"Top Chef" contestants have the chance to win big money if they are crowned "Top Chef," as well as more cash along the way for high-stakes challenges. During Seasons 1-5, the top prize was $100,000, while the All Star winner took home $200,000, and the winners of the later Las Vegas, D.C., and Texas seasons took home $125,000.
Forget about number of Quickfire wins and victories at Elimination challenges. This article is all about the chefs who've taken home some of the biggest cash winnings in the show's history.
Richard Blais (Season 4 and All Stars)
It's kind of a good thing that Richard Blais choked during Season 4; it's what allowed him to return to the show's All Stars season. In addition to winning $200,000 at the conclusion of All Stars, Richard also won $10,000 during the Quickfire Challenge in "Fit for a King," as well as $10,000 during Restaurant Wars, thanks to his clever tuna belly and fried chicken skin dish.
And back in his original season, Richard also won a $2,000 gift certificate to Crate & Barrel, which he donated to Stephanie. Most people would be pretty happy to take home $222,000 for less than a year of work.
Carla Hall (Season 5 and All Stars)
Carla may not have won her season or during All Stars, but she did have a pretty amazing run both seasons. In particular, she scored $10,000 for winning fan favorite during All Stars. But before that, she went on a magnificent winning spree, taking home three wins in different challenges that came with some very cool trips.
For her smoked blue fish lettuce wrap, she won a trip for two to Amsterdam and $5,000; for her African groundnut soup, she won a trip to Italy; and for her chicken pot pie, she won an appearance on Jimmy Fallon's show, plus a trip to Tokyo. If you've ever looked up prices for international travel, you know that those trips could costs tens of thousands of dollars. While that may not make her as big of a winner as Richard, it's pretty impressive she won every trip on offer that season.
Dale Talde, (Season 4 and All Stars)
Dale may well hold the "Top Chef" record for the biggest payout in a single day of competition (not including finale episodes). During the 10th episode of All Stars, he won both a $5,000 Quickfire, plus a $25,000 Elimination Challenge. Not bad for a day when all he made were cookies and a grilled cheese sandwich.
Paul Qui (Season 9)
Before he took home $125,000 for winning the season, Paul racked up a surprising number of cash prizes. His ghost chile and coconut soup with kaffir lime scored him $20,000. Later in the season, he won $10,000 during the "Culinary Games" episode.
Michael Voltaggio (Season 6)
In addition to the $125,000 he won at the end of the season, Michael also won a high stakes Quickfire for his nitro gazpacho ($15,000), as well as 2010 Toyota Prius. The car alone was worth over $27,000 at the time.