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'Top Chef' Judges Dish On Favorite Seasons, Chefs, & More!

'Top Chef' Judges Dish On Favorite Seasons, Chefs, & More!

After 10 years working on a show, you have to have your favorites right? caught up with longtime Top Chef judges Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons, as well as new judge and Top Chef: Masters alum Graham Elliot, to get the scoop on their favorite seasons, most beloved cheftestants, dream shooting locations, and more.

And in case you missed it: This is How Top Chef Remains the Top Culinary Competition on Television 10 Years Later

Top Chef premieres TONIGHT, December 1 @ 10/9c on Bravo.

On their favorite seasons:

Graham: “Obviously season 4 having been shot in my hometown of Chicago is close to my heart, but season 2 with Marcel [Vigneron] vs Ilan [Hall] is one that I find myself referencing the most.”

Gail: “Ever? Hard to say…I love them all. I usually say season six because of the cast and we won an Emmy for that season. But my favorite season in terms of location was New Orleans, season 11.”

Tom: “The first one because we were able to do things we can’t do anymore. We can go on the street. One of my favorite challenges was the cart challenge in season one because we were able to go into the Mission District in San Francisco and no one knew who the hell we were because it was our first season.”

Click inside to see more fun answers from the Top Chef judges…

On their favorite cheftestants/winners:

Graham: “I’m friends with the Voltaggio brothers and have always respected the hell out of their cooking and styles. Bryan and I actually did an event a few years back and may or may not have done some amazing karaoke that made its way onto YouTube.”

Gail: “I don’t have a favorite winner. There’s certainly people I get closer to than others…Kristen Kish is one of my favorite winners of all time. We got really close after the season. I’m really proud of her. I love them all. They’ve all gone on to exceptional things…people like Michael Voltaggio, and Jeremy Ford even, our most recent winner. Mei Lin, from our Boston season, is a powerhouse and I’m obsessed with her food. Stephanie Izard, who I just saw while I was in Chicago two weeks ago. I can barely keep up with her, she’s doing so well.”

On who should have won, but didn’t:

Graham: “No comment 😉”

On what they hear from fans most often:

Gail: “It’s changed over the years. I get recognized a lot, especially in grocery stores and restaurants. But yes, I think I’m stopped every single day on the street. People always joke and are worried about judging their food. Or they ask me to judge the food I’m eating…It’s funny and I appreciate that they trust my judgement, but on the other hand, when I’m in a restaurant, I’m off-duty. I don’t really want to analyze, I just want to enjoy my dinner. But I’m always happy to talk and answer questions about the show.”

Tom: “You know what’s funny? They know the show better than I do. They’re like, ‘Remember in season four when so-and-so did this?’ And I’m like, ‘Um, yeah….’ (laughs). You always get that. It’s like, ‘Yeah, I guess.’ It’s great that people are so involved and they really care about the show.”

On their location wish list:

Gail: “Paris, Rome, Toyko. I want to go international. There’s plenty more to eat in this country, for sure, but I think that would really take the show to the next level. We’ve done a lot of international finales, but I think to take the how for a full season, to Europe or Asia, would be exceptional. It would be so, so fun.”

Tom: “Philadelphia would be great. There’s so much going on food-wise now and it’s close to home. I think Philly would be a great place to shoot. And hopefully we can do another finale overseas. The Singapore finale [in season seven] was amazing. It would be great to find ourselves in Italy or somewhere like that for a finale.”

Top Chef premieres TONIGHT, December 1 @ 10/9c on Bravo.

- Reporting by Sharon Tharp

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