The fifth season of Top Chef is officially over, and in an interesting turn of events the new winner was neither Carla nor Stefan, but the strapping young baldy from Boulder, CO, Hosea. Since speaking with Hosea on the phone last Friday, I have a new perspective on the somewhat misunderstood chef. He actually has a degree in engineering and looks at the kitchen with a scientific mind. His last meal, humbly, would be the perfect BLT. To find out what Hosea had to say about winning and his relationship with fellow contestant, Leah,
On winning: It feels great! It's kind of overwhelming. I still haven't gotten used to the idea of it. It has really humbled me. Yes, I'm very pleased, but I'm not claiming that I am a better cook than everyone else.
I just happened to cook the best meal. I was at the Miami Food and Wine Festival last week and Daniel Boulud shook my hand and asked me when we're going to cook, and that amazed me! I think I'll get a lot of great opportunities out of winning.
On the people who don't think he should have won: I don't know why there are haters out there. I don't understand it. I put my best work in at the end there. I talked to Tom yesterday and he told me I did the best job and that is why I won. I don't know why people are so against me. I stuck in there, I worked my ass off, and I'm really proud of myself for my accomplishments. There's nothing I can do about the way other people will perceive me. I won. I belonged there. I don't understand why there's the hatred out there. I have a big passion for food, I love what I do. I have proven myself time and time again — that I belong here — and I am not going to apologize for winning.
On his relationship with Leah: We are good friends. We talk a lot. We enjoy each other's company, but I live in Colorado and she lives in New York. We are both single now and we do like each other. We have kissed each other since the show ended. I think if we lived in the same city we would probably be dating. I am having dinner with her tonight, but I'm not going to tell you where!
On Bravo's portrayal of him: You know it's hard to say. The editing is interesting for sure to watch. It's not just about the food we made. For me it was about the food, so it would have been nice of them to show that I am smart guy, I am a caring person. I have an engineering degree. Because of the editing they really focused on the thing with Leah and then the rivalry with Stefan. But that was about five percent of what I talked about!
On what he's learned from participating in Top Chef: The biggest lesson I took away from the show is that I still have a lot to learn. I have so much left that I haven't seen or cooked or learned. I have a long way to go as a chef. I am still like a baby in this line of work. I am thrilled to have this opportunity and to have proved to myself that I can learn it and do it. I am very scientific and pragmatic. I think of the smartest way to cook. You know there is a lot of math involved when you are running a kitchen.
On working with Richard Blais: Having Rich on my side was a huge help! He was so perfect for what I needed. He offered a lot of advice, but never tried to get in the way of what I was doing. He worked his ass off. That guy is badass! He is quick and he did the perfect plating.
On what's next: I'm taking some time off to be with my dad. He's gotten worse. I am going to see what I can do for the family in terms of the sickness. My dad was diagnosed with cancer nine months ago and it's spreading. He's not doing very well, so I want to be with him. As far as the future, I'm partnering with a food company to create a product line. I'm working on my own restaurant, which will hopefully be open in the next nine months. In the short term future, I am staying here in Colorado. It's where all my contacts are. I work with a lot of local farmers, ranchers, and growers. I want to stay here for awhile, for at least the next year. I'm not sure what the future holds. Hopefully I'll be doing a restaurant in Boulder or Denver, but I don't want to talk too much about it because I don't want to jinx it.