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Top Chef: New York
Top Chef 5 cast.jpg The contestants for Top Chef season 5
Winner Hosea Rosenberg
Original run November 12, 2008
– March 4, 2009
Filming dates July 2008
– January 2009
No. of episodes 15
No. of chefs 17
Season chronology
Previous Season 4
Next Season 6

The fifth season of American reality television series Top Chef was filmed first in New York City, New York, and concluded in New Orleans, Louisiana. The first episode premiered on November 12, 2008 on Bravo.


Judges, guest judges and special appearances

Permanent judges

Guest judges

Special appearances


There were 17 chefs competing in Season 5. Names, ages, and hometowns below are from the Bravo website. In elimination order, the contestants were:

Credit Order: Alex, Jill, Daniel, Ariane, Patrick, Melissa, Hosea, Leah, Fabio, Radhika, Stefan, Jamie, Richard, Lauren, Eugene, Carla, Jeff

Contestant progress

Episode 1 2 3 4 5 63 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
Stefan Radhika Leah Leah Hosea Ariane Radhika Stefan Leah
Stefan Stefan Carla Jeff None
Melissa IN (-) IN HIGH LOW IN (-) LOW OUT4
Danny IN (+) IN LOW IN OUT
Alex IN (-) IN IN (-) OUT
Richard IN (-) IN OUT
Jill IN (+) OUT
Patrick OUT
Lauren OUT1
  • Note 1: Lauren was immediately eliminated by placing last in the Quickfire Challenge.
  • Note 2: Team Sexy Pants was proclaimed the winning team on the show, but Verizon Wireless V CAST revealed that there were two individual winners: Radhika and Hosea. However, states that all chefs from the winning team won the elimination challenge.
  • Note 3: Due to a refrigerator malfunction which spoiled some of the chefs' ingredients during the Elimination Challenge, no one was eliminated.[5] On air, the judges said they wouldn't eliminate any of the contestants as a "holiday gift" because they admired the way they had all helped the affected chefs when the refrigerator failed, and because they had all performed below expectations.
  • Note 4: Because no one was eliminated in Episode 6 (see Note 3), two contestants were eliminated in this episode.
  • Note 5: Leah, Jamie, and Jeff (the three most recently eliminated contestants) were brought back to the competition to compete in a Quickfire Challenge. The winner would compete in the subsequent Elimination Challenge, but could only move on to the Final Challenge if they won this challenge. Jeff won the Quickfire, and the judges picked him as one of their favorites in the Elimination Challenge, but did not select him to win. Consequently, he was eliminated automatically.
     (WINNER) The chef won the season and was crowned Top Chef.
     (RUNNER-UP) Runner-Up of the season.
     (WIN) The chef won that episode's Elimination Challenge.
     (HIGH) The chef was selected as one of the top entries in the Elimination Challenge, but did not win.
     (LOW) The chef was selected as one of the bottom entries in the Elimination Challenge, but was not eliminated.
     (OUT) The chef lost that week's Elimination Challenge and was out of the competition.
     (IN) The chef neither won nor lost that week's Elimination Challenge. They also were not up to be eliminated.
     IN (+) The chef won a pair or team challenge but was not chosen as one of the judges' favorites.
     IN (-) The chef lost a pair or team challenge but was not selected as one of the judges' least favorites.


Each episode includes two challenges. The Quickfire Challenge is a short, simple challenge with a varying reward each week; in the initial episodes of the season, it usually guarantees the winner immunity from being sent home that week. The Elimination Challenge is a more complex challenge that determines who goes home. One or more guest judges join the show each week to evaluate both the Quickfire and Elimination challenges. Each week's elimination is announced in a segment called "Judges' Table."

Episode 1: Melting Pot

  • Quickfire Challenge: The chefs are welcomed to the Big Apple by host Padma Lakshmi and head judge Tom Colicchio with a signature ingredient: apples. The challenge is a skills tournament in three rounds. The chef who finishes first in the Quickfire Challenge will win immunity in the next challenge, while the chef who finishes last will leave the show "right [there] and now."
    • Round One: The chefs must peel 15 apples, using paring knives only, as quickly as possible. The first nine to finish will be safe. The remaining eight must go on to Round Two. Finishing order: Stefan, Fabio, Hosea, Ariane, Jeff, Melissa, Carla, Richard, Jamie. Stefan wins immunity for the next challenge.
    • Round Two: The chefs must then brunoise the apples (dice them very finely) until they fill up two cups. The first four to finish will be safe. The remaining four must go on to Round Three. Finishing order: Danny, Alex, Eugene, Jill.
    • Round Three: The remaining chefs (Lauren, Patrick, Radhika and Leah) are each given 20 minutes to "cook something that will convince [Tom Colicchio] that [they] should stay here for this challenge in New York". They are given a burner, a saute pan, a choice of proteins and spices, and the apples they have prepared. After tasting, Tom chooses Leah and Radhika as the top two; both are safe from elimination. Lauren and Patrick, who knew each other as friends from culinary school, end up in the bottom two. Patrick's dish is chosen over Lauren's, so she is asked to pack her knives and go to the waiting ferry.
      • WINNER: Stefan
      • ELIMINATED: Lauren
  • Elimination Challenge: Each of the chefs draws a knife from the knife block marked with one of eight New York City neighborhoods. The chefs teams must cook dishes which represent the ethnic cuisines of those neighborhoods: Astoria (Greek), Brighton Beach (Russian), Long Island City (Middle Eastern), Ozone Park (Latin), Jamaica (Jamaican), Little Italy (Italian), Chinatown (Chinese), Little India/Curry Hill[6] (Indian). The two dishes from each neighborhood will be judged head-to-head. Chefs of winning dishes will be safe; chefs of losing dishes will be up for elimination.
    • Pairs of Winners vs. Losers (in the order they presented their dishes), followed by the type of dish they were to make. The name of the winning chef for each dish is italicized.
      • #1: Ariane vs. Stefan (Middle Eastern)
      • #2: Richard vs. Jamie (Greek)
      • #3: Jill vs. Radhika (Jamaican)
      • #4: Fabio vs. Jeff (Latin)
      • #5: Hosea vs. Carla (Russian)
      • #6: Leah vs. Melissa (Italian)
      • #7: Danny vs. Patrick (Chinese)
      • #8: Alex vs. Eugene (Indian)
    • At Judges' Table, Eugene, Leah, and Stefan were selected as the judges' favorites out of the eight winners.
    • At Judges' Table, Ariane and Patrick were selected as the judges' least favorites out of the eight losers.
      • WINNER: Stefan (Lamb Chops with Tabouli, Hummus & Yoghurt, Beef Skewer with Caramelized Onions)
      • ELIMINATED: Patrick (Mirin Basted Salmon with Steamed Bok Choy & Sesame Black Rice Noodles)
  • Elimination Challenge Prize: None noted.
  • Guest Judge: Jean-Georges Vongerichten (Elimination Challenge)
  • First aired November 12, 2008

Episode 2: Show Your Craft

  • Quickfire Challenge: The chefs are asked to create their version of a classic, well-loved New York dish: the hot dog. They will be competing against Angelina DiAngelo of Dominick's Hot Dog Truck in Queens. They each have 45 minutes and access to the Top Chef pantry to prepare and present their dish to host Padma Lakshmi and guest judge Donatella Arpaia, a successful restaurateur and food expert. The winner receives immunity from elimination in the next challenge.
    • The Best: Fabio, Hosea, Radhika
    • The Worst: Jill, Stefan
      • WINNER: Radhika (Kabob-Style Sausage with Caramelized Onions, Cucumbers & Tomato Jam)
  • Elimination Challenge: The chefs must now open what Padma calls "Top Chef Restaurant" in Manhattan. They are asked to create a three-course New American lunch menu for fifty diners. Since each chef will be responsible for creating his or her own dish, this is an individual challenge. However, the 15 chefs quickly break down into three main groups: Appetizers (Fabio, Hosea, Jamie, Leah, Melissa), Entrees (Alex, Eugene, Jeff, Jill, Stefan), and Desserts (Ariane, Carla, Danny, Radhika, Richard). As a whole, they are given 30 minutes to shop at Whole Foods Market and a budget of $2,500. During the two-hour prep time, Tom Colicchio comes into the kitchen to make an announcement: the restaurant at which the chefs will be cooking lunch is Craft, Colicchio's own flagship New York location. One more twist: the 50 diners are all New York City chefs who auditioned for Top Chef Season 5 and did not make it. "This is probably going to be one of the toughest crowds you've ever cooked for," he says.
    • At Judges' Table, Carla, Fabio, and Jamie were selected as the judges' favorites.
    • At Judges' Table, Ariane, Hosea and Jill were selected as the judges' least favorites.
      • WINNER: Fabio (Beef Tenderloin Carpaccio with Arugula, Roasted Pine Nuts, & Spherical Kalamata Olives)
      • ELIMINATED: Jill (Ostrich Egg Quiche with Rice-Pecan Crust, Grilled Maitake Mushroom & Asparagus)
  • Elimination Challenge Prize: None noted.
  • Guest Judge: Donatella Arpaia (Quickfire and Elimination Challenges)
  • First aired November 19, 2008

Episode 3: A Foo Fighters Thanksgiving

  • Quickfire Challenge: Padma Lakshmi announces that this week's challenge is about "rolling with the punches." The chefs are asked to draw knives. Each knife is marked with a number, which refers to a specific page in "Top Chef: The Cookbook." Contestants are given an hour to put their own spin on the recipe from that page—a recipe made famous by a previous seasons' cheftestant. However, 10 minutes into the Quickfire, Padma calls for everyone to stop working. "We're in the mood for some soup," says guest judge and award-winning molecular gastronomist Grant Achatz. The chefs must now use their remaining 50 minutes to convert their dishes into soups, using various varieties of Swanson's soup broths provided for them. The winner receives immunity from elimination in the next challenge.
  • Elimination Challenge: First, as the winner of the Quickfire, Leah is given the chance to choose her six teammates for the next challenge. She picks Fabio, Hosea, Jamie, Melissa, Radhika, and Stefan. They become Team Sexy Pants. The remaining contestants—Alex, Ariane, Carla, Danny, Eugene, Jeff and Richard—become Team Cougar. The chefs are asked to cook Thanksgiving dinner for the rock band Foo Fighters and its entire entourage of more than 60 guests, including several vegetarians. They will cook this dinner at the band's next venue—an outdoor kitchen at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, New York. There are no refrigerators, no freezers and no stoves—just prep tables, microwaves and toaster ovens. They are given 15 minutes to create their menus, an hour and $1,200 per team to shop, and three hours to prepare their meals. A member of the losing team will be eliminated.
    • At Judges' Table, Fabio, Hosea, Melissa and Radhika were selected as the judges' favorites from the winning team.
    • At Judges' Table, Danny, Jeff and Richard were selected as the judges' least favorites from the losing team.
      • WINNERS: Hosea (Peach and Blueberry Crisp with Cinnamon Whipped Cream and Pistachio Vinaigrette) and Radhika (Roasted Veggie Vegan Cornbread Stuffing) of Team Sexy Pants
      • ELIMINATED: Richard (Banana S'mores with Vanilla Cream & Chocolate Ganache) of Team Cougar
  • Note: Team Sexy Pants was the winning team for this Elimination Challenge, although Verizon Wireless V CAST revealed that Hosea and Radhika were the two individual winners.
  • Elimination Challenge Prize: The winning team is invited to attend the Foo Fighters concert that night, while the losing team cleans up the kitchen.
  • Guest Judge: Grant Achatz (Quickfire and Elimination Challenges)
  • First aired November 26, 2008

Episode 4: Today Show

  • Quickfire Challenge: The chefs are given 30 minutes to create a breakfast amuse-bouche. The dishes will be evaluated by Padma Lakshmi and Rocco DiSpirito, cookbook author and celebrity chef. The winner receives immunity from elimination in the next challenge, as well as a copy of DiSpirito's latest book, Rocco Gets Real.
    • The Best: Jamie, Leah, Stefan
    • The Worst: Danny, Fabio
      • WINNER: Leah (Fried Quail Egg with Bacon, Spicy Tomato Sauce, Parmigiano & Fried Sage on Grilled Bread)
  • Elimination Challenge: This week's challenge is as much about showcasing the chefs’ telegenic skills as well as their culinary ones. They are asked to create a dish that can be cooked and served for a 2½-minute live television presentation which will be taped inside the Top Chef kitchen. Each chef has a $100 budget, 30 minutes to shop at Whole Foods, and an hour to prep his or her dish. One of the judges’ top three favorites will be the winner. The chef of one of their least three favorites will be eliminated. Later, the top three chefs are woken by head judge Tom Colicchio at 2 a.m. for a twist: They are to be taken to Rockefeller Center to cook their dishes for the hosts of NBC's The Today Show. During the live on-air broadcast, the hosts will choose the winning dish.
    • At Judges' Table, Ariane, Fabio, and Jeff were selected as the judges' favorites.
    • At Judges' Table, Alex, Jamie, and Melissa were selected as the judges' least favorites.
  • Elimination Challenge Prize: A custom-made kit of about two dozen chef's tools put together by Rocco DiSpirito, as well as an opportunity to present a dish live on The Today Show the morning after this episode airs.
  • Guest Judge: Rocco DiSpirito (Quickfire and Elimination Challenges)
  • First aired: December 3, 2008

Episode 5: Gail's Bridal Shower

  • Quickfire Challenge: The chefs arrive in the Top Chef Kitchen to find Padma Lakshmi alone, with no guest judge. The chefs draw knives to choose their competitors. Each pair will be taken into a darkened kitchen and given 15 seconds to taste a specific sauce. They must then bid on the number of ingredients they think they can correctly name. Bids pass back and forth until one chef challenges the other to match the last placed bid. If a complete list of correct ingredients is given, the challenged chef moves on to the next round. Naming any incorrect ingredient ends the round and the challenger moves on. The winner receives immunity from elimination in the next challenge.
    • Round One: Shrimp & Lobster Bouillabaise. Winners: Ariane, Carla, Hosea, Leah, Radhika, Stefan.
    • Round Two: Thai Green Curry. Winners: Carla, Hosea, Stefan.
    • Round Three: Mexican Mole Sauce. The final round is in a spelling bee-style format. The remaining chefs must name a correct ingredient until only one chef is left.
    • WINNER: Hosea
  • Elimination Challenge: Padma is throwing a bridal shower for a "very dear friend" — fellow Top Chef judge Gail Simmons. She asks the chefs to prepare a four-course meal for 40 of Gail's gourmet friends at the shower. Each course is to be inspired by one of the lines of the traditional wedding rhyme, "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue." The chefs draw knives to be placed into teams: Team Old (Hosea, Jeff, and Stefan), Team New (Carla, Danny and Eugene), Team Borrowed (Ariane, Jamie and Radhika) and Team Blue (Fabio, Leah, and Melissa). Each team is given 30 minutes and a budget of $800 to shop at Whole Foods, and 2½ hours to prep their dishes in the Top Chef Kitchen. The next day, they have 1 hour to finish cooking and present their dishes to the bridal shower guests at 24 Fifth Avenue.
    • At Judges' Table, Team Old and Team Borrowed were selected as the judges' favorites.
    • At Judges' Table, Team New and Team Blue were selected as the judges' least favorites.
  • Elimination Challenge Prize: A new set of Calphalon stainless cookware, as well as new Calphalon kitchen electrics.
  • Guest Judge: Dana Cowin (Elimination Challenge)
  • First Aired: December 10, 2008

Episode 6: 12 Days of Christmas

  • Quickfire Challenge: The chefs arrive to find the Top Chef Kitchen decorated for Christmas, Padma Lakshmi waiting to present their next challenge: They are to create a "one pot wonder", a holiday meal that can be prepared in just one cooking vessel. The chefs have 45 minutes to cook and present their dishes to Padma and guest judge, American icon Martha Stewart. The prize, in addition to immunity in the elimination challenge, is an autographed copy of Stewart's latest book, Martha Stewart's Cooking School.
    • The Best: Ariane, Hosea, Jamie
    • The Worst: Eugene, Fabio, Jeff
  • Elimination Challenge: Cater a 250 guest holiday party hosted by amfAR, the American Foundation for AIDS Research, at the Prince George Ballroom in New York City. There will be, including fundraisers, celebrities and guest judges Chef Michelle Bernstein and actress Natasha Richardson. The chefs are given a hint as to the inspiration for their dishes by the arrival of the Harlem Gospel Choir, singing a rendition of "The 12 Days of Christmas." Padma then asks the chefs to draw knives. As only 11 chefs remain in the competition, one of the knives—number 4—was not drawn. The chefs are given 45 minutes to shop at Whole Foods Market and a budget of $800 to create a dish inspired by their verse. They will have three hours to prep that night, one hour to prep and pack the next morning, and one hour to prepare their dishes on-site the next night.
      • Radhika - A Partridge in a Pear Tree
      • Carla - Two Turtledoves
      • Leah - Three French Hens
      • Eugene - Five Golden Rings
      • Ariane - Six Geese a-Laying
      • Jamie - Seven Swans a-Swimming
      • Melissa - Eight Maids a-Milking
      • Fabio - Nine Ladies Dancing
      • Jeff - Ten Lords a-Leaping
      • Hosea - Eleven Pipers Piping
      • Stefan - Twelve Drummers Drumming
    • At Judges' Table, Hosea, Jeff, Radhika, and Stefan were selected as the judges' favorites.
    • At Judges' Table, Eugene, Jamie, and Melissa were selected as the judges' least favorites.
      • WINNER: Hosea (Smoked Pork Loin with Chipotle Mashed Potatoes & Apple Brandy Jus)
      • ELIMINATED: None
  • Note: The judges could not eliminate any of the chefs this week due to a refrigerator malfunction that left Hosea's and Radhika's primary proteins unusable and created an unlevel playing field. On air, Tom Colicchio said the judges felt that all of the dishes, including the best ones, were below "Top Chef" standards, but they admired the way all the chefs worked together to help Hosea and Radhika.
  • Elimination Challenge Prize: All four of the judges' favorites received copies of Michelle Bernstein's latest cookbook, "Cuisine à Latina."
  • Guest Judges: Martha Stewart (Quickfire Challenge), Michelle Bernstein (filling in for Gail Simmons during this challenge), Natasha Richardson (Elimination Challenge)
  • First aired: December 17, 2008

Episode 7: Focus Group

  • Quickfire Challenge: The chefs arrive in the Top Chef Kitchen to see Padma joined by Michelin star-winning chef, Jean-Christophe Novelli. Padma explains that nowadays, chefs must work harder to provide their customers something they crave without all of the guilt. She shows the chefs all the sugar in the Top Chef Pantry, and tells them that she and Jean-Christophe are walking out with it. For their Diet Dr. Pepper Quickfire Challenge, the chefs have 45 minutes to craft a sugar-free dessert so good, the judges will think there is "nothing diet about it." The winner receives immunity from elimination in the next challenge.
  • Elimination Challenge: Tom Colicchio visits the chefs in their apartment to split them into two groups by drawing knives. They are told that two contestants will be eliminated in this challenge, so they can cook what they think will express their individuality. They are given $100 and 30 minutes to shop for a dinner for about 10 people, including the four judges and an unspecified number of mystery food experts. In their groups, the chefs are given two hours to cook at the Astor Center, where they will serve their dishes family-style to the judges. But there are some twists: it is a blind judging (the judges will not know who cooked what dish), and the mystery judges will be the chefs from the other group. Also, the chefs also watch the tasting via a hidden camera and a television installed in the kitchen, revealed after serving their dishes. This gives the chefs a viewing of the honest assessment of their fellow contestants as well as the new permanent judge, British food critic Toby Young.
    • At Judges' Table, Ariane, Jamie, and Stefan were selected as the judges' favorites.
    • At Judges' Table, Carla, Eugene, and Melissa were selected as the judges' least favorites.
  • Elimination Challenge Prize: None noted.
  • Guest Judge: Jean-Christophe Novelli (Quickfire and Elimination Challenges)
  • First aired: January 7, 2009

Episode 8: Down on the Farm

  • Quickfire Challenge: The chefs arrive in the Top Chef Kitchen to see Padma standing with Hung Huynh, the winner of season three. She says that chefs of their caliber should have no problem creating great food when using the freshest and most seasonal ingredients. However, she then removes a cloth to reveal a display of canned goods, as well as other cupboard and pantry staples. The chefs then have 15 minutes to create a delicious dish using only these ingredients. The winner receives immunity from elimination in the next challenge.
  • Elimination Challenge: The chefs are asked to draw knives and split into three teams: Team Chicken (Carla, Jamie and Stefan), Team Lamb (Ariane, Hosea and Leah), and Team Pork (Fabio, Jeff and Radhika). The chefs are to create a delicious, seasonal lunch for 16 people based on their team's protein. Their menu must be served family-style, and must include a dessert. They spend that night planning the menu. The next morning, instead of being taken to Whole Foods Market, they are driven to Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture, a farm in Pocantico Hills, New York owned by award-winning chef, Dan Barber. The chefs are provided cuts of fresh meat from the farm's stock and are allowed to choose fresh produce grown on the grounds. They are given three hours to prepare a lunch for the farmers and chefs from Stone Barns and their families in the kitchen of Chef Barber's on-site restaurant, Blue Hill at Stone Barns.
    • Team Chicken: (Carla, Jamie, Stefan)
      • Chicken Consommé with Chicken and Swiss Chard Ravioli
      • Lemon and Herb Whole Roasted Chicken
      • Heirloom Tomato and Red Onion Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
      • Chicken Paillard with Grilled Corn, Mizuna, Onion & Grape Tomatoes
      • Nectarine and Strawberry Tartlet with Thyme, Cream & Lemon Zest
    • Team Lamb: (Ariane, Hosea, Leah)
    • Team Pork: (Fabio, Jeff, Radhika)
    • At Judges' Table, Team Chicken (Carla, Jamie and Stefan) was selected as the judges' favorite team.
    • At Judges' Table, Team Lamb (Ariane, Hosea and Leah) and Team Pork (Fabio, Jeff and Radhika) were selected as the judges' least favorite teams.
      • WINNERS: Carla, Jamie and Stefan of Team Chicken
      • ELIMINATED: Ariane of Team Lamb
  • Elimination Challenge Prize: None noted.
  • Guest Judges: Hung Huynh (Quickfire Challenge), Dan Barber (Elimination Challenge)
  • First aired: January 14, 2009

Episode 9: Restaurant Wars

  • Quickfire Challenge: The chefs arrive in the Top Chef Kitchen to see Padma standing with successful restaurateur Stephen Starr. She and Stephen explain that part of opening a restaurant is to do a tasting for prospective investors. Therefore, their Quickfire is to do a tasting for Stephen. The chefs then have 30 minutes and complete access to the Top Chef pantry to create one dish that showcases their concept for a potential restaurant. The top two chefs do not receive immunity, but, instead, will be team leaders in the next Elimination Challenge, and will also get to choose their respective teams.
  • Elimination Challenge: For Restaurant Wars, the chefs, split into teams, have 24 hours to create a restaurant and open it for one night. Each team is given $5,000 to shop at Pier 1 Imports for decor, and $3,000 to spend on food at Whole Foods Market and Restaurant Depot, a restaurant provision warehouse. They have 6 hours to prep for the dinner service on location at Bridgewater’s Restaurant, where they would later be serving 60 diners over a period of 5 hours. Radhika and Leah, as the Quickfire winners, get to choose and lead their teams.
    • Sunset Lounge: (Leah, Fabio, Hosea and Stefan)
    • At Judges' Table, Team Sunset Lounge was selected as the judges' favorite team.
    • At Judges' Table, Team Sahana was selected as the judges' least favorite team.
      • WINNER: Stefan
      • ELIMINATED: Radhika
  • Elimination Challenge Prize: A new suite of GE Monogram appliances.
  • Guest Judge: Stephen Starr (Quickfire and Elimination Challenges)
  • First aired: January 21, 2009

Episode 10: Super Bowl Chef Showdown

  • Quickfire Challenge: The chefs arrive in the Top Chef kitchen to see Padma standing with Chef Scott Conant, who recently opened a New York Times three-star rated restaurant. She then presents a chart with a set of hidden secret ingredients on the top row, and hidden food groups on the left column. The contestants must each pick squares on different rows and columns, after which, Padma reveals their corresponding food group. She then uncovers the secret ingredients, disclosing that the chefs will all be working with oats. For their Quaker Oats Quickfire Challenge, they are given 45 minutes to create a unique dish that pairs whole grain oats with the food groups they have chosen. The winner does not receive immunity, but instead gains an advantage in the Elimination Challenge.
    • The Best: Carla, Jamie, Leah
    • The Worst: Fabio, Jeff, Stefan
      • WINNER: Stefan (Banana Oatmeal Mousse with Almond Crisp & Oat and Almond Petit Four)
  • Elimination Challenge: For their elimination, the chefs, united as one team, must compete in the first ever "Top Chef Bowl," against "all-star" contestants from past seasons of the show. Each Season 5 contestant will compete against an all-star chef in a "head-to-head" cook-off, celebrating the regional cuisine of one of seven NFL teams (see below), and using a set of this region's ingredients, provided for them in a "mystery box". Stefan, as the Quickfire winner, is allowed to choose which team's food he will be making, and the all-star chef he will be cooking against. The other chefs, in their teams, have 5 minutes to decide who will be cooking what regional cuisine. Then, they are given 2 hours to experiment with their ingredients and prep for the cook-off. The next day, they are given 20 minutes to create their dishes, head-to-head at the Institute of Culinary Education, in front of an audience including ICE students and the already eliminated contestants. In each round, if a chef receives the majority of the judges' votes, they get a touchdown, worth 7 points. If they receive a majority of the votes of five culinary students tasting their dish, they get a field goal, worth 3 points. And if the judges are split evenly over whose food is the best, the student tasters will decide who receives all 10 points. In the end, the Season 5 chefs that win, 37-33, and are proclaimed the winners of the Top Chef Bowl.
    • NFL teams and pairs of contestants and all-stars, in order of competition. The name of winning chef for each round is italicized.
    • At Judges' Table, Carla, Hosea, Jamie and Leah were selected as the judges' favorites, because they won their separate head-to-head cook-offs.
    • At Judges' Table, Fabio, Jeff and Stefan were selected the judges' least favorites, because they lost their separate head-to-head cook-offs.
  • Elimination Challenge Prize: Two tickets to Super Bowl XLIII.
  • Guest Judge: Scott Conant (Quickfire and Elimination Challenges)
  • First aired: January 28, 2009

Episode 11: Le Bernardin

  • Quickfire Challenge: The chefs walk into the Top Chef kitchen to see Padma standing with Eric Ripert, multi-award winning chef and owner of the highly acclaimed seafood restaurant, Le Bernardin. “Eric is all about technique and precision," she says, "so for your Quickfire, we’re going to test the precision and speed of your technique, in a three-round fish filleting tournament." Chefs with the worst fillets of each round were eliminated, until one is left standing. The winner does not receive immunity, but instead gains an advantage in the Elimination Challenge.
    • Round 1: The chefs have 5 minutes to clean and butterfly two sardines. Jamie and Carla are eliminated.
    • Round 2: The remaining chefs have 5 minutes to clean and fillet an arctic char. Leah and Fabio are eliminated.
    • Round 3: The last two chefs have 10 minutes to skin, clean and fillet a fresh water eel. Hosea is eliminated.
      • WINNER: Stefan
  • Elimination Challenge: Eric Ripert invites the chefs to six-course lunch at his restaurant, Le Bernardin, with Tom Colicchio and himself. After eating, Tom reveals that their Elimination Challenge is to recreate the six-course menu that was just served to them. Stefan, as the Quickfire winner, gets to choose which dish he will be cooking, while the other chefs must draw knives. They have 2 hours to prep in the main kitchen at the restaurant, with the ingredients from the recipes provided for them. Then, they have 15 minutes to cook their dish in the private dining room kitchen, after which they will serve their dishes to the judges.
    • At Judges' Table, Carla, Fabio, and Stefan were selected as the judges' favorites for this challenge.
    • At Judges' Table, Hosea, Jamie, and Leah were selected as the judges' least favorites for this challenge.
      • WINNER: Stefan
      • ELIMINATED: Jamie
  • Elimination Challenge Prize: A copy of Eric Ripert's book On the Line, one week shadowing Ripert at three of his restaurants, starting at Le Bernardin, with a room at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, and a trip to the Food and Wine Festival at Pebble Beach.
  • Guest Judge: Eric Ripert (Quickfire and Elimination Challenges)
  • First aired: February 4, 2009

Episode 12: The Last Supper

  • Quickfire Challenge: The chefs walk into the Top Chef Kitchen to see Padma next to Wylie Dufresne, culinary innovator and chef-owner of wd~50 in New York City. Wylie says that he has always loved eggs, and that breakfast has always been his favorite meal. He then explains that he believes proper egg cookery is a sign of a good chef. So for their Quickfire, the chefs have 1 hour and full access to the Top Chef Pantry, as well as a large assortment of eggs, to create a dish incorporating eggs that will surprise and delight “egghead” Wylie. The winner does not receive immunity, but instead gains an advantage in the Elimination Challenge.
    • The Best: Carla, Stefan
    • The Worst: Fabio, Hosea, Leah
  • Elimination Challenge: Padma asks the chefs to draw knives, and they pull the names of five different luminaries in the culinary world: Celebrity chefs Lidia Bastianich, Marcus Samuelsson, Wylie Dufresne and Jacques Pépin, and James Beard Foundation President Susan Ungaro. Because it was the last meal of the competition in New York, these “superstars” were asked to choose their "last meal."(see below). Carla, as the Quickfire winner, was allowed to switch stars and their associated dishes with another contestant, but chose not to. The chefs have to create a five-course meal for these stars, as well as the judges, with each chef preparing the dish chosen by the chef whose name they selected. They have $300 and 30 minutes to shop at Whole Foods Market, and then two hours to cook their dishes at the Capitale in Lower Manhattan, where the dinner will be held.
    • At Judges' Table, Carla and Fabio were selected as the judges' favorites.
    • At Judges' Table, Hosea, Leah, and Stefan were selected as the judges' least favorites.
      • WINNER: Fabio (Roasted Chicken with Herb Roasted Potatoes, Caramelized Cipollini Onions & Grilled Lemon with Leafy Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette)
      • ELIMINATED: Leah (Slow-Poached Eggs Benedict with Bacon & Hollandaise Sauce on Challah Toast with Salad of Mixed Greens)
  • Elimination Challenge Prize: A bottle of Terlato Angel's Peak Wine and a three day, two night trip to the Terlato vineyard.
  • Guest Judges: Wylie Dufresne (Quickfire and Elimination Challenges), Lidia Bastianich, Marcus Samuelsson, Susan Ungaro, Jacques Pépin (Elimination Challenge)
  • Note: Although all of the above culinary luminaries are credited as guest judges in the Elimination Challenge, only Jacques Pépin was at Judges' Table.
  • First aired: February 11, 2009

Episode 13: New Orleans Finale, Part 1

  • Quickfire Challenge: Six months after the taping of the previous episode, the chefs arrive at the Houmas House Plantation and Gardens in New Orleans, Lousiana. Here, they see Padma with Head Judge Tom Colicchio, as well as celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse, a television host and restaurant owner known as the “King of Creole Cuisine.” “Nowhere in the country does the food represent so vividly the spirit and soul of a city,” Padma says after welcoming the finalists. “Yes; I mean what an incredible food city,” agrees Emeril, “One of the oldest in America, and we are going and experiencing a total rebirth after the last four years of what we’ve gone through with Hurricane Katrina. But I’ll tell you; the spirit of the food could not be any bigger.” Padma tells the chefs that they can relax for this challenge, because they won't be competing; instead, three other chefs will. From the house come Jamie, Jeff and Leah, the three most recently eliminated contestants. Tom explains that in the spirit of the rebirth of New Orleans, these three chefs have been given an opportunity to return to the competition. For their Quickfire Challenge, they have one hour to create a dish featuring one of New Orleans’s most celebrated ingredients: crawfish. The winner will join the four finalists in the Elimination Challenge, but will have to win that challenge to reach the final round. In addition, they will also receive a copy of Emeril's new book, Emeril at the Grill.
  • Elimination Challenge: The now five finalists head to Mardi Gras World, a Mardi Gras warehouse, where they meet with Padma and Emeril Lagasse. She explains that their Elimination Challenge is to cater the Krewe of Orpheus Masquerade Ball at the New Orleans Museum of Art, for roughly 100 guests. They must each prepare a cocktail and two dishes, one of which must be in the Creole style of cooking. As Emeril explains, Creole cooking is the city version of Louisiana cooking, influenced by the French, Spanish, and African-American cultures. They have five hours to prep and cook at Emeril’s Delmonico, with access to all of the ingredients stocked there, and one hour to set up at the museum and meet with their respective bartender provided to assist them in serving their cocktail.
    • At Judges' Table, Carla, Hosea and Jeff were selected as the judges' favorites.
    • At Judges' Table, Fabio and Stefan were selected as the judges' least favorites.
      • WINNER: Carla (Cranberry and Ginger Spritzer with Lime; Shrimp and Andouille Beignet with Creole Mustard Aioli; Oyster Stew with Bacon, Celery Root, Potato & Scallions)
      • ELIMINATED: Jeff (Cucumber Mojito; Fried Oyster with Arugula & Homemade Sausage; Crawfish Pot de Crème with Shiitake Mushrooms & Scallions) and Fabio (“Trinitini:” Macerated Red Bell Pepper with Lime Juice, Grapefruit & Black Rum; Maque Choux with Roasted Rabbit, Smoked Sausage & Buttery Grits; Caserecci Pasta with Crawfish and Crab Stew; Muffuletta Bread)
  • Elimination Challenge Prize: A new 2009 Toyota Venza.
  • Guest Judge: Emeril Lagasse (Quickfire and Elimination Challenges)
  • First aired: February 18, 2009

Episode 14: New Orleans Finale, Part 2

  • Final Challenge: After breakfast on the Creole Queen, the final three chefs arrive at the Historic New Orleans Collection to meet with Padma and Tom. They are instructed to cook the best three-course meal of their life, with no restrictions, for twelve judges. As in past seasons, each is allowed to pick a sous chef, this time runners-up of previous seasons, Marcel (Season 2), Casey (Season 3), and Richard (Season 4). The chefs draw knives to select the order in which they will select their sous chefs. Hosea has the first pick chooses to work with Richard. Stefan has the second pick and chooses Marcel, leaving Carla to work with Casey. The chefs and their sous chefs then have two hours to prep at the Audubon Tea Room, and another three hours to cook their dishes at Commander's Palace, where the dinner will be held. On the day of the meal, they are told to create an additional hors d'oeuvre using one of three meats: redfish, crab, or alligator. A king cake is used to determine which what meat each chef will use - the chef finding the doll gets his or her choice of protein, and then assigns the other proteins to the other two chefs. Hosea finds it, and chooses redfish as his protein, while assigning Carla to use crab and Stefan to work with alligator.
    • Carla: (Sous chef: Casey)
    • Hosea: (Sous chef: Richard)
      • Hors d'oeuvre: Blackened Redfish on Griddled Corn Cake with Creole Remoulade, Micro Cilantro & Corn Shoots
      • First Course: Tuna, Hamachi and Black Bass Sashimi with Fennel Oil, Citrus, Candied Kumquats & Fried Tempura Bits
      • Second Course: Seared Scallop and Foie Gras on Pain Perdu with Apple Preserves, Cardamom, Candied Pecans & Foie Gras Foam
      • Third Course: Pan Roasted Venison with Blackberry Demi-Glace, Chestnut and Celery Root Purée, Wild Mushrooms, & Carbonated Blackberries
    • Stefan: (Sous chef: Marcel)
    • At Judges' Table, the judges agreed that Carla fell down on her second and third courses, and was no longer in the running. They agreed that Stefan had the best second course, but was weaker on his first and third courses. The judges felt that Hosea had the best third course, and the strongest meal overall.
  • WINNER of Top Chef 5: Hosea Rosenberg
  • ELIMINATED: Carla and Stefan
  • Prize: A feature in Food & Wine Magazine, a showcase at the annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, $100,000 and the title of “Top Chef”.
  • Guest Judges: Rocco DiSpirito, Hubert Keller, Branford Marsalis, Susan Spicer, John Besh, Tory McPhail, Ti Martin, Fabio Viviani (Final Challenge)
  • Note: While all of the guest judges listed ate the contestants' meals, none were present at Judges' Table. Only the four permanent judges took part in the final discussion and decision.
  • First aired: February 25, 2009

Episode 15: Reunion

  • All the chefs and judges were reunited for the first time since they had gathered in New York City. Topics discussed included the "bro-mance" that went on between Stefan and Fabio; Tom Colicchio's life-rescue in Washington, D.C.; Gail Simmons's wedding; if Toby Young was the "Simon Cowell" of Top Chef; and Jamie's bad mood whenever she didn't win a challenge while on the top. Also included were the surprising "romance" that went on between Hosea and Leah; who the biggest crier was this season; why Patrick and Lauren couldn't handle the first Quickfire Challenge; some advice on "where Stefan got his cockiness from and how the viewer can get it"; the large amount of bald guys on the show; and if there were nicknames for the chefs this season. Videos included Hosea's ride from the first challenge to winning Top Chef; "documentaries" of Fabio, Carla, Stefan, Jeff, and Jamie; a "birthday curse" of getting eliminated on or near their birthday for Daniel, Eugene, Radhika, and Leah; the more painful moments at Judges' Table. Also shown were a tribute to the bald contestants on the show; Stefan and Fabio's "bro-mance"; Hosea and Leah's "romance"; Jamie and Leah's drunk night at Judges' Table; and the biggest weepers of this season. In addition, Fabio Viviani was awarded $10,000 and the title of Fan Favorite.
  • Fan Favorite: Fabio
  • First aired: March 4, 2009


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