14 Times TV Chefs Sweat Their Way Through the ‘Hot Ones’ Challenge

14 Times TV Chefs Sweat Their Way Through the ‘Hot Ones’ Challenge

Spoiler alert: Not all the food experts could handle the heat.

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The Hot Ones challenge is simple: take one bite out of 10 wings, each dabbed with an increasingly spicier sauce than the last. While guests dig in, host Sean Evans asks questions and plays games to distract from the tingling, eye-watering building fire in guest’s mouths and bellies. (Evans also partakes in the challenge in every episode—we do not want to know what his digestive tract looks like.)

The web series has endured 17 (!) seasons of rising Scoville levels, with the wings getting spicier and spicier in each passing year. While watching, we expect the guests—a lineup of comedians, actors, YouTubers, and musicians, many of whom are heat-averse—to squirm their way through their plate of chicken. But what about the chefs who guest on the series? You know, the people who professionally try all matter of sweet, spicy, and every flavor in between for a living? Here’s a look at how food professionals have prevailed (and massively failed) on Hot Ones throughout the years.

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Eddie Huang

Eddie Huang

Eddie Huang comes in hot (no pun intended). As the first chef to ever guest on the show, he strides into this season-two episode with something to prove, and in doing so decides to start with the hottest wing first. It... does not go well. Bad start for the reputation of chefs on Hot Ones.

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Matty Matheson

Matty Matheson

Matty Matheson relives his early punk rock kitchen days, discussing the lifestyle of the “anti-chef” in a world where celebrity and high-end chefs reign. Still, he’s not afraid to prove his knowledge on Hot Ones, expertly critiquing the show’s signature sauce while throwing back wings.

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Rachael Ray

Rachael Ray

Based on this episode, I choose to believe that Rachael Ray’s unwavering positivity is fueled by funneling straight hot sauce every morning. Opting out of the chicken wing aspect of the challenge, she spoons each of the 10 sauces straight down her gullet, all with that big toothy grin a shining. Girl can hang.

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Tom Colicchio

Tom Colicchio

There’s nothing better than seeing famously intimidating Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio quite literally sweat. He approaches each bite of chicken like a quick fire challenge, and on the final bite he goes full reality TV judge, dissecting the Blair’s Mega Death Sauce with the finest of criticism: “Is it hot? Fuck yeah, it’s hot.”

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Padma Lakshmi

Padma Lakshmi

Padma Lakshmi is no stranger to a little heat. As the only Top Chef judge who eats every single thing made on the show, she’s had to gracefully work her way through unsatisfactory dishes of all kinds, including plenty of overly spicy servings. While wending her way through the 10 hot wings with ease, she also offers plenty of tips for how to keep your stomach calm when overindulging.

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Guy Fieri

Guy Fieri

Guy Fieri isn’t taking any of Sean Evans’ shit. He came on Hot Ones to do two things: eat wings and kick ass. And he’s... well, he’s still gotta eat 10 of the wings before getting to that second part, but you better believe he’s gonna rib Evans plenty along the way.

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Alton Brown

Alton Brown

Pro tip from Alton Brown: Fat and/or alcohol are substances that can help mitigate some of the hot-sauce-induced pain. That’s why he comes to his Hot Ones appearance equipped with a glass of half and half, which he reaches for on multiple occasions. He’s also the first guest to ever rank the hot sauces as he goes along, which is helpful for any viewers wondering which bottles are worth trying at home.

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Eddie Huang—again

Eddie Huang—again

Eddie Huang wasn’t gonna give up on the Hot Ones challenge without a fair fight. This time around, instead of starting with the hottest wing first (his ill-fated strategy from his first appearance on the show), he starts at the beginning with the mildest wing, and approaches the challenge with a brand-new strategy and attitude. But does he actually make it to the end? Watch and find out.

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Gordon Ramsay

Gordon Ramsay

Gordon Ramsay can strike fear into the hearts of many, but what does Gordon fear? Based on this episode, we may have found the kitchen titan’s Achilles’ heel: hot sauce. When the spice really kicks in, Gordon can barely contain himself, pouring himself a full glass of Pepto-Bismol, eventually unable even to stay still right as he’s being faced with a cooking challenge. He couldn’t take the heat and had to get out of the kitchen.

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Andrew Rea

Andrew Rea

Proving his cooking prowess, Andrew Rea (also known as Babish) prepares his own wings for his Hot Ones appearance, essentially acting as his own executioner. As if that feat in itself weren’t flashy enough, he allows a tattoo artist to needle him with some impromptu ink as he bites into the 10th wing with scalding sauce clocking in at more than 2,000,000 Scoville units. This man loves pain.

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Brad Leone

Brad Leone

Brad Leone arrives to Hot Ones already familiar with some of the show-branded hot sauces, but that doesn’t mean he’s any more prepared for what’s to come. Just about halfway through the challenge, he questions if he’ll be able to make it through to the bitter (and very, very hot) end.

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David Chang

David Chang

David Chang deploys plenty of spices in his Momofuku dishes. But the spices used to create depth of flavor in a beloved dish aren’t quite the same as those used to create a painfully scalding hot sauce, as Chang soon finds out. Even as he handles each bite like a champ, doubling down on the final, hottest sauce, his body’s natural reaction is to sweat and sweat and sweat. It’s the soggiest episode yet.

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Gordon Ramsay—again

Gordon Ramsay—again

Considering that Gordon Ramsay’s initial visit to Hot Ones seemed to destroy him from the inside out, it’s certainly something of a Christmas Miracle that he returned to do it all again. Fast forward to the 23-minute mark of this holiday special to see how he handles his second appearance, with plenty of shenanigans mixed in for good measure.

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Andrew Zimmern

Andrew Zimmern

Andrew Zimmern is a Hot Ones fan boy, and that’s what makes this episode all the more delightful to watch. The chef and culinary expert leans into every beat of the show like a pro, marveling at each sauce in turn. Plus, he waxes poetic about why Culver’s is better than In-N-Out Burger—and that’s an argument we can get behind.

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