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The Best Top Chef Face Offs Throughout the Years

Relive some of the most memorable moments in the #TopChef kitchen.

By John Brandi
Isaac Takes On... Jeremy: Finale, Part 2

What's a competition without a little sizzle? Top Chef knows the perfect recipe when it comes to challenges, always raising the stakes, turning up the heat, and lots of tension. Throughout the show's 14 seasons, there has definitely been some stand out moments between the Cheftestants as they are vying for the title of Top Chef. See some of them, below.

How to Watch

Watch the Top Chef Season 21 premiere on Wednesday, March 20 at 9/8c on Bravo and next day on Peacock.

1. Carlos Gaytan Vs. Nicholas Elmi

Knife Fight: Nicholas vs. Carlos

Not all face offs involve a direct elimination challenge, but that didn't stop Top Chef Season 11 winner, Nicholas Elmi, from taking fellow Chef Carlos Gaytan to task over something fishy. Chef Carlos borrowed Nicholas' knife but returned it in not so great condition. Nicholas found fish residue deep in the blade, much to his frustration. "Give me the chance, I'll turn into a monster," Nicholas said, giving a stern warning to the rest of the competition, he was out for blood. Perhaps this was Chef Carlos' subtle way of advancing himself to the end. 

2. Grayson Schmitz Vs. the Judges' Table

Grayson Goes on the Defense

Grayson Schmitz, from season 9, thought she could wow the judges with chicken salad. She was hoping to "elevate" the dish to a status well beyond her competition, but fell short and that risk landed her in the bottom. But she wasn't going to go quietly, challenging the judges' opinion and throwing major shade at another's meatballs. 

3. Katsuji Tanabe Vs. John Tesar

John and Katsuji Clash in the Kitchen

The most recent season of Top Chef was not without its share of drama, Restaurant Wars is always a particularly tense challenge and this season was no exception when Chef Katsuji Tanabe was questioning if Chef John Tesar was doing enough on their team. The well-dressed chef of season 14 maintained that he wasn't sorry for snapping, while Chef John was only looking for a little respect. 

4. Conflict Among Teams

Is This the Most Shocking Moment in Top Chef History?

Also on season 14, disagreements broke out among teammates, costing a Cheftestant his immunity. Chefs Jamie Lynch, Emily Hahn and John Tesar coudn't see eye-to-eye on who was to blame for landing their team in the bottom. Chef Emily targeted John for forcing the others to use "crappy ingredients," though John couldn't seem to agree with that assessment. The drama unfolded in front of the judges and ultimately Jamie took responsibility and packed his knives. 

5. The Judges' Get Into It, Too

Team Tom vs Team Emeril

Usually this kind of conflict is all in good fun! When host Tom Colicchio stands side-by-side with the cheftestants, things seem to loosen up. There's no hard feelings in the clip above between Chef Emeril Lagasse and Tom when they go head-to-head for a Thanksgiving challenge. Though the competition enters a more fine-tuned level when these greats get hands on in the kitchen. 

6. No Traditional Condiment is Safe


Chef Isaac Toups went to war with tradition and decided to create his own special side sauce. The result was #Banannaise. 

And don't miss it, Top Chef 13 fan favorite Isaac Toups is back with an all-new digital series on called Isaac Takes On...! He's packing his knives and setting sail around the world to take on one of the most formidable tests of his culinary career. See what happens when Isaac boards a cruise ship and goes head to head in challenges against the most talented chefs in the ship's kitchens. He also stops at exotic locations along the way, where he faces off against local chefs in attempts to beat them at their own game by recreating classic, local dishes. And don't miss the finale where Isaac faces off once again with Top Chef season 13 winner, Jeremy Ford.

Isaac Takes On... St. Maarten: Finale, Part 1
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