What It's Like Behind The Scenes Of Top Chef, According To Hosea Rosenberg - Exclusive

"Top Chef" Hosea Rosenberg will be the first one to tell you how much his life has changed since winning Season 5 of the hit cooking competition show on Bravo. "I didn't even really know what I was getting myself into when I did the show. I'm just competitive and I've done a lot of cooking competitions locally," he told Mashed in an exclusive interview. After nearly 30 challenges, Rosenberg beat out 16 other competitors to fight his way to the top (per Top Chef Stats) and take home the "Top Chef" title. And it's been an uphill climb since then. "It was a huge 180 right after the show," Rosenberg said, adding "it definitely helped me advance my career, got me in front of people I never would've gotten in front of. Got me a lot of exposure. And it's also created a lot of connections for me. And even people that I wasn't on the show with, I've become friends with."

But as positive as the experience has been, Rosenberg will also be the first to admit that "Top Chef" is anything but a walk in the park. "It's one of the hardest things I've ever done professionally," he said. Rosenberg went on to share what it's like to compete on the show, including details the cameras don't capture. 

Top Chef is a stressful experience on and off camera, according to Hosea Rosenberg

It's true that "Top Chef" has been a life-changing opportunity for so many chefs, leading them to the culinary careers of their dreams. But ask any of them, and they'll most likely tell you just how grueling the journey to the top was. Hosea Rosenberg is no exception. "The experience was really difficult. It's really stressful," he said. And not just because of the intense kitchen challenges, but behind the scenes, too. "We were sequestered for six weeks. We didn't have any contact with the outside world. They take your phone away, you're not allowed to be online, you can't listen to music, you can't watch the news, nothing. So you're just totally separated from reality for a very long time. That made it incredibly hard."

Things don't get easier the moment you go home, either. After the final challenge is complete and the winner is crowned, the waiting game begins. As Rosenberg put it, "you film and it's months before it ends up on TV ... You're not allowed to talk about it until it airs."

Hosea Rosenberg shares what it's like filming with Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio

As if the stakes weren't high enough on "Top Chef", the show rolls out an incredibly intimidating slate of culinary giants for the contestants to try and impress. And then of course there's Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio who are there for every single challenge. 

"One thing that people don't realize... we really only see [Colicchio] at the judges' table," Rosenberg said, adding that "he's not there when you're cooking. He's not necessarily even there when you're plating... So there were periods of time where we didn't even see his face." When they did see his face, though, Rosenberg admits it was intense. "Tom was very serious, you know? He had these steely blue eyes and he was very intimidating." It doesn't help that he could make or break your chances. "He's the top chef... at the end of the day, he kind of has the final say," Rosenberg admitted.

On the other hand, Rosenberg said Lakshmi helped lighten up the whole experience. "I felt like I knew her a little bit better... with Padma it was a little bit more fun and she would come into the studio and joke around with us." He revealed, "We never knew what was going on, so she'd read us the headlines of the news and tell us what was going on. And then read horoscopes."

To taste something made by a "Top Chef," check out Hosea Rosenberg's recipes with Teton Waters Ranch.