Top Chef Las Vegas wins best reality competition Emmy, dethroning Amazing Race

The seemingly impossible happened during the Emmys last night: Top Chef Las Vegas won the Emmy for best reality competition show, finally dethroning seven-time winner The Amazing Race, which has won every year since the category was created in 2003.

Executive producer Dan Cutforth, who is one of Magical Elves’ two principles, accepted the award, saying “we never expected it.” Host Padma Lakshmi, who was the most animated of all of the show’s cast and crew on stage, said “I’ll say!” and then stood in front of Gail Simmons. Cutforth also said that his producing partner, Jane Lipsitz, has attended previously but skipped out this year. Their shows have been nominated all the way back to 2004 when Last Comic Standing was nominated. Ironically, they ended up beating the show they created, Project Runway, which has since changed hands to other producers.

Although Top Chef Las Vegas wasn’t the series’ best season ever–I asked if the Voltaggio brothers were ruining the series, and of course, one of them ultimately won. But even though, as Phil Keoghan pointed out in defense of TAR’s repeated wins, the shows are judged on the strength of a single episode, I think we can take this as an award that applies to the series as a whole, too–never mind their contributions to reality. I’m hoping this means that the Academy is waking up to reality TV a bit, but we’ll see how many years in a row Top Chef wins.

By the way, backstage after the win, Padma told reporters that she saw Phil on the red carpet and hit him with her purse and then told him “I was taking him down, and guess what? I was right!”

Here’s the Magical Elves’ win and a very excited Padma:

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.