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Top Chef Season 5


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Fitting cap off to a progressively underwhelming season.  There's just no compelling "story" to Hosea's win at all. He seemed to luck into it.

This is what gets me: the Bravo editors knew who won before the first episode aired: they had months to tweak the editing to ensure that the winner was a surprise, but a pleasant one. And instead, what they ended up creating was some random schmuck that no one really cared about. Stefan was the "clear favorite," Carla the "Dark Horse," and, oh yeah, there was some other guy, too. What was his name?

Of course I agree that within the context of the last episode it seems clear that Hosea deserved the win: the others simply screwed themselves with bad decisions. That doesn't explain to me how Bravo could have assembled and edited the season so poorly: I don't think anyone is "angry" about this choice, like many were when Ilan won; it's clear Hosea won fair and square here. The question is, why didn't they make him a more compelling winner?

A quick search leads me to beleive that Commander's Palace was used to film the Finale on January 15, 2009. So I don't think they knew who won before the first episode aired.

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Personally, I thought Stephanie deserved to win last season (or, at the very least, every bit as much as Richard did).  I don't know Richard Blais and I have nothing against him.  I'm sure he must be a very talented chef. And he seems like a downright nice guy too. But Blais has a very zealous following - one that I can't quite comprehend. 

From whence this belief that everything he touches should turn to gold? 

Speaking only for myself here, but I like Richard because, like Stephanie (who I also wanted to win last year), he's a professional, relatively drama free, and pretty damned skilled to boot. Of the three to pick from, Casey's main drawback is that she was uneven (the infamous onion incident), and Marcel's is that he could be a little too independent and egotistical, though yes, he acquitted himself well as a sous.

Plus there's some sentamentality over his loss last season: he went in a favorite and then very clearly choked, coming in behind even Lisa for that matchup. Had a new baby at home, etc. So I've always had a soft spot and was happy to see him get a chance to redeem himself.

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A quick search leads me to beleive that Commander's Palace was used to film the Finale on January 15, 2009.  So I don't think they knew who won before the first episode aired.

:unsure: Clearly I'm no expert on the filming of reality TV (or any other kind of TV)—this could easily be true. Assuming that it is, however, they would still have had quite a few episodes to work with, so I believe my point stands. Hosea was not a compelling winner, and to me this is a failure of the editors. They must have had hundreds of hours to work with, and all they give us is his whiney angst about Stefan.

Edited by Chris Hennes (log)

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A quick search leads me to beleive that Commander's Palace was used to film the Finale on January 15, 2009.  So I don't think they knew who won before the first episode aired.

:unsure: Clearly I'm no expert on the filming of reality TV (or any other kind of TV)—this could easily be true. Assuming that it is, however, they would still have had quite a few episodes to work with, so I believe my point stands. Hosea was not a compelling winner, and to me this is a failure of the editors. They must have had hundreds of hours to work with, and all they give us is his whiney angst about Stefan.

Also, in the penultimate episode, remember when the cheftestants were shivering at the plantation? That was winter in LA.

They can't edit in compelling if its not there. They edited in goofy because Carla was flinging it at the walls like Pollock. They can easily manipulate our perception of these folks and events by editing, but they only have what they give them to work with.

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A quick search leads me to beleive that Commander's Palace was used to film the Finale on January 15, 2009.  So I don't think they knew who won before the first episode aired.

:unsure: Clearly I'm no expert on the filming of reality TV (or any other kind of TV)—this could easily be true. Assuming that it is, however, they would still have had quite a few episodes to work with, so I believe my point stands. Hosea was not a compelling winner, and to me this is a failure of the editors.

I think you over-estimate what editing can do, especially as the vast majority of the season was already in the can by that point. They can only work with the footage they've got. Hosea is what he is.
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I just find it hard to believe that in all those hours of footage, and those Q&A's with whoever is hiding behind the camera in the interviews, that they couldn't piece together a few clips that would make Hosea seem like a worthy winner. All we ever seemed to get was him bitching about Stefan or lamenting his relationship with Leah. Was there really nothing else?

Chris Hennes
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I just find it hard to believe that in all those hours of footage, and those Q&A's with whoever is hiding behind the camera in the interviews, that they couldn't piece together a few clips that would make Hosea seem like a worthy winner. All we ever seemed to get was him bitching about Stefan or lamenting his relationship with Leah. Was there really nothing else?

Obviously we'll never know unless an insider spills the beans, but he was kind of a "one-note" guy all season long. One would assume they used the best stuff they had.
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I just find it hard to believe that in all those hours of footage, and those Q&A's with whoever is hiding behind the camera in the interviews, that they couldn't piece together a few clips that would make Hosea seem like a worthy winner. All we ever seemed to get was him bitching about Stefan or lamenting his relationship with Leah. Was there really nothing else?

Hell, they may have used the best stuff and did exactly what you seek. They could only conceviablly have used Restaurant Wars footage and forward to do so, which included, I think, him making an ass of himself in the make out session. They decided that was compelling TV, and thereon out he had to compete for screen time with Carla and Fabio antics. They used him a lot, I thought, for the set up voice overs where he tells us how important the visiting guest is, which was at least neutral.

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I just find it hard to believe that in all those hours of footage, and those Q&A's with whoever is hiding behind the camera in the interviews, that they couldn't piece together a few clips that would make Hosea seem like a worthy winner. All we ever seemed to get was him bitching about Stefan or lamenting his relationship with Leah. Was there really nothing else?

... And sometimes people just get lucky.

Look, I don't know if Hosea (or who) really deserved to win. But based on last night's episode alone, it sure seemed like Hosea was the rightful winner.

The makers of Top Chef, whomever they be (and not the "Glad family of products"), set themselves up for such a fallout among viewers like some present on this thread by instituting and sticking with the rule that the best chef of each episode wins that episode. Following this rule to its ultimate destination (i.e. the finale), they risked/risk having to name the perceived-weakest of the finalists the winner. That is what it appears to have happened last night. To some, this is not the first season it has happened. And, unless they change the rules next season, it may happen again.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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Following this rule to its ultimate destination (i.e. the finale), they risked/risk having to name the perceived-weakest of the finalists the winner.  That is what it appears to have happened last night.  To some, this is not the first season it has happened. And, unless they change the rules next season, it may happen again.

I agree, and I'd love to see some way of incorporating past performance into the judging, but I don't see that happening. But at the very least I wish that they had changed their editing so that he was not perceived as quite so weak. They did their best to knock Stefan down in the last two episodes, and to bring Carla up, but they just coasted on Hosea. Like others have suggested, though, maybe that was all they had to work with; seems a shame, though.

Chris Hennes
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chennes@egullet.org

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The makers of Top Chef, whomever they be (and not the "Glad family of products"), set themselves up for such a fallout among viewers like some present on this thread by instituting and sticking with the rule that the best chef of each episode wins that episode.  Following this rule to its ultimate destination (i.e. the finale), they risked/risk having to name the perceived-weakest of the finalists the winner.  That is what it appears to have happened last night.  To some, this is not the first season it has happened. And, unless they change the rules next season, it may happen again.

Hosea wasn't the weakest of the finalists; he was the second-strongest. Despite his blandness, he is a much more dependable chef than Carla, who is far too uneven in the results she produces.

I think cumulative judging could be helpful earlier in the season, when a good chef can be tossed due to one mistake. In the finale, I just don't see how you could credibly award the win to a chef that did not produce the best meal.

But at the very least I wish that they had changed their editing so that he was not perceived as quite so weak. They did their best to knock Stefan down in the last two episodes, and to bring Carla up, but they just coasted on Hosea.

All of which strongly suggests that they used the best stuff they had. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck....
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The makers of Top Chef, whomever they be (and not the "Glad family of products"), set themselves up for such a fallout among viewers like some present on this thread by instituting and sticking with the rule that the best chef of each episode wins that episode.  Following this rule to its ultimate destination (i.e. the finale), they risked/risk having to name the perceived-weakest of the finalists the winner.  That is what it appears to have happened last night.  To some, this is not the first season it has happened. And, unless they change the rules next season, it may happen again.

Hosea wasn't the weakest of the finalists; he was the second-strongest. Despite his blandness, he is a much more dependable chef than Carla, who is far too uneven in the results she produces.

I'm not sure I agree. I would argue that had Casey NOT suggested what she did (i.e. sous vides on the beef and souffle on the dessert) (or had Carla NOT acted upon those suggestions), that Carla might have won rather handily. And, if we are to look back on a cumulative basis, I *think* (does someone have a running tally?) that Carla did have more overall wins than Hosea. But in any case, that is why I wrote "perceived-weakest."

I think cumulative judging could be helpful earlier in the season, when a good chef can be tossed due to one mistake. In the finale, I just don't see how you could credibly award the win to a chef that did not produce the best meal.

*nods*

Edited by ulterior epicure (log)

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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Hosea wasn't the weakest of the finalists; he was the second-strongest. Despite his blandness, he is a much more dependable chef than Carla, who is far too uneven in the results she produces.

I'm not sure I agree. I would argue that had Casey NOT suggested what she did (i.e. sous vides on the beef and souffle on the dessert) (or had Carla NOT acted upon those suggestions), that Carla might have won rather handily. And, if we are to look back on a cumulative basis, I *think* (does someone have a running tally?) that Carla did have more overall wins than Hosea.

Carla did indeed have more wins than Hosea, but she also had more of the really dumb moments that make you just shake your head in disbelief. Agreeing to prepare the steak sous vide when she'd never done it herself certainly fell into this category. Casey could have suggested anything she damn well pleased, but Carla didn't have to agree to it. On top of that, setting the oven to the wrong temperature for the soufflé seems to have been an unforced error.

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Following this rule to its ultimate destination (i.e. the finale), they risked/risk having to name the perceived-weakest of the finalists the winner.  That is what it appears to have happened last night.  To some, this is not the first season it has happened. And, unless they change the rules next season, it may happen again.

I agree, and I'd love to see some way of incorporating past performance into the judging, but I don't see that happening. But at the very least I wish that they had changed their editing so that he was not perceived as quite so weak. They did their best to knock Stefan down in the last two episodes, and to bring Carla up, but they just coasted on Hosea. Like others have suggested, though, maybe that was all they had to work with; seems a shame, though.

I wish there was less of that kind of editing, actually. Highlight the personal drama, sure, but please don't shape how the competition seems to be going so much.

Toby Young makes a comment in his blog about one facet of cumulative performance in judging:

http://www.bravotv.com/top-chef/blogs/toby...fense-of-stefan

I feel that on Project Runway (once in the same family of Bravo shows) and maybe on Top Chef too, people have occasionally skated through based on previous performance well before the finals. Maybe also based on dramatic value to the show. At one point, as I recall, PR acknowledged that producers were allowed to intervene in a tie. I think it's just so hard to judge while sitting at home. In this case, Young thought Hosea and Stefan were tied and that Stefan should have won based on cumulative performance.

(The reason why I feel more certain about cumulative performance factoring into PR eliminations is-- besides what Young says in his blog about his understanding of the Top Chef rules-- that the judges on PR talk more about what profile of each contestant is emerging. Are they too repetitive, do they take criticism into account, etc. And not just like they're observing something but like it is weighing into their decisions.)

Edited for spelling.

Edited by Tess (log)
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Hosea wasn't the weakest of the finalists; he was the second-strongest. Despite his blandness, he is a much more dependable chef than Carla, who is far too uneven in the results she produces.

I'm not sure I agree. I would argue that had Casey NOT suggested what she did (i.e. sous vides on the beef and souffle on the dessert) (or had Carla NOT acted upon those suggestions), that Carla might have won rather handily. And, if we are to look back on a cumulative basis, I *think* (does someone have a running tally?) that Carla did have more overall wins than Hosea.

Carla did indeed have more wins than Hosea, but she also had more of the really dumb moments that make you just shake your head in disbelief. Agreeing to prepare the steak sous vide when she'd never done it herself certainly fell into this category. Casey could have suggested anything she damn well pleased, but Carla didn't have to agree to it. On top of that, setting the oven to the wrong temperature for the soufflé seems to have been an unforced error.

Here's a performance chart. Counting the final, they had the same number of elimination challenge wins. Interpret it as you will, but I think Carla's lows were more spectacular and her highs more pedestrian overall. Her first appearance in the top 3 was in episode two for her pastry crust at craft. Her second was in Ep 8, which became a team win, for her tartlet. That's just boring. I think Hosea was much more solid and creative -- not spectacular himself, mind you, but of the two....

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Meh.

Hosea's win didn't leave me as nauseous as Ilan's, but it was just a flat note on the end of an overall flat season. To his credit, he appeared to make the best meal of the three.

I wanted to see Stefan win. I never bought into the "Stefan as enemy" meme. I thought he took the show appropriately lightly -- it's entertainment, after all -- and used his apparent arrogance as simply a playful toy. It's a game. When any serious or emotional moments arose, he was always compassionate to others. And I liked the fact he worked with Marcel, who I still wish had won Season 2 to spite the gang-think simians around him.

But that dessert was a really poor decision.

Carla -- and even her tear-choked exit interview -- was more inspiring than anyone on Top Chef in a long time. She truly did perform without negativity, without dragging others down. I was sorry to see she wasn't able to put forth her best effort and be judged on it. Sous vide -- I'll never understand why we have become obsessed with putting food in plastic baggies and simmering away its soul.

Ed: Whoa ... just watched the end of Stefan's exit with Fabio. Hilarious. "And the looks of ... Jeff!"

Edited by chappie (log)
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My heart sank for Carla the moment Casey took the lead and Carla said okay. I knew it was a big mistake and she was out of the running. I was rooting for Carla near the end. She was someone I had very little confidence in at the beginning but she did show good classical technique and produced some solid winners. Like the tortoise she came from behind and was passing the competition. Life lesson for sure.

Last season had some real talent. This season was very ho-hum. Hope for better in the future.

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Meh.

Hosea's win didn't leave me as nauseous as Ilan's, but it was just a flat note on the end of an overall flat season. To his credit, he appeared to make the best meal of the three.

Ed: Whoa ... just watched the end of Stefan's exit with Fabio. Hilarious. "And the looks of ... Jeff!"

Stefan: "And the legs of Lauren . . ."

Fabio: "Lauren's a great girl, but she's . . . 4'3"."

Stefan: "You stretch the legs out. The legs of Lauen -"

Fabio: "Dude, she's 4'3 -"

Stefan: "But she has great legs - trust me. So, there. The legs of Lauren -"

Fabio: "But she's 4'3!"

Hysterical!

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I wish there was less of that kind of editing, actually.

In general, the editing has always struck me as highly manipulative. That's why it was so striking that there was no suspense at all in the final 15 minutes of the show. If they could have figured out a way to make it appear that the outcome was in doubt, they would have.
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Yow.Za.

(Former) Dallas-ite Casey has some choice words about Carla and the editing of the finale for D Magazine's Side Dish blog:

Casey on Finale

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.

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Yow.Za.

(Former) Dallas-ite Casey has some choice words about Carla and the editing of the finale for D Magazine's Side Dish blog:

Casey on Finale

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.

Wow. As many of the commenters to that noted, that was tactless and classless. Carla took the blame on the show, and instead of being grateful for that, Casey made sure to rub it in one more time. While she attempted to save face, she ended up making herself look like a totally mannerless person. In addition to that, Carla's bio on the TC website and Carla herself say that she has classical French training. SO either they're lying, or Casey is just plain wrong.

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