Bravo’s Top Chef for next season in Houston

If the world weren’t already familiar with the gastronomic and gastronomic glories of Houston, it would be: Bravo’s “Top Chef” arrives in Bayou City.

NBC / Universal, Bravo’s parent company, and Houston First confirmed on Tuesday that television’s biggest chef contest will take place in Houston for season 19, which airs in the spring of 2022. Filming has already started for “Top Chef:” Houston, ”which will be set against the city’s vibrant and multicultural food scene.

While the show’s chief candidates have yet to be named, Bravo has announced that series host Padma Lakshmi will return with Chief Justice Tom Colicchio as well as Gail Simmons at the judge’s table. Houston boss Dawn Burrell, who participated in the final of the most recent “Top Chef” located in Portland, Oregon, will be one of the Michelin-starred chefs appearing in the series.

Houston chef Dawn Burrell was a season 18 finalist of Bravo’s “Top Chef: Portland”.

Stephanie Diani / Bravo / Stéphanie Diani / Bravo

Bringing the reality show to Houston is a huge gain for the city and could help restart the tourism engine that lost almost all of its steam during the pandemic.

“I can’t think of a more perfect match than ‘Top Chef’ and the city of Houston. Both represent a celebration of cuisine, culture and innovation, ”said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “We pride ourselves on the diverse community and unique heritage that make our city such a popular culinary destination – from classics like Tex-Mex and barbecue to local inventions like Viet-Cajun and Japanese tapas. As any Top Chef competitor will tell you, the best food comes from passion, and Houstonians exemplify that idea with every dish we create. “

The lockdown in Houston for “Top Chef” was the result of a carefully calibrated campaign by Houston First, the local company that promotes the city’s tourism and convention trade. The timing couldn’t be better, said Michael Heckman, chief executive officer of Houston First.

“Anyone who’s watched the show knows that it makes the destination look like a place you’ll want to travel to,” he said.

MORE ABOUT TOP CHEF: From Olympic Star to Top Chef, Houston’s Dawn Burrell Continues to Rise to Levels Most Dream of

It could be lucrative for Houston once the show airs. “At a minimum, you are looking at tens of millions of dollars in positive [public relations], “he said. After a devastating 18 months which saw the closure of restaurants and bars and the loss of thousands of hospitality jobs,” Top Chef “may be the perfect recipe to restore luster and economic clout of the restaurant industry.

For months, Houston First has secretly shown the city to staff at Magical Elves, the production company responsible for “Top Chef.” The fact that Houston was factored into the show was a hot but quiet buzz among the foodie community, as dozens of key executives adhered to strict confidentiality agreements.

Padma Lakshmi, center, hosts Bravo's

Padma Lakshmi, center, hosts Bravo’s ‘Top Chef’, flanked by Judge Gail Simmons and Chief Justice Tom Colicchio. Houston will be the home port for the show’s next season.

Stephanie Diani / Bravo / Stéphanie Diani / Bravo

Over 100 different locations have been identified as potential sites to highlight in the series or as part of the competition. Houston chefs, famous personalities and restaurateurs will be asked to give a place color to the production. Magical Elves will bring a production and talent team of around 150 people to Houston; Another 60 local workers will be hired for various aspects of the filming of the series.

This is not the first rodeo in Texas for “Top Chef”. Season 9 in 2011 was set in Texas with filming in San Antonio, Dallas and Austin. Houston has been visibly left out of “Top Chef: Texas” which makes the new season even sweeter. Diversity was key for “Top Chef” brass, who noted the city’s melting pot food scene which embraces both bountiful culinary traditions as well as Hispanic, Nigerian, Indian, Vietnamese and Chinese heritages that live in Houston.

Twelve of the series’ 14 episodes will be filmed in the Houston area, including one episode set on Galveston Island. Candidates for the new season will be announced at a later date and filming will run for approximately five weeks, ending in late October. COVID-19 protocols will be in effect; the personnel will be tested regularly and the crew will wear masks.

While it’s unclear whether a local chef will be among the nominees, Burrell, a finalist and fan favorite on “Top Chef: Portland,” said she hopes a Houston chef will make the cut. Appearing on the show, she said, can be a life-changing opportunity.

“It has boosted my career beyond what you can imagine. I appreciate all the doors he’s opened, ”said Burrell, who, along with Chef Sasha Grumman, represented Houston on the series set in Portland.

Burrell, who hopes to open her new restaurant in late August early 2022, said she will bring Houston the culinary recognition it fully deserves.

“Houston hosting ‘Top Chef’ will solidify our place in the culinary scene,” she said. “We all know what Houston is, its diversity and the wealth of restaurants and talented chefs we have. Maybe the nation does not know it and it is high time it did.

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