As Season 13 of Top Chef comes to an end Thursday night, head judge Tom Colicchio revisited the show's beginning during a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter. Though Tom is synonymous with Top Chef these days, he wasn't completely on board with the show at first. "I'm sure I said 'no' about three times and then I finally agreed to do it. I got a sense that they weren't doing a show that was sensationalized and that it was about actual talent," Tom said about what initially attracted him to Top Chef. "The other reason that I agreed to do the show was that from the very beginning, the producers said that they would have no input on who wins. We weren't going to be a bunch of pawns, and they weren't going to make decisions based on ratings or personality."
After 10 years on the air, Top Chef just keeps getting better and better, according to Tom. "As far as the competition, I think the current season is my favorite," Tom told The Hollywood Reporter. "You're seeing chefs enjoy the game, you see the love of cooking. It's almost like a new breakout season for us."
Of course in that time, Tom and his fellow judges have tasted a lot of food. One of his favorites was a vegetable dish from Season 9 winner Paul Qui. "There were some artichokes and leeks with a simple dashi. It was stunning," Tom said.
But as much as Tom has nibbled on some delish dishes, he has also had some pretty bad meals, two of which he actually spit out during the show. "We were in the desert in Las Vegas, and it was about 110 degrees. We were served more than room temperature raw fish. It was pretty gross," he said. "There was another one that didn't get caught on camera. It was a clam and it was kind of warm as well with lychee, and something about it just made that gag reflex go off. [Laughs]"
Two cheftestants that have served up more good dishes than bad on this season of Top Chef are finalists Jeremy Ford and Amar Santana. Tom makes a meal for the finalists during Thursday's season finale, which is the first time he has ever cooked on the show (clip above). "The moment wasn't about me cooking so much, it was about the chefs eating a meal because when they're sitting there eating, they start talking about food, they start thinking about what they're going to do, they start thinking about what's in front of them," he said.
There should be plenty more firsts made on Top Chef in the future as Tom doesn't see it going away anytime soon. "After this season I think we've still got a few more years left. The one thing I love is that it's not formula, where we've done the same thing from day one. Every season, there's always something different that we're doing. For example, the format at the Judges' Table is different, having the chefs out there now when we're deliberating and critiquing," he explained. "So I think as long as we put that effort in there and it remains fun, we'll have a good five years more for our run. I can see us getting to Top Chef 20."
While we get excited for the future of Top Chef, get ready for the grand finale of Top Chef 13 airing Thursday at 9/8c.