They may not be in Miami anymore, but the chefs and judges of Top Chef are still heating things up. TVGuide.com got to sit in on the set of the Top Chef reunion, airing tonight at 10 pm/ET on Bravo, where we got the goods on the top-10 secrets of the sizzling summer reality show.
1) Every Top Chef makes a photo-friendly second plate.
"We always have to make an extra camera plate," explained Season 2 winner Ilan. "But realistically, we would give the ugliest plate to the cameras, because we cared more at that moment about what the judges thought and not what the audience was going to think. So [my food] looked a lot uglier on TV."
2) Feisty Micah doesn't hate Americans — but she did hate the show by the third episode.
"I've lived in Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Spain, Italy, South America and throughout the Caribbean," she explained. "It comes across like I hate American cuisine, and I don't; I love it. But by the time [I was eliminated], you could have put anything in front of me and I probably would have just gone, ‘Ugh, fabulous.'"
3) The judges admit that their decisions are subjective.
"Every challenge has a different set of rules and a different set of criteria. There's not a scorecard that we keep, and so it changes from challenge to challenge," said lead judge Tom Colicchio.
4) They don't eat junk food.
Backstage at the taping of the reunion show, the chefs snacked on smoothies, fruits and veggies but ignored bowls of candy, cookies and packaged snacks.
5) They may be judges, but they aren't reviewers.
"While I have in the past done restaurant reviews in my career, it's not what I do," said judge Gail Simmons. "People get a little worried that I'm going to judge them all the time."
6) Don't hit Harold's new restaurant hoping to spy a celeb chef.
The Season 1 winner recently opened his first restaurant, Perilla, in Manhattan, but admitted, "I just kind of try to hide in the kitchen and don't let anybody see me, and hope everybody's enjoying the food. I'm not really much of a front-of-the-house type of guy, running around shaking hands and kissing babies and taking pictures.... That's not really my thing."
7) They don't always like their newfound fame.
Tom, for one, isn't too comfortable with his newfound role as a sex symbol. "I really don't take it so seriously. As long as I go home and my wife and son appreciate me, that's good enough for me," Colicchio laughed.
8) Sam, on the other hand, is happy to embrace the attention.
"It's all flattering, and it's great to be in the limelight, and it's obviously going to help in my putting a restaurant together," said the Season 2 fan favorite.
9) There's more real talent and less real hatred than in previous seasons, the producers think.
"They're almost all on the same plane, and they all crazily seem to be really spirited about the competition and each other in a way that's different from the animus of last year," said executive producer Andy Cohen, who also hosts the reunion episode.
10) Padma's got something special cooking — on the big screen.
Along with publishing a second cookbook, host Padma Lakshmi said, "I'm going to do a movie next year." Sounds delicious.
Let our Online Video Guide serve up some clips of Top Chef's most decadent moments.
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