When a reality show has been on the air for multiple seasons, new contestants tend to start developing clever strategies to help them win. Case in point: "Top Chef." After seeing where previous contestants went wrong, incoming "chef'testants" have an edge when it comes to devising cunning strategies. Here are some of the best strategies deployed by "Top Chef" contestants over the years.
Jamie loses intentionally
In Season 5, "Top Chef" contestant Jamie Lauren intentionally lost a Quickfire challenge. While that is usually a way to set yourself up for failure, Jamie's intentional loss was actually a stroke of brilliance. You see, Jamie knew the Quickfire was leading up the annual Restaurant Wars challenge.
After seeing how the last four seasons of Restaurant Wars had played out, she knew that the two people most likely to go home during Restaurant Wars would be the two team leaders from each team. In other words, winning the Quickfire was a guaranteed way to get yourself lined up for a 50/50 chance at elimination. By losing the Quickfire, Jamie ensured that she would almost certainly survive Restaurant Wars, and her gamble paid off.
Matthew makes a smart move
In the Season 2 fan-favorite Willy Wonka episode, the "Top Chef: Just Desserts" chefs were tasked with creating a magical, edible landscape of chocolate. Before they got the challenge description, however, the chefs were taken to a theater to see the "Willy Wonka" movie.
Matthew, thinking critically, picked out movie snacks that he could easily turn into a dessert and didn't nibble on them during the movie to ensure that he would have plenty of materials for a devious Quickfire challenge. The chefs weren't asked to do anything like this, but it was still smart of Matthew to plan for this contingency.
Marcel takes a shortcut
Most fans agree that Marcel is one of the sleaziest, most unlikeable contestants in the show's history. But you've gotta admit, he used a very smart trick when competing in the all-star Quickfire, where the chefs only had eight minutes and 37 seconds to prepare a hot dish for judging. With such a short cooking window, Marcel smartly skipped a visit to the pantry and instead cooked with Tom Colicchio's leftover fish. He didn't win, but it was a notably clever move.
Dale plays to his enemy's weakness
In the all-stars season, Dale won the Quickfire going into Restaurant Wars. He was made the captain of one team by default and allowed to choose the head chef for the other team. Dale chose Marcel, knowing that the team leaders were most likely to go home. Dale's decision was smart: not only did it prevent Marcel from ending up on his team, but he knew that Marcel was a bad leader. Not surprisingly, Marcel got eliminated at the end of the episode.