The Secret About Top Chef You Weren't Supposed To Know

Getting wrapped up in the drama of reality television is all part of the fun. Even though we know to suspend our disbelief, it's still interesting to get a behind-the-scenes look at some of the secrets of our favorite reality shows. Top Chef, an American reality cooking competition series, features an array of culinary competitions judged by professional chefs with eliminations every round. Contestants are encouraged to show off their best culinary skills and often serve up a display of delicious looking soups, stews, pasta dishes, and more, but there's just one catch: all of the food is actually cold before it gets to the Top Chef judges (via Ranker). 

Through the magic of television, it appears as if judges taste each dish as soon as it's made, but that's not the case. According to Mashed, each dish needs to be photographed before the judge gets to it. These professional photos and videos of the dishes are taken to show the viewers at home a completed view of each Top Chef creation and make sure they look as appetizing as possible. If you've ever scrolled through professional food photos on Instagram, you know the importance of "food-porn."

One dish for the judges and one for the cameras

To avoid dishes getting too cold for consumption, Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio proposed that all contestants have to prepare two dishes (via Ranker). This way, judges would have their own dish to sample and wouldn't have to worry about getting in the way of the camera crew getting their perfect shot. It was such a popular idea, that now every competition on Top Chef is structured this way.

While it certainly helped, it hasn't solved every problem. According to Insider, several contestants from season 16 spoke out about how difficult the meat challenge was. Breaking down different cuts of meat is difficult under normal circumstances, but with a time limit, the final product served to the judges can suffer. Contestants believed that they weren't able to do their dishes justice. 

And if you're worried about that second dish of food going to waste, don't be. According to the New York Daily News, production has a secret weapon. The technical coordinator for the show, a man called T-Bone, is not only in charge of shooting all the close-ups of each dish, but he also tastes every dish that he shoots. Sounds like he could help Colicchio with the judging.