Some people call them chilis, others call them chiles (this difference is regional). However you choose to spell it, these hot peppers are the backbone of everything from chili con carne to salsa to curry. Nobody understands the versatility of these peppers better than "Top Chef" contestants. From Texas-style chili to insanely spicy Asian soups, the humble chili pepper gets its due in these "Top Chef" dishes.
Season 9In the infamous Texas season of the show, the episode "Red Hot Chili Cook-Off" featured two challenges that were all about chilis. First off, the Quickfire had the chefs select a type of chili pepper to use in their dish. The hotter the pepper, the larger the cash reward the chef would receive if they won. Paul prepared a dish of chilled coconut soup with kaffir lime and ghost chile peppers (the hottest peppers in the world). The dish won him the challenge, along with $20,000.
Later in the episode, the chefs broke out into teams and competed against each other in a chili cook-off. The chili con carne made by the Green Team (Chris C., Chuy, and Sarah) was declared the winner.
Season 8In the eighth season, the all-star chefs competed in a Quickfire challenge where the best stuffing dish would win $20,000. The twist: There were no utensils in the kitchen, meaning the chefs had to use their hands or improvised methods to open cans and cut up their ingredients. Tre won the challenge with a spicy Southwestern bread pudding with smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, bell peppers, and plenty of powdered chilies.
Season 7In the first part of the Season 7 finale, the four chefs in contention for the win had to work together to create a Singaporean feast. Ed was named the winner thanks to chili-infused dishes like his banana fritters with red chili paste.
Season 4In one memorable Season 4 challenge, the chefs had to create a dish inspired by earth, air, fire, or water for a Meals on Wheels fundraiser. Lisa, assigned to create a fire-inspired dish, went on to win the challenge. Her dish was a smoky, spicy delight filled with tons of chilies. She served grilled shrimp with a pickled chili salad, deviled aioli, and miso-smoked bacon.
"Top Chef Masters," Season 4In the second episode of the season, the chefs had to cater a romantic wedding. While it sounds like a somewhat challenging dish to swallow, Patricia wowed judges and diners alike with her dish of pickled mackerel, coconut, and chilies and was declared the winner.