Top Chef: The 10 Best Seasons, Ranked by IMDb

The television show, Top Chef, is a long-standing player in the reality TV game and one of the top foodie-based television shows. Hosts Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio have seen some amazing dishes created in this top-rated Bravo series. They have also seen some intense competitions between aspiring chefs and occasionally a few devastating missteps. These moments have come together to create a food-centered series that fans can not get enough of.

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When it comes to the best of the best, these 10 seasons of Top Chef are ranking right up there at the top, as per IMDb. Whether they made the cut because of dishes or drama, there is no denying that they are some of fans’ all-time favorites.

10 Season 11: “New Orleans” – 6.25

New Orleans is known for its foodie goodness, so it was only fair that it was home to Top Chef for at least one glorious season. This turned out to be an awesome choice in location. Season 11 not only offered up interesting challenges and meals, but it also gave fans the drama that everyone loves in a reality television show. While it didn’t rank as high on IMDb as some might have expected, it still satisfied everyone’s reality show craving.

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Reality TV often needs a villain, so hello Nicholas Elmi. So many were pulling for Nina Compton, who ended up in the number two spot. One major drawback to this season was the massive amount of competitors. With 19 chefs vying for the top spot, it was hard to connect with everyone.

9 Season 3: “Miami” – 6.5

Welcome to Miami! This third season of the series kicked things up a notch from seasons one and two. The location worked out perfectly, giving the chefs so much culture and vibrancy to work with. It also was the first season where the contestants didn’t fall short and were engaging, talented, and entertaining.

Season three introduced us to show favorites, like Tre Wilcox and Casey Thompson. Fans will always credit this particular season for steering the show in the correct direction.

8 Season 13: “California” – 6.6

When it comes to filming in sunny California, the third time is most certainly a charm. After taping the first two seasons in Los Angeles and San Fransisco, the series returned to California and tried their hand yet again. And the result was pretty darn entertaining.

The primary reason for this is because the show made it’s way all throughout the culturally diverse state, pairing dishes with regions. It almost made you forget that the winner of the season was underwhelming.

7 Season 12: “Boston” – 6.68

The chefs sure did bring their A-game to Bean Town in the 12th season of Top Chef. The competitions were not some of the best in the Boston season, but something else made it special.

After so many seasons of male winners taking the top spot, season 12 gave fans some female power! Mei Lin rocked it out and battled competitor after competitor to emerge as the top chef. Everyone left season 12 saying, “Yes, Queen!”

6 Season 9: “Texas” – 6.8

Well, yee-haw, Texas! While some seasons of Top Chef are highly regarded because of their character backstories and interesting food challenges, this season makes the list for different reasons. It is widely assumed to be the train-wreckiest of all the seasons.

Challenges here were fairly predictable, and compared to other seasons, the chefs were mediocre and not very likable. There was bullying, boredom, and little to connect with on an emotional level. While it wasn’t a top-notch season by any means, sometimes chaos drives ratings through the roof.

5 Season 10: “Seattle” 6.9

Seattle is a cool city, and when Top Chef landed there and put together a cast that also oozed cool, the results were reality television gold. Chefs like Brooke, Kristen, John Tesar, Sheldon, and Shirley were fan favorites and everyone was thrilled to see Kristen Kish walk away with the win.

Seattle also brought perfect balance and harmony between the two things that make this show so enjoyable: drama and great dishes. Both were there, but neither aspect overpowered the other. In Seattle, everything simply came together.

4 Season 4: “Chicago” 7.11

The Chicago season is a favorite season for so many fans and it quickly reminded everyone why Top Chef is one of the greatest reality competition shows of all time. This particular installment had a great combination of drama, like the scheming by contestant Spike Mendelsohn, and plenty of back and forth shouting.

Tensions ran high, as did the competition between so many talented chefs who were bent on winning the season. In the end, Chicago produced one of the all-time best winners, Stephanie Izard. She defeated show villain Blais and everyone watching the show left the series nothing but satisfied.

3 Season All-Stars – 7.25

Over the years, Top Chef has given fans many talented, creative, and ambitious chefs. Knowing this, there was no way that an all-stars series was going to be anything but stupendous.

An unbeatable cast was the tip of the iceberg, though. The series was set in none other than Los Angeles, an epi-center of hustle, bustle, and cuisine culture. Every episode in the season was intense, from competitors and their dishes to their challenges. This season surely did not disappoint.

2 Season 5: “New York” – 7.4

This particular season of Top Chef made some great moves, especially because it included something that everyone seems to love regarding reality television: likable characters as well as hated ones. Season five also gave fans the wondrous Carla Hall. To this day, Carla remains a fan favorite in the Top Chef world and when she didn’t take home the big prize, fans were salty. It was one of those times where the esteemed judged simply didn’t choose the right winner and if any contestant deserved a second chance at greatness, it was Carla.

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Viewers were even hotter over who the eventual champion of this season was: a mediocre Hosea Rosenberg. Hosea was better known for hooking up with another contestant (while both were in other relationships) than he was for being the last man standing in the kitchen. The drama fans felt watching their favorite chef go down and a villain rise was what made for such great television.

1 Season 6: “Las Vegas” – 7.4

Las Vegas is a well-received and highly ranked season because of the drama it brought with every single episode. You can’t get much more dramatic than having two brothers compete on the same series for the ultimate prize!

The Las Vegas season highlighted intense battles between contestants and dishes that paired well with the glitz and glam of the city itself. In the city that never sleeps, you better bring your A-game, because anything else will automatically feel dull.

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Updated: November 17, 2020 — 3:00 am

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