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See the ‘Top Chef’ Judges’ Net Worths Amid Padma Lakshmi’s Shocking Exit From the Show

Top Chef has become one of the most popular culinary competitions on television since it aired in 2006. Talented chefs from all over the world have competed in front of a distinguished panel of judges to try and outlast the competition. Former host Padma Lakshmi and judges Gail Simmons and Tom Colicchio have all amassed massive net worths from their time on the hit series. Padma shockingly announced her exit from the program in May 2023.

“After much soul-searching, I have made the difficult decision to leave Top Chef,” she wrote in an Instagram post. “Having completed a glorious 20th season as host and executive producer, I am extremely proud to have been a part of building such a successful show and of the impact it has had in the worlds of television and food.”

She continued, “After 17 years, many of the cast and crew are like family to me and I will miss working alongside them dearly,” adding, “I feel it’s time to move on and need to make space for Taste the Nation, my books and other creative pursuits.”   

The very first season of Top Chef was hosted by Katie Lee Biegel. Tom and Gail both served as judges and helped crown Harold Dieterle as the winner. Padma replaced Katie as the host in season 2 which aired from 2006 to 2007. After that, the trio gained a tremendous fanbase from longtime viewers, who were excited to find out they were all returning for season 19 in Houston, Texas, in 2022. 

“I cannot think of a more perfect pairing than Top Chef and the city of Houston,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a press release. “Both represent a celebration of cuisine, culture and innovation. We are proud of the diverse community and unique heritage that makes our city such a hot culinary destination — from classics like Tex-Mex and barbecue to local inventions like Viet-Cajun and Japanese Tapas. As any Top Chef contestant will tell you, the best food is born out of passion, and Houstonians exemplify this idea with every dish we create.”

Top Chef has been so successful, it launched several spinoff shows since its inception including Top Chef Masters, Top Chef: Just Desserts, Top Chef Junior and Top Chef Family Style. The cast and crew never predicted that the series would blossom into a massive empire. 

“We had no idea back in 2006. But I think once we got to the third or fourth season, we really started to hit our stride,” Tom told Parade in March 2022. “It really started to feel like something special. Every season, we get great chefs; the producers put together some great challenges and great locations. And it just keeps going! It’s really interesting, the chefs that are coming on now. They’re in their late 20s, and they grew up watching the show. It’s become a real milestone.”

Keep scrolling to see each of the Top Chef stars’ impressive net worths.