Scott Shafer/NBCU Photo Bank
In its 12-year history, only one chef has been kicked out of the competition: Cliff Crooks.
In arguably Top Chef's most scandalous moment (that will go down in reality TV history, that's how shocking it was), an intoxicated Cliff physically pinned down fellow competitor Marcel Vigneron and tried to shave his head, as three other contestants laughed and filmed the incident, as they had been left them a camera "because one of them had asked for one because it was their last night and they wanted to mess around and have some fun," an executive producer later explained.
Marcel was able to get away, locking himself in the bathroom for the rest of the night, but was left bruised, and revealed 10 years later that it was actually worse than what aired. Cliff threw chocolate bars at him, and that Ilan Hall and Elia Aboumrad shaved their heads after the attack, not before as was aired on television, as an attempt to possibly mitigate the situation, he told The Huffington Post.
"It's not cool to be picked on and assaulted," Marcel said. "Beyond the physical pain of getting hit in the head with chocolate bars, there's the human aspect of wanting to belong to something and having everyone be like, ‘You're weird, we don't like you, we're going to abuse you.'"
After seeing the footage the next morning, which happened to be Tom's birthday, the producers and judges were shocked.
"In a flash I understood how frat pranks can morph into ugly acts of hazing," a disgusted Tom wrote in his Bravo blog post about the scandal after the episode aired, revealing he wanted to send all of the chefs home and crown Marcel the winner.
Producers stepped in to stop that from happening, with Tom explaining, "Bravo's Legal department advised us of the Top Chef rules, which stated that harming or threatening to harm other contestants was potential grounds for disqualification. According to these guidelines, it was clear that Cliff needed to go."