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The Daily Dish Top Chef

Top Chef's Melissa King Says the All Stars Were "All Afraid" of This Judge

The Season 17 winner also reveals her biggest competition among the returning cheftestants.

By Laura Rosenfeld

All of the judges on Bravo's Top Chef deliver critiques that can make the cheftestants feel on top of the world or the most crushing defeat. However, there is one judge in particular who has the chefs waiting on pins and needles over what they're going to say about a dish.

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Watch Top Chef Season 21 Wednesdays at 9/8c on Bravo and next day on Peacock.

When asked who is the "scariest" judge during a recent Instagram Live on Top Chef's Instagram (below), Season 17 winner Melissa King had one name immediately come to mind. "We're all afraid of Tom [Colicchio], I would say, because he judges and he thinks like a chef, so he sees everything that we do wrong or right," Melissa explained. "He is very technically sound and judges off of that criteria. And all of us just respect him so much as a restaurateur and a businessman and just being in the industry as a chef. And so I know that I'm very intimidated by Tom."


But Melissa admitted that Padma Lakshmi "also intimidates" her sometimes, comparing her and Tom to the "Mom and Dad" of Top Chef. "And then we have Gail [Simmons], who's just the cool aunt who always has something really nice to say, even if she's like saying something bad about your dish," Melissa shared. "But she delivers it in a very sweet, genuine way."

So with that, Melissa ultimately concluded, "I think the scariest would be between Tom and Padma."

It's not just the judges who are intimidating on Top Chef. Melissa also revealed that her "biggest competition" in her first season of the show, Season 12 in Boston, were the eventual winner and runner-up, Mei Lin and Gregory Gourdet, respectively.

Melissa said that Gregory was a formidable opponent once again in Season 17. "I was like, I've got to watch out for Greg. He's a good one, because I've competed with him before, we're friends in real life. I know he's an amazing chef," she said. "And so I kept my eye on Greg, for sure." 

Melissa added that "everyone's terrified of [Bryan] Voltaggio going into the competition" in Season 17. "But, you know, it's one of those things where, especially the All Star season, everyone is so good, I had no idea which way it would go, because again, it depends on the challenges," Melissa said. "It's very situational, so I was scared of everyone on that list going in."

Even though Melissa already reigned supreme while battling it out with Bryan, as well as Stephanie Cmar, for the title of Top Chef this season, she wouldn't mind a rematch with him. "I have so much admiration for him, even before I had even gone into this season, I just had so much admiration for him as a chef," Melissa said when asked which cheftestant she would most want to challenge to a cook-off. "I think him and I bonded a lot during the show, especially Restaurant Wars because we were cooking together side-by-side and just really saw eye-to-eye with each other. But I would love another cook-off with him." 

Melissa also has another idea for another epic culinary showdown. "But then I started thinking, I was like, how cool would it be if it were, like, me and Bryan versus Michael Voltaggio and Mei Lin. Or me and Mei Lin versus the Voltaggio brothers. Right? Wouldn't that be awesome?" Melissa said. "I think that needs to be an entirely different show. I would watch it. I'd be there. And yeah, Mei and I would crush it."

We'd certainly watch that!

Want more Top Chef? Catch up on the latest season through the Bravo app.

Watch Melissa and Bryan in action in the Top Chef Season 17 finale, below.

The Final Challenge of Season 17 Is Revealed!

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