'Top Chef' reunion: Did Hosea win for his cooking ability or his likability?

Nobody tunes in to reality-show reunions to find out who was voted fan favorite. Yeah, yeah, Fabio was deserving enough of his win in that category (see clip below). You can’t deny that the guy has his charms, which are significantly amped up by having an Italian accent so sing-songy, you half expect him to break into the chorus of That’s Amore! But ultimately, who cares? Isn’t this beneath a show like Top Chef, which has always been more about ogling the food than gawking at the pychodrama between half-mad competitors or drooling over the emaciated Survivors’ 12-pack abs?

That’s what made me start to worry about the direction Top Chef seems to be heading in after Hosea was awarded the grand prize in last week’s finale. It was hard not to feel like the judges had pandered to the audience and handed the award to the guy most people would rather have a beer with, instead of to the chef who most consistently whipped up inventive, tasty food. But that would have meant sending obnoxious, smug Stefan on a battery of interviews and inviting him back next year to judge a challenge or two.

I tried to put that concern out of my head until I watched the post-game wrap-up tonight and saw how the producers were obviously attempting to trump up the whatever romance between Hosea and Leah. There was the bromance segment featuring Stefan and Fabio. There was even a discussion about whether Tom Colicchio was hotter to women or men. Seriously? It was so unnecessary. Top Chef is food porn in the extreme. They don’t need to play up the human drama when they have sex on a plate.

How do you see it? Is Top Chef becoming too concerned with turning the spotlight on likable hotties rather than the sweaty, ugly reality of making deeply delicious dishes? Could the show be in danger of losing its identity as a series about serious cooking that rises above other reality competitions? And what did you think about tonight’s reunion special overall? Sharpen your knives and go!

Comments (105 total) Add your comment
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  • Westley

    But Hosea isn’t the least bit likeable! If the producers thought he was likeable, then they’re idiots.

  • Mike

    Hosea has likability? What show were you watching and where was I?

  • marinaz

    I found Hosea to be whiny and a poor sport. Stefan was a superb and inventive chef in spite of his attitude and the season bore that out. Top Chef disappointed me this season with their questionable offings of the cheftestants. I totally think personality and controversy was the driver behind this season.

  • Nkki

    Hosea is not likable. I hated him. I didn’t like Stefan but he deserved to win more that Hosea. Top Chef let me down picking Hosea. He wasthe worse pick and should have left many shows prior. They kept him and Leah because of the romance. They were both incompetent and made me sick. I hated watching each time they centered the show on them.My favorite was crazy Carla.

  • Anne

    I think if anything ever proved that the producers aren’t manipulating the outcome, it would be Hosea’s win. He was not likeable, they didn’t try to make him likeable, he just seemed like a frat boy. Stefan is actually quite charming and funny. Reunion shows are always like this–you just can’t expect Bravo to have them talk about food for an hour.

  • Jenks

    I must be the only viewer who believes what Colicchio says: that each dish is judged on its own merit (or lack of), regardless of previous performance, bromance, romance, or hot Italian accents. The producers hype that stuff in the editing, sure, but I still believe the food rules at Judges Table. If Top Chef was disappointing this season, it was because the talent was way below the level they’ve had before. Even the much-lauded Stefan didn’t come close to the creativity or presentation of many previous contestants. Name another season when Colicchio went backstage before a big challenge and said “Please don’t embarass me.” I don’t care what they do when they get on the show, just put talented people on to begin with.

  • lawrence


  • Loopy

    the reunion show was a bit of a letdown. Can’t believe the host didn’t follow up on Stefan’s claim that he was glad he didn’t win..couldn’t he even have asked why? Also, very little time spent on Jeff, who was one of the strongest chefs. Too much focus on Tom C..would rather the show be about the cheftestants! I did think the segment on Jamie and Leaj getting drunk was funny, as was the bit about Stefan loving women!

  • Cate

    I definitely agree that Hosea does not equal “likable” in my mind. The desperate attempts to play up a feud via editing between him and Stefan were quite grating. Only thing worse was the disgusting “story arc” about him and Leah. I do not need that typical reality trash on my perfectly content food loving plate. Keep it about the food, Bravo. Cooking creates enough drama without adding disturbing relationship side dishes.

  • Anne

    Jake, I believe you, too. It’s like, just because people don’t like Hosea and don’t like the decision they think there must have been something untoward happening. But everything everyone has said indicates that Hosea cooked the best meal. That’s the way the game is played. I’m finding all these conspiracy theories annoying.

  • SKN

    While I agree that this season of Top Chef was lame, who were the “likable hotties”? These people weren’t that likable or hot. (Except for Carla!)

  • kg

    I love Stefan. He actually showed a lot of caring and compassion towards the other contestants and I’d want eat his food the most out of all the people this season.

  • fluff

    Top Chef is becoming less and less about the food and more about reality show contestant drama and product placement. We had to wait several episodes until they actually had a decent challenge with the LeBernadin episode. Come on Top Chef, keep your eyes on the prize or you’ll just turn into another VH1 reality competition!

  • Dart

    Love the show, and I generally love the reunion shows. Last night was a complete disappointment. I agree that the focus on the Judges (tom) was a waste. I resented the fact that Hosea and Leah seemingly avoided elimination because of their “affair.” Better chefs went home time and again. I found neither likeable, attractive, or interesting. I wouldn’t eat their food either. That said, the producers kept Stefan when HE should have gone home too. Earlier cheftestants went home for over cooking proteins, but when Stefan did it, he skated through. Bravo’s producers have always manipulated the show (duh!), but I felt this year’s efforts were more brazen. I am concerned that the show is jumping the shark. And shame on them for not pinning down Stefan on why he’s “glad (he) didn’t win.” Jeers to Bravo for a lackluster season and horrible reunion show. I wish Carla hadn’t listened to her sous chef (can’t remember her name right now, but loved her in her season). She coulda/shoulda won

  • Diane

    This was the least enjoyable year of Top Chef and I think I’m done. It was a joke that Stephan didn’t win. I didn’t even think that Hosea belonged in the finals.

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