By Pam Gelman,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Too saucy for a kid's palate.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
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
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.
Violence & Scariness
Occasional knife cuts or other medical problems.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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").
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"You're a douche bag," "your attitude is crappy," plus plenty of bleeped "f--k" and s--t."
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Products & Purchases
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.
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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.
Where to Watch
Videos and Photos
Based on 3 parent reviews
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Good for any kid old enough to be interested by it.
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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.
- Premiere date: March 8, 2006
- Cast: Gail Simmons, Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio
- Network: Bravo
- Genre: Reality TV
- Topics: Cooking and Baking
- TV rating: TV-14
- Last updated: February 3, 2023
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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