Top Chef

TV review by
Pam Gelman, Common Sense Media
Top Chef TV Poster Image
Too saucy for a kid's palate.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Skill and talent are on display, along with some creative problem solving. But competition sometimes gets dirty and the tension causes contestants to undermine and bad-mouth others.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Arrogant personalities often prevent cooperative team behavior. The contestants are extremely competitive. Occasionally, a contestant will come off as both talented and nice. The judges are harsh, but appear to be fair.


Occasional knife cuts or other medical problems.


Varies depending on episode themes. In one episode, for example, contestants had to cook for a fetish party (meals include "The Total Orgasm" and "Tarts and T-ts").


"You're a douche bag," "your attitude is crappy," plus plenty of bleeped "f--k" and s--t."


Kitchen product and sponsor names are mentioned prominently, as in "Then I put the roast into my GE Monogram oven..."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Wine is used as an ingredient; contestants are often seen drinking after work and occasionally appear drunk.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this reality series is a reflection of the real hierarchical power struggles in the restaurant industry. Produced by the same folks who put together the highly successful Project Runway, this show focuses on the nasty behavior between competitors instead of the cooking process itself. Critiques from judges are harsh, which may be hard for kid viewers to understand.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byKnutes January 19, 2020


I think top chef season 8 was a rip-off. The Mike guy that was in the three for the finale cheated on one of the meals. He looked in Richard's book and cop... Continue reading
Parent of a 12-year-old Written bySwamphawk March 23, 2010

Good for any kid old enough to be interested by it.

I believe this show to be fantastic. I also think any problems with behavior are mild. Any serious swearing is bleeped and it lets kids see a different level of... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byearthgurl July 5, 2010

Pretty good

Pretty good, kinda boring at times.It reminds me of Project Runway, except with cooking.
Kid, 11 years old August 23, 2009

I love this show

I love this show! It's really good. I'm aloud to watch it.

What's the story?

In TOP CHEF, aspiring cooks compete for the title of king/queen of the kitchen. The competitors face two challenges each week, in which they're judged by famous chefs and other notable foodies. First they must prepare a meal using a specific -- and often unusual -- ingredient under tight time constraints. The winner of this challenge is safe from elimination from the second challenge, which is to prepare another meal for a group of demanding clients. The last chef standing will receive, of course, the title of Top Chef, along with lucrative prizes they can use to jump-start their culinary career.

Is it any good?

Kids like to cook, but this show skimps on the process, focusing on personalities instead. The whiny, confrontational, self-absorbed contestants' language and behavior aren't age-appropriate for younger viewers, and they never show what it takes to work cooperatively as a team.

Also, some challenges aren't for young eyes. For example, one season had an episode that was all about preparing sexy, erotic food for a fetish ball. And another challenge revolved around cooking monkfish for a group of 10-year-olds; many of the competing chefs threw up their noses at the idea of preparing food for kids. Whose team won? The mom of three.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the challenges of working in a creative field under tight time pressures. What skills are required to make this situation successful? Also, how do you balance your individual creative talent while working cooperatively as part of a team? For kids interested in cooking, the featured meals may spur discussions about exotic foods or the process of preparing and cooking them.

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love reality television

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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