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'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…More Here! »

How 'Top Chef' Remains the Top Culinary Competition on Television 10 Years Later

Ten years deep, Top Chef is still one of the most prestigious cooking competition shows on television – and we’re not being hyperbolic here.

The show continuously brings in the top executive and sous chefs in the country to compete – of course, with some talented line cooks, pastry chefs, and self-taught cooks in the mix as well.

Talking to judges Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons over the phone, they told that early on, they were skeptical about how the industry would perceive the show.

“I remember in our very first season being really nervous, Tom and I talking about what if the industry laughs at us? What is this doesn’t work?” Gail said. “And the exact opposite happened. They saw that we were a show about real restaurant chefs, chefs who do this every day. Because we set that standard…it made the industry take notice.”

Tom told us, “I always said I wanted a show I could be proud of and that my peers want to come on. And I knew right away when I started getting calls from chefs like Daniel Boulud saying, ‘Can I come on?’ That’s when you know you have something.”

To-date, the show has 25 Emmy nominations under its belt with two wins – one for Outstanding Picture Editing For Reality Programming in 2008 and one for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program in 2010, the latter beating out The Amazing Race and ending its seven-year winning streak in the category.

“I don’t think there’s any other competition show out there that can quantify the number of successful contestants,” Gail said. “How people have become household names and opened restaurant empires from coast to coast.”

She’s of course referring to people like Richard Blais, Stephanie Izard, Michael and Bryan Voltaggio, Mike Isabella, Fabio Viviani, and countless more, all of whom have opened successful restaurants across the country.

Not to mention, season five and eight’s Carla Hall is one of the co-hosts on ABC’s The Chew.

“What I like about it is that every season is different. We’re always trying something different, so every season is new,” Tom said. “And for other personal reasons, it’s like going to summer camp. We shoot for about six weeks, tops. For ten years, it’s a lot of the same people on the team…It’s sort of like seeing old friends that you see once a year. It’s a lot of hard work, but we have a lot of fun together afterward – a lot of the team are musicians and I play guitar and sing, so we get together and play.”

But that’s not the only thing that keeps him coming back to judges’ table.

“Knowing you can make a difference in someone’s life…that’s the kind of stuff that you look back on,” Tom told us. “You don’t think about it so much until someone tells you what the show means to them. That’s something you can’t throw away and take for granted. To look back over 10 years and 14 seasons, those are the moments I’ll remember.”

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

ALSO MUST READ: The judges dish on their favorite seasons, chefs, and more!

Click inside to see the rest of our conversations with the Top Chef judges…More Here! »

Gail Simmons Photo Gallery

Zachary Levi Attends NBCUniversal Upfront With 'Suits' Cast

Zachary Levi suits up for the 2015 NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Upfronts held at The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on Thursday (May 14) in New York City.

The 34-year-old Heroes Reborn actor was joined by Suits stars Gabriel Macht, Rick Hoffman, Amanda Schull, Meghan Markle, Sarah Rafferty, and Patrick J. Adams.

Also in attendance were Mr. Robot‘s Christian Slater, Community‘s Joel McHale, Colony‘s Josh Holloway, America’s Got Talent host Nick Cannon, and Top Chef‘s Gail Simmons, Padma Lakshmi, and Tom Colicchio.

45+ pictures inside of Zachary Levi, Gabriel Macht, and more in NYC…More Here! »

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Gail Simmons to Blake Lively: Top Chef Wants You!

Gail Simmons gets sassy with her JJ coasters at the Food Network South Beach Wind & Food Festival last month in Miami, Fla.

The Top Chef judge and host of Top Chef: Just Desserts, kicked back and talked about what TV show she’d like to guest star on, what her last meal would be and why she’d want Gossip Girl‘s Blake Lively to be on the show!

Be sure to check out the finale of Top Chef: All-Stars TONIGHT on Bravo! See Mike Isabella and Richard Blais duke it out for the top spot!

Click inside for Just Jared‘s exclusive interview with the charming Gail SimmonsMore Here! »

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