Hands up, utensils down!

16 seasons in and we still can't get enough of Top Chef, the Bravo reality hit series that proves viewers can totally stand the heat in the kitchen, no matter the city they're in or which cheftestants dare brave the toughest culinary test on TV.

Premiering tonight at 9 p.m., host Padma Lakshmi, head judge Tom Colicchio, and judges Graham ElliotNilou Motamed and Gail Simmons are heading to Kentucky for Top Chef's latest season, with fans finally meeting the 15 chefs from across the United States who will battle it out for the title of Top Chef. 

Before a winner is crowned after the finale showdown, which will take place in Macau, China, the cheftestants will have to endure some of Top Chef's craziest twists yet, including earliest and first-ever three-team Restaurant Wars battle. 

So what exactly goes into a season of filming Top Chef? While watching (and sometimes drooling over) the show, we've often wondered what happens to all the ingredients that aren't used, and if anyone else gets to taste the food aside from the judges. And yeah, we've tried to guess just how many calories Padma, who oversees the quick-fire challenges and the elimination challenges, consumes on a daily basis while filming. Or how about the clean-up process for the kitchen after each challenge? 

If you've ever asked yourself these questions, we've got you covered, as we rounded up 18 secrets you might not have known about Top Chef, which debuted way back in 2006. 

Padma Lakshmi, 2018 Emmys, 2018 Emmy Awards, Red Carpet Fashions

Danny Moloshok/Invision for the Television Academy/AP Images

Tom Colicchio, NBC Upfronts

Cindy Ord/NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment

Cliff Crooks, Top Chef

Scott Shafer/NBCU Photo Bank

Marcel Vigneron, Top Chef

Scott Shafer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Top Chef


Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons

Courtesy Food & Wine Classic in Aspen

Top Chef


Top Chef, pantry

David Moir/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank

Top Chef

Paul Cheney/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank

Top Chef


Top Chef

Padma Lakshmi, Top Chef

David Giesbrecht/NBCU Photo Bank

Joseph Flamm, Joe Flamm, Top Chef

Paul Trantow/Bravo

Lee Anne Wong, Top Chef

Virginia Sherwood/NBCU Photo Bank

Paul Qui, Top Chef

Virginia Sherwood/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank

Padma Lakshmi, Top Chef

Virginia Sherwood/Bravo

Richard Blais, Top Chef

David Moir/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank

Katie Lee, 2018 Met Gala, Red Carpet Fashions

Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

(E! and Bravo are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)

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