Top Chef Duels

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Top Chef Duels TV Poster Image
Family-friendly cooking competition with some trash talking.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Respect for talent, hard work, and professionalism is common in the Top Chef kitchen. Making food taste delicious is the ultimate goal.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Contestants sometimes trash-talk each other, calling each other names such as "grandpa" or "dick," but overall they're talented, hardworking chefs.


Some cursing under pressure: "What the hell do you think you're doing?" Or a muttered and bleeped "Oh, f--k" when a dish comes out wrong.


Every chef who appears has a project to plug, whether it's another TV show, a book, or a restaurant. They mention their projects repeatedly, and names flash on-screen as part of the chefs' identity. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Alcohol may appear as an ingredient in some dishes. Judges drink wine at the scoring sessions.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Top Chef Duels pits two famous chefs against each other for cash prizes. The series is largely clean, focused on cooking, and fine for whole-family watching. There is the occasional curse uttered when the chefs are under pressure, but the strongest words are bleeped. Depending on who's competing in any given episode, contestants may do a fair amount of trash-talking, insulting each other's looks, age, talent, creativity, and demeanor. For the most part, however, the emphasis is on cooking and making delicious food. Kids who watch may be inspired to give cooking a whirl or may be tempted to engage in cooking competitions with other family members, which could be a great thing for the family table.

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What's the story?

TOP CHEF DUELS brings together some of the most talked-about contestants from Top Chef and Top Chef Masters. In each episode, two chefs will face off in three culinary battles: two that they devise to confound the other, and one given to them by the judges (Gail Simmons, Curtis Stone, and Wolfgang Puck). Each of the first two rounds carries a $10,000 prize; the chef who takes home the competition's top honors wins the chance to compete in the season finale for $100,000 and bragging rights.

Is it any good?

These are good chefs making delicious-looking food, which is fun to watch if you're hungry or want to be inspired to cook or eat. But even some of the people on-screen are aware of how low the stakes are. These are people who are already famous and successful; will $10,000 or even $100,000 really do anything major for their lives? It adds a certain flatness to the proceedings and makes you not want to root for anyone.

Still, if your family tends to like cooking competitions, this one is entertaining, as cooking competitions go. The judges give the competitors interesting challenges, such as making food so aromatic the judges can eat and enjoy it blindfolded or creating dishes that look like one thing but taste like another. Perhaps your family will be inspired to challenge each other to weird cooking contests. Eating the results would be interesting, anyway.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why the chefs who participate do so. Is it only for the prize money? To promote their restaurants and television shows? What other reasons could there be?

  • The winner of Top Chef Duels is judged by a six-person panel. Would a two-person panel be better or worse? Explain why having more or fewer opinions is important in a contest.

  • Who do you think does the dishes on Top Chef Duels? Or procures the food? Is it anyone we see on-screen?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love food and competition

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