Among the countless cooking contest shows on Food Network and beyond, Bravo’s Excellent chef remained my favorite. The incredible venues, brilliant chefs and judges, and unique and practical challenges create a competition worthy of its high reputation.
I grew up watching the show and have truly come to respect renowned Chief Justice and Chief Justice Tom Colicchio, his fellow judges, the winners, and the overall excellence that Colicchio needs in the game. Excellent chef food. The upcoming season, which kicks off April 1, has particularly excited me to see what Colicchio and his team have prepared for the new tournament.
âThis could be one of the best chef collections we’ve ever had on the show in 18 seasons,â Colicchio said in the teaser for the new season.
It might seem like an average commercial phrase to grab viewers, but if you’ve watched the show, you know how Colicchio rarely gives praise. More likely than not we will see an extraordinary caliber of chefs.
In fact, Bravo frame Matt Reichman says Variety that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic may have provided an unlikely opportunity for some talented chefs who were previously too busy to appear on the show.
âI think there were probably a handful of chefs who always wanted to do it but couldn’t do it – and now they’re home. Their restaurants are closing – maybe they saw this as an opportunity, âReichman said.
[âGodzilla vs. Kongâ delivers amazing visuals and fights scenes â but thatâs it]
This season, 15 new candidates will compete for the illustrious title of Top Chef. The winner will receive $ 250,000, an item in Food and wine magazine and an appearance at the annual meeting Food and wine Classic, a renowned culinary art exhibition. While there are obvious benefits to winning a quarter of a million dollars, it’s these last two rewards that define Excellent chef apart from other cooking competitions. The characteristic and appearance with Food and wine are an irreplaceable opportunity and a career springboard for chefs to show their talents and reach the highest levels of the culinary world.
What really got me excited about this year’s season is the rotating jury. Pillars Colicchio and Gail Simmons and host Padma Lakshmi will be joined by many celebrity chefs that I admire. For the first time, the show will feature an all-star panel of judges, made up of former contestants from past seasons. Some of my favorites such as Richard Blais, Gregory Gourdet, Brooke Williamson and last season’s winner Melissa King will be back on the show.
The 18th season will take place in Portland, Oregon, following the setting in Los Angeles from last season. There, the cast and crew will travel to famous dining spots around the city and develop a deeper appreciation for local culture and ingredients. Although I have never been to Portland, I am delighted to learn alongside the competitors and take in the scenery. As well as exhibiting a few famous landmarks, the series does a great job of offering a little glimpse into its host cities and their culinary environments.
I’m also curious to see how the pandemic influenced the production of a cooking show, especially one as esteemed as Excellent chef. Contestants and crew were tested every other day and lived in a hotel with no other guests, according to Variety. The main kitchen has been built larger to accommodate social distancing, each competitor will have their own spices instead of sharing, and the tasting spoons will be thrown away after each use. The new rules and regulations will surely play a role in how chefs perform, and I wonder if timing will become an issue as they will have to be a lot cleaner and safer.
[The dismal reality of the pandemic glow down]
The pandemic has also changed the challenges of competition. During one episode, applicants will feed frontline workers at various Portland hospitals. One of the toughest recurring challenges in the series is âRestaurant Wars,â in which contestants must completely plan, decorate, and run a pop-up restaurant from scratch. Instead, this season, competitors will be under the watchful eye of the judge as they prepare a seven-course meal.
Although the show airs on Bravo – known for its reality TV – I find that Excellent chef tends to leave behind a lot of the silly tropes typical of reality shows. He is truly dedicated to finding the best chefs in the country and innovating fine cuisine. Unlike amateur competitive shows such as Chef, we observe professionals, many of whom have their own restaurants. In the war for the Excellent chef Title, these chefs create some of the most delicious and exquisite dishes imaginable.
Each season of Excellent chef worth watching, but the next installment promises to be one of the best. Come Thursday night, I’ll be listening – just like any food lover should.