Top Chef Seasons, In Order Of Quality

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I am still watching Top Chef! I watch it despite the egregious product placement (“Boy, these Toyota Rav4s have so much trunk space!” “I’ve got an idea! Let’s fill it up with the Glad® family of products.”), despite the reliance on reality show tropes, despite the fact that probably every other season is actually terrible television. I love it, even the terrible seasons. I think about the show after it airs. I like putting on old episodes in the background while I cook. I have Thoughts on which contestants went home too early, which challenges were the best and which were the most offensive, culinarily speaking (that’d be season 3’s Cold Stone Creamery challenge, which called on the chefs to make a topping for pre-made vanilla ice cream. The better chefs in that season decided to mock it and made things like sriracha and potato chip toppings, or cauliflower and tempura flake toppings). And so I also have Thoughts on which were the best seasons, and given that we are now one week away from finishing season 11, I feel like I can stick it into the list. Here they are, the best seasons of the best food-based reality competition show on American basic cable.

1. Las Vegas (season 6)

2. All Stars (season 8)

3. Chicago (season 4) (are all the best seasons even numbers? Let’s see how this plays out)

4. Los Angeles (season 2) (omg it’s working) (wait I’m the one making this list)

5. Miami (season 3) (dammit)

6. New Orleans (season 11)

7. San Francisco (season 1)

8. Texas (season 9)

9. Seattle (season 10)

10. New York (season 5)

11. Washington, DC (season 7)