Top Chef

Top Chef Season 12 Episodes

Find out how to watch Season 12 of Top Chef tonight

Season 12 Episode Guide

Episode 1 - Sudden Death

The wicked-awesome supersized season premiere introduces the 16 chefs from across the country who will be battling it out in Boston. Richard Blais (“Top Chef All-Stars” winner) joins Tom, Padma and Gail at judges table. The chef’testants are immediately thrown into hot water with the series’ first ever Sudden Death Quickfire Challenge where one chef is forced to cook for their life to stay in the competition. For the Elimination Challenge, the chefs must cook and serve a re-imagined version of the first dish they ever remember making, but will this trip down memory lane be a dream come true or a nightmare for the chefs? The challenge plays out at the first ever “Top Chef Food Festival” alongside some of Boston’s most prominent culinary stars including Barbara Lynch, Ming Tsai, Lydia Shire, Jasper White, Todd English, Ken Oringer, Jamie Bissonnette, Kristen Kish and Tiffani Faison.


Episode 2 - Boston's Bravest and Finest

The famous signal “one if by land and two if by sea” plays a role in the ingredients the chefs must use in their Quickfire Challenge to create the ultimate surf and turf dish for guest judge Todd English. Then the chefs break into teams for the Elimination Challenge to serve Boston’s Finest in the police and fire departments. Using surprise ingredients, each team must work together to cook one cohesive dish. Tempers and dishes boil over in the kitchen as the chefs learn how to cook together for the first time. Chef Dante de Magistris guest judges the Elimination Challenge.


Episode 3 - The Curse of the Bambino

In a nod to the Boston Tea Party; the Cheftestants brace themselves for another Sudden Death Quickfire Challenge where they must use tea to enhance their dishes for guest judge Ming Tsai. The chef with the worst dish must battle against another chef to stay in the competition. Historic Fenway Park hosts its first ever culinary competition in an Elimination Challenge where the chefs must use ballpark snacks to create a fine dining dish that will be served right on the field. Joining the judges are Baseball Hall of Famer and former Red Sox pitcher Dennis Eckersley; Boston Globe sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy and guest judge Ming Tsai.


Episode 4 - 12 Chefs Walk Into a Bar

For their Quickfire Challenge, the Cheftestants visit the bar where everybody knows your name, “Cheers,” where they must create a tasty bar snack for special guest judge George Wendt, the actor who played Norm on the hit TV show. Then, “Top Chef Masters” alum Michael Schlow welcomes the chefs to his Italian restaurant, Via Matta, for the Elimination Challenge where the chefs must work in teams to write and create a three-course Italian menu. The team whose menu is ordered the most wins while everyone else is up for a double elimination! Joining the judges is actress Emmy Rossum, star of Shameless, who throws the chefs for a loop when they must make last minute adjustments to accommodate Emmy’s gluten-free diet.


Episode 5 - It's War!

The competition heats up when the chefs cook in head-to-head battles in a Quickfire Challenge with guest judge Jamie Bissonnette, where the victor wins bragging rights and $10,000. For the Elimination Challenge, the team of Quickfire Losers gets a chance at redemption as they cook off as a team against the Quickfire Winners. In another head-to-head competition, the chefs strategize the best dishes they can make on a lean military budget with Revolutionary War-themed battles that take place at the historic Watertown Arsenal.


Episode 6 - The First Thanksgiving

“Top Chef” alum Tiffani Faison surprises the chefs with a trip to the countryside as well as a test of endurance. The chefs must trek through a cranberry bog in a race to gather this classic New England ingredient to use as the base for their Quickfire Challenge: creating a unique dish highlighting the cranberry. For their Elimination Challenge, the chefs head to historic Plimouth Plantation and must work together to cook a traditional family-style Thanksgiving feast using only cooking tools, methods and ingredients found in Massachusetts during the 1600s. This will not be an ordinary turkey and stuffing dinner with descendants of Mayflower colonists and the Wampanoag tribe as well as James Beard Award Winner Ken Oringer joining the judges at the table.


Episode 7 - Restaurant Wars

The chefs are split into two teams and given one day to open their own pop-up restaurants in this iconic "Top Chef" challenge. They must handle everything from creating menus to restaurant décor to training the wait staff in order to serve 100 diners --including "Top Chef" alums Kristen Kish and Stephanie Cmar as well as acclaimed restaurateur and guest judge Barbara Lynch. Egos and dishes collide in the kitchen when the chefs scramble to work together but when an ingredient goes missing and a dish is altered without the chef’s approval, will it make or break the restaurants?


Episode 8 - Clean Up In Aisle 21!

In a monumental mid-season twist, the eliminated chefs from this season are brought back with the potential of changing the competition completely. For the Elimination Challenge, the "Top Chef" kitchen opens its doors for the first time ever for the ultimate tasting party with "Top Chef" super fans.


Episode 11 - Big Sausage

Chefs are challenged to create the biggest and tastiest sausage dishes they can concoct when New England Patriots football player Rob Gronkowski steps in as guest judge for the Quickfire Challenge. Next up, the chefs must brush up on their reading for a unique Elimination Challenge where their dishes must be inspired by a literary work from a famous New England author including Stephen King, Edgar Allen Poe, Emily Dickinson, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Dr. Seuss. As the chefs cook their cuisine to bring fiction to the plate, they hope their dishes don’t get lost in translation as the judges are joined by Chef Tony Maws and Clarkson Potter Editor Francis Lam at the judges table.


Episode 13 - For Julia & Jacques

For their Quickfire Challenge, the chefs get a flashback to their college days when they must prepare a ramen dish using only ingredients from college students’ dorm rooms to be judged by “Watch What Happens Live" host Andy Cohen and his college roommate from Boston, Dave Ansel. For a very special Elimination Challenge, guest judge and legendary chef Jacques Pepin challenges the chefs to create a dish inspired by the French cooking techniques of the legendary Julia Child. It’s a make or break moment for these chefs as they take major risks to create French dishes that would make Julia proud. Joining the judges are Food and Wine editor-in-chief Dana Cowin, Julia Child’s great nephew Alex Prud’homme, and some of the first ladies of Boston’s culinary scene: Barbara Lynch, Mary Dumont and Joanne Chang.


Episode 15 - Sous Your Daddy!

The chefs get thrown for a loop by a surprise visit from their family members. As they celebrate their reunions, the chefs get an even bigger shock when they find out their loved ones will serve as their sous chefs in their next Elimination Challenge in which they must make one appetizer and one entrée. In a twist, the chefs find out that they cannot touch the appetizers, leaving solely their family members responsible for that dish. With an automatic ticket to the Top Chef finals on the line, the chefs’ nearest and dearest must take orders quickly if they are to hold up their end of the meal.


Episode 17 - The Final Battle of Bean Town

In honor of the last Quickfire challenge in Beantown, the chefs must cook an innovative bean dish for “Top Chef Masters” alum and acclaimed culinary innovator, Wylie Dufresne. Then, in a high stakes Elimination Challenge, the chefs push their boundaries to create their most innovative and unique dishes yet. They must create dishes that truly exemplify the future of cooking as the winner will take home $10,000 and a guaranteed spot in the Finals in Mexico. As the chefs push their culinary boundaries, one will be caught in the crossfire and be left to fight for redemption in “Last Chance Kitchen.”


Episode 19 - Getting Prickly in Mexico

In the first of the three-part finale, the three finalists head to San Miguel de Allende in Mexico where they are greeted by head judge Tom Colicchio who invites them to watch the final cook-off of “Last Chance Kitchen” and learn which eliminated chef will rejoin the competition. Award-winning Mexican chef Enrique Olvera introduces the Quickfire Challenge where the chefs must create a dish highlighting the Mexican ingredient xoconostle, a special type of prickly pear. San Miguel de Allende is a mecca for artists all over the world, and the chefs' creativity is put to the test when they are challenged to create a unique dish inspired by a local artist’s work for the Elimination Challenge. Cooking at the famed Instituto Allende, the chefs will have four hours to prepare dishes for an event while their artists complete a new work of art that will be on display. The chef that doesn't translate the artist’s vision will have to say “adiós” to the title of Top Chef.


Episode 20 - Holy Escamoly!

In the second of the three-part finale, the remaining three chefs take a surprise visit to the lush organic farm, Purisima de Jalpa on the outskirts of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, that supplies the top restaurants in the region. For their Quickfire Challenge, the chefs must create two dishes with chocolate: one sweet and one savory. For their last Elimination Challenge before the Finale, the chefs create a six-course progressive menu, with each dish highlighting one different Mexican ingredient. Tensions flare when one chef gets the short end of the stick. The two chefs whose dishes best highlight their Mexican ingredients will move on to the Finale and battle for the title of Top Chef. Joining the panel are guest judges Richard Blais and Eduardo Palazuelos, as well as acclaimed chefs Zarela Martinez, Enrique Farjeat, Marco Beteta, and Bricio Dominguez.


Episode 21 - Mano a Mano

In the last part of the finale, two chefs are surprised by an early morning hot air balloon ride over the city of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, as a final moment of calm before the last Elimination Challenge. For their ultimate showdown, the final two must create the most outstanding four-course menu of their lives. Each chef takes a different menu approach, but they both face cooking missteps and nerves along the way. The chef who overcomes the pressure and serves the most inspired dishes will win the grand prize: a feature in FOOD & WINE Magazine, an appearance at the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, $125,000 furnished by Healthy Choice, and the title of Top Chef. Joining the panel are guest judges Hugh Acheson, Richard Blais, and acclaimed chefs Traci Des Jardins, Sean Brock, Michael Cimarusti, Gavin Kaysen, and Donnie Masterton.


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