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 May 10

by Carolina

Top Chef has never failed to surprise its fans and it’s safe to say that it’s one of the most creative culinary shows, where contestants are thoroughly challenged. And over the years, a number of A-listers have graced the show as guest judges. It’s unlikely that Top Chef viewers will ever forget Natalie Portman, Charlize Theron or Chrissy Teigen’s appearance as guest judges, but there is a bevy of other famous names who’ve had really interesting stints on the show.

Joe Jonas, for instance, probably broke all his trainer’s rules as he sampled a whole lot of sugar and carbs during his appearance on Top Chef when he judged midnight snacks for children. Dita Von Teese’s episode, on other hand, had quite a few cheeky, NSFW recipes on the table. 

10 Jon Favreau

Jon Favreau in a light blue hshirt and glasses talking to Padma Laxmi on Top Chef

The actor-director famously played a chef in his 2014 comedy titled Chef, where he plays a culinary marvel, who, after losing his job at a top restaurant, sets up his own food truck.

Favreau once revealed that he had watched every episode of Top Chef as part of his research for the role, and he actually was a celebrity guest judge in season 11 of the show. In his episode, contestants had to recreate a dish that marked a turning point in their culinary careers and helped them understand their passion. 

9 Anthony Mackie

Anthony Mackie and Padma Laxmi surrounded by Top Chef hosts

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier star, who hails from New Orleans, was invited as a judge in one of Top Chef: New Orleans’ elimination challenge episodes. The contestants had to make something comforting that they crave when they go home, or something homely and festive, and a lot of contestants created holiday dishes in this challenge.

Mackie revealed that when in New Orleans, he likes going to creole chef Leah Chase’s restaurant, Dooky Chase, and that’s where the challenge was held.

8 Paul Reubens

Paul Reubens in a grey suit holding a glass standing next to Padma Laxmi in a pink dress, also holding a glass, on Top Chef

In one of the episodes of Top Chef season 9, contestants walked into a room with a plate stacked with pancakes, and it was revealed that their challenge was to make pancakes for comedian Paul Reubens, who famously loves pancakes. Just a few minutes later, Reubens rode into the show on a bicycle. The segment of the show was shot in San Antonio, Texas, the city that featured in Reubens film, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.

“I came here to film Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, to the Alamo, many years ago,” Reubens said. “It’s the first time I’ve been back. It’s thrilling. Thank you so much for having me.”

7 Joe Jonas

Joe Jonas in a blue shirt standing next to Padma Laxmi on Top Chef

Joe Jonas was brought in to judge one of the most interesting quickfire episodes of the show. In season 8, the chefs had to whip up a midnight snack for elementary school students spending the night at a museum. One of the main components in almost all the recipes was sugar, but the Jonas brother did not shy away from sampling every dish. 

He picked two favorites, savory potato and carrot chips with marshmallow dip made by Spike Mendelsohn, and Tiffani F’s rice crispy treats with malted milk and graham crackers.

6 Buzz Aldrin

Buzz Aldrin in a black blazer and blue shirt sitting next to Padma Laxmi with a moon in the background

Buzz Aldrin was called in to judge a special challenge in season 7, where chefs were tasked with creating a zero gravity-friendly dish that could be freeze-dried and sent into space.

Former Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin and astronauts Sandy Magnus and Leland Melvin decided Angelo Sosa’s ginger lacquered short ribs with pea puree, pickled mushrooms and horseradish crème fraiche deserved the top spot, and the dish was actually prepared by NASA and flown aboard a future mission.

5 Foo Fighters

Foo Fighters sitting around a table on Top Chef

In season 5, the Grammy Award-winning band made an appearance on Top Chef for the Thanksgiving episode. The contestants battled for a chance to see the band live at one of their concerts by assembling a Thanksgiving meal for the musicians. Frontman Dave Grohl, especially, was engaging, interactive and joked around with the contestants, and visibly enjoyed almost everything he sampled.

However, the episode was criticized as somewhat lackluster and dull because the pace seemed quite slow and even the drama between the contestants wasn’t all that interesting. It was, in fact, quite bland for a holiday episode.

4 Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart wearing a black jacket over a grey blouse standing next to Padma Laxmi who is wearing a blue top on Top Chef

Many fans may not remember, but Martha Stewart was a guest judge on Top Chef season 5. For the challenge, the contestants had to make a one-dish holiday item using only one bowl or pot.

Interestingly, Stewart has a book titled One Pot: 120+ Easy Meals from Your Skillet, Slow Cooker, Stockpot, and More: A Cookbook, which is a compilation of meals that can be made using only one stockpot or cooker.

3 Natasha Richardson

The late Natasha Richardson wearing a red gown standing in front of a microphone in front of audiences on Top Chef

The late actor made an appearance on one of Top Chef’s holiday episodes in 2008, just a year before her tragic passing in a skiing accident. Though she is credited as a guest judge on the episode, Richardson hosted a charity event during her stint to raise money for amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research.

Not many people know this, but her father, the acclaimed thespian Tony Richardson, died of AIDS in 1991, following which Richardson took up the cause of fighting the disease.

2 Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling in a black printed jumper sampling food from a chef's table on Top Chef

Mindy Kaling is a total foodie and also spends a lot of time in the kitchen now and then, with famous people no less, so her appearance on Top Chef Masters was no surprise.

The contestants were tasked with creating dishes inspired by her favorite romantic comedies, and the chefs really did get creative. As a guest judge, Kaling was fun, engaging and inspiring and cracked many, many jokes to lighten the mood. She picked the Scrambled Eggs & Caviar with Pommes Frites recipe as the winning number.

1 Dita Von Teese

Dita Von Teese in an off-shoulder blue dress standing next to Curtis Stone

Queen of Burlesque, Dita Von Teese, is a really conscious eater and fans who are aware of her healthy diet habits perhaps hoped she would judge a health-forward quickfire round. But instead, Dita who appeared in the fourth season of Top Chef Masters, had to taste rather cheekily-themed items, as cheftestants were asked to create dishes using familiar aphrodisiacs as ingredients.

Art Smith’s chocolate dessert stole the show, as he worked on a dish called “Floating Islands,” made with breast-shaped meringue blobs sitting atop a bed of chocolate syrup.

NEXT: Top Chef: The 10 Best Seasons, Ranked by IMDb


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JJ Rankin
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JJ Rankin is a culture and entertainment writer. You can find her work if you want to, you know

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