Top Chef

Last updated
Top Chef
Top Chef logo.png
Genre
Presented by
Judges
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons17
No. of episodes260 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producers
  • Dan Cutforth
  • Jane Lipsitz
Running time42 minutes
Production companyMagical Elves Productions
Distributor NBCUniversal Television Distribution
Release
Original network Bravo
Original releaseMarch 8, 2006 (2006-03-08) 
present
External links
Website
Production website

Top Chef is an American reality competition television series that premiered on March 8, 2006, on Bravo. The show features chefs competing against each other in culinary challenges. They are judged by a panel of professional chefs and other notables from the food and wine industry with one or more contestants eliminated in each episode. The show is produced by Magical Elves Productions, the company that created Project Runway . [1]

Contents

The show has spawned multiple spin-off series, including Top Chef Masters , featuring established award-winning chefs, and Top Chef: Just Desserts , featuring pastry chefs. Top Chef Junior , which features contestants in their early teens, premiered in October 2017 on Universal Kids. A spin-off featuring home cooks, Top Chef Amateurs, is scheduled to premiere in 2021. Numerous international adaptations of Top Chef have also been produced.

The eighteenth season, Top Chef: Portland , premiered on April 1, 2021. [2]

Show format

Basic format

Top Chef is a cooking show that uses a progressive elimination format. The beginning of each season starts with twelve to nineteen professional chefs selected through auditions. The chefs are brought to the season's host city or state, which typically inspires themes throughout the season. The chefs live in a provided apartment or house during the course of the season, with limited access to outside communication. Each episode, the chefs participate in a Quickfire Challenge and an Elimination Challenge (described below). The winner of the Quickfire Challenge is typically granted immunity from elimination, a prize, or another benefit for the following Elimination Challenge. The loser of the Elimination Challenge, as the name suggests, is eliminated from the competition. This format continues until two or three chefs remain. Each finalist is challenged to create a full-course meal; the chef with the best meal as determined by the judges is declared the "Top Chef" of the season. Towards the end of the season, when only four or five chefs remain, the show moves to another location to finish out the competition.

In the Quickfire Challenge, chefs must cook a dish that meets certain requirements (for example, using specific ingredients or inspiring a certain taste) or participate in a culinary-related challenge (for example, a mise en place relay race or a taste testing contest). They are usually given an hour or less to complete these tasks. The Quickfire Challenge traditionally begins with the host saying "Your time starts now" and ending with the host saying "Hands up, utensils down". [3] A guest judge selects one or more chefs as the best in the challenge. Early in the season, the winning chef(s) are granted immunity from the episode's Elimination Challenge. As the number of contestants dwindle, immunity is withdrawn and instead the winner receives an advantage (such as being the team leader for a team challenge or getting first pick of ingredients) or a prize (such as chef's knives, wine, or cash). To emphasize the culture and environment of the sixth season's Las Vegas setting, the show introduced "High-stakes Quickfire Challenges", which features extravagant rewards, usually a large cash prize upwards of US$10,000. High-stakes Quickfire Challenges continued onward in further seasons. The twelfth season of Top Chef introduced the "Sudden Death Quickfire Challenge", where the chef with the least successful dish faces immediate elimination unless they win a cook-off against another competitor.

In the Elimination Challenge, the chefs prepare one or more dishes to meet the challenge requirements, which often includes a specific theme and are usually more complex and require more time to execute than a Quickfire Challenge. Elimination Challenges may be individual challenges or require chefs to work in teams; some may require the contestants to produce several courses. Teams may be selected by the remaining chefs, but are more often determined by a random process, such as "drawing knives" from a knife block. The time limit for an Elimination Challenge may range from a few hours to a few days, which typically includes preparation and planning time. Ingredients for Elimination Challenges generally allow chefs access to both the Top Chef pantry and the ingredients they previously purchased at a grocery store, within a specified budget and shopping time limit. However, certain challenges may provide specific ingredients or limit the type or number of ingredients that can be used, while others require non-traditional methods for obtaining ingredients (such as asking people door-to-door or fishing). After shopping, the contestants will cook for up to four judges, usually including at least one guest judge. In most cases, the contestants cook for a group of guest diners as well.

After the Elimination Challenge, the chefs report to the Judges' Table, where the judges will deliberate on their choices for the best and worst dishes. The judges may also consider guests' comments, if available. The top individuals or teams are called in, and may be asked questions about their dishes or preparation before they are notified of their placement. One or more chefs are named the winner of the challenge and may be awarded an additional prize by the guest judge. The same procedure is repeated with the poorest performing chefs or teams, after which similar discussion takes place. From this group, one or more chefs are chosen for elimination, with the host asking the chef(s) to leave by saying "Please pack your knives and go." This is usually followed by a knife packing sequence for the eliminated chef(s), with a voice-over of their final thoughts about their performance, at the close of the episode. According to the credits, some elimination decisions are made in consultation with the show's producers.

The prize money awarded to the Top Chef was US$100,000 for the first five seasons, which was then increased to $125,000 from the sixth season onward. The prize was temporarily increased to $200,000 for the show's eighth season, Top Chef: All-Stars , and $250,000 for the seventeenth season, Top Chef: All-Stars L.A. [4] [5] Furthermore, beginning with Top Chef: Los Angeles , a fan vote is held each season to determine the Fan Favorite, which features an additional $10,000 prize.

Special formats

Midway through each season, the contestants participate in a "Restaurant Wars" (or similarly named) Elimination Challenge. They are split into two teams, created by the winner of the previous Quickfire Challenge, or by drawing knives. In these teams, the chefs must transform an empty space into a functioning pop-up restaurant within a set time limit and budget, selecting and creating the name, theme, décor, and menu. Typically, one team member is designated the role of "executive chef", who is responsible for managing the kitchen and expediting food, while another team member is designated as "front of house", who is responsible for training the waitstaff and managing the dining room. Top Chef: Chicago featured not only Restaurant Wars, but a "Wedding Wars" challenge as well. Top Chef: Kentucky introduced the challenge much earlier in the season, during its fourth episode, and utilized three teams instead of the usual two.

In the final Elimination Challenge, the two or three remaining chefs must prepare a multiple course dinner with the assistance of sous chefs. These sous chefs could be previously eliminated contestants, members of the contestants' family, or celebrity chefs. The winner is selected based on the overall quality of their meal. There is typically no Quickfire Challenge during this episode.

Last Chance Kitchen

The Last Chance Kitchen is a web series, first introduced in Top Chef: Texas , featuring challenges in which the contestants compete for a chance to re-enter the main competition. Each week, two or more previously eliminated chefs compete against each other in the Top Chef kitchen, with the results judged solely by Tom Colicchio. The winner(s) of each week moves on to face the next eliminated Top Chef contestant(s), while the loser is eliminated from the competition for good. Initially, only the winner of the final episode of Last Chance Kitchen returned to compete. However, beginning with Top Chef: Colorado , the format was changed to allow two chances to re-enter.

Seasons

SeasonWinnerRunner(s)-upFan FavoriteAir DatesFilming Location
1 Harold Dieterle Tiffani Faison N/AMarch 8 – May 24, 2006San Francisco, California
2 Ilan Hall Marcel Vigneron Sam Talbot October 18, 2006 – January 31, 2007Los Angeles, California
3 Hung Huynh Dale Levitski Casey ThompsonCasey ThompsonJune 6 – October 13, 2007Miami, Florida
4 Stephanie Izard Lisa Fernandes Richard Blais Stephanie IzardMarch 12 – June 11, 2008Chicago, Illinois
5 Hosea Rosenberg Stefan Richter Carla Hall Fabio Viviani November 12, 2008 – March 4, 2009New York City
6 Michael Voltaggio Bryan Voltaggio Kevin Gillespie Kevin GillespieAugust 19 – December 16, 2009 Las Vegas, Nevada
7 Kevin SbragaEd Cotton Angelo Sosa Tiffany Derry June 16 – September 15, 2010Washington, D.C.
8 Richard BlaisMike IsabellaCarla HallDecember 1, 2010 – April 6, 2011New York City
9 Paul Qui Sarah Grueneberg Chris CraryNovember 2, 2011 – March 7, 2012 Texas
10 Kristen Kish Brooke WilliamsonSheldon SimeonNovember 7, 2012 – February 27, 2013 Seattle, Washington
11 Nicholas Elmi Nina Compton Nina ComptonOctober 2, 2013 – February 5, 2014 New Orleans, Louisiana
12 Mei Lin Gregory GourdetN/AOctober 15, 2014 – February 11, 2015 Boston, Massachusetts
13 Jeremy FordAmar SantanaIsaac ToupsDecember 2, 2015 – March 17, 2016California
14 Brooke WilliamsonShirley ChungSheldon SimeonDecember 1, 2016 – March 2, 2017 Charleston, South Carolina
15 Joseph FlammAdrienne Cheatham Fatima Ali December 7, 2017 – March 8, 2018 Colorado
16 Kelsey Barnard ClarkSara BradleyKelsey Barnard ClarkDecember 6, 2018 – March 14, 2019 Kentucky
17 Melissa King Bryan Voltaggio Stephanie Cmar Melissa KingMarch 19 – June 18, 2020Los Angeles, California
18 TBATBATBAApril 1, 2021 [2] Portland, Oregon

Spin-offs

Top Chef Masters

Top Chef Masters features established, award-winning chefs, in contrast to Top Chef, which typically features younger, up-and-coming chefs. The series debuted on June 10, 2009, with contestants including Rick Bayless, John Besh, Michael Chiarello, Wylie Dufresne, Jonathan Waxman and Hubert Keller. As of 2013, five seasons have been produced and aired. During its first two seasons, food journalist Kelly Choi hosted the show, while restaurant critic Gael Greene, culinary expert and Saveur editor-in-chief James Oseland, and food critic Jay Rayner served as judges. [6] Beginning with the third season, celebrity chef Curtis Stone replaced Choi as host. [7]

Top Chef: Just Desserts

Top Chef: Just Desserts is a spin-off of the Top Chef format featuring pastry chefs. The series was announced by Bravo on October 25, 2009. [8] The show was hosted by Top Chef regular Gail Simmons. The judging panel included James Beard Award-winning pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini, Top Chef Masters finalist Hubert Keller, and DailyCandy's "editor-at-large" Dannielle Kyrillos. [9] The show debuted on Bravo on September 15, 2010, following the seventh season finale of Top Chef. The series was cancelled after two seasons. [10]

Top Chef: Healthy Showdown

Top Chef: Healthy Showdown is a special webisode series aired in 2011 sponsored by Healthy Choice. It featured former Top Chef contestants Sara Nguyen (Season 3), Ryan Scott (Season 4), Casey Thompson (Season 3, Season 8), and Tre Wilcox (Season 3, Season 8) competing in a series of Quickfire Challenges to win $25,000 and inspire a Top Chef line of Healthy Choice entrées. [11] The series was hosted by Curtis Stone; Ryan was declared the winner of the competition.

Life After Top Chef

Life After Top Chef is a spin-off featuring former Top Chef contestants Richard Blais, Jennifer Carroll, Spike Mendelsohn, and Fabio Viviani, which focuses on various aspects of their lives, from managing and opening a restaurant to dealing with family dynamics and personal issues. It premiered on October 3, 2012. [12]

Top Chef Duels

Top Chef Duels brings back contestants from past seasons of Top Chef and Top Chef Masters, pitting them against each other in head-to-head challenges. [13] The winner of each match-up advanced to the season finale, where one chef received $100,000. [13] The series premiered on August 6, 2014. [14]

Top Chef Junior

Top Chef Junior is a spin-off series originally ordered in 2008 for an eight-episode run on Bravo. [15] [16] The show had never aired, nor is it known if any episodes were produced at that time. However, nine years later, Top Chef Junior was mentioned as part of the initial lineup for Universal Kids, an NBCUniversal-owned children's channel launched on September 9, 2017. [17] The series features young chefs between the ages of 9–14. [18] It is hosted by actress Vanessa Lachey, with Top Chef Masters and Top Chef Duels host Curtis Stone serving as its head judge. [18] The first season of Top Chef Junior premiered on October 13, 2017, and its second season premiered on September 8, 2018. [19] [20]

Top Chef Amateurs

Top Chef Amateurs is a spin-off featuring home cooks competing in head-to-head challenges drawn from past seasons of Top Chef. [21] Production of the show began in October 2020 in Portland, Oregon, following filming of the original series' eighteenth season. [21] The show will be hosted by Gail Simmons and is slated to premiere in 2021. [21]

International adaptations

There have been a number of local versions of Top Chef around the world based on the original American format. Licensing of the format is handled by NBCUniversal Television Distribution.

CountryLocal titleHost(s)JudgesChannel(s)Year(s) aired
Flag of Algeria.svg AlgeriaTop Chef DZBrahim Ghazali
  • Nawel Ouyahia
  • Mehdi Chettah
  • Amine Mesilli
Lina Television15 November 2020
Flag of the Arab League.svg Arab World [22] [23] [24] Top Chef Siham Tueni (season 1)
Joumana Mrad (season 2)
  • Joe Barza
  • Siham Tueni (season 1)
  • Joumana Mrad (season 2)
LBC
Rotana Masriya
2011–2012
Mona Mosly MBC 1
MBC Masr 2
LBCI
Galaxy (TV Channel)
2016–present
Flag of Brazil.svg Brazil [25] Top Chef Brasil Felipe Bronze
  • Ailin Aleixo
  • Emmanuel Bassoleil
RecordTV 2019–present
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg Canada (in English) [26] Top Chef Canada Thea Andrews (season 1)
Lisa Ray (seasons 2–4)
Eden Grinshpan
Food Network Canada 2011–2014, 2017–present
Flag of Chile.svg Chile [27] Top Chef Julián Elfenbein
  • Carlo Von Mühlenbrock
  • Pamela Fidalgo
  • Ciro Watanabe
TVN 2014
Flag of El Salvador.svg El Salvador [28] Top Chef El SalvadorMarcela Santamaria (season 1–2)
  • Marta Elena García (season 1–2)
  • Jay Bruzon (season 1)
  • Roberto Sartogo (season 1–2)
  • Lorenzo Álvarez (season 2)
TCS 2015–2016
Flag of Finland.svg Finland [29] Top Chef Suomi Pipsa Hurmerinta
  • Pia Kämppi
  • Hans Välimäki
Sub 2011–2013
Flag of France.svg France [30]
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium (in French) [30]
Top Chef Stéphane Rotenberg
Sandrine Corman (season 1)
Agathe Lecaron (season 2)
Flag of France.svg M6
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg RTL-TVI
2010–present
Flag of Germany.svg Germany [31] Top Chef GermanyDaniel Boschmann Sat.1 2019
Flag of Greece.svg Greece [32] Top ChefNadia Boule
  • Elias Mamalakis
  • Christophoros Peskias
  • Apostolos Trastelis
  • Herve Pronzato
ANT1 2010
Flag of Indonesia.svg Indonesia [33] Top Chef Indonesia Farah Quinn SCTV 2013
Flag of Italy.svg Italy [34] Top Chef Italia N/A
  • Annie Féolde
  • Mauro Colagreco
  • Giuliano Baldessari
  • Moreno Cedroni (season 1)
NOVE 2016–2017
Flag of Mexico.svg Mexico [35] Top Chef México Ana Claudia Talancón
  • Aquiles Chávez
  • Guillermo González Beristáin
  • Martha Ortíz
  • Juantxo Sánchez
Canal Sony, NBC Universo 2016–present
Flag of the Netherlands.svg Netherlands [36] Topchef Martijn Krabbé
  • Robert Kranenborg
  • Julius Jaspers
RTL Nederland 2009–2012
Flag of Panama.svg Panama [37] Top Chef PanamáKaren Guerra
Arturo Illueca
  • Charlie Collins
  • Pedro Masoliver
Telemetro 2016–present
Flag of Poland.svg Poland [38] [39] Top Chef (season 1–7)Grzegorz Łapanowski
  • Wojciech Modest Amaro
  • Maciej Nowak
  • Ewa Wachowicz
  • Grzegorz Łapanowski (season 3–6)
  • Robert Sowa (season 7)
  • Joseph Seelesto (season 1–2)
Polsat 2013–2016, 2018
Top Chef. Gwiazdy od kuchni(spin-off)Maciej Rock
Flag of Portugal.svg Portugal [40] Top ChefSilvia Alberto
  • José Cordeiro
  • Susana Felicidade
  • Ricardo Costa
RTP 1 2012
Flag of Romania.svg Romania [40] Top Chef Alina Pușcaș
  • Joseph Hadad
  • Tudor Constantinescu
  • Nicolai Tand
Antena 1 2012
Flag of South Africa.svg South Africa (in English) [41] Top Chef South AfricaLorna Maseko
  • Neill Anthony
  • Lesego Semenya
SABC 3 2016–present
Flag of Spain.svg Spain [42] Top Chef N/A
  • Alberto Chicote
  • Susi Díaz
  • Paco Roncero (season 3–4)
  • Angel León (season 1)
  • Yayo Daporta (season 2)
Antena 3 2013–2017
Flag of Sweden.svg Sweden [43] KöksmästarnaN/A Kanal 5 2014
Flag of Thailand.svg Thailand [44] Top Chef Thailand Pitipat Kutragule
  • Willment Leong
  • Suphamongkhon Suppipat
  • Thidid Tadsanakajon
  • Phichaya Uthantam
ONE HD 2017–2019
Flag of the United States.svg United States (in Spanish) [45] Top Chef Estrellas Aylin Mujica Telemundo 2014–2015
Flag of Vietnam.svg VietnamTop Chef Vietnam: Đầu Bếp Đỉnh [46] Thúy Hạnh HTV72014–2015
Top Chef Vietnam: Đầu Bếp Thượng Đỉnh [47] Khả Như

Đại Nghĩa

  • Nguyễn Nam (Episode 1)
  • Trịnh Diễm Vy
  • Jack Lee
  • Dương Huy Khải

Each episode has a guest judge

HTV72019

Other media

Top Chef University

Top Chef University is a comprehensive online culinary school involving 12 courses and over 200 in-depth video-lessons. The program takes participants through a structured program of the basics (knife skills, kitchen set-up, ingredients) to advanced culinary techniques (sous-vide, molecular gastronomy). The instructors at Top Chef University consist of the series' most successful and popular former contestants. Enrollment costs $25 for a monthly membership and $200 for an annual membership. [48]

Top Chef: The Game

Top Chef: The Game is a computer game released by Brighter Minds for PCs. It challenges players to create the best dish from items in a virtual pantry. Games magazine gave the game an unfavorable review, calling it a "quick cash-in... for an undiscriminating audience." [49]

TV dinners

In efforts to make certain dishes available to viewers who watch Top Chef, but do not have time to prepare those dishes themselves, Schwan's Home Service started offering Top Chef—branded frozen meals in late 2009. [50]

Cookbooks

On March 20, 2008, Chronicle Books released Top Chef: The Cookbook, with a foreword by Tom Colicchio. [51] On September 30, 2009, Chronicle Books released Top Chef: The Quickfire Cookbook, with a foreword by Padma Lakshmi. [52] On July 14, 2010, Chronicle Books released How to Cook Like a Top Chef, with a foreword by Rick Bayless. [53]

Reception and awards

Awards

Top Chef was nominated at the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Cinematography for Reality Programming and Outstanding Reality-Competition Program for its second season. [54] Top Chef won the award for Outstanding Picture Editing For Reality Programming at the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards. [55] Top Chef won the award for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program at the 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards, defeating The Amazing Race , which had won the award every year since the category's inception in 2003. [56]

Time magazine's James Poniewozik named Top Chef one of the Top 10 Returning Series of 2007, ranking it at #10. [57]

Ratings

SeasonSeason premiereSeason finale
DateUS viewers
(in millions)
DateUS viewers
(in millions)
1 March 8, 20061.30 [58] May 24, 20061.50 [59]
2 October 18, 20061.87 [60] January 31, 20073.89 [61]
3 June 13, 20072.02 [60] October 3, 20073.08 [62]
4 March 12, 20082.26 [63] June 11, 20083.51 [64]
5 November 12, 20082.70 [65] February 25, 20093.74 [66]
6 August 19, 20092.60 [67] December 9, 20093.40 [68]
7 June 16, 20101.80 [69] September 15, 20102.70 [70]
8 December 1, 20101.70 [71] March 30, 20112.77 [70]
9 November 2, 20111.59 [72] February 29, 20121.85 [73]
10 November 7, 2012N/AFebruary 27, 20131.85 [74]
11 October 2, 2013N/AFebruary 5, 20141.70 [75]
12 October 15, 20141.09 [76] February 11, 20150.96 [77]

See also

Related Research Articles

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MasterChef Junior is an American cooking competition involving children from the ages of 8–13 that premiered on Fox on September 27, 2013. It is based on the format of the British series Junior MasterChef.

Top Chef: Boston is the twelfth season of the American reality television series Top Chef. The season was formally announced on August 20, 2014, and premiered on October 15, 2014. Filming for Season 12 took place from May through June 2014 in locations around Boston, Massachusetts, concluding with a finale in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato and the surrounding area. Top Chef: Chicago finalist and Top Chef: All-Stars winner Richard Blais debuted as a recurring judge, joining Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons, Hugh Acheson, and host Padma Lakshmi on the judging panel. Last Chance Kitchen also returned for its fourth season, beginning with a two-part redemption mid-season and continuing until the first part of the finale. In the season finale, Mei Lin was declared the Top Chef, defeating Gregory Gourdet. Unlike previous seasons, no Fan Favorite vote was held.

Top Chef: California is the thirteenth season of the American reality television series Top Chef. The season was announced by Bravo on April 14, 2015. Similar to Top Chef: Texas, filming took place in several locations across California, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Oakland, and the greater Palm Springs area, concluding with a finale in Las Vegas, Nevada. Top Chef: California had a two-night premiere on December 2–3, 2015. Host Padma Lakshmi and head judge Tom Colicchio returned, alongside judges Gail Simmons, Emeril Lagasse, and Richard Blais, among others. The companion web series, Top Chef: Last Chance Kitchen, also returned, premiering immediately following the second part of the season premiere on December 3, 2015. In the season finale, Jeremy Ford was declared the Top Chef, defeating Amar Santana. Isaac Toups was voted Fan Favorite.

Top Chef: Kentucky is the sixteenth season of the American reality television series Top Chef. Initial details about the season and its cast were revealed on October 18, 2018. The competition was filmed at various locations in Kentucky, including Louisville, Lexington, and Lake Cumberland. The season finale took place in Macau, China. Padma Lakshmi returned as host, with Tom Colicchio, Graham Elliot, and Nilou Motamed forming the judging panel. Due to being on maternity leave for the majority of filming, Top Chef regular Gail Simmons did not appear as one of the main judges for the season. Top Chef: Kentucky premiered on December 6, 2018, and concluded on March 14, 2019. In the season finale, Kelsey Barnard Clark was declared the Top Chef, defeating Sara Bradley. Clark was also voted Fan Favorite.

Top Chef: All-Stars L.A. is the seventeenth season of the American reality television series Top Chef. The season was first announced on November 16, 2019, during a Top Chef-themed panel at Bravo's inaugural fan convention, BravoCon. The competition was filmed in Los Angeles, California, the same setting as the second season. The season finale took place in Italy, marking the first time the show has traveled to Europe. As with the previous all-stars edition, the cast of All-Stars L.A. was composed entirely of returning contestants. Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio returned to judge, along with Gail Simmons, following her absence from the previous season. Along with the return of Last Chance Kitchen, a new web series titled What Would Tom Do? debuted, showcasing Colicchio's approach to the contestants' various challenges. The winner received US$250,000.

References

Notes

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Bibliography