Top Chef is a reality cooking show which came to the screen on Bravo channel in 2006. The idea is that chefs compete in challenges against each other and are judged by other professional chefs as well as big names from the food industry. One or more contestant is eliminated in each episode and is created by the same people who created Project Runway.
Since season 2, it has been presented by Padma Lakshmi and the format of the programme has seen nine spin-offs in other countries. There have also been two spin-off shows in the US; Top Chef; Masters, which featured only award winning chefs and Top Chef; Just Desserts which only had pastry chefs on the show.
The 11th season was set in Louisiana, in New Orleans and was premiered on October 2nd, 2013 with a 12th show scheduled to premiere later in 2014. This shows that the show is still getting everyone to go running out to http://www.grillreviewguide.com/ to get a new grill and hold their own challenge.
Every episode sees a Quickfire round and an Elimination round. The winner of the Quickfire gets immunity from the Elimination ground while the loser of the Elimination round is out of the show.
In the Quickfire round, the chef is given a list of requirements which they must cook a dish from, like a specific ingredient or a particular type of meal. They have an hour or so to complete the test, and a guest judge selects one or more.
The Elimination Challenge is a longer exercise where one or more dishes are required. The chefs may have to work together, or several courses may be needed. Teams are drawn at random, and they are given from hours to a few days to get the challenge completed. They have access to the Top Chef pantry as well as a budget and shopping period to visit the grocery store. Other stipulations include limiting the number of ingredients which can be used, or what type while other challenges might make contestants seek out unusual means to source ingredients such as asking people or even fishing. The end of the challenge sees the chefs cook for the judges, usually including one guest judge and a group of guests.
After the challenge finishes, the chefs visit the Judges Table where they are given a critique on what they have produced, as well as guests comments. They will then announce who was the least popular contestant and who has been eliminated.
Prize money for the winners has been increasing across the seasons; 1-5 saw $100,000 for the winner, $125,000 in Season 6-7 and season 8 was $200,000.
Each season has a special event in the middle of the year either named Restaurant Wars or similar. The contestants are split into two groups, and they have to make an empty space into a restaurant in a special time and budget constraint. They have to make a name, a theme and décor and decide on the menu.
The final part of the special challenge sees the two or three remaining chefs make a number of courses with additional help. The help can be previously eliminated contestants or even celebrity chefs, one example was Rocco DiSpirito. To win, there are various components; food quality, leadership over assistants and general show performance.
Top Chef won the award for Outstanding Editing in a Reality Series in the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards and in the 62nd awards won the Outstanding Reality-Competition Program. It had defeated The Amazing Race, which had won the award every year since 2003.