Top Chef – Casting Guide

Top Chef Logo
  • Contestants: 16 per Season
  • Top Prize: $200,000
  • Selectivity: 4 Star
Bravo’s Top Chef has been cooking up a great reality show since 2006. Padma Lakshmi currently hosts this elimination style reality show which has seen famous professional chef judges such as Anthony Bourdain, Emeril Lagasse, Hugh Acheson and Wolfgang Puck. For this prestigious cooking show approximately 16 contesants compete in various cook-offs and related challenges, for a large monetary grand prize of $200,000, as well as the esteemed title of Top Chef Winner.

Top Chef Overview & Strategy

Top Chef is now preparing for their upcoming 13th season and looking for skilled, creative chefs that are passionate and knowledgeable about food. This show can launch major careers, so only serious interested chefs should apply. The show has the contestants participating in various weekly challenges, with the panel of famous judges critiquing along the way. The challenges include the Quickfire challenge which has the contestants making dishes in a short period of time, with a certain theme or ingredient that must be used. The Elimination challenge allows more thought and creativity to go into the dish or meal with a much longer time limit, and the judges choose a winner as well as who is in the bottom and must pack their knives and go home.

Traditionally, the winners of Top Chef have gone on to have very successful careers because the show has a great reputation of having some of the best chefs as contestants. Below are some tips to help you be successful on the show:

Some important extras to keep in mind about ‘playing the game’:

  • Research and practice dishes from other cultures. Is there one genre of food that you usually steer clear of? Don’t have a weakness when it comes to what you can and can’t do.

  • Watch past episodes and attempt to do the challenges yourself, keeping in mind time, presentation, and ingredient choice.

  • Have a unique hook. You will have your own signature dishes that you have perfected over the years. Make sure those are very unique to you, and that you have your own twist.

  • Know some classics and really make them standout. Remember, the judges have seen (and are!) some of the best chefs in the world. So having your own take on classics can really give you an advantage.

  • Be aware of the latest trends. Know all the cutting edge techniques used by popular chefs today, to help set you apart from the crowd.

Top Chef Casting Process

To be a contestant on Top Chef you should already be a professional chef or at least have been trained in the field. You will need to convey your cooking abilities and creativity in the application, as well as a video or an in-person audition.

These are the steps to follow to be considered as a contestant on Top Chef :

In the online application you will need to write a ‘self biography’ of up to 70 words. This isn’t much, so on top of making a very exciting video, you will need to articulate yourself well in under 70 words.

Tips to make your personality shine through in your casting video:
  1. Complete the online pre-registration form. This is where you will fill in factual information about yourself, including your schooling. Have a photograph of yourself available to upload.

  2. Fill out the in-depth application form which will need printed out. If you are able to attend an open call audition, you must bring the completed application with you. If you are making a video, you must send in the form with the video link. The application form is lengthy, and will ask for a detailed history of your culinary skills, background, and reference. Be prepared to explain your style of cooking, using relevant terminology and what inspires your creations.

  3. Attend an open call audition OR mail in a video. There are multiple open calls at various times throughout the year. If making a video, you can send it in DVD format or upload it to YouTube or Vimeo and send in the web address.

  4. Bring with you (or send in) 3-5 recent photos of yourself, 10-15 photos of finely plated food that you have created, and your resume.

The open calls around the US are the best way to audition for the show. If you can attend an open call, you do not need to make a video. But if you are unable to travel to one of those locations, making a 5-10 minute video showcasing your cooking talents is a must. If you need to make a video, film it with no fancy editing in a professional kitchen. They will want to see you in action creating a dish. Remember to show off the following:

Big Brother Application Restrictions

  • Must be 21+ Years Old
  • Must be a legal US Resident

When you have the video and photos, you can apply using the Application Form.

Finally, if you applied to be on this show, we’d love to hear your story whether or not you were selected to appear on air. Feel free to click the link below to share your story with us and our readers.