What Happened In Top Chef Season 5 (Top Chef New York)? (Full Recap)

Top Chef Season Cover with Cast

In Season 5 of “Top Chef,” the James Beard Award-winning Top Chef on Bravo welcomes 17 up-and-coming chefs to New York City. The chefs collaborate in their first task to shop in various New York areas for them to create dishes influenced by the ethnic flavors of their selected districts, drawing inspiration from the city’s diverse cuisine. 

Except for Toby Young sitting in for Gail Simmons for half the season, the judges were the same as in Season 4. Guest judge is Jean George Vongerichten. In the New Orleans finals, Hosea Rosenberg defeated Stefan Richter and Carla Hall to win the Top Chef title, and Fabio Viviani, who placed fourth, was the fan favorite.

Chefs Competing in Top Chef (Top Chef New York) Season 5

  • Lauren Hope, 24, from Savannah, GA 
  • Patrick Dunlea, 21, from Hyde Park, NY 
  • Jill Snyder, 28, from Baltimore, MD 
  • Richard Sweeney, 27, from San Diego, CA 
  • Alex Eusebio, 33, from Los Angeles, CA 
  • Danny Gagnon, 26, from New Hyde Park, NY 
  • Melissa Harrison, 28, from Boulder, CO 
  • Eugene Villiatora, 33 fromLas Vegas, NV 
  • Radhika Desai, 28, from Chicago, IL 
  • Jamie Lauren, 30, from San Francisco, CA 
  • Jeff McInnis, 30, from Miami, FL 
  • Stefan Richter, 35, from Santa Monica, CA 
  • Hosea Rosenberg, 34, from Boulder, CO 
  • Fabio Viviani, 30, from Moorpark, CA
  • Leah Cohen, 26, from New York, NY
  • Ariane Duarte, 41, from Verona, NJ 
  • Carla Hall, 44, from Washington, D.C.

Judges of Top Chef (Top Chef New York) Season 5

  • Padma Lakshmi as Host
  • Tom Colicchio as Head Judge
  • Gail Simmons as Judge for the first half of the season and the finale
  • Toby Young as Judge for the second half of the season and the finale

Episode 1 - Melting Pot

Top Chef S5 - Chefs cooking with apples

Tom Colicchio, the top judge and host Padma Lakshmi welcomed the chefs to New York City with apples. Three rounds of a skills competition made up the challenge. The winner of the “Quickfire Task” would receive immunity in the following challenge, while the loser would be eliminated from the competition right away.

In Round 1, the chefs peeled 15 apples as soon as possible using paring knives. The initial nine to complete are safe. Eight players remained and moved on to Round Two. In Round 2, two cups worth of apples were brunoised by the contestants. Four people who finished first are safe. The last four chefs advanced to Round Three.

In Round 3, the chefs prepared something to convince Tom Colicchio that they deserve to join this challenge. In the elimination challenge, the chefs who produced the winning meals were unaffected by elimination.

Episode 2 - Show Your Craft

Top Chef S5 - Episode 2

The chef contestants are in Tom’s flagship restaurant. Donatella Arpaia, a successful restaurateur, culinary expert, and entertainment authority, is present as a guest judge. The chefs are assigned to reinvent the hotdog. 

They faced off against Dominick’s “Hot Dog Truck” competitor Angelina DiAngelo in Queens. The host Padma Lakshmi and special judge Donatella Arpaia, a prominent restaurateur and food expert, granted each chef contestant 45 minutes to make and serve their dishes while having access to the pantry. The victor was safe from being eliminated in the following challenge.

Episode 3- Foo Fighters Thanksgiving

The six-time Grammy Award-winning rock band “Foo Fighters” joins the group in Syracuse, New York. Guest judges include an American chef and restaurateur, Grant Achatz. Said judge was awarded by the James Beard Foundation as Best Chef in the United States for 2008.

Leah Cohen got to pick her six chefs for the following task because she won the Quickfire Challenge. She chose Stefan Richter, Radhika Desai, Jamie Lauren, Melissa Harrison, Hosea Rosenberg, and Fabio Viviani. The second team was composed of the remaining competitors. The cooks were requested to prepare Thanksgiving dinner for the more than 60 Foo Fighters’ entourage members, including numerous vegetarians. 

Episode 4 - Today Show

Top Chef S5 - Episode 4

The contestant who prevails in a quickfire challenge will be booked and given a chance to demonstrate their unique culinary talent live on network television. The remaining fourteen competitors battle for a chance to present their skills on “Today,” the nation’s most popular morning program. Rocco DiSpirito, a well-known author and chef is the guest judge.

The hosts chose the challenge winner during the live on-air broadcast. The winning chef was given a chance to serve a dish live on “The Today Show.” He also received a custom-made set of chef’s tools assembled by Rocco DiSpirito.

Episode 5 - Gail's Bridal Shower

Top Chef S5 - Episode 5

The host and judge, Padma Lakshmi, asked the chefs for assistance in planning a bridal shower for judge Gail Simmons and her friends. The chef contestants are paired to prepare a dish based on a mythical custom. A Friend of Gail and editor-in-chief of Food and Wine Magazine, Dana Cowin, is the guest judge.

The chefs were given an hour the next day to complete their preparations and serve them to the bridal shower guests at 24 Fifth Avenue. New stainless steel cookware from Calphalon and kitchen appliances were awarded to the winner. Guest judges include Food & Wine editor Dana Cowin.

Episode 6 - 12 Days of Christmas

Top Chef S5 - 12 Days of Christmas

Martha Stewart, a media personality, writer, and magazine publisher, serves as a guest judge for the quickfire challenge. The chefs use their talents by catering a Christmas cocktail party for the AIDS research foundation, AmFar, hosted by guest judge foodie and actress Natasha Richardson. Her father, the filmmaker Tony Richardson died from AIDS-related causes. For that reason, she became engaged in the fight against AIDS. 

The chef contestants had three hours to prepare and pack their meals on-site. A copy of Michelle Bernstein’s most recent cookbook, Cuisine à Latina, was given to each of the four winners chosen by the judges.

Episode 7 - Focus Group

Top Chef S5 - Chefs doing dessert without sugar

The competing chefs have the most attention because the quickfire challenge requires them to make a delicious dessert without sugar. Their elimination round requires them to serve the dish to an interesting crowd. Michelin and 5AA Rosette, award-winning chef, restaurateur, and the star of the upcoming “Chef Academy,” Jean-Christophe Novelli, is the guest judge. She is joined by Toby Young, a best-selling author, and food critic.

After delivering their dishes, the chefs were allowed to watch the food tasting through a hidden camera installed in the kitchen. The chefs could see the judges’ candid evaluations of the other contestants.

Episode 8 - Down On the Farm

Top Chef S5 - Down on the Farm

In the “Elimination Challenge,” the teams had to prepare a delectable, seasonal meal for 16 guests based on their assigned protein. Their menu has to come with a dessert and be presented family-style. They worked on the menu all night.

At Blue Hill Farm, the remaining chefs must get the freshest ingredients, then use what they have to prepare a meal for the farm employees. The guest judge is Dan Barber. He is the co-owner of Blue Hill Restaurant.

Episode 9 - Restaurant Wars

Top Chef S5 - Restaurant Wars

In the “Quickfire Challenge,” the chefs got 30 minutes and total access to the “Top Chef” pantry to produce one dish that displayed their proposed restaurant idea. The top two chefs will serve as the team captains in the following “Elimination Challenge.” The “Quickfire Challenge” champions were no longer exempt from elimination after this point.

In the “Elimination Challenge,” the heat is on in the highly anticipated episode of “Restaurant Wars,” when the competing chefs must build a whole restaurant in 24 hours. As a guest judge, restaurateur Stephen Starr, whose Starr Restaurant Organization owns New York’s Buddakan and Morimoto, will participate.

Episode 10 - Super Bowl Chef Showdown

Top Chef S5 - Super Bowl Chef Showdown

Following their selection of squares on various rows and columns, the contestants had to guess which food group each square represented. Padma Lakshmi then revealed the hidden ingredients, revealing that oats would be used.

In this cook-off, seven all-stars from previous seasons join this season’s remaining chefs, including Josie Smith-Malave from season 2, Camille Becerra from Season 3, and Andrew D’Ambrosi and Spike Mendelsohn from season 4. Scott Conant, chef-restaurateur of Scarpetta in the Meatpacking District, is the guest judge.

Episode 11 - Le Bernardin

The chef candidates have the chance to prepare food in Le Bernadin, a three-star Michelin-winning restaurant, one of the best in the world. Chef Eric Ripert, a renowned adjudicator, will evaluate their final product.

Padma & Co. announced our top three on the panel: Stefan was applauded for the presentation of his dish; Fabio was praised for his red snapper, and Carla created a “powerful” escolar that prompted Toby to make the ultimate dad joke by dubbing her dish Pablo Escolar.

Stefan, who was allowed to follow Ripert for a week, seemed unstoppable. Hosea, Leah, and Jamie, whose food was so awful, made up the bottom three. The judges described it as “toxic.”

Although the chefs admitted they made mistakes throughout the task, the judges ultimately decided that an error in execution was worse than a mistake in observation and eliminated Jamie.

Episode 12 - The Last Supper

Top Chef S5 - Episode 12

The five chefs gathered in the back room while the judges made their final decisions, and Hosea chose to ruin Fabio’s celebration by making fun of his airplane salad. The judges summoned the chefs back in and declared Fabio as the winner. He also received a huge bottle of wine and a trip to a Napa Valley vineyard.

Carla Hall had the option to swap stars and the meals they went with another competitor because she won the Quickfire round, but she finally decided against it. They had two hours to do their dishes at the Capitale in Lower Manhattan. The prize includes a three-day, two-night tour to the Terlato vineyard and a bottle of Terlato Angel’s Peak wine.

Episode 13 - Finale Part 1

Top Chef S5 - Finale Part 1

The final challenges, which will determine who wins the title of “Top Chef,” require the surviving chefs to use their skills outside New York City.

Dr. Jeff’s mojito and tasty oyster dish, Hosea’s traditional gumbo, and Carla’s expertly prepared oyster and beignet all received praise from the judges and attendees. Not nearly as well as Team Euro did.

The judges gave Fabio a failing grade for his bell pepper martini’s excessive sweetness and the lack of spice in the sauce on his pasta dish. The winner, in the end, was Carla, who entered the finale as the designated chef. Our judges declared Hosea safe and said Fabio would be joining him.

Episode 14 - Finale Part 2

Top Chef S5 - Hosea, Top Chef Season 5

The remaining chefs compete to prepare the best dish of their lives to win the title of Bravo’s “Top Chef.”

For his traditional approach, Stefan earns points, but his “pedestrian” dessert costs him points. Gail and Tom defend Hosea’s culinary prowess and the systematic flow of his dishes. The final decision was made, and Hosea was named the “Season 5 Top Chef.”

Episode 15 - Watch What Happens Reunion

In the “Top Chef” Season 5 Reunion, all 17 chef contestants, and 4 judges are present. Andy Cohen addressed viewers’ burning inquiries and discussed season five’s good, bad, and overdone aspects. Fabio Viviani was also announced as the fan favorite.

Top Chef Season 5 (Top Chef New York) Quick Facts

  • an American reality competition television series 
  • aired on Bravo TV from November 12, 2008, to March 4, 2009
  • with the following spin-offs: Top Chef Junior, Top Chef Masters, Top Chef: Just Desserts, Top Chef Amateurs, Life After Top Chef, Top Chef Duels, Top Chef Family Style, and Top Chef VIP
  • produced by Magical Elves Productions
  • hosted by Padma Lakshmi                     
  • judges are Tom Colicchio, Ted Allen, and Gail Simmons
  • consists of 15 episodes (including the reunion)

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