3. Season 4: Chicago
Winner: Stephanie Izard
I can't speak for everyone, but, as the person in charge of this ranking, Season 4 is the shit. In terms of quality, Chicago's cheftestants rose leaps and bounds above those in Seasons 1-3, and many of them, namely superstars Stephanie Izard, Antonia Lofaso, Spike Mendelsohn, Richie Blais, and snuggly stoner Dale Talde, went on to open killer restaurants all over the country. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding.
Another highlight: Season 4 was the first ever to feature a female champ. It only took four years, but Stephanie managed to crash through Bravo's -- not to mention the restaurant industry's -- double-paned glass ceiling, coming from behind for a sneak-attack win with the utmost determination, capability, and poise. So why doesn't this season top the list? Even though the level of talent was high, TC was still trying to establish itself as a reputable show and it still had a way to go before reaching celebrity chef-magnet status. It was also the most location-specific season to date, and even as someone who loves the Windy City, I'm not sure cooking dinner for a group of 2nd City improvers comes across as a worthwhile challenge. And swapping "Restaurant Wars" -- without a doubt, every fan's favorite episode -- for "Wedding Wars" proved to be a total, disappointing fail. If it ain't broke, Bravo…