Top Chef adds Redemption Island, allowing eliminated chefs to return

Buried in a Bravo press release about a cross-platform Toyota sponsorship, or “fully-integrated transmedia play,” is news that Top Chef is taking a page from Survivor and adding Redemption Island. They’re calling it “Last Chance Kitchen,” but it’s the exact same idea: eliminated contestants battle for the right to re-enter the game.

Those will not be part of the Top Chef Texas broadcast, but will instead be shown online, in a web series. It’s hosted by Tom Colicchio and still produced by Magical Elves, so it should look and feel like the show. It’s not exactly clear how this Redemption Island will work or when the winner will return to the game; Bravo said only this: “Each week, two eliminated chef’testants face-off to compete for the ultimate prize — a chance to return to the show and compete to qualify for the on-air finale.”

Bravo calls this “a cutting-edge transmedia play” and it is “sponsored exclusively by Toyota, allowing viewers to follow story lines across multiple platforms.” They know how to get us excited!

Although we’ll have to see how this plays out, it strikes me as a better use of the Redemption Island format. Since this isn’t a social game, there aren’t any of the inherent problems there are with it on Survivor. And on Top Chef, someone can get eliminated for something very small in a single dish, and this gives them the chance to prove that they’re better than that mistake.

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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.