In its 18 seasons, Prime Chef has served as the last word TV consolation meals, whatever the various high quality of every season and regardless of the more and more annoying product placements. Like most actuality competitors reveals, Prime Chef is satisfying to observe as a result of we will concurrently stay vicariously by way of the cheftestants who get to prepare dinner for cool folks and the judges who get to style the revolutionary dishes, whereas additionally having enjoyable watching the drama unfold and cheering for our favourite contestants to take dwelling the Prime Chef title. (I’m nonetheless bitter that Bryan Voltaggio has by no means received regardless of competing 3 times.)
Because the present’s inception in 2006, one spotlight has at all times been the myriad well-known faces invited onto the present as visitor judges, typically accompanying host Padma Lakshmi throughout Quickfire challenges or becoming a member of head decide Tom Colicchio and frequent decide Gail Simmons on the judges desk throughout elimination rounds. Celebrities are continuously introduced on Prime Chef for publicity, often to coincide with press excursions for his or her newest films, TV reveals, books, and different varied ventures. Nonetheless, their ardour for meals appears real more often than not, like within the circumstances of self-proclaimed “foodie” Natalie Portman and superstar dwelling prepare dinner Nigella Lawson.
Forward of the premiere of its nineteenth season on Bravo tonight, we’ve highlighted 25 of Prime Chef’s finest superstar appearances, ranked from memorable to iconic.
As Prime Chef: New Orleans inched nearer to the finals, this episode tasked the cooks with re-creating a dish that marked a turning level of their culinary careers. To assist decide this problem, producers invited Jon Favreau, who directed and starred within the 2014 movie Chef. Favreau as soon as stated that he watched each single episode of Prime Chef whereas doing analysis for Chef, so it’s fairly cool that he additionally acquired to evaluate this private elimination problem throughout Prime Chef’s eleventh season.
Having beforehand owned a fried-chicken restaurant the place the signature dish was a fried-chicken drumstick, drummer Questlove was clearly the proper particular person to assist decide a Quickfire based mostly on the cooks making their very own model of a drumstick utilizing various kinds of poultry (a number of the selections have been goose, turkey, quail, and recreation hen). This was a enjoyable problem, and Questlove’s look was definitely extra memorable than his pal Jimmy Fallon’s stint as a visitor decide again in season eight, which didn’t make this listing.
The sooner seasons of Prime Chef have been lighter in superstar friends (high quality, not amount), and people who have been featured weren’t usually there for apparent promotional causes. One standout is actress Aisha Tyler’s look on Prime Chef: Chicago. The cooks have been tasked with making a six-course meal impressed by their favourite movies — starting from Willy Wonka to A Christmas Story to Speak to Her — for Tyler’s birthday dinner, hosted by movie critic Richard Roeper. Whereas the problem itself might’ve been actually enjoyable, the choice to have the cooks pair up led to extra artistic restraint. Nonetheless, they managed to make spectacular dishes, and Tyler was simply the episode’s spotlight.
Actor-cum-restaurateur Danny Trejo, who owns the restaurant Trejo’s Tacos, was invited to guest-judge a Quickfire problem based mostly on — what else? — tacos. The cooks had the seemingly simple job of constructing the proper taco in half-hour, however the catch was that they needed to commerce out all of their utensils for machetes as an homage to Trejo’s movie, Machete. This twist was each daring and anxiety-inducing as we watched the cooks run across the kitchen with massive machetes of their fingers.
On this episode’s Quickfire, Padma Lakshmi, calling the cheftestants from her mattress on the Venetian lodge in Vegas, tasked the cooks with making her and a particular visitor breakfast in mattress that they have to serve and current through room service. Who higher to hitch her for breakfast than the supersweet British superstar chef and cookbook creator Nigella Lawson (who additionally pronounces phrases like “robustness” in ways in which I merely can not cease enthusiastic about)? Really two queens maximizing their joint slay.
As a lot as we could hate to confess it, Glee actually was one of the crucial in style reveals on tv at one level within the 2010s. A lot in order that it warranted dedicating a complete elimination problem to a New Orleans Halloween social gathering hosted by Lea Michele that was filmed within the useless of summer time. The cooks have been ostensibly assigned to make “spooky” dishes for the costume fête, however principally needed to concentrate on making an allowance for Michele’s likes and dislikes (she defined that she’s a vegan who generally takes a break in an effort to get pleasure from consuming cheese).
After getting into the Prime Chef kitchen in the course of the Boston-set twelfth season — a sight that also confuses me but by no means appears to go away my thoughts — footballer Rob Gronkowski, who was a New England Patriots tight finish on the time, proclaimed his timeless love for Polish sausages. This arrange the Quickfire problem of constructing sausages from scratch in a single hour (there have been clearly loads of dick jokes all through). This was a wierd but surprisingly memorable look no matter whether or not you’re a soccer fan, largely due to the weird chemistry between Gronk (a real himbo) and Padma Lakshmi.
Along with internet hosting the Prime Chef reunions that passed off in a number of the earlier seasons, Bravo king Andy Cohen additionally acquired to guest-judge a Quickfire throughout Prime Chef: Boston. A graduate of Boston College, he and his school roommate tasked the cooks with making revolutionary ramen dishes utilizing solely elements from the dorms of Emerson School college students (the elements of their horrifying grocery luggage ranged from bacon to ranch to leftover pizza, sushi, and a crusty jar of salsa).
Forward of Captain America: The Winter Soldier’s launch, which launched Anthony Mackie’s Falcon into the MCU, Mackie joined the Prime Chef judges’ desk. A New Orleans native, he gave the contestants the problem of constructing consolation dishes that remind them of meals they eat at dwelling. The dishes have been served at Mackie’s favourite restaurant on the town, which really makes his love for his hometown and the wealthy meals of New Orleans shine.
Regardless of having to beat boundaries to movie throughout COVID-19, Prime Chef’s pleasant 18th season nonetheless managed to usher in some entertaining friends. Because it passed off in Portland, it was solely becoming that Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen, the celebs and creators of sketch-comedy collection Portlandia, have been invited to evaluate a Quickfire the place the cooks had to make use of classic tools and elements that apparently have a popularity for being “hipster” in Portland. Since this episode was launched in 2021, I’m barely haunted by means of “hipster” as a option to describe meals; I assumed we have been calling it “indie sleaze” now.
For a holiday-themed Quickfire problem, the cooks had the considerably easy problem — when in comparison with different Quickfires like making dishes utilizing solely solar-powered tools within the scorching warmth — of constructing a one-dish vacation entrée that may very well be made in a single cooking vessel. The difficult half was having to serve dishes to none apart from “American icon” (Padma’s phrases) Martha Stewart, who has her personal ebook devoted to one-pot recipes, and he or she’s as brutally sincere as they get (she describes one dish as “uncommon” and “pungent”).
Forward of the discharge of Netflix’s romantic comedy All the time Be My Perhaps in 2020, comedians Ali Wong and Randall Park, who first met by way of a fried-rice competitors, confirmed up on the Prime Chef kitchen to job the cooks with making probably the most distinctive fried-rice dishes they’ll consider. The elements to select from included Fritos, Spam, peanut butter, jelly beans, frog legs, and blue cheese. Their visitor look is incredible as a result of Wong and Park are naturally hilarious and have nice chemistry.
After the Martha Stewart–judged Quickfire, the cooks went on to cater an AMFAR vacation profit with a visitor listing of 250 folks, with every chef having to make a dish impressed by one of many 12 days of Christmas. A number of months earlier than her tragic dying, Natasha Richardson served as a visitor decide on this elimination problem, since she additionally had internet hosting duties for the profit that 12 months. It’s bittersweet to look again on this episode, however it serves as a reminder of what a candy particular person Richardson was.
Prime Chef’s first season was a whole catastrophe, having not but discovered its footing with Katie Lee on internet hosting duties and extra novice cheftestants. Nevertheless, a shining second was the season’s finale, wherein Lorraine Bracco, the actress finest identified for her function as Dr. Melfi in The Sopranos, helped decide the winner (whereas giving her wine model some consideration, for the reason that cooks needed to make a dish that pairs nicely with a wine from her line). Bracco additionally returned to Prime Chef within the first All-Stars season, throughout which she fittingly judged a family-style Italian feast.
Since we’re at the moment dwelling by way of the Jennifer Coolidge renaissance, we’re virtually obligated to focus on her great stint on Prime Chef: Los Angeles. Within the episode’s elimination problem, the cooks needed to create a six-course lunch utilizing leftovers for Coolidge’s lunch social gathering with 60 attendees. Whereas she technically wasn’t a decide whose enter was taken under consideration on the judges’ desk deliberations, her look because the social gathering’s host, regardless of being sparse, was ever so pleasant. Nevertheless, it does really feel barely weird to listen to her converse in her regular voice versus the trademark sultry whisper that we’re all aware of.
A number of the finest Prime Chef moments occur when the cooks are thrown the curveball of getting to prepare dinner meals for folks with dietary restrictions. Not solely does this make for good tv because of the reactions of getting to work below extra constraints, however it additionally usually results in extra artistic dishes. Like her efficiency that carried Shameless for 9 seasons, Emmy Rossum’s look in Prime Chef: Boston is sort of underrated. Initially tasked with making a decadent three-course Italian menu, which after all requires a pasta dish, Rossum ended up giving the cheftestants a last-minute twist by revealing that she was on a strict gluten-free weight loss program, which means they needed to adapt when making her dishes (fortunately, some have been in a position to make the proper changes, whereas others couldn’t work out make the substitution).
Whereas Prime Chef season 9 is arguably one of many present’s worst seasons attributable to some significantly villainous contestants, it no less than gave us a memorable look from legendary musician Patti LaBelle. After she shocked the cooks with a efficiency of “Girl Marmalade” in Austin, Texas, the cooks got their subsequent elimination problem: create a dish that pays homage to an individual who served as their culinary inspiration. LaBelle, who can be concerned in varied food-related ventures, provided good commentary all through the meal and was such a terrific decide in a disastrous season. LaBelle may very well be a everlasting member of the judges’ desk and I wouldn’t complain.
America’s sweetheart and die-hard Prime Chef fan Kelly Clarkson joined Padma in a Quickfire of Prime Chef: All Stars for a problem selling her film Trolls World Tour. The cooks needed to make cohesive dishes utilizing vibrantly coloured elements that symbolize every of the completely different “troll worlds.” Whereas this problem was very promotion-heavy, Clarkson appeared genuinely involved in being there and attending to style all the artistic dishes, calling it the “best day ever.”
On the peak of his profession, within the midst of starring in Disney films like Camp Rock and being a pop boy-band sensation with the Jonas Brothers, Joe Jonas made one other main profession transfer: guest-judging an epic Quickfire problem on Prime Chef: New York. In two groups, the cooks needed to make a midnight snack for a big group of extraordinarily hyper elementary-schoolers spending the evening at a museum, after which additionally needed to keep on the museum in a single day in an effort to whip up breakfast for the children and their dad and mom the following morning. I continually take into consideration the second when chef Dale Talde stated he thought Joe Jonas was a pastry chef. Watching this episode as a toddler was like seeing the perfect of each worlds collide, and Jonas’s look nonetheless holds up all these years later.
Iconic actress and restaurateur Debi Mazar, finest identified for her roles in Youthful and Entourage, had a stint as a visitor decide/dinner-party host for a problem wherein the cooks needed to serve a seven-course meal the place every course represented one of many seven lethal sins. A memorable second from this chaotic social gathering is when she calls the froth from Marcel Vigneron’s dish (representing lust) visually much like cat spit after which proceeded to state that the dish appeared as if it have been made by somebody who hasn’t had as a lot intercourse as he must in an effort to make an attractive dish. Based on Mazar on Andy Cohen’s podcast a couple of years in the past, she got here near internet hosting Prime Chef at one level, which truthfully might’ve been superior to see.
Maybe one of the crucial thrilling issues to occur in Natalie Portman’s decades-long profession, operating at an in depth second behind profitable an Oscar for her efficiency in Black Swan, is the truth that she guest-judged an episode of Prime Chef: Las Vegas (a.okay.a. among the best seasons). After proclaiming that she was a foodie (“I really like consuming, I really like meals”), Portman revealed the unimaginable: She was a vegetarian, and the cooks must make dishes that match her dietary restriction. Naturally, all the cooks responded to this revelation with absolute horror, since that they had spent the earlier evening fantasizing about all of the meats they might probably prepare dinner at Tom Colicchio’s restaurant, Craftsteak, the place the problem was held. Ultimately, a lot of the cooks made attention-grabbing dishes that glad Portman’s foodie cravings.
Some Sesame Road members, together with Elmo, Cookie Monster, and Telly, stopped by the Prime Chef kitchen for a Quickfire the place that they had one request: take advantage of scrumptious cookies potential. A number of the cookies genuinely regarded scrumptious, and this could be the funniest Prime Chef look and problem so far. Though I can’t assist however marvel this: How did everybody preserve a straight face whereas interacting with Elmo and firm as they “ate” the meals?
Taking a while out of their tour, rock band Foo Fighters, who’re self-proclaimed large Prime Chef followers, appeared to truly have a ton of enjoyable on this Thanksgiving-themed episode. Cut up into two groups, the cooks have been challenged with making an revolutionary Thanksgiving feast utilizing solely microwaves and toaster ovens to prepare dinner within the enviornment the band was acting at, and the profitable crew would get to see the band carry out afterwards (if we attempt to neglect that this was filmed in the summertime, then it’s an ideal problem). It was an enormous missed alternative to not name the episode “Meals Fighters,” although.
To align with the discharge of Snow White and the Huntsman in 2012, Academy Award winner Charlize Theron gave the contestants the problem of constructing a gothic-themed feast match for an evil queen. Whereas the problem is finally foolish like many Prime Chef challenges, it’s additionally fairly creative and gave the cooks a creative problem that allowed them to flex a few of their artistic muscular tissues — some have been over-the-top and literal, with one chef presenting a black rooster made to look slaughtered and a quail egg representing the rooster’s unborn youngster. As beforehand established, Prime Chef season 9 was an absolute mess, however Theron’s look will ceaselessly stay iconic, and it makes up for every thing we needed to endure all through it.
This could be dishonest a little bit, for the reason that late Anthony Bourdain might technically be thought-about an official decide for a number of the time he spent on Prime Chef between 2006 and 2011. Regardless, he was generally introduced in below the title of visitor decide, so we’ll let it slide. A culinary mastermind, Bourdain provided hilarious and sincerely (and brutally) sincere commentary on the meals he was served, a few of which he fully detested with each bone in his physique (“It’s like Betty Crocker and Charles Manson had a love youngster and he’s cooking for me” and “As I’m consuming it, my thoughts was drifting again fondly to my final colonoscopy” are some memorable quotes, amongst many others), and each episode he was in was at all times an entertaining expertise.