Think you know everything about Top Chef? Here are five things that might surprise you.
- An average episode takes two to three days to film – my days on elimination day are usually around 14 hours, but judging can last that long too, depending on how complicated the challenge is.
- An entire season takes six weeks to film (there are 16 to 17 episodes each season).
- On set, Tom (Colicchio) and I love to snack on beef jerky and black licorice. I try not to eat too much from craft services because we eat so much judging the show and when I do, I try to keep it healthy. For example, yesterday my snack was an apple with peanut butter.
- We never speak with the contestants unless we are on camera. We don't want to form any relationships with them so that we keep judging bias-free, but afterwards, I always keep in touch with at least two or three of the chefs every season. I love Kristen Kish, who just won season 10. She came with us to Aspen for the Food & Wine Festival and I'm going to visit her in Boston this summer.
- When we first started judging, it used to take us eight hours, but these days it’s about four or five hours depending on the challenge and depending on how complicated it is – that includes talking to the contestants and dealing with lighting switches. Our actual deliberation times vary – sometimes it takes as little as 20 to 30 minutes, but more often than not, it’s over an hour. We don’t take these decisions lightly because we realize they greatly effect the contestants' lives.