3 Texans on Top Chef
Houston's most sandwich-obsessed chef heads to Milwaukee for Top Chef Season 21
Three Texas chefs packed their knives and went to Milwaukee to compete on the new season of Top Chef. Bravo revealed the full roster of cheftestants for the show’s 21st season, which will premiere on March 20.
Each chef brings an impressive resume to the competition. Let’s present them in alphabetical order.
Kévin D’Andrea is the founder of Foliepop’s, an Austin-based business that supplies French desserts to other restaurants. He also had a brief stint in Houston as the chef at La Villa, a short-lived French restaurant in Montrose. D’Andrea brings prior Top Chef experience, having competed on Top Chef France in 2015.
Amanda Turner won Chef of the Year in the 2023 CultureMap Austin Tastemaker Awards for her work as chef de cuisine at acclaimed Southern restaurant Olamaie. In recognizing her work, CultureMap Austin hailed her active role in Austin’s chef community where she always contributes to fundraisers and other worthy causes. Having worked at Uchi and spent time in Japan, she brings a multicultural perspective to Southern cuisine.
Michelle Wallace earned a 2021 CultureMap Houston Tastemaker Award nomination as a Rising Star Chef for her work at Gatlin’s BBQ. She led the development of comfort food restaurant Gatlin’s Fins & Feathers before leaving in 2023 to start B’tween Sandwich Co. Her creative spins of sandwiches have earned another Tastemaker Awards nomination for Best Pop-Up/Startup. The Art Institute of Houston alum also worked for acclaimed Houston chef Mark Holley at Peche, the Upper Kirby seafood restaurant that closed in 2012.
The three Texans will be competing against 12 other chefs with equally impressive credentials, including James Beard Award nominations and time at Michelin-starred restaurants.
Season 21 brings a number of changes to Top Chef, starting with a new host. Top Chef season 10 winner Kristen Kish has replaced Padma Lakshmi as the person telling the chefs to “pack their knives and go.” Kish, who owns Austin restaurant Arlo Grey, will also host an aftershow called The Dish with Kish where she’ll review each episode with a Top Chef alum such as Gregory Gourdet, Stephanie Izard, Carla Hall, and Top Chef Houston winner Buddha Lo.
Judges Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons will return in their roles. They’ll be joined by a number of guest stars, including Emeril Lagasse, Art Smith, and Christina Tosi.
An article on Bravotv.com reveals another twist for the new season. Winning a Quickfire Challenge no longer brings immunity from elimination. Instead, winning a Quickfire comes with a cash prize, but immunity only comes from winning the previous episode’s Elimination Challenge.
The challenges will showcase signature Wisconsin ingredients such as cherries, cranberries, and cheese, according to a release. Contestants will also be tasked with putting their spin on a high-end supper club and elevating sausages — a nod to the sausage races held at each Milwaukee Brewers home game. For the finale, they’ll board the MS Eurodam in the Caribbean where one chef will win $250,000 and the coveted title of Top Chef.