5 Secrets Of “Top Chef”

Tom Colicchio, Andy Cohen and some Bravo execs gave a talk today at SXSW where they revealed some key info about the show. They didn’t answer our question about whether anyone’s ever gotten food poisoning, though.

Photo: Scott Lamb

1. The web series “Last Chance Kitchen,” which gave kicked-off contestants another chance at getting back on the show, was a way to help out chefs who “just had a bad day,” said Tom Colicchio. “Of course, that’s what we’re judging them on.” But Bev beating Nyesha was “our Kanye West moment,” said a Bravo exec on the panel. (We’re not quite sure what that means. Bev didn’t let Nyesha finish?!)

2. How drunk do the judges get at the judges’ table? “Sometimes very drunk,” said Tom. “Sometimes not.”

3. Despite the disclaimer at the end of every show, Bravo producers “don’t really get to weigh in” on who gets kicked off. And judges aren’t aware of any drama that doesn’t happen on camera or at judges’ table: “We’re solely judging on the food,” said Tom.

4. Someone asked whether the panelists read the Gawker liveblogs “that say Padma is really high all the time.” The panelists all say they don’t, and anyway, said Tom, “She’s not smoking these days.”

5. Chicago chef Rick Bayless saw a 200 percent increase in business after he was on “Top Chef Masters,” but Tom said he doesn’t think his restaurants have benefited that much from his being on the show. “A lot of people who watch don’t even know I own restaurants,” he said. (We find this hard to believe, but okay.)

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