Top Chef Has Spoiled My Life and My World

I am deeply saddened, and angered, by this news.

I’ve been meaning to write a post for weeks now on how much I hate Hosea Rosenberg. Now he’s won the whole damn thing.

Okay. Deep breath.


I still haven’t seen the episode — I watch it via iTunes — but my friend, a food blogger, broke the news. I don’t want to cry. I want to plunge a knife into my heart.

Many moons ago, Hosea mislaid his pork. The gang rallied around and saved his pork, and he won the elimination challenge. And you know who helped rather a lot? Stefan. I remember it like it was yesterday. It was the “12 Days of Christmas Episode.” Hosea was throwing a fit, as always. He is a punk. It’s a fact.

Carla said,

Everyone is chipping in together to make these two people shine. It was an organic thing that happens in the kitchen where we’re like, you have to go through that fire and you have to make it happen. There’s no way that their dishes are going to be crap

I love that woman. I deeply, deeply love her — for her decency, warmth, and intelligence, and also for her self-possession and confidence. I want every child to look to her as an example of human excellence.

And here’s Stefan:

That’s what people do in the kitchen. You know, if you have a little bit of respect for yourself, you help people. It doesn’t matter if it’s your worst enemy or not. What does it do any good to me if Radhika doesn’t have her duck and be judged by what? No. If I win this competition, I want to win this fair-square.

Carla, I badly wanted you to win. You or Stefan. Not Hosea. Not Hosea. Note Stefan’s remarks. Then note how Hosea reacted when Stefan won a quickfire challenge that involved using an artichoke that Hosea wasn’t using. Hosea whined about how he should have denied Stefan the artichoke. Classy. Very classy. And he kept saying things like this. He bristled at the fact that Stefan had prepared eel before, as if this were somehow unfair. Constant, constant whining and sniping.

Stefan is tough. He was cocky. But at the last Judge’s Table, he said, straight up, I’m 36 — if I win, I win. If I lose, I lose. The judges found this arrogant. You know what it is? It’s called having perspective. There is no question in my mind that Stefan can run circles around Hosea. This was a sham — an utter sham.

Leah is twice the chef Hosea will ever be. Ariane is three times the chef Leah will ever be. My goodness, this is a dark turn in our still unfolding national story.

Hosea represents everything that is wrong with modern America: the sense of entitlement, the instinctive nativism, the smarmy passivity. Notice how “awkward” he found it when Leah returned to the program, to have a second chance at making it to the finals. Some friend.

Yes, Stefan was a bit of a bastard — but there was sincerity and integrity in his bastardness. He talked trash all the time, though note that he didn’t talk trash to Carla or Leah or Ariane or Jamie. He razzed Fabio, and Fabio razzed him back. Thin-skinned Hosea took it personally. He lashed out. He plotted his revenge. Stefan made him feel small, and so Hosea, who at one point noted that he was the last American male on the program — I’m interested in how quickly Hosea made this rhetorical move, and how quickly he translated his feelings of inadequacy into anti-European, ostensibly anti-elitist sentiment, though to me Fabio and Stefan seemed like scrappy immigrants who worked themselves to the bone while Hosea struck me as an entitled brat — whined constantly.

I would trade 300 million Hoseas for one Carla, or even one Stefan.

Carla was a reassuring presence, who consoled near-losers and losers at every turn. She wanted to win, she wanted the recognition — but she didn’t want to lose sight of what mattered most. Carla knew when her dishes went wrong, but she still wanted to “bring the love.” Hosea never “brought the love.” He brought bitterness and easy contempt, and a wounded, undeserved pride. This is the kind of guy who joins an extremist political movement that targets foreigners and members of middleman minorities — how dare Stefan come to my country and actually know how to prepare eel. How dare he.

I disliked Stefan at first, but his skills were undeniable. I only wish Stefan and Carla and Jamie and Ariane and all the rest had allowed Hosea to sit there and compete with his rotting, rancid pork.