Bravo’s 16th season of enduringly dramatic cooking competition Top Chef has someone for Bay Area audiences to root for: Michelle Minori, the former executive chef of the Mission’s fast casual pasta operation, Barzotto.
Minori is the only San Francisco chef contestant in the season, which takes place in Lexington, Kentucky this year. Heading to the land of Bourbon, horses, and Southern hospitality will definitely be a change of pace for Minori, a 2017 SF Chronicle Rising Star chef who has cooked with the bounty of the Bay Area for years. Most recently she worked as the executive sous chef and culinary director of the Ne Timeas restaurant group (Flour & Water, Central Kitchen, Salumeria). Her resume also includes time at Il Carne Rosso, Acquerello, La Folie, and Aqua — all formidable restaurants, whose experience she’ll have to use against contestants from Eleven Madison Park, Restaurant Daniel, and more.
A second Bay Area chef, Brandon Rosen, will compete alongside Minori. Rosen, a personal chef, cooks in San Mateo. His formidable resume includes time at the French Laundry, Eleven Madison Park, Benu and REDD, priming the competition for some fine dining brawls.
The culinary competition will premiere on Thursday, December 6, at 9 p.m. PST, featuring all of Bravo’s favorite chef judges: Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio, Graham Elliot, Gail Simmons (for at least half the show, as she departed for maternity leave mid-season), and Nilou Motamed (former editor-in-chief of Food and Wine).
The 15th season of the show, set in Colorado, featured four local contestants: Tanya Holland (Brown Sugar Kitchen), Melissa Perfit (Bar Crudo), Tu David Phu (Gather), and Rogelio Garcia (who recently left Traci Des Jardins’s Commissary for Spruce). None of them were able to win the coveted title and accompanying $125,000 prize, so this year’s hopes for Bay Area domination rest on the shoulders of Michelle Minori.
In addition to a spread in Food & Wine, this year’s winner will include a $50,000 prize package from SF-based Williams-Sonoma and a slot headlining the Williams Sonoma Culinary Stage at the 2019 BottleRock music festival in Napa Valley.
Updated 10/18 to include Brandon Rosen.
Updated 10/19 to clarify that Minori is the former executive chef of Barzotto, rather than the current chef de cuisine.