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Fantasy Top Chef

TopChef logo

Credit: Bravo TV

As many of you know, the season premiere of “Top Chef All-Stars” airs this Wednesday on Bravo TV, and I’m champing at the bit. Not only because I’ve followed every season so far and I’m pumped to see so many familiar and talented chefs return, but also because I’m taking over the role of Top Chef re-capper here at Food and More.

Though the future Mrs. Watson indulges me on many of my food related pre-occupations, after a few years of making her watch TC with me every week we decided to make it interesting.

I mean, why just watch TV when you can also gamble on it, right?

Thus, Fantasy Top Chef was born. At the beginning of the season, each player drafts a team of cheftestants and every week your players earn points according to how they perform.  All that is left to do after that is to set your wager. Both seasons that we have played, the loser owed the winner a nice dinner out.

Obviously, that didn’t bother the person that lost both times too much (me), so feel free to change it up if you want that loss to sting a little more. Or you can just do it for pride, if wagering isn’t your thing.

This game is great for a couple of reasons. First, if you have a non-foodie significant other, this can be a great way to get them involved. And for those of you that couldn’t read between my trying-not-to-sound-too-sexist lines there, I’ll break it down: Ladies, this is a good way to get your boyfriend/husband to actually care about this show and watch it with you.

It definitely gets you more invested in the show, which makes it more fun. You get a little more heated when there is something on the line. Trust me, if you think that Robin from Season 7 – or “dead weight”, as I called her – pissed you off, just imagine how it would have felt if she was costing you a $150 dinner at Craft.

There are 18 chefs on this season, so the ideal numbers of participants should be 2, 3, 6, etc. Should you find yourself with an odd man out, you can drop the last contestant(s) to be picked from the game completely, draw straws, or dole out some compensatory points.

Here is the breakdown of the suggested points system, but don’t be afraid to play around with it. I’ve had friends try this with a points scale for comments made about their food or specific behaviors – i.e. your player loses a point if their dish is too salty or if they cry on camera – but that can get a little confusing.

Point System:

+3 Win Quickfire

+5 Win Elimination Challenge

-5 Packed their knives and went (eliminated)

+2 Top 3 of elimination challenge

-2 Bottom 3 of elimination challenge

+ 10 Making it to the final 3

+ 15 Top Chef winner

I suggest keeping score on a spreadsheet/printout, and I’m working on putting a grid together for the blog to help keep track of everyone’s progress throughout the season.  This point system probably isn’t perfect, and the ratios have changed over the years, so I’d love to hear of any improved systems or suggestions that you guys come up with. If you are going to play along, let me know!


- Jon Watson writes about Popular Eats for the AJC Dining Team. He also publishes his own blog, Live To Feast

13 comments Add your comment


November 30th, 2010
11:12 am

Straight folks … sheesh … y’all can make a sport out of anything. :) (kidding)

Actually it sounds kinda fun. Back in season one (I think it was season one) my TC watching buds and I modified an old drinking game to fit Top Chef.

The original game was during Dawson’s Creek, when any of the characters would use a word that high schoolers just shouldn’t know, you’d drink. Typically by the end of the episode everyone was way boozed up. So we adjusted that methodology to TC that season – when any of the contestants said “It is what it is” we drank.

Not nearly as blitzed as the Dawson’s Creek kids got us but still a nice buzz … :)


November 30th, 2010
11:31 am

Sounds fun, I recruited my husband! Do our teams have to be mutually explusive?

Jon Watson

November 30th, 2010
11:38 am

@ Cheeto – I would recommend making them mutually exclusive…the game wouldn’t be too much fun if you guys were always cheering for the same chefs, but do it however you like!

When it is just two of us playing the game, I treat it like picking teams for dodgeball….you flip a coin to see who picks first, and then you just alternate until everyone is on a team. For normal seasons we pick teams after the first episode. They usually start with 17 chefs, so it gets us down to an even number, and we know a little about the chefs when we pick them, rather than going blind. This season, we are going to pick before the first episode since we already know everyone.


November 30th, 2010
11:43 am

Also I have never played before. Do you only lose point the week your contestant leaves or are they still on your roster and keep costing you week after week?

Jon Watson

November 30th, 2010
11:48 am

@Cheeto – the points for elimination are a one time shot. Once that contestent is out, they are done racking up or losing points.

Also, there may be some instances where they don’t do the traditional Top 3 /Bottom 3 thing, especially later in the season. So you will have to decide with the other players how you want to handle that as it comes.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Michael Erickson, Live to Feast. Live to Feast said: AJC post – Let the Fantasy Top Chef draft begin! [...]

Josh H

November 30th, 2010
12:40 pm

Also, remember that spoilers for the season are out there if you look hard enough, so you always have the option of randomly drafting a team if you play with people other than a significant other or best friend.


November 30th, 2010
3:51 pm

They used to have this on Bravo’s web site…

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Heather Skolans, John Kessler. John Kessler said: Fantasy Top Chef [...]

The Walrus

December 1st, 2010
9:54 am

It’s “champing at the bit” not “chomping at the bit”!!!


December 1st, 2010
5:12 pm

Oh man, this is awesome. We’ve just taken our Top Chef nerdom to the next level. I’m curious as to who ended up as your first round picks? Ours were Blais (not surprisingly) and Jen.


December 1st, 2010
5:27 pm

So glad you’ll be blogging about Top Chef, Jon! Woo-hoo! My husband and I are playing your Fantasy game this year. Just did our draft. He won the coin toss, so he got Jen. Boo! But I snagged Richard. We’ve never played for points before, but we like to guess who the judges top and bottom are before they announce it. So we pause the DVR, give each other our answers, and score points based on how many we got correct. (My husband, the engineer, is actually excited to build a spreadsheet this season. Are we food dorks or what?)

[...] In case you were wondering, here is Team Watson for Fantasy Top Chef: Blais, Jen C., Marcel, Casey, Mike I., Dale L., Elia, Spike, and Tre. I’m currently down [...]