Tom Colicchio: I Would Pick Hosea as the Top Chef Again
02/26/2009 AT 12:00 AM EST
Tom Colicchio has absolutely no regrets about naming Hosea Rosenberg winner on Wednesday's Top Chef season finale, and now he has something to say to fuming fans.
"If I had to do it all over again, reading what I'm reading, I'd still say Hosea wins. He made a better meal," he told PEOPLE exclusively, calling from New York on Thursday afternoon.
While some fans … including many PEOPLE.com readers … stewed over Rosenberg's victory and emphasized Stefan Richter's multiple wins and Carla Hall's passion for food, Colicchio, who acts as the show's head judge, stands by the judges' decision.
"It's fortunate for Hosea that he put together a better meal than Stefan," Colicchio says. "Simple as that. We don't care about personalities. We don’t care about who was making out. We simply care about who put together a better meal from start to finish."
Plus, he adds, the judges only consider the output from that night's challenge … never relying on past performances or outside factors.
"I come to Judges' Table with an idea of who I think should win based on what the challenge was … not based on who I think the best chef is," he says.
Transparency In the Judging Process Speaking about the judging process, Colicchio says that he and his fellow panelists … Padma Lakshmi, Gail Simmons and Toby Young … spend about two hours discussing the pros and cons of each dish before reaching a conclusion. As for the decision to name Rosenberg the winner, Colicchio says he's not positive if it was completely unanimous.
"It may have been three out of four judges," he says. "I don’t remember one hundred percent. I think Toby may have wanted to give it to Stefan if I remember correctly."
Addressing fan discussion about producers swaying the outcome, he emphasizes the results are authentic: They are determined solely by the judges.
"The producers don’t have any say over who stays or who goes," he says. "I know there's a little disclaimer up there that says that they do, but it's done for legal reasons. They don’t influence it at all. There are times they'll say 'Are you sure?' and we're sure that person has to go. I don’t take it lightly. We sit there for two hours."
Personality ConflictsWhen it came down to what was presented at the finale, Colicchio feels that Richter's carpaccio dish was "not very good at all," and calls Hall's meat course "so-so."
"Casey didn't ruin it for her," he says, addressing fan criticism that Hall was foiled by her given sous chef, former competitor Casey Thompson. "Every one one of those sous chefs made decisions, and you either took their advice or you didn't take their advice."
As for questions of how personality sways the competitive edge, the chef says the judges never take it into consideration, though that doesn't mean personality doesn't influence the competitors themselves.
Take the cocksure Richter.
"I think that cocky attitude hurt him because I don’t think he put as much into his final dishes as he could have," Colicchio says. "I guarantee that if you asked him now if he'd do something differently for dessert, he'd say, 'Yeah.' "
Adds Colicchio, "At the end of the day, I would say runner-up Fabio Vivani will end up doing more than the winner only because of his personality. That's where the personality comes in. This season, most are going to remember Fabio." --Brian Orloff