I’ll take @robert’s word for it as I didn’t start watching the show until about the 3rd season. But if you’re going to watch a reality show or cooking competition show Top Chef is it. I learn a lot from it. At one time it was rated the #1 food show on TV. This is saying a lot as it’s on Bravo, not The Food Network or Cooking Channel, and it started before The Food Network went full cheese (not including some baking competitions, early Chopped and Ina). The Food Network started pushing out heavy hitters in favor of creating their own stars. Shows like Next Food Network Star selected winners based on how telegenic they were then gave them their own show. It’s how we got Guy Fieri.
With Top Chef you have young James Beard winners, struggling young restaurant owners and sous chefs from Michelin star restaurants. They’re under a lot of pressure to do well. They live together in a fly pad and develop relationships for the good, the bad, but hardly the ugly (a few villains, but no table flipping and manufactured drama). They want this win bad. Even some non-winners leapfrog a couple levels in the food world. The judges are fun but have serious credentials and they attract serious guest judges - Michelin star chefs, celebrity chefs, food editors and the occasional, randomly fun guest judge. I loved NE Patriots, Rob Gronkowsi, and judge, Padma Lakshmi, talking about sausages on Top Chef Boston. It was fun watching her try hard not to melt into a puddle of blush. There are also some pretty soulful moments and the occasional cringy, manufacturing at play. But the recipes and challenges are serious and nobody, know matter how cute or popular they are is safe. A chef will f-up bad in one challenge and their ass is going home.
There are strong seasons and weak seasons. If you’re going to start watching definitely go far back to get a feel for the show. I need to catch up on a couple of seasons, but I the show.
Yah, I’ve heard it is really good. @paranoidgarliclover adores it, I think.