Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio on Top Chef

‘Top Chef’ is Back With New Location Revealed

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The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t going to keep Top Chef from filming a new season.

The popular culinary competition series is the latest reality show to head back into production amid ongoing concerns over the coronavirus.

Location Revealed for Season 18

Set to air in 2021, production is now underway to shoot season 18 of the Bravo series in Portland, Oregon.

A new batch of skilled chefs will face challenges across the hip west coast city. Chefs will explore the famous Hood River Fruit Loop, Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory, Columbia River Gorge, Tillamook Bay, Tualatin Valley, and Willamette Valley wine country.

“Portland has been on our radar for the last few years as a burgeoning culinary destination known for its innovative dining scene driven by independent, chef-owned restaurants, local farms and purveyors,” Bravo’s Executive Vice President of Current Production Shari Levine said in a press release.

Levine continued, “The city’s unique culture, alongside Oregon’s natural pantry of indigenous ingredients and incredible scenic beauty, makes it the ultimate chef’s playground and an ideal destination for Top Chef to explore.”

Creators and restaurateurs have noted just how important this season is. With the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants of all sizes have been struggling. It’s not easy to keep a restaurant running during a global pandemic, and renewing interest in a food scene that is struggling could go a long way for locally owned restaurants.

Tom Colicchio, long time Top Chef judge, said that Portland “is a great food city, and the products here are great, there’s great wine in the valley, amazing fish on the coast, and great cheese produced here. If you’re a fan of farm-to-table cooking, it’s all here.”

New Twist for Season 18

Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio, and Gail Simmons will return to the show. But, the new season will feature a new twist this time around. The new season will also be the first to showcase a rotating panel of Top Chef alums, too.

We’ll see 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.

Casey Kriley and Jo Sharon, co-CEOs of the Top Chef production company Magical Elves, said that their ability to film in “the current climate” comes down to their “strong partnership with Bravo and the city of Portland and the state of Oregon.” Although figuring out filming has posed challenges, they say the upcoming season “promises to be unique in a multitude of ways.”

According to the release from Bravo, they’re following a comprehensive health and safety plan. The plan was developed in accordance with CDC guidance, all state and local orders, as well as NBCUniversal’s own safety guidelines.

“The health and safety of the cast and crew is the priority of Bravo & Magical Elves on all of its shows,” reads the release from Bravo.

It’s not exactly clear how they will move forward with filming amid the pandemic. No other details have been provided at this time.

However, we’ve seen various approaches from other shows and sports events. It’ll be interesting to see if Bravo picks up any of these techniques.