After eleven weeks of grueling competition in New York City, the four finalists of Top Chef Season Five flew down to New Orleans for one last challenge. And the winner? Hosea Rosenberg
—the self-taught Executive Chef of Jax Fish House
in Boulder, Colorado.
Hosea is the first Top Chef champion without formal training. Early winners Harold Dieterle, Ilan Hall, and Hung Huynh all attended the Culinary Institute of America, and Season Four winner Stephanie Izard is a graduate of the Scottsdale Culinary Institute. Hosea, on the other hand, began working in restaurants to put himself through engineering school at the University of Colorado, Boulder, before deciding that he would rather pursue a culinary career. He began working for Wolfgang Puck and by 2001, earned his first executive chef position, soon winning a number of regional awards. His restaurant, Jax Fish House, has been named the top seafood restaurant in Boulder since its opening in 1994.
While Hosea established himself as an able chef and real contender early on in the season, he may have been the least favored of the final three to win. CMC Stefan Richter
, a Finnish chef with obvious skill and well-honed technique, won far more challenges than Hosea. And Carla Hall
, of Washington, D.C., had a few disastrous episodes but came out stronger as the finale neared, wowing Jacques Pepin and Emeril Lagasse with her simple, soulful meals.
Yet Stefan let his cockiness get the better of him, serving the judges a dated, uninspired chocolate mousse as his final dish, while Carla chose to prepare lamb sous vide for the first time (at the suggestion of her sous chef Casey) rather than sticking to her convictions. And in the end, it was competent, cool-headed Hosea who took the trophy—a triumph for self-taught chefs everywhere. He may be better remembered for his on-screen kiss with fellow chef Leah, or his season-long rivalry with Stefan. But in the final competition, Hosea proved himself Top Chef.