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Meet the Two Bay Area Contestants on the Upcoming Season of ‘Top Chef’ Houston

Plus, Chez Panisse chef Alice Waters plans to open a new restaurant and more Bay Area food news

Monique Feybesse Tarts de Feybesse
Lauren Saria is the editor of Eater SF and has been writing about food, drinks, and restaurants for more than a decade.

Two Bay Areas chefs will head to Houston to compete on the upcoming season of Top Chef on Bravo. Instagram pastry star Monique Feybesse, known for her stunningly intricate desserts, and chef Robert Hernandez, who previously worked as chef de cuisine at Octavia, will appear in the show’s 19th season, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The new season debuts on Thursday, March 3 at 8 p.m.

As the Chronicle points out, there’s at least one Bay Area chef on most seasons of the cooking competition show, with Oakland chef Nelson German of Alamar Kitchen and Sobre Mesa appearing in last year’s competition. But Feybesse will be the first chef to represent for Vallejo on the show. Prior to launching Tartes de Feybesse, she cooked at high-end restaurants in California, Copenhagen, and New York, per the patisserie’s website. Hernandez, who’s currently working as a private chef, spent time working at Blue Stem Brasserie and Square by Sons and Daughters, before landing at Marissa Perello’s Octavia in 2015, his StarChef profile reads.

Fans of the show will remember that the last season ended in controversy after reports alleged the season’s winner Gabe Erales had been fired from his job at Comedor restaurant in Austin for harassing an employee. [SF Chronicle]

Chez Panisse eyes controversial expansion

Groundbreaking Californian restaurant Chez Panisse may be plotting an expansion — but doing so would mean the forced closure of tapas spot César, which has occupied the space next door to the restaurant since 1998. Berkeleyside has the full story, but in short, the longstanding tapas bar has been subleasing the building from Chez Panisse for years; now they want it back so they can open a new restaurant in the space, and fans are understandably upset. [Berkeleyside]

Story behind San Luis Obispo County’s first Michelin star

SFGate profiled chef Ricky Odbert, whose Six Test Kitchen in Paso Robles became the first restaurant in sleepy San Luis Obispo County to earn a Michelin star last year. Odbert’s resume is a star-studded affair, and he speaks with pride of working 12-hour days during a period when he “didn’t care about days off,” before eventually launching the restaurant in his parent’s garage. [SFGate]

New woman-owned bottle shop now open in the Castro

The natural wine and small-batch spirits are officially up for grabs at Bottle Bacchanal, which debuts today in the Castro. The shop’s website says that it's a woman-owned business that aims to spotlight “women, BIPOC and LGBTQ+ producers.” As of today, it’s open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.