When the Emmys decided to add a category for reality competition shows back in 2003, they could have just dubbed it the “Amazing Race” Award. CBS’s sprint around the world managed to win the category seven times in a row. But the streak for the physically challenging globe-hopping entry finally hit a roadblock in the form of Bravo’s reality cooking contest “Top Chef,” which had lost its first three nominations but finally claimed the trophy for its sixth season in 2010. Watch the flashback video above from 10 years ago when the show collected its prize on the air.
But something tells me that this just might be the right time for voters to say “bon appetit” to the culinary contest again. Why, you ask? Because “Top Chef” pulled out all the stops to put on a stellar All-Star season with returning fan favorites, finalists and front-runners while also paying delicious homage to Los Angeles’s multicultural cuisine scene at a time when many restaurants are struggling to survive the effects of COVID-19.
And the show also upped the winner’s cash prize to $250,000. As a bonus, sheltering-in-place viewers got to virtually visit the gorgeous outdoor panoramas of Italy — the first time the show ever ventured to Europe — during the three-part finale.
Fans also got to cheer on Season 12 returnee Melissa King, who rightfully triumphed for her Asian-Italian-fusion dishes. But one thing that Season 17 had in common with the Emmy-winning Season 6 was the presence of three cheftestants who appeared on both seasons: Jennifer Carroll, who was eliminated early this time around; Kevin Gillespie, who was a finalist and Fan Favorite in the sixth season and almost made it to the end again this year; and Bryan Voltaggio, who had to settle for second place against his brother Michael last time and finished second yet again this time.
As a devoted watcher of “Top Chef,” I think this was the best season yet of the Bravo staple. Yes, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” has been the reigning champ two years in a row and is currently on top again in Gold Derby’s combined prediction odds while the cooking show is in fifth place and tied with “The Masked Singer” at 11/2 odds. But while Fox’s vocalizing masquerade is still hot stuff for the eyes and ears, “Top Chef” nourishes your hungry soul.
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