August 17th is not a day that goes unnoticed in Chicago, and for the community of chefs there. It’s the day that Charlie Trotter opened his epononymous restaurant 27 years ago, forever changing the landscape of dining across America. This weekend, chefs from Trotter’s city, Chicago, to Seattle, to New York, even to Colombia and New Zealand, will recreate dishes from Trotters’ cookbooks to raise funds for the nonprofit founded after Trotter’s death in November, the Trotter Project, on "Charlie Trotter Day."
In our new series Hot On the Burner, we analyze which restaurants and chefs are having their best week ever in the press — and who’s getting burned, and hard. This week, it's raining Roy Choi, and hard.
When we first heard word of the rumors surrounding newly crowned Food Network Star Lenny McNab, we heard there were videos involved. Food Network Gossip noted many of the videos were taken down, including one where "he was cursing while cutting brisket, and the video included words such as the big C word." So you know where this is going, right? We now have a copy of that video that was taken off of Youtube. (NSFW language ahead and weirdness -- you've been warned, judging by that screenshot.)
Starting in Season 6, Top Chef: Las Vegas began a fresh twist on the show’s competition format that stuck: cash money muthafuckin’ prizes. Sure, the ultimate prize was always the $125,000 title of Top Chef. But shooting a season is a grueling 6-week process. Sneaking in a $10-15K cash prize every other Quickfire was good for morale, and imbued chefs with a renewed sense of competitiveness whilst whittling the pack around them down to the finalists.
For example, while Kevin Gillespie lost out on the title during his season, he won fan favorite, and was touted as having won more money than any other Top Chef-testant in history. He’s since been dethroned (after a considerable reign), but it got us thinking: what are the actual Top Chef power rankings? Who’s racked up the most money of all time? And how much money has been given away over the years? After being reduced to glorified data entry slaves, we crunched the numbers and came up with the 11 highest-winning chefs to date in the show’s ten-season history.
A few notes before we begin: while we’re sure winning entire monogrammed GE appliance suites and several-thousand-dollar sashimi knives is fun, there was no way for us to monetize those kinds of prizes. And since The Magical Elves only began giving out cash prizes in Season 6, you may notice that Seasons 1-5 alums are largely underrepresented in this list. We’re sorry.
Also, we made the executive decision to combine the winnings of any given chef across all seasons on which they appeared, which means that All-Stars have a bit of an advantage. But not much: there’s only one All-Star in the top four.
Check out the slideshow below and count down with us to the highest-winning Top Chef-testant of all time.