These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
YMMV: Top Chef
Creator's Pet: MIKE ISABELLA from Season 8 was focused on throughout the whole season for being ungracious, a general jerk to all the other contestants, and being overconfident in nearly... no, every challenge.
Crowning Moment of Heartwarming: Richard giving his prize to Stephanie when he won for Wedding Wars in Season 4, even before he knew what it was, and admitting the work she put into the wedding cake was something he didn't want nor could have done. This is then reciprocated by Stephanie when she offers to share the prize.
From Season One was Andrea. Of the 6 episodes she lasted, she was on the bottom in 4 of them. In episode 2, she was actually eliminated, but was brought back halfway through next episode because Cynthia quit.
Season Two: Marcel. Despite underperforming in several challenges initially, Marcel made it all the way to the top 2. Though, He's only got the two Quickfire wins, but he's placed high in both quickfires and eliminations quite a few times. That indicates that his food has been rather consistently of good quality.
A better example would probably be Michael. He was on the bottom five times, and just didn't seem to be taking the competition seriously most of the time. Especially apparent when he made the infamous Cheeto Amuse Bouche during one of the quickfires.
Season Three (Miami): Howie was eliminated about halfway through the season, but by then he had been on the bottom 7 times. His stubborn personality made it nearly impossible to work with him as part of a team, he had no qualms about throwing other people under the bus, and he rarely ever cooked anything well besides pork.
Season Four (Chicago): Lisa. She only won 1 challenge (compared to everyone else in the final 4, who had at least 5 wins), and was on the bottom in EVERY episode from the final 10 onwards. When she made it to the finale by a very slim margin, she complained that nobody seemed happy to see her in the final 3 (which was mostly true). Fellow cheftestant Richard said, "What do you want me to say? Congratulations, Lisa. You just won the bronze medal." To her credit, Lisa put on a surprisingly strong showing in the finale, managing to outshine Richard, which made his "you just won the bronze medal" comment to her sound quite karmic.
Incidentally, Season Four had two of these. The other after Lisa (whose Houdini status was not immediately obvious until much later in the season) was Nikki, who was consistently on the bottom and seemed incapable of making anything that wasn't pasta. In fact, more people complained about Nikki than Lisa, because although Lisa was personally very unlikable, Nikki was downright inept.
Spike could also count. He was on the bottom EIGHT times, only reaching the final 5 because other people kept making even worse mistakes than he did.
Season Five (New York): Leah. She was in the bottom of several challenges (including one involving seafood, which is her specialty), and outlasted some of the stronger chefs like Jamie and Jeff. She managed to make it all the way to the final five, largely based on someone else screwing up worse every week.
Season Six (Vegas): Robin was frequently on the bottom, but saved by someone else screwing up worse. The other chefs considered her untalented and annoying. When she beat out Mattin, they wore his red scarf as a show of solidarity/disgust.
Amanda from Season Seven (D.C.) seems to be becoming one of these.
A case can also be made for Kevin, who's been on the bottom five times, and still made it into the final three. Maybe not so much now, since he won.
Season Eight (All Stars): Jamie. Cut herself so that she couldn't cook in one instance. Didn't cook ANYTHING in another. The latest had her mess up THREE dishes, and she still stayed.
Not so much now since she got out pretty early on. Tiffany, however, was on the bottom seven times before being eliminated. Tiffany kept getting saved by other chefs having horrible days; her food seemed to vary between being poorly executed and being merely "street food" (as Tom put it) rather than the high-end cuisine the judges were expecting.
In Season Nine (Texas), Ty-Lor has been on the bottom four times so far, and Restaurant Wars hasn't even started yet.
He made it to Restaurant Wars...and then, due to underseasoning dishes (a problem he's had all season), he was eliminated in eighth place.
From the same season, Chris Jones was one as well, mainly because he kept overusing gimmicks in his food, and landed on the bottom five times because of it.
Meanwhile in "Just Desserts", Season Two, there's Craig, who was obviously outmatched by just about everybody on the show, yet managed to hang on and even win $25,000 in a Quickfire before being eliminated. To his credit, though, he consistently owned up to his mistakes and actually tried to improve, which puts him ahead of several on this list.
Ensemble Darkhorse: There's at least one in every season, which is why the title of Fan Favorite exists. Season 5, has two particularly notable ones: FabioViviani and CarlaHall. Fabio won the fan favorite prize in season 5, but Carla won it in All-Stars.
Kuniko Yagi of season 10 is a very interesting one. After a very strong showing in the beginning, she was eliminated in the second episode of the actual competition, and later lost the second round of Last Chance Kitchen. But the new twist, Save a Chef, has had her being saved by fans week after week until CJ lost the Last Chance Kitchen.
Entitled Bastard: Richard Blais in season 8, where he seemed completely incapable of going by five minutes without whining about how he "should have won season 4", or how the current season would not be successful if he didn't win.
He-Man Woman Hater: Some fans accused of Tom, who the head judge/co-producer being this, due to the show rarely crowns a female winner (in a span of 11 seasons, only two won).
Ho Yay: Surprisingly, this is fairly common amongst this show. Famous examples include Dale/Richard (Season 4), Stefan/Fabio (Season 5), Andrew/Spike/Mark (Season 4),and Kevin/Eli (Season 6) from previous seasons.
Season 8's most obvious bromance was between Richard and Fabio; this continued on Twitter after Fabio's departure. There has also been a bit between Mike I./Angelo and Dale seems to have a bit of a fixation on Angelo calling him a "pretty pretty man" and comparing him to a mermaid ("siren of the sea" to be exact) on two separate occasions.
Never Live It Down: Casey during the mise en place relay was tortuously slow on her part of the race - chopping onions. This was made worse since she was up against Hung while he broke down chickens. She also was partially responsible (as her sous chef) for Carla's failure in the season 5 finale.
Something else that people have never let her live down were her comments towards Carla during interviews after season 5 ended. While Carla graciously and humbly accepted her mistakes, did not blame Casey and said people should not blame Casey either, Casey took the opposite approach, critizicing and speaking ill of Carla in the interviews.
Personality aside, Marcel seems to be forever haunted by the head-shaving incident, and he wasn't even a willing participant. Understandably, he's grown tired of constantly being reminded of it.
The Scrappy: Toby Young is disliked by quite a few fans, because he cares more about semi-witty quips than any actual thoughtful commentary.
Sophomore Slump: Season 2 was...not good. Between the cheftestants arguing at the Judges' Table over whether others had violated nutritional standards in one competition, two cheftestants attempting to avoid anyone going home by claiming joint responsibility for a bad dish (and both getting eliminated), Mia quitting due to Cliff's attitude towards her, Marcel melting down over when to start service, and the little incident where the remaining cheftestants attempting to forcibly shave Marcel's head, it's a wonder that the show survived for another season, much less another seven (and counting)! Just about the only good thing from this season was the introduction of Padma Lakshmi as host.
Marcel from season 2. Many other chefs didn't like him from the get go, and Marcel is a bit of a jerkass but he started to become sympathetic when all the other contestants start bullying him, sometimes without justification. Most notable was the incident where Ilan (the eventual winner) and other contestants conspire to tackle him and forcibly shave his head during downtime, in front of the camera. Tom almost went ballistic and blogged that he wanted to disqualify everyone and declare Marcel the winner but Bravo nixed the idea. Eventually the guy holding Marcel down was sent home. In the finale, one of the other contestants accused him of "cheating" but could offer no evidence that he had done so.
Especially apparent in the reunion show hosted by Fabio, where Marcel responded negatively to a request that he talk about the head shaving incident. Apparently not wanting to talk with a smiling face about the time people assaulted you is a good enough reason for everyone to dislike you.
The production team could not even understand why Marcel was so hated. They searched but yet, they could not find anything that made him so hated among the other contestants.
Robin from season 6. Though she was indeed not as strong as others and she managed to avoid elimination various times due to others making worse dishes than her during Elimination Challenges, this somehow made most, if not all the other contestants take that as an insult, and treated her badly all throughout. True, she was a bit of a chatterbox, which annoyed the others, but of course, no one ever talked to her about it and instead just complained about her in confessional or to one another. They were harsh, hostile, nasty, and never had a kind word or gesture towards her, like when she won a Quickfire Challenge and everybody looked angry and did not congratulate her, also including Eli's infamous cancer comment. They even tried screwing her over more than once, such as when Mike Isabella tried taking all the credit for the team challenge in which he was paired with her and needed her knowledge in Asian cuisine to do well, and in the Restaurant Wars challenge, where Michael Voltaggio tried taking over her dessert (and she awesomely went off on him and made him back away) and then still tried taking credit for it after the judges loved it.
Generally, each season of the show and its spin-offs will have at least one.
From Season 9, Beverly. In a big, bad way. Though she was a pretty talented chef, she was kind of an oddball, which several other chefs seemed to HATE for some reason. During several team challenges, Sarah, Lindsay, and Heather would shoot down every suggestion she had, at one point going so far as to say that her suggestions were "too Asian". When she was on a team with Heather, during Judges Table, Heather immediately started ranting about how she had a bad "work ethic" and brought up previous challenges just to convince the judges that she wasn't carrying her weight in team challenges. Sarah and Lindsay also accused her of this during Restaurant Wars despite the fact that she had cooked some of the best food of the night.