Bravo’s popular chef-shuffling culinary competition Top Chef is back for a 15th season, this time in Colorado, and with four Bay Area chefs: Tanya Holland, Tu David Phu, Melissa Perfit, and Rolegio Garcia, who join the ranks of past local competitors like Preeti Mistry, Casey Thompson, Elizabeth Binder, Louis Maldonado, and Jen Biesty.
The “cheftestants” will travel around the state, including Denver, Boulder, Telluride, and Aspen, jockeying for first place in a series of cooking competitions and stunts. The hosts will include regulars Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons, and Graham Elliot, along with guest judges like John Besh and Wylie Dufresne.
In addition to the Bay Area’s competitors, there will be 11 other chefs from around the country, though mostly NYC, SF, and Southern California. See the full list below, along with more details on SF’s challengers.
Chef/owner of Oakland’s Brown Sugar Kitchen with upcoming outposts in Uptown Oakland in SF’s Ferry Building, Holland seems to be one of the most established chefs to join the ranks of contestants. She’s already well-known in the Bay Area, has a cookbook, starred on Food Network’s Melting Pot series, and has appeared on national talk shows. Most importantly, she’s an accomplished chef with French training, and a highly successful restaurant and brand — it will be interesting to see how her veteran status plays out on the show.
Currently the executive chef of The Commissary, Traci Des Jardins Presidio restaurant, Garcia spent his adolescence in Napa where he began his career as a dishwasher. Stints at Napa’s Hurley's and Angèle (eventually returning there as executive chef), staging at Redd and Michael Mina, and eventually working at Cyrus and The French Laundry followed, before he made the move to SF.
Perfit has led the kitchen of Divisadero’s Bar Crudo since 2014; before that, she worked her way through many excellent SF kitchens, including Hog Island Oyster Co., RN74, Bar Tartine, and at Hard Water as chef de cuisine.
Most recently the executive chef of Gather, in Berkeley, Phu has been running a weekly pop-up called AN, a Vietnamese dining experience. He’s spent time at area restaurants like Chez Panisse, Quince, and Acquerello, as well as New York standouts like Gramercy Tavern. He’s also one of the Chronicle’s Rising Star Chefs for 2017.
Here’s the full list of participants:
- Fatima Ali (New York City)
- Tyler Anderson (Simsbury, Connecticut)
- Carrie Baird (Denver)
- Adrienne Cheatham (New York City)
- Laura Cole (Denali National Park, Alaska)
- Joseph Flamm (Chicago)
- Rogelio Garcia (San Francisco)
- Tanya Holland (Oakland)
- Bruce Kalman (Los Angeles)
- Brother Luck (Colorado Springs)
- Melissa Perfit (San Francisco)
- Tu David Phu (Oakland)
- Joe Sasto (Los Angeles)
- Christopher Scott (Brooklyn)
- Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins (San Diego)
Per usual, winners will receive $125,000, a feature in Food & Wine magazine, and a showcase at the annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. The first episode of the new season Thursday, December 7 at 7 p.m. PST. Stay tuned for more coverage of Top Chef and its contestants. Head over to Eater National to watch the trailer.