Why Top Chef Contestants Must Make Two Of Every Dish

Anyone who has ever watched an episode of Top Chef knows exactly how exciting those final few moments are. The contestants are scrambling to put the finishing touches on their dishes while the judges count down the last seconds, and there's usually some sort of drama, whether it's someone forgetting an ingredient at the last minute or someone pulling a dish out of the oven only to find it burnt to a crisp. It's nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat drama because, after all, that perfectly-plated creation your favorite contestant just dropped on the way to judging was their only hope, right?

Wrong — kind of. According to show insiders, apparently every contestant on Top Chef has to make two dishes during each competition round. I.e. they're actually doing double the work that you see and end up with double the results. Why is this a thing? Here's what you didn't know about this well-kept Top Chef secret.

They need their dishes to look 'sexy' for filming

The reason for each contestant making two dishes isn't because the judges want an excuse to eat more delicious food (although we wouldn't blame them!). Rather, it's because the show's producers need to get some good close-ups of the food before it's sampled. 

"On pretty much every single challenge on the show, the chef has to make two plates of everything," Top Chef executive producer, Shauna Minoprio, told New York Daily News in an interview. She explained that this is primarily for photography purposes, adding that, "We have a camera set up in the area that we call the food-porn area, because we want the food to look as sexy as possible."

It makes sense that they need a separate dish for photographing when the producers never know how long judging will take. According to INSIDER, Top Chef judging can sometimes run up to eight hours long (!!!), so you can imagine how congealed and gross the food would look if they didn't have another fresh plate to film.