and maybe a sign that a lot of his jerkiness was a persona he created, either to survive in the kitchen or to stand out on the show. Whatever the reason, he showed me something there.

Stefan made some bad choices in conception, letting his ego be his own downfall in the same way that Richard Blais' ambition tripped him up at the end of last season, when he had a million different ideas but couldn't focus on getting a few of them just right (especially once he lost his sous-chef). And that's okay. That feels consistent with his character as portrayed to date, and with the way the show is set up. You're supposed to succeed or fail on your own merits.

Carla, on the other hand, was inadvertently sabotaged by her sous-chef. The two dishes she conceived on her own were adored by the judges. The two that Casey had big input on were flops, and ultimately doomed her. I know it's Carla's fault for listening to her -- especially on the sous vide, since Casey in her season not only had no experience at the technique but didn't seem to like it (it was Hung's deal) -- but in past seasons, the finale sous-chefs were just there to help execute the chef's plan, and it appeared they weren't even allowed to offer their own suggestions. (Casey's sous-chef at the time did a talking head where she claimed she had reservations about Casey's ideas but wasn't supposed to say that to her.)

Either they changed that rule, or it was never a rule but more of an unspoken philosophical thing that Casey simply didn't abide by. Either way, even if Carla let herself be talked into that stuff, it still feels like outside forces played too big a role in her loss, and that leaves me feeling cheated.

Or maybe this gets back to what we were discussing last year, when Lisa went on that cockroach-like streak of being the second-worst chef nearly every single week, that maybe the non-cumulative judging is becoming a problem. I know Colicchio argues that if you go to a restaurant with a great reputation and eat a bad meal there your first time, you're not going to go back, but the judges (the regular ones, anyway) aren't really in the role of first-time diners, and they shouldn't be forced to act like they are. If you go to a restaurant you've previously loved and they serve you something inedible, you're not going to boycott the place; you're just going to assume the kitchen had a bad night, or that one item on the menu isn't for you, but you're probably going to go back for other things on the menu, right?

Maybe Hosea's dishes were so much better than Stefan and Carla's -- or, at least, maybe his mistakes were so much more minor -- that he would have been able to overcome going into the finale at some kind of deficit to the two superior chefs. Maybe not. But seeing the win come down entirely to a slightly above-average chef having a good night at exactly the right time frustrates me.

What did everybody else think?


Dan Mac said...

in past seasons, the finale sous-chefs were just there to help execute the chef's plan, and it appeared they weren't even allowed to offer their own suggestions.

I don't think so. The talking head quote to which you refer was from a season when the sous-chefs were bonafide, Michelin-starred celebrity chefs. (I recall Todd English and... Eric Ripert?) Their expert opinions probably could have provided an unfair advantage, but they were the exception, not the rule.

Recall way back to Season 1, Harold used Miguel's duo of beef as one of his final plates, and was widely praised for both the dish and for fully utilizing the abilities of his sous-chef. For that matter, in that same finale Tiffany gave Dave complete autonomy in making dessert and the judges loved it.

Anonymous said...

I think the decisions should be more cumulative. I also think that Toms dislike for Stefan played a roll in his downfall. As someone else said "You could just hear Tom complain about the watery fish the whole dinner". The thing was that Hubert? then said that the technique was excellent and it tasted pretty good. And Tom seemed more annoyed with the presentation of Stefan's dessert more than the taste.

I feel bad for Carla. I think she reverted to trying to cook what she thinks the judges want instead of what she does best, and listened to Casey because she had been there before. Hopefully she will get fan favorite out of it, but Fabio is looking good for that too.

I read a blog with hilarious Top Chef recaps, and Stefan actually contacted the blogger saying he liked the recaps. The Chef's identity was kept secret until abut halfway through the season when it was revealed it was Stefan. He was able to comment on a few episodes and seemed nice, funny, maybe a bit cocky, but not like his edit. There are moments in the show where you see him be genuine with people, especially when they are leaving and I think his "evil" persona was more of the show edit than anything.

I am also very disappointed Hosea won, if you couldn't tell, haha.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Recall way back to Season 1,

I actually started watching with season 3, so I bow to your knowledge of the earlier seasons.

skipska said...

I was very disappointed that Hosea won, none of his dishes from the season stood out. He was also very childish - flipping off the camera and scooping up all of the best ingredients in the kitchen.

Tom seemed unusually biased against Stefan though, and poor Carla sabotaged herself, but the winner still left me feeling let down.

I think they should have all had to make a dessert as well.

I look forward to the reunion.

Michaelangelo McCullar said...

Well, maybe it was just me, but it almost felt like from the comments that the judges made that they were almost predisposed to vote for anyone but Stefan. In fact, if Carla had been able to get her final dish out in some form I'm betting she would have won.

I agree that this was the least satisfying result. I was pulling for Carla, which would have been the feel-good story. If not her, then Stefan and his mustache-twirling smarminess would have at least been entertaining to see. But Hosea was just there. I really feel that either Jeff or Jaimie should have been in the final three instead of Hosea. From reading Tom's blog, Jeff wasn't really even close to coming in first place last week (he said the judges had real issues with Jeff's fried oysters), although that would have meant then that Stefan would have been gone.

Anonymous said...

Stefan was obviously (now that we know he didn't win) edited as the villain. And (like Lisa in s4) probably had all of his evil moments magnified and his gracious moments minimized. After all, the producers need to make these chefs into characters.

The fact that Carla let Casey revamp her menu to take it out of Carla's comfort/love zone ultimately does in fact fall back on Carla. Being a chef (rather than a cook) is as much about leadership as it is about skill. If Carla was confident in her ideas and sold her team into doing things her way, she would have been in the running to win. I wanted Carla to win, but it's disappointing that she let whatever it was disrupt her vision of her food.

Girl Detective said...

Last night's finale was like a dinner that had its ups and downs, then has a lousy dessert and bad service at the end, so just leaves an overall bad impression.

I said in yesterday's comments that it comes down to who's on, and who's off. Unfortunately, Hosea was on, even though he'd been shown to have both a weaselly personality--not owning up to his responsibility for the thing with Leah, and then making fun of her afterward, plus spending all his time talking about beating Stefan rather than just cooking well--and a middle of the road performance through the season. I wish Stefan had thought to do a riff on the dessert that won his team the restaurant war. I"m pretty sure Gail wasn't eating fancy restaurant desserts in '82. Everyone in the world, I'm sure, wishes Casey had kept her pie hole shut and Carla had kept her ears shut. Casey contributed to the charming and on a roll Carla's downfall, much as she, Casey, herself fell two seasons ago.

I was also moved by Stefan's empathy with Carla. I hope both of them go on to great things. They deserve it. Hosea got lucky; he didn't deserve it.

Silver lining? Blais was the winning sous chef.

Could there be a multiplier, or a bennie for having won multiple elim challenges as a way to weight the finale? Or do we just accept that it's a competition, and as such, whoever steps up wins.

Anonymous said...

I would also like to see a way for there to be more of a cumulative "scoring system" for judging who wins, or gets sent packing (their knives)

Maybe they could have the guest judge offer opinions, help pick that week's winner, and then leave just before the losing chef gets voted out.

This would allow the regular judges to offer their input that would include the season as a whole, something the guest judge, presumably, has no knowledge of.

Also, I think some, and maybe all challenges should be sort of a blind taste test.

I really was expecting that for the last challenge.

Wouldn't it make for a more authentic food-judging competition if the judges didn't know who cooked what meal?

Anonymous said...

I think Carla's downfall was that she's a caterer, which makes her more inclined to listen to suggestions. She clearly lacked the confidence to tell her sous chef what to do. That Casey had been there before is irrelevant, after all, she lost. As far as Carla was concerned, at that point in time she had gone farher than Casey and the fact that she didn't trust herself should be enough to kill her chances of winning the game.

I just hope Padma gets canned. I cannot stand her. She referred to Stefan's dessert as being "pedestrian," but as a member of the plebe--I rely exclusively on mass transit, so literally I am a pedestrian--I don't ever eat dessert like that. She has no credibility as far as I am concerned and is a greater tool than any contestant.

mosaica said...

This whole episode just broke my heart!

I was yelling when Carla let Casey make decisions for her, I was yelling when Hosea was being such a toddler in the kitchen and I was "awwwww"ing when Stefan was so sweet with Carla at judge's table and afterwards in the waiting room.

After seeing Stefan in this episode and putting it all together with the entire season, I too agree that he got the villian edit. But knowing that only makes me more angry. Because I think there were times when he got lazy and with someone of his caliber of talent, that just irriates me. That dessert was lazy. It wasn't creative, it was a throw away. Especially after the meal he had just served?!?

Even though there was a small part of me rooting for Hosea because he's from my home state, I was disappointed that he won. Based on this challenge alone, I guess he deserved it, but to borrow Alan's original description, it was wholly and utterly dissatisfying.

Anonymous said...

I was really disappointed with the Hosea win. For me, his win felt a lot like the Ilan win. I just don't care for these chefs as people. Obviously, none of can speak to the food. But I have to agree with Alan's assessment that says Fabio would never have praised Hosea if he didn't have to. Personally, I would rather have Carla or Stefan cater any function I would have than go to Hosea's fish house.

That said, I thought Stefan's treatment of Carla after her breakdown was totally sweet and showed that that a lot of his villain role was probably to boost the ratings.

It will be interesting to see how the reunion show goes down next week.

Anonymous said...

Why does everyone hate Hosea so much? I thought he was good almost every week. Carla was my favorite and I wish she would have used her own ideas, she probably would have won if she had. Stefan's food has been lacking for a few shows now and he easily could have gone home last week instead of Fabio. I think given the rules of the competition the judges made the right choice.

Anonymous said...

I thought serving no dessert was a cop-out by Hosea, but they seemed to reward people playing it safe all season.

I agreed with something Stefan said at the end, when he thought he was held to a different standard than Hosea.

Anonymous said...

I think they got it right. Stefan was cocky, but a great chef. Hosea really turned it on in the last few weeks, give him some credit. It's not how you start, but how you finish(look at the Patriots last year). I feel bad for Carla to an extent but it was totally on her to decide what to plate and what not.

I don't think that your whole body of work for the season should be accounted for at the end simply because they(the judges) say it shouldn't. It's a week to week contest, that's it. Survive another day or go home. I love this show and hate that this season is already over.

Did anyone else get annoyed with Toby?

Alex Carey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alex Carey said...

I'm somewhat mystified by all the hate being thrown Hosea's way. I gather that some people dislike him because of the whole Leah situation, and that's understandable, I guess. But to suggest that Hosea is less likeable than Stefan or was less consistent than Carla over the course of the season is simply bizarre. Hosea was frequently among the top chefs (unlike Carla, especially early on), and he demonstrated humility over the course of the season (unlike Stefan).

I'll agree that Hosea's dishes may demonstrate slightly less sophistication in the aggregate than Stefan, but unlike the boastful Finn he didn't allow his arrogance to be his undoing. He just cooked good food, took note of the judges' criticisms, and ultimately brought home the win.

In the end, you have to trust the judges on Top Chef (with the possible exception of Toby). If they think Hosea deserved to win, he probably did.

Jeff L said...

In the end, Carla lost as much for screwing up the souffle as anything else. Had she nailed the last course, she might well have beaten Hosea.

There is one Golden Rule of Top Chef, and contestants violate it at their peril:

Do. Not. Make. Dessert.

In 5 seasons, I don't think anyone has won for making a dessert when they had the option to skip it. And I can't count the number of chefs who have gone home for trying to "wow" the judges with some lame-ass sweet plate that's no better than what you can get at your local TGI Fridays.

Yes, a few chefs have been good at desserts (there was a pastry chef once, and Carla's good at them), but it is just not worth it!

Make a dessert, go home. It's as simple as that.

Michaelangelo McCullar said...

Alex, I think the issue people have with Hosea winning is that it seemed like he got to the final three without ever really standing out. Stefan stood out all season, while Carla was the best chef in the competition the past few weeks. Hosea was always just kinds there. He never spent a lot of time in the bottom three, true, but he never really stood out on his own. The few times he was in the top three it seems it was part of a group rather than individually, and the one time he won was the XMas competition, where the judges felt the food as a whole was so universally disappointing that Papa Tom had to come back and chastize them all. Really, it seems that Hosea was defined much more by his showmance with Leah and his rivalry with Stefan than his food.

Anonymous said...

I think what I liked best (I also have a bitter taste in my mouth from Hosea winning) is (a) Blais being the winning sous-chef and (b) the obvious disgust that Tom C. has for that douchebag Toby Young.

Also, I was worried that Gail was going to spill out of her dress.

Anonymous said...

But to suggest that Hosea is less likeable than Stefan or was less consistent than Carla over the course of the season is simply bizarre.

Well, count me as (the only?) one that liked Stefan much better than Hosea, throughout the season. Yes, Stefan was cocky and obnoxious, but to me he came across as not really taking anything all that seriously. Meanwhile, Hosea's behavior with Leah was pretty inappropriate and all the smarmy bull that he offered to try to cover his ass after the fact was just gross.

Stefan had some misses, but he also had many, many wins. Hosea was in the middle of the pack the entire time. His one good meal was at the end. While in TC world that means he gets to win, the whole thing left me cold.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone else get annoyed with Toby?

This was the first time I didn't get annoyed with Toby. I don't know if the producers told him to knock it off with the strained metaphors, or if he saw himself on television and wanted to kick his own ass, but he was much more tolerable than in past weeks. He previously kind of sneered at Carla when she talked about cooking from her heart, but last night he acknowledged that she cooks with her soul.

I totally agree that the decision should be based on cumulative performance. A great chef doesn't occasionally come up with a fabulous meal, and then only when everything is on the line. A great chef consistently makes superior food. Everyone made mistakes, both throughout the season and in the finale. But, based on what I saw, from week to week Stefan made far superior food than Hosea made. Stefan's downfall, I think, was that he got a little full of himself and didn't consider Hosea a threat. In general, he wasn't a threat. But Stefan never should have let his guard down.

And both Stefan and Hosea completely disregarded Carla as competition. She should have taken advantage of that, and stuck to what she knew worked for her. At her best, and considering Hosea's pettiness and Stefan's arrogance, she could have won.

Nicole said...

This is like the Ilian win for me. Hosea was just boring and I think he shouldn't have been rewarded for taking the safe way out. None of the three had a meal where all dishes were spectacular, and this is where the past history should have played a role.

Stefan's cockiness was a role for the show from the start, and you could see that the other contestants (except perhaps Hosea) actually liked him. I would have preferred a Stefan or Carla win.

Even if the desserts weren't perfect, if this is going to be judged as who can run a good restaurant, who actually goes to a restaurant and doesn't order dessert? I would rather have a 1982 style dessert than a course of venison, even if it is properly cooked.

I almost wonder if giving it to Hosea was a way to indirectly reward Richard for something. This tarnished an otherwise good season for me.

Unknown said...

I definitely felt cheated as a viewer of the whole season and it confirmed my feeling across several seasons that there is a major problem with the concept of the show as well as the final challenge. As someone who is not a professional chef but eats out at a lot of restaurants in a cities famous for food (NY & SF), several things stand out for me:
1) When was the last time someone ate essentially a 4 course meal (with two appetizers) and followed their main course with....another main course! Since when do you eat a big plate of venison after you have eaten scallops?
2) When you want to evaluate a restaurant as a visitor don't you want to try a dessert as part of your three course meal? So why have a final challenge in which you have to make a three-course meal but one does not have to be a dessert?
3) In announcing the final winner (or for that matter every weekly winner) how do you not take into consideration their work across the season? My recollection of S1 is that Harold one because he had not only been more consistent across the season but at the end of the day the runner-up's best dish was not as good as his worst dish. And Tom's reasoning was that Hosea had been steady throughout and Stefan had some "real lows" and many high highs-seriously is "Top Chef" the same as "steady chef"? And if this is about "steady and slow" wins the race well how do you define steady? Is it to Alan's point someone who had won 2-3x the challenges of your winner and had the most consistent praise and by your own admission produced the "best dish of the night" in the finale?!?!
4) So how is it that the person who cooked by the judges admission "the best dish of the night" and appeared to have a fluid three course meal-and by the way cooked the damn alligator into a tasty soup!-doesn't win! While they may not have been thrilled with his dessert-at least he finished it and it was HIS dessert (not something suggested by the sous chef-in the case of Carla it was so poorly executed it didn't get plated-or in the case of Hosea the "blackberries" didn't add anything according to Gail). The judge's complaints about the dessert also seemed petty if not laughable (Gail: the presentation was so 1980s) and Padima's claim that the dessert was "pedestrian at best." Gail has some legitimacy as an editor of a prestigious food magazine, as the near anorexic eye candy host Padima has almost none.

In watching the final deliberations I got the sense that the judges were predisposed against Stefan -- his mistakes were somehow amplified in their eyes (which as viewers and not diners we couldn't fully appreciate) -- while for the others they seemed to be downplayed . From watching the past few weeks, I got the sense that Tom C. appeared to feel that Stefan had been coasting and were maybe holding him to a higher standard. So I left with the opinion that for Stefan to win he had to wow, while the others just had to not screw up royally -- poor Carla did and Hosea didn't (or not enough to somehow justify second place-although one has to ask why Hosea as a seafood chef-which he boasts about-produced a lackluster sashimi dish?)

So all that being said, I was pretty disgusted after watching the entire season and listening to what appeared to be contradictory, petulant, and at times ridiculous (if not prejudicial) reasoning as to who should be the winner, that I had wasted my time watching this moronic show and it is the last season that I will be doing that.

Anonymous said...

I have a couple thoughts on the finale:

One, the rules were to make the best three course meal of your life. For Hosea, that did not mean a's not his strength. I see nothing wrong with what he did -- lots of restaurants have seperate pastry chefs who just make desserts, so I really don't have a problem with this.

That being said...Stefan pretty much kicked his ass all season. I think in the finale segments only, they should judge on a cumulative basis. If they had done that, Stefan would have won. Easily. And Carla would have been second...LOL. So given the way they judge, looks like Hosea peaked at the right time.

Carla lost b/c she reverted back to what got her in the bottom two in the beginning of the season -- she did what she THOUGHT other people would want from her, rather than just cook her own style of food. As you can see, the stuff SHE did in her finale meal was well received, and the food that Katie has a strong hand in influencing were not (why on earth would you OK a sous vide if you've never done it before???). It all comes down to her own insecurities and lack of confidence...but now I doubt she'll ever make that mistake again. Tough lesson.

If Stefan had made a great dessert, like he had done earlier on in the season (didn't he once save his team from elimination just on the strengths of his desserts?). I really think he got a little too cocky, and didn't put much care into his dessert. It's as if he was thinking, "I'm the only one doing a dessert, so I don't have to make it spectacular." Big mistake.

And Fabio is SO getting his own show...he demonstrated honesty integrity last night when he said Hosea's meal was better than Stefan's. And he did this with charm and sincerity. That guy is TV gold.

Anonymous said...

Well, count me as (the only?) one that liked Stefan much better than Hosea, throughout the season.

I'm here too!! I think Mr. "I run a fish restaurant but I can't fillet a fish" had some jealousy issues with Stefan.

And I also think this is much like the Ilan win.

Anonymous said...

You're supposed to succeed or fail on your own merits.

Carla, on the other hand, was inadvertently sabotaged by her sous-chef.

Carla (my favorite) did fail on her own merits. The entire season, every time she swallowed her doubts about someone else's suggestion, second-guessed herself based on some idea of what the judges would want, or just quietly went along with the crowd, she lost. And I thought she had finally figured that out, because she started doing things her own way, reflecting on what she wanted to do and then doing it, and then -- what do you know? -- she won. Over and over and over. It's not just that accepting Casey's suggestions was her responsibility, it's that it was reversion to behavior that had made her lose before. The minute she agreed to sous-vide the meat, my husband and I looked at each other and said "oh, no, she's going to lose."

K J Gillenwater said...

My picks would have been like this:

1) Stefan, because over the course of the whole season he did the best out of all of them.

2) Carla, she proved halfway through that she had some great cooking skills and really stepped up to the plate as the competition grew harder.

3) Hosea. Do I need to say why?

Anyway, I was disappointed to see Carla crash and burn. However, she DID just win a brand new car...I think she got a pretty good prize. And you all know her catering business is going to go through the roof after this.

Hosea should spend some of his $100,000 on filing down his front teeth.

Anonymous said...

If you read the judges' blogs on Bravo's site, you'll see in Toby Young's blog that when judging the finals, Tom states that if there is a deadlock between two contestants, their past performance is taken into consideration.

Since Stefan obviously didn't win, Hosea's dishes must've been clearly superior that night. Stefan's proved that he can make great desserts like in the restaurant wars episode, but he deliberately chose to make something pedestrian for the finale. You just don't win Top Chef with vanilla ice cream and a chocolate mousse.

I'd be interested to read Tom's blog when he updates it this week.

BC said...

I really do think Tom did hold Stefan to a higher standard, and I think it's now time for Tom to be yanked from the behind the scenes role. He already has a dominant voice on the judging panel - give that role to whoever replaces Toby Young. Often I felt that Tom used his extra knowledge from being in the kitchens more to support his own opinions rather than to report back to the judges table. He's becoming the 800 lb gorilla; I get the feeling he thinks it's TOM COLICCHIO's TOP CHEF.

TL said...

I won't dispute that there was nothing particularly memorable or interesting about Hosea, but he was consistent, and I think a lot of people here have short memories about what he did. Carla was marginally better than he was (2 elimination wins to Hosea's 3, each with a quickfire win, and Carla had one more time in the top 3 and one fewer time in the bottom 3). Carla also had some really, really spectacular failures. (See, e.g., Restaurant Wars.) Also, the one time they Hosea and Carla went head-to-head, Hosea won.

Carla was only as good as she was because she went on a tear at the end, but couldn't pull it off. I don't disagree that she was endearing; she definitely wins Miss Congeniality. But for people to act like it's shocking that Hosea won ignores the evidence.

Michaelangelo McCullar said...

On the flip side, TL, you can make a strong argument that either Hosea or Leah should have gone instead of Ariane at the farm challenge. If you look at the season's breakdown overall, you'll see that Hosea was just as middle of the road as Carla, but Carla found an extra gear the last five episodes. Hosea, on the other hand, seemed to get to the final three by not being as bad as someone else that week.

It comes down to editing. Top Chef is, at the end of the day, a TV show with characters. The way the season was edited you felt like there was only two possible outcomes: Carla with the feelgood, Rockyesque ending; or Stefan and his Snidley Whiplash, mustache-twirling bad guy. And instead we got Hosea. That's the equivalent of the final three of Survivor: Cook Islands, with Yul, Ozzy, and Becky, and Becky pulling out the win.

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't it be "weigh in" rather than "way in" in the first sentence of your review?

Carmichael Harold said...


Carla was in the top 3 six times to Hosea's four (with one more win if you ignore the finale), and Hosea's four times in the bottom three included week 11 and 12 (so near the end when the competition was tougher). That's a fairly big difference when there were only 13 episodes before the final.

I think Carla got a bit screwed by her early season edits, which played her up as a bit of a loony muppet. I had to go back and check the wiki to see that actually Hosea started off worse than Carla (with a bottom three in the 2nd week when Carla was in the top three), as my memory was that Carla was portrayed as a joke in the beginning.

In any event, without an eye towards cumulative success, it's hard to argue against Hosea being superior in the final.

By the way, looking at the cumulative records, the person who comes off better than I expected was Fabio, who finished in the top 3 six times (with two wins) and only finished bottom three once before his elimination.

Anonymous said...

Hey polkadotoes, can you share the name of the top chef blog that stefan posted on? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

What makes it harder to accept this outcome is that nothing I've seen this season led me to believe that Hosea was the Top Chef among that group of contestants. He was in the bottom group more often than any other contestant, and he was in the top group fewer times than Carla, Stefan and Fabio. Plus, his whining and complaining was unbearable. And for the final decision to be based solely on the success of the last meal would be fine, except that there are many times during the season when contestants stumble but continue to advance based on the strength of their previous performances. I guess my biggest problem with all of this is that it doesn't feel like Hosea deserved to make it to the finale in the first place. It feels like Hosea cheated on his girlfriend on camera and the producers decided to keep him around for the sake of good TV and he ended up being the last man standing at the end of the day. Very disappointing.

Stef said...

Stefan did make me laugh all season, even as he was portrayed as the villain, and he really endeared himself by showing his compassionate side in the finale. Plus I like the running thing about his crush on Jamie, it made him cuter. So while Carla, my fave, totally shot herself in the foot tonight, I really, really wish Stefan had won. I agree with everyone here who said this reminds them of the Ilan win. I think Hosea might be a better chef than Ilan, but he's smarmy and shifty and I just didn't like him at all.

When will Team Europe have their own show???

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 6:03pm said...

Hey polkadotoes, can you share the name of the top chef blog that stefan posted on? Thanks.

Sure here ya go:

I linked to all the posts of Top Chef to make it a bit easier to find his recaps. If I remember correctly, Stefan started commenting around restaurant wars...

tabernacle said...

Barf! Fr@kking Hosea, tooliest of tools. Boo!

I second a few of the posters upthread: Ilan redux (and reflux). Gah. HATE.

No shenanigans, though; it *was* fair and square.

And Casey is lucky thoughts don't instantly become reality. Just saying. 'Twas some evil sh!t I thought her way.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Casey is having none of this "blame Casey" stuff.


Carla was not prepared and in over her head. The show did not talk about how the first course (crab) took her half of the friggin’ cooking time that day, I was left to work the rest of HER dishes.

She also did not have a plan. The ONLY thing she had in mind was a cheese course! I would NEVER do a cheese course. And where in the hell did french come from!? She is not even classically trained! It (the show) didn’t talk about how I worked on a sauce for 2 days and Carla forgot to put it on the plate… It didn’t show how the 2nd course (fish) was MINE. It didn’t show how she took the sous vide idea and decided to GRILL it last minute causing it to be tough… And it didn’t show how she WANTED to do the souffles which she does not even know how to make! That was HER food, because it certainly was me asking her how she wanted to do this and that while she was busy picking crab the entire time and making a souffle that didn’t rise!

I am done with TC. I did not influence her. She has NO ideas of her own, oh, except a cheese course.

Anonymous said...

On the other end of the spectrum, here's how Carla handled it:


"I would love to give [Casey Thompson] a call to see how she’s taking all of this. I hate for her to get the brunt of it. If I could get on a loudspeaker and tell the whole world and everyone who watches the show, I would tell them, ‘Don’t blame Casey.’ I take full responsibility.”

Anonymous said...

Way to stay classy, Casey. Hopefully Top Chef is done with you, too.

Anonymous said...

I was so heartbroken about Carla! She grew on me through the season, and in the end, I wanted either her or Stephan to win. But mostly her, because she really was turning out one classy dish after another. And then to let someone else tell you what to cook! It was just so heartbreaking.

Anonymous said...

The editors certain didn't do Hosea any favors this week. Either the finale brought out his dick-ish win-at-all-costs side (hogging the foie and the caviar, being too caught up in his own ambition to have any empathy for Carla) or he's been hiding it well all along. I too was disappointed in the outcome, but I can't say the judges didn't make the right choice by the criteria they espoused.

As for the idea of cumulative judging, while this would certainly make things more fair it would make for very bad reality TV. Part of the drama of the show is that a great chef can have a bad night, or a marginal chef can hit one out of the park. If someone's track record makes them relatively safe from elimination, it takes away much of the tension.

Moreover, cumulative judging makes it hard for come-from-behind stories like Carla's. And wasn't Carla ultimately the great story of this season, more than Stefan or Hosea?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, going into the Final, Stefan was the one to beat and Hosea was least likely to win. But just like Richard (Yaa! Richard kinda got to win this year! Kinda!) last year, Stefan blew it (making not one, but two underwhelming dishes), and Carla clearly, as everyone already noted, shot herself in the foot by listening to Casey. Yeah, Casey gave her bad advice, but Carla could have just politely ignored her. Or not politely. Whatever.

So the end result qas that Hosea stumbled into victory; he had a good night when the other two didn't. It isn't horrible or anything, but of the three, he was my least likely pick for winning. He didn't get to the Final by being a great chef, he got to the Final by regularly being the Not Worst chef.

TL said...

Carmichael Harold, I think we're basically saying the same thing, although I did transpose Carla's number of wins to Hosea, and vice versa. I don't think that Carla's marginal additional number of wins amounts to much, especially considering how badly she floundered on several occasions.

I just don't understand all the hate for Hosea. He was clearly in the top 50%-75% of the class. Except for Stephan—who was really dominant and is clearly the best overall in the contest—I don't think that you can make a convincing case that anyone else (e.g., Jamie, Jeff, Fabio, Carla) is clearly better than Hosea. Stephan brought out some dickishness in him, but that was just the tit-for-tat of Stephan's strategy of trying to get into everybody's heads. Hosea is not the most satisfying winner, but I don't think that him winning amounts to a miscarriage of TV chef justice.

Also, I think that a chef's cumulative record should be a more formal "X Factor" in deciding the elimination challenges. It almost certainly plays some role already, in that it let Stephan skate by on the Super Bowl and Emeril challenges. Why not just admit it?

KendraWM said...

There was no way Hosea should have won, by the judges standards I would have had not been back to his restaurant long before he got a chance to win the finale.

He won 1 quickfire challenge and it was a non-cooking one, a taste test challenge.
He was on the winning team for the Thanksgiving challenge and he won a solo challenge if you can call it winning since Tom said his was the best of the worst, as they felt the entire Christmas event was a huge disaster.

So based on that I would have a 1 out 15 chance of having a good meal at his restaurant, since I am not counting the group win.

Based on the Judges criteria, I would have many more chances to have a bad meal at his place than a good one.

Also he was in the bottom three 4 times, he was as they say safe 5 times.

I can't remember 1 memorable dish he made all season, or even once when the judges gushed over his food.

So in the 15 episodes he had:
2 "wins" one a group and one they said he was the best of the worst, where really no one deserved to win and anyone could have gone home since it was all so bad.
5 your safe
2 top 3, although there were only 4 and 3 people respectively
4 bottom 3 finishes

Those odds would end a restaurant before it even started.

And that is why I am upset he won.

Anonymous said...

Hosea was kept around for the drama. and with that, Top Chef became as meaningless as Hell's Kitchen.

Anonymous said...

Just got caught up on the finale (went to see Rhett Miller in Teaneck, awesome!). I watch no reality TV since I gave up on Survivor a couple seasons ago, but somehow I got hooked on Top Chef. This is the first season I've watched from the beginning and it was interesting every week. I was rooting for Jeff but I was glad he got to come back and have a good showing at the end. I got a kick out of Stefan and thought he deserved to win. I'm looking forward to the reunion next week.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree with you more. You were 100% dead on.
Hosea just doesn't have the chops to be Top Chef. If getting 3rd or worse and then having a good night at the end makes you Top CHef, them maybe I'm done with this show. The only times the best Chef won were Season 1 with Harold and Season 3 with Hung.

Anonymous said...

For someone that writes for a newspaper, you'd think that you would know that the word is 'weigh' in, and not 'way' in. Surely they have not cut the editors in their desire to hit cost savings goals!

"Since I wrote a column about it yesterday, might as well way in on the actual results of the "Top Chef" finale, just as soon as I get a golden baby..."