Houston is a metropolis known not just for its vast suburbs and growing population 一 but for being the culinary capital of the South. Bravo's Top Chef is putting that title to the test in the latest season of the Emmy and James Beard Award-Winning series.
On Monday, Bravo announced its 15 "Cheftestants," who hail from all over the nation. Two of the entrants represent the Lone Star State, Chef Jo Chan of Dish'N Dames in Austin, and Houston's very own, Chef Evelyn Garcia of Kin HTX, the pop-up South East Asian bistro. But the H-Town influence doesn't stop there for Season 19. Houstonia previously reported that former Top Chef finalist, Chef Dawn Burrell will make an appearance, adding "background, context, and flavor to the series."
The chefs this season will be put to the test each week, with challenges that include curating "space-friendly" dishes for former astronauts, fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, and giving a nod to Top Chef France, with a test for the chefs to "create two dishes that look identical, but taste completely different."
Top Chef Executive Producer Doneen Arquines, says this season differs from other with how supportive Houston’s chef community is of one another. She recalls one of her favorite moments from this season was at the BBQ Challenge.
"The pitmasters who dined all hung out and continued talking with our judges about how our chefs did. The pitmasters were so welcoming and genuinely excited to see what our chefs would do with something that they spent years honing," Arquines tells Houstonia.
"The stakes are high, but the caliber of these Cheftestants is even higher," Bravo shared in a press release, along with the official trailer Monday.
The Houston influence on the latest season will include all the things we love about Space City, its ethnic diversity, NASA, classic Tex-Mex, and good barbecue. According to Bravo's statement, the chefs will offer their perspective on cultural dishes that serve as a focal point for Houston cuisines, such as Nigerian fare and Asian provisions.
Houston, being the fourth largest city in the world, (and a foodies paradise) made the prime destination for season 19 of the popular series.
“The last two seasons were on the west coast of the United States and we were looking to shake things up," Arquines explains. "When looking at the major cities we hadn’t yet been to, Houston was one that surprised us. I don’t think any of us realized how large (4th largest in the nation) and diverse the city is. Yes, we had already done “Top Chef Texas,” but Houston wasn’t a part of that season and the more we learned about the city, the more we found it surprising and different.”
Top Chef's Season 19, produced by Magical Elves, will be filled with many unique twists, like an open kitchen concept for Restaurant Wars, plus a tribute to Texas’ female trailblazers, and a block party fundraiser to preserve Freedmen’s Town.
This H-town edition of the popular cooking franchise will definitely be "one for the history books," as Bravo's announcement says. We'll be tuned in each week to cheer on Houston Chef Evelyn Garcia.
Bravo's 'Top Chef' Houston will premiere on Thursday, March 3 from 8:00 p.m. - 9:15 p.m. ET/PT.