‘Top Chef: Portland’: Meet the Season 18 Cheftestants

Bravo’s Top Chef is returning for season 18 with both new and familiar faces. Host Padma Lakshmi, head judge Tom Colicchio, and judge Gail Simmons will all be returning.

This season will also see 15 new cheftestants compete in the city of Portland, Oregon, for the title of Top Chef.

"Top Chef" host Padma Lakshmi, head judge Tom Colicchio and judge Gail Simmons attends Bravo's "Top Chef" event "Taste of the Five Boroughs"
‘Top Chef’ host Padma Lakshmi, head judge Tom Colicchio and judge Gail Simmons | Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

‘Top Chef: Portland’ will feature a twist in Season 18

Just like in the past, Top Chef season 18 will feature executive chefs and restaurant owners from across the United States competing for the prize with their own unique skill sets and culinary point-of-view.

But there will be a new twist. For the first time ever, Lakshmi, Colicchio, and Simmons will be joined by an elite rotating judging and dining panel. According to Bravo, the panel will be made up of all-star winners, finalists, and favorites.

The include Richard Blais, Carrie Baird, Nina Compton, Tiffany Derry, Gregory Gourdet, Melissa King, Kristen Kish, Edward Lee, Kwame Onwuachi, Amar Santana, Dale Talde, and Brooke Williamson.

The Top Chef kitchen will get visits during season 18 from José Andrés, Massimo Bottura, Gabriel Rucker, and Alice Waters. Portlandia stars Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein will also make an appearance for a Quickfire Challenge.

Tom Colicchio says season 18 could be ‘one of the best collections of chefs’ they’ve ever had

Top Chef has always featured the top culinary talent from across the country. But according to Colicchio, season 18 might feature the best collection of chefs the show has ever seen.

Fans will see the chefs compete in a variety of new challenges. They include feeding hundreds of frontline workers and celebrating Portland’s Pan-African cuisine. There will also be a surf and turf elimination challenge to honor the nearby Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

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Some of Oregon’s most famous locations will also be featured, including Hood River Fruit Loop and Tillamook Creamery. This season will also see the teams execute a micro-restaurant concept, where they will be required to create a cohesive seven-course tasting menu.

The season 18 winner will receive the title of Top Chef, along with $250,000 in prize money from S. Pellegrino Sparkling Natural Mineral Water. The winning chef will also be featured in Food & Wine magazine, and make an appearance at the publication’s annual Food & Wine classic in Aspen, Colorado.

The ‘Top Chef’ season 18 cheftestants represent a diversity of food from all over the country

The fifteen cheftestants competing on season 18 come from all over the United States. They represent a diversity of food and backgrounds. And many own restaurants who have been struggling to survive during the pandemic.

The 15 contestants are:

Brittanny Anderson – Richmond, VA.

Chef and co-owner of Metzger Bar and Butchery, Brenner Pass, and Black Lodge

Avishar Barua – Columbus, OH

Executive chef & GM, Service Bar

Dawn Burrell – Houston, TX

Partner/executive chef, Lucille’s Hospitality Group

Gabe Erales – Austin, TX

Chef, currently working on a new restaurant concept

Nelson German – Oakland, CA

Executive chef/owner, alaMar Kitchen and Sobre Mesa Afro-Latino cocktail lounge

Byron Gomez – Aspen, CO

Executive chef at 7908

Sasha Grumman – Houston, TX

Executive chef, owns her own focaccia business

Roscoe Hall – Birmingham, AL

Chef/artist/father

Sara Hauman – Portland, OR

Head chef, Soter Vineyards

Kiki Louya – Detroit, MI

Chef/consultant, graduate of Le Cordon Bleu

Maria Mazon – Tucson, Arizona

Executive chef/owner, BOCA Tacos y Tequila

Shota Nakajima – Seattle, WA

Chef/owner, Taku

Gabriel Pascuzzi – Portland, OR

Chef/owner, Mama Bird, Stacked Sandwich Shop, and Feel Good

Jamie Tran – Las Vegas, NV

Chef/owner, the Black Sheep

Chris Viaud – Milford, NH

Chef/owner of Greenleaf and Culture

Season 18 of Top Chef begins on Thursday, April 1 with a super-sized episode on Bravo. The Emmy winning digital companion series Last Chance Kitchen returns on Thursday, April 8. That series — hosted by Colicchio —will be available on BravoTV.com, and will feature the eliminated chefs competing against each other to try and make their way back into the competition.