Hosea Rosenberg’s ascent to the top spot on Top Chef 5 was certainly not a smooth ride. From the stress of a father ill with cancer, to the poorly-timed dalliance with Leah Cohen that seemed to rattle his focus, to several brushes with the bottom, it was never a sure thing that he would emerge with the win.
But he did win, and he spoke with us today about the competition, what he thinks about the reaction to his victory, and what exactly is going on with Leah Cohen now that the show is over.
Hosea said he did not go into the finale positive he would win, but he was more focused than he had been. The last few challenges in New York were difficult, but with the break before New Orleans, he was able to refocus and regroup to go into New Orleans with his “head down” and the determination to cook the best food he could.
He says that the rivalry between him and Stefan Richter was not the main focal point as it was edited to be, and that his comments about it were maybe “five percent” of his overall interviews. Although his feelings about competing against Carla didn’t make it into the show, he saw her as just as much of a competitor as Stefan. He said that once he heard her menu, he was thinking she was the one to beat, as he himself found the list of dishes quite appealing.
While he sticks with his decision to not make a dessert course, he says he had an idea for one in his back pocket in case that infamous twist was to add another course. He would have made chicory custard with a beignet as a play on coffee and donuts.
Overall, throughout his time on the show, he feels the foie gras and scallop dish from the finale was one of his strongest, as well as the trio of fish he made early on. The one dish he regrets is the one served at Eric Ripert’s Le Bernadin, saying he messed up his timing on that one.
Although that one brush with a French culinary luminary might have been less than stellar, his win gave him the chance for another. He says he’s not sure how his time of Top Chef 5 will ultimately be received in the food world. At a recent event, though, restaurant world heavyweight Daniel Boulud approached him and asked when they would cook together, so he feels pretty hopeful about the professional reception.
As to the fans, he hasn’t had time since the finale to read much of the fallout from the show and some of those Top Chef 5 viewers who might not be thrilled with his win. That said, he says he “worked [his] ass off” to get there, and that he doesn’t need to apologize for winning. He doesn’t necessarily think he is a better chef than the other cooks, but does feel he did the best in that final moment. He said he doesn’t really understand the negativity.
I noted that I thought the fan reaction might be due in part to his edit. After all, other than the brief mention of his father, the only thing we ever really got to know about Hosea was that he kissed Leah (while having a girlfriend back home) and that he was in a rivalry with Stefan. It’s hard to get a sense of personality when someone is only presented in relation to other people. I asked him what he wished had been shown in the show about him and his background.
His answer gave me, at least, a much better sense of what is likable and relatable about the chef. I did not realize that he had a degree in engineering, and so the fact that this self-taught chef who admits he hasn’t been in the business very long was able to do so well is pretty remarkable. He also noted, though, that while not directly related, he thinks his background in science helped with cooking as it gave him a foundation in math and organizing information.
He says that the people who know and work with him back in Colorado have respect for him and know that he is a “caring” person. He says he’s got a large network of farmers, growers and ranchers that he’s developed, and it’s part of the reason why he doesn’t plan to leave Colorado in the immediate future.
And it’s partially that geographic complication that means that while neither he nor Leah are still with their previous romantic partners, they’re also not currently boyfriend/girlfriend themselves. That said, when asked if recent Page Six reports of a make-out session were true, he admitted that they are both now single and have kissed again since the show. He said that they would be going out to dinner while he was in New York, and that if they lived in the same town, they would probably be dating.
With regard to some of the other Top Chef contestants, he says that he and Stefan are friends. He also confirmed that Fabio Viviani is pretty much as funny as he came across, noting that one of the funniest things that happened while they were all together was Fabio hitting his crotch as he got down from what Fabio calls “bunky beds” and cursing up a blue streak in a combination of Italian and English.
As to his future plans, he’s taking the money from the Top Chef 5 win and using it to spend more time with his father, who unfortunately is not doing better with his cancer. Hosea also hopes to open his own restaurant and will be doing some work with a packaged food company.
– Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist. See what I am cooking this week on www.Three-Bowls.com!
(Image courtesy of BravoTV)