Proceed cautiously when shopping at Whole Foods for the next couple months. Camera crews and contestants may be running through the aisles.
After weeks of rumors, Bravo has officially confirmed that season 19 of Top Chef will be filmed in Houston. Production has already begun with the season expected to air next year.
Host Padma Lakshmi, head judge Tom Colicchio, and Gail Simmons will all return for the new season, as will the panels of alumni judges that the show introduced for season 18. Participating chefs will include Houston's own Dawn Burrell, who reached the finals of season 18 as well as familiar faces such as Tiffany Derry, Hung Huynh, Stephanie Izard, Melissa King, Kristen Kish, Kwame Onwuachi, Sam Talbot, Brooke Williamson, and Claudette Zepeda.
"Top Chef season 19 is in production in Houston, the fourth largest city in the U.S. The racial and ethnic diversity of Houston’s population is represented in the city’s vibrant culinary scene, making it a perfect backdrop to inspire our next wave of cheftestants," the network said in a statement published on the Bravo website. "We hope to showcase the rich heritage of Houstonians through the food that defines them."
Top Chef selected Houston for its diversity that includes large populations of immigrants from around the world. Episodes could spotlight people of Hispanic, Indian, Nigerian, Vietnamese, and Chinese heritage who call Houston home.
"I cannot think of a more perfect pairing than Top Chef and the City of Houston. Both represent a celebration of cuisine, culture and innovation,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a statement. “We are proud of the diverse community and unique heritage that makes our city such a hot culinary destination — from classics like Tex-Mex and barbecue to local inventions like Viet-Cajun and Japanese Tapas. As any Top Chef contestant will tell you, the best food is born out of passion, and Houstonians exemplify this idea with every dish we create.”
Contestants will be revealed at a later date. As always, the show, which has won multiple Emmy and James Beard Awards, will draw a crew of talented participants from all over the country. Let the speculation begin about whether the roster includes any local names.
The show, which already filmed one season during the pandemic, will operate within CDC guidance, state and local ordinances, and NBCUniversal's safety guidelines. Both Bravo and production firm Magical Elves prioritize the safety of both cast and crew. Casey Kriley, Jo Sharon, Doneen Arquines, Hillary Olsen, and Gaylen Gawlowski serve as executive producers.