‘Top Chef Amateurs’: What to Expect From the New Bravo Series

Top Chef is back – but it’s not the same competitive culinary show you’re used to watching.

This is Top Chef: Amateurs and here’s what you can expect from the newest addition to the successful Bravo franchise.

Gail Simmons, Padma Lakshmi, and Tom Colicchio of 'Top Chef'
Gail Simmons, Padma Lakshmi, and Tom Colicchio of ‘Top Chef’ | Jim Spellman/WireImage

Gail Simmons will be solo-hosting ‘Top Chef: Amateurs’

After serving as co-judge of Top Chef alongside Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio for all these years, Gail Simmons will be flying solo for Top Chef: Amateurs.

The new program, as the title implies, will feature beginner chefs, home cooks passionate about the culinary arts. That doesn’t mean the show will be any less intense.

According to Variety, each episode will feature just two cooks who will go head-to-head competing in challenges made popular in past Top Chef episodes.

What really sets this show apart from the original is that fans will have the opportunity to chime in via tweets using @BravoTopChef, as to whether it’s the seven deadly sins challenge or the aphrodisiac challenge that should make an appearance in Amateurs. The challenge with the most votes will be made known on Oct. 26. This should be interesting.

Simmons’ mother was a culinary instructor

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Simmons has been a judge on the original Top Chef since it got its start in 2006. Born in Canada in 1976, Simmons boasts an impressive resume as a food critic and restaurant reviewer and has worked for famed chef Daniel Boulud and as well for Food & Wine magazine.

What surely kicked off her passion for the gastronomic field is her mother, a former food columnist herself who also taught cooking classes in her home. Simmons explained to NPR in 2014 that her mother’s extensive culinary background seemed to intimidate her school friends’ moms when she would visit their homes.

“I was never invited anywhere for lunch because everyone’s mother was scared to cook for me,” she recalled. “They thought that what we got at my house and what I wanted to eat was always really fancy. … When you’re 8 years old, all you want to eat is hot dogs and mac and cheese. My mom never let me eat hot dogs. We had to eat, like, leek quiche and duck pâté.”

Simmons’ advice for new cooks

The author of the 2017 cookbook Bringing It Home will be dealing quite extensively with nervous, eager, and passionate home cooks. Speaking with MainLine Today in 2018, Simmons offered some of the advice we might be hearing from her during Top Chef: Amateurs.

“No one is born knowing how to cook,” she states, “the same way no one is born a pro tennis player. It takes focus and practice and years of attention to become a great cook, but you don’t have to be a professional to understand the fundamentals and to derive joy from the kitchen.

“So if you want to cook, the only thing to do is to just get cooking! What’s the worst that can happen? You mess up? Messing up along the way teaches valuable lessons and is part of the process. I guarantee you will improve with each try.”

Top Chef: Amateurs will tentatively premiere in 2021 on Bravo.