Usually, when the chefs are sitting across from the panel of Top Chef judges, it’s a nerve-wracking experience. Tonight, though, it’s different kind of encounter, as everyone – judges and competitors alike, have returned to take a look back at the season, see which catchphrases have been memorialized on a tee-shirt and learn who was voted fan favorite of Top Chef 5.

Hosea Rosenberg’s win set off quite a few viewers, and the opening of the show seems to be an attempt to re-build the case for the win. We get the usual retrospective of him as a person and a chef, but then also some repeated protestations from the judges about how difficult it was to come to that decision.

Next we take a look back at two of the other finalists. Stefan Richter’s bromance with Fabio Viviani gets a special look, with all the usual ribbing about their affection for one another. I don’t know if it’s just that being a chef makes you secure in your manhood, but other than a couple assertions about liking the ladies, both of the guys – like Spike Mendelsohn and Andrew D’Ambrosi from last season – are unabashed in their affection for each other and don’t try to downplay it for fear of how it might look. When Stefan receives the first tee-shirt of the night – one that says “I heart Fabio” he sweetly exclaims, “I love it!” and the two say they hang out in California now.

Then we get to see some of “kooky Carla” Hall, and her voyage from meditating quirky afterthought to serious competitor. Stefan says in interview that she might be tricky, playing under the radar, but he clearly respects her skills.

We then learn that there was a birthday curse of the show, with four chefs – Danny Gagnon, Eugene Villiatora, Radhika Desai and Leah Cohen all being eliminated on or near their birthday.

It’s time to turn the focus to the judges. Host Andy Cohen asks Tom Colicchio about his recent heroic Heimlich, where he saved the life of the host of a party he was attending. Gail Simmons defends Toby Young, noting that a lot of it is “in the editing,” and when the judges debate for so long, of course just the highlights will make the final episode.

That leads us to a recap of the toughest judging, some of which seem to make Padma Lakshmi cringe just as much as the chefs.

More cringeworthy: Leah and Hosea. As we learned in our interviews with Leah and Hosea, the two are no longer with the people they were dating while on the show. However, the two are not together, but would be if they lived in the same city. Tom asks Hosea if he would move if he had an offer, and Hosea said he would, but stresses it would be for the city and the opportunity. Seems like the two want to keep things pretty non-committal at this point.

After that seriousness, it’s time for some levity. We get a montage of the silliness that happens in the Stew Room. They really put their Glad Family of Products to good use, making a mattress, and basketball and volleyball court.

And of course: the drinking. We learn that Jamie Lauren and Leah got completely hammered before the final judging during the SuperBowl challenge, but since they were in the top, it wasn’t quite the catastrophe it could have been.

Some other quick bits: Stefan and his love of the ladies. Gail gave a report on the food at her wedding (made by Daniel Boulud). Jamie and her complaining. Tom and his sex symbol status.

Jeff McInnis has two things to face in this episode: one, the quote in People in which he said he thought Tom’s food was “boring.” (He said he was misquoted.) Two, his assertion that he was a sex symbol. (He said that was just because he was so often featured without his shirt on, and he doesn’t really walk around topless very often.

Here’s a quick rundown of the nicknames you might not have caught during the season:

Richard Sweeney: Big Gay Rich.
Patrick Dunlea: Pocket Chef (cuz he’s slight)
Jeff: Don Sorbet Johnson (sez Stefan)
Ariane Duarte: Cougar
Leah Cohen: Black Widow

Ariane gets a tee-shirt that says “I’m a cougar in the kitchen.”

And now…fan favorite. It’s…


Wow, I really thought Carla had it locked up. I loved both of them, and since Carla has the car, think it’s nice Fabio got the cash. He said his mom is still doing all right, but he would like her to come back to the States.

That brings up Hosea’s dad’s health. He’s still not doing so great, and Hosea asks that you consider donating to cancer research.

With that good idea, the season of Top Chef 5 is officially over. Thanks for reading along, and we’ll see you back here when Top Chef 6 premieres!

 -Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
See what I’m cooking this week on!

(Image courtesy of BravoTV)


Staff Columnist, BuddyTV