We are approaching the 14th season of Top Chef, set this year in Charleston. Viewers will tune in to see the locale, to enjoy the judges, and to watch Padma ask strange leading questions like “Did you mean for it to be this salty?” And more than a few of them will be waiting anxiously to see a combination of tense competition and sensitivity to criticism merge into a series of truly sick burns.
Yes, Top Chef has its out and out screaming matches on occasion, and that is certainly a blissful form of blood sacrifice to the drama gods. But, the true pleasure comes from people calling each other out, clapping back during judging, and getting creative about criticizing.
The following list celebrates the moments and the people that made viewers say “Daaaaaaamn.”
Howie Uses A Judge’s Words Against Him
Who doesn’t love when contestants decide judging is the time to get a little of their own back? Season 3’s Howie is no whiz with the time clock, something he attributes to running his own kitchens. Viewers know that kind of talking head quickly turns into a problem, and it isn’t long before he’s left with a lonely sea urchin shell filled with risotto because his frog legs never make it to the plate. He’s doomed, and the judges — including the irascible Anthony Bourdain — register shock, eyes darting between one another, when Howie drops it on the table in front of them. When he is brought back in the bottom (shocker!), Anthony Bourdain asks “What is your major malfunction?” and proceeds to lecture him on timeliness. Howie turns right around and uses a part of Bourdain’s book to answer him and it shifts the power in the conversation.
Howie isn’t rude or an ass, and the judge appears to respect the comeback. So does the audience. Watch it here!