Handicapping 'Top Chef' Season 5 Finale


Tomorrow night is the night. A new winner will get to put Top Chef on his or her resume. Brush up on our Top Chef coverage, and see if you agree with our predictions.

Stefan: 2-to-1 Odds

As the only contestant with 23 years of experience under his belt, Stefan seemed like a shoo-in. Then last week’s episode happened. The Creole cuisine theme tripped him up, which isn't good, since tomorrow's episode will also be in New Orleans. His creations were the least soulful of the bunch, yet he acted so entitled, daring the judges to send him packin'. Not that attractive.

But back to the 23 years thing. He can skin an eel, identify turmeric in a blind tasting, and still humor the judges with grilled cheese and Spam sandwiches. He clearly knows he's good, and at times, borders on jerkdom. But this arrogant quality seems to go hand in hand with his unfailing belief in himself, his designs, and his palate—pretty important earmarks of a Top Chef.

Carla: 3-to-1

Oh, Carla. We really want you. Really. If the two bald guys continue to be preoccupied with out-machoing each other in the kitchen, it really could be all you, girl. A goofball sometimes, yes, but you've really proven yourself in consistently winning Quickfire and Elimination Challenges—and after a while, it's not luck. Just because you say "hootie hoo" doesn't mean you can't cookie cook. You can, and you put your heart into it.

Hosea: 5-to-1

Hosea loves to overthink his dishes and give off a hotshot glow. But on the fish-themed episode, he flunked at filleting arctic char (and he hails from a seafood restaurant. Oops). Also, and this is off topic, but smooching Leah? Probably a bad judgment call. Hosea has remained quiet competition throughout the series, and last week, really proved his chops when he was ready to take on frontman Stefan.