The fifth season of Top Chef came to its painful conclusion last night, and there's plenty to discuss. Say what you will about the ending (and yes, we will), but the episode was definitely entertaining, albeit in a trainwreck-you-see-slowly-coming kind of way. For the final challenge, the final trio—Stefan, Carla and Hosea—was tasked to simply create the best meals possible, so the gimmicks were kept to a minimum. Padma wore one of her goddess outfits. On the local angle, Hubert Keller, looking ever the Bond villain, made a welcome guest judge cameo. And that's pretty much where the good news ends.
1) This year, three runners-up from past seasons are the sous chefs for the final challenge. Hosea takes Richard Blais, Carla gets Casey Thompaon, and Stefan decides to go with the delightfully-twatty Marcel Vigneron, with the sound reasoning that "He's a bit of a twat, but who's not?" We can't wait for Stefan's book.
2) As the "twist," the chefs have to prepare a last-minute hors d'oeuvres with classic New Orleans ingredients, one of which is an alligator. Hosea wins. And if you needed anymore proof about how terrible, annoying and undignified Hosea acted during the final several episodes, here you go:
3) Interlude: In a behind the scenes moment, an old voodoo lady visits the three finalists. Stefan asks about a girl named Jamie. Voodoo lady says that she could be his girlfriend. Voodoo lady is revealed to be so full of shit.
4) Moving on, the judges for the dinner are
chef celebrity chef Rocco Dispirito, Fabio (who throws his fellow Euro under the bus), ,John Besh, the aforementioned DJ Hubert, and a few random New Orleans inserts. Also, Toby Young is somehow the most logical judge; this is the first sign of the impending implosion.
5) Missteps: Carla lets Casey ruin her beef dish with (but Casey is very pissed about the editing!), but Carla sees herself out of the competition when she forgets to turn down the oven and curdles her cheese souffle. Stefan—who also had the disadvantage of being held to a higher standard, we think—runs into trouble when he freezes his fish (a big no-no with Don Colicchio) and his dessert is, as Padma puts it "pedestrian at best." Lastly, Hosea takes the easy way out and doesn't even try to do dessert.
6) Judgment: Carla is clearly everyone's favorite person out of three. Stefan is clearly the best chef of the three, and his squab is the best single dish of the night. But despite Toby Young's objections, the judges decide to reward Hosea for taking the safe route and being the most vanilla chef of the three finalists ... so Hosea wins, capping off a disappointing season (not counting Jamie, of course) with a disappointing ending that saw pedestrian be the best.
6.5) (Just how much did Hosea manage to be unremarkable all season? He won exactly one out of 13 challenges on his own. Stefan and Carla, meanwhile, won four and three challenges, respectively.)
7) Eater's Max Silvestri, the man responsible for the lovely image you see above, perfectly summed up our reaction to the announcement: "The look on Hosea's face and subsequent gleeful 'who's the next Top Chef? Oh just little oh me, Hosea' gloating sucked all the joy out of this for me. Stefan's a gracious loser, and he somehow manages to not punch Hosea in the face when Hosea says 'You were really close at the end, man' or whatever." Read Max's whole recap Eater's here.
8) And thus concludes another season of Top Chef. We sincerely hoped you enjoyed reading our recaps and much as we did writing them. Please do share any and all thoughts on the finale and/or entire season down in the comments. Was anyone delighted with Hosea's win? Was everyone as heartbroken as Gail with Carla's demise? And how about that awkward Leah non-kiss at the end?