‘Top Chef’ in Europe? Plus: judge Tom Colicchio spills secrets on how to win

Attention all aspiring “Top Chef” contestants: Put your knives down and listen up if you want to win.

Host/judge Tom Colicchio just listed his top five reasons for how to succeed at “Top Chef” as part of an Emmy round-table discussion Thursday night at the TV Academy in North Hollywood. (Listen to the entire podcast below.)

In a private panel with Emmy voters hosted by “Watch What Happens Live” host Andy Cohen, Colicchio was joined by fellow judges Padma Lakshmi and Gail Simmons and former contestants Richard Blais and Brooke Williamson. Three other recent castoffs — Nicholas Elmi, Shirley Chung and Louis Maldonado — were on-hand to cook yummy treats for the hundreds of Emmy voters in attendance.

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Unlike other top reality shows like “American Idol,” “The Voice” and “Survivor,” Bravo’s “Top Chef” doesn’t rely on a contestant’s likability to get them through the competition. Instead, it’s all about cooking the perfect dish at the right time.

Here are Colicchio’s five winning rules for aspiring chef-testants:

1. Use high acids

2. Add a little bit of spice

3. Include salt and fat in the right proportion

4. Make sure not to under season

5. Don’t try to do too much, i.e. edit your dishes!

As Colicchio explains, “There are some real tell-tales right away. Is it seasoned properly? Is it cooked properly? Are all of the ingredients handled properly? And that you can surmise very, very quickly. We’re not eating everything on the plate. We’re kind of eating a combination of things, getting one or two bites and then moving on.”

Colicchio later joked, “Typically [the judges] go out to eat after the show. We’re still hungry, believe it or not.”

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One Emmy voter stood up and asked the panel if “Top Chef” would ever travel to Europe to film a season. The judges were immediately onboard, talking over each other, “That’s a great idea, I love that idea, let’s do it.” Cohen agreed, even hoping for “Season 13, Lucky 13.”

Perhaps a Europe-set season would give the show that extra amount of oomph needed to overtake “The Amazing Race” and “The Voice” from atop Emmy’s list of reigning Best Reality-Competition Programs. It’s been four years since “Top Chef” won the top reality Emmy award back in 2010 and the show is clearly starving for another win.

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Gold Derby contributor Ralph Galvan offers this report on the food served at the event: “They served four different apps: empanadas, biscuit, sausage, and crawfish eggroll. The main three dishes were prepared by the season 11 winner, and two other finalists. The winner’s dish was a lettuce chicken wrap, another guy’s was a caviar dish, and the other was a sable fish in a lime sauce. The sable was delicious and she ended up running out because of how popular it was. The chicken one was OK. It ended up running out after everyone realized there was no more fish, and the poor caviar dude never ran out of his dish.”

BELOW: Listen to the exclusive podcast from the TV Academy’s evening with “Top Chef.”


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