A Beginner’s Guide to ‘Top Chef’ Before the Wisconsin-Set Season Begins

Photo Credit: Bravo TV

By Christina Lorey

July 19, 2023

Only 20 other cities have had the honor of hosting the reality cooking competition. Now, at least two Wisconsin towns have been added to that prestigious list.

Landing a season of “Top Chef” is a very big deal. Founded in 2006, the show has launched dozens of local chefs to international notoriety–from Carla Hall, who went on to co-host ABC’s The Chew, to Fabio Viviani, who’s written a series of acclaimed Italian cookbooks, opened restaurants across America, and starred on several Food Network shows.

RELATED: The 6 Most Successful ‘Top Chef’ Alumni

If you’ve never watched “Top Chef,” now is the time to get hooked! Season 21 (tentatively scheduled to premiere on Bravo in March 2024) will be shot entirely in Wisconsin.

Here’s what you need to know…

What is ‘Top Chef’?

It’s a classic elimination-style competition show that airs on Bravo (also available for next-day screening on Peacock). Most weeks, the episode starts with a 30-minute-or-less “Quickfire challenge” shot in a studio kitchen. Whichever chef wins gets immunity for the longer Elimination Challenge, which is shot on location. Every week, at least one chef goes home.

What role will Wisconsin play?

Since Season 21 will be shot entirely in Wisconsin, “on location” challenges may take place in a sports stadium (like Madison’s Camp Randall), a fine dining restaurant (like Fish Creek’s Wickman House), or on a rooftop overlooking the MIlwaukee skyline.

The chef contestants always cook with regional specialties, so expect lots of cheese, cranberries, cherries, and maybe even some custard!

Throughout the season, the show also reaches out to locally-known chefs to either use their kitchens or to have them appear as guest judges. 

What’s the prize?

The winner gets $250,000, but contestants can also win smaller prizes (like cash, cars, and trips) during challenges throughout the season. But, beyond the money, the real benefit is exposure. 

“Win or lose, chefs on this program get a huge platform boost,” “Cap Times” food editor Lindsay Christians wrote in a column.

“Top Chef has turned cooking into entertainment and chefs into entertainers,” writers at Eater noted, in their 2022 story, “The Real Prize of Top Chef.”

How Can I Watch?

While no official air date has been set for Season 21, “Top Chef” usually airs in late winter/early spring or around March on Bravo. If you don’t have cable, new episodes are available the day after they air on Peacock.

While you’re waiting for Wisconsin’s debut, you can binge all 20 seasons on Peacock or Amazon Prime Video.

MORE: The 10 Most Popular Seasons of Top Chef to Watch


  • Christina Lorey

    Christina is an Edward R. Murrow-winning journalist and former producer, reporter, and anchor for TV stations in Madison and Moline. When she’s not writing or asking questions, you can find her volunteering with Girls on the Run, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and various mental health organizations.

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