Top Chef: The Finale


Well, we have a winner. And it’s certainly not who any of us expected. Cooking the best three course meal of your life without any guidelines can sometimes be more daunting than having guidelines and that led our fan favorite to falter and our egotistical predicted winner to become, well too egotistical.  I’ve complained about the outcome here, here and here, but now that I’ve sat down to write this blog, I think I have some different opinions. Here’s why…

Like many of you, I originally thought to myself: How could Hosea be the Top Chef if throughout the season he was so rarely at the top?

But, I think our collective problem is that we disagree with the rubric the judges are presiding by. All throughout this season especially, the judges have made it clear that they make their decisions based on the meal at hand and that’s it. No prior performance, no season history, no anything else is supposed to come into play. And clearly it didn’t last night.


So, if in fact we’re looking at last night’s meal only, Hosea should have won. Looking at each of the contestants’ meals as a whole, his dishes looked the best, sounded the best and gracefully progressed and expounded upon one another. His scallop foie gras dish (bottom left) was his highlight of the night and though I didn’t taste it myself, I do think it was presented very beautifully. His sashimi (top right) apparently left some flavor to be desired but I think his blackberry mushroom venison dish (bottom right) is enough to compensate for mediocre (but still better than Stefan’s) sashimi.

But, throughout the episode, Hosea drew all the right knives – from getting the chance to choose Richard (Blais) as his sous chef to being the first to pick his surprise appetizer ingredient and assigning the others, Hosea had all the luck last night. Did this benefit him and ultimately help him to win? I still can’t quite tell.


Oh, Carla. It was so close within your reach but you let it go.  When Carla gets flustered, her food shows it. I think she really needs to start coming up with back up plans when things don’t go her way (re: her blue cheese souffle dessert and her non-frozen ice cream from a previous episode).

But many people question whether Casey indirectly sabotaged Carla’s win. I don’t think that’s true – Carla didn’t have it in the bag. She had a good shot, but she didn’t have it in the bag. And she shouldn’t have taken Casey’s suggestions to sous vide and souffle over her own instincts. Despite this mistake, we all feel for her and she did make a highly appraised appetizer as well as many other  good dishes throughout the season.


We’ve got another Richard Blais on our hands. Stefan was many a person’s season winner pick from the start (and definitely mine). Ever since Jamie was kicked off, I thought for sure Stefan is going to take this  but toward the end he let his ego get the best of him. But that’s not to say that his finale meal, or some of its courses, was not enjoyed by the judges. His highlight dish was certainly his squab (bottom left) that the judges raved about. But a lackluster dessert and sashimi course threw him off his path to the win.

So in the end, I agree that Hosea’s meal looked and sounded the best. But I also think that this entire season was disappointing. Nitpicky screw ups left mroe talented chefs going home and seemingly less confident chefs making it to the top. In past seasons, I’ve had the desire to visit the restaurants of the winners. This season, not so much. I think I’m more intrigued at the thought of going to Jeff or Jamie or Stefan’s restaurants.That’s my Top Chef two cents.

This is Hillary signing off for Top Chef Watch. Thanks for reading along with me while I rehashed each episode here at Chew on That!


Official Episode Title: Finale Pt. 2

Challenge: Cook the best three course meal of your life. Twist: Cook an additional passback appetizer using your assigned ingredient (red fish, alligator or crab).

Winner: Hosea Eliminated: Stefan and Carla

For a list of ALL the Top Chef episode recaps on Chew on That blog, click here.

Photos courtesy of

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  • Sara

    I was disappointed in the judging criteria – I mean, it’s Top Chef, not Top Meal!

  • ren

    it may not be top meal, but i think the point of judging the competition by meal is to find the people who are consistent. although i think this time, consistent mediocrity came out on top.

  • Joan Nova

    Agree with most of your comments and enjoyed your coverage, particularly the ‘chef’ meal collages. Good job.

  • Heidi / Savory Tv

    A bit of a lame ending to an exciting season I thought! Just goes to show you that attitude matters, had Stephan not been so arrogant, and had Carla been more confident, either one of them could have won.

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