Season 1 of Top Chef took place in San Francisco and concluded in Las Vegas, Nevada. The season premiered on Bravo on March 8, 2006 and ended on May 24, 2006. Twelve contestants from around the United States lived together in a house for approximately 21 days competing in a series of challenges. Katie Lee Joel hosted, with regular judges chef Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons of Food & Wine Magazine. The ten-episode, one-hour series featured twelve aspiring chefs in the culinary world from varied backgrounds including culinary graduates and students, personal celebrity chefs, a Sous Chef, a line cook, a nutritionist, a Tournant Chef, and a self-taught mother of three.
- Kenneth Lee, 31 — Resides in: Los Angeles, California
- Cynthia Sestito, 52 — Resides in: East Hampton, New York
- Brian Hill, 37 — Resides in: Los Angeles, California
- Candice Kumai, 23 — Resides in: Pasadena, California
- Lisa Parks, 45 — Resides in: Los Angeles, California
- Andrea Beaman, 38 — Resides in: New York City, New York
- Miguel Morales, 27 — Resides in: New York City, New York
- Stephen Asprinio, 24 — Resides in: Las Vegas, Nevada
- Lee Anne Wong, 28 — Resides in: New York City, New York
- Dave Martin, 40 — Resides in: Long Beach, California
- Tiffani Faison, 28 — Resides in: Las Vegas, Nevada -- Runner-up
- Harold Dieterle, 28 — Resides in: New York City, New York -- Winner
Each episode included two challenges. The Quickfire Challenge was a short, simple challenge with a varying reward each week. The Elimination Challenge was a more complex challenge that determined who was sent home. One or more guest judges joined the show each week to evaluate both the Quickfire and Elimination challenges.
Each week's elimination was announced in a segment called "Judges' Table."
The runner-up was Tiffani Faison and the winner was Harold Dieterle.