'Top Chef' season 21, set in Wisconsin, premieres March 20 on Bravo
Top Chef is ready to take on the Midwest.
The long-running Bravo show returns on March 20 in Wisconsin and PEOPLE, EW and Food & Wine have a joint exclusive look at the trailer for season 21.
This marks Kristen Kish’s first season hosting Top Chef after Padma Lakshmi announced her departure last summer. Kish, who won season 10, knows a thing or two about battling it out against fellow cheftestants. In the trailer above, she opens the clip by exclaiming, “Top Chef is back!”
“We’ve gathered rising star chefs from across the country here to Wisconsin,” she says in the sneak peek.
The trailer shows the contestants competing in tough challenges, including one where they cook with something “Wisconsinites can’t live without” — cheese.
"There will be no immunity given for a Quickfire win," adds Colicchio. (Quickfire Challenge winners were previously awarded a prize, an advantage or most valuable: immunity during the Elimination Challenge.) Now winners will only be safe from going home in the next episode if they win during the Elimination Challenge.
"I love when things get shaken up," says Kish.
At the end of the trailer, the stakes are raised as Kish counsels the contestants, who range from James Beard Award finalists to chefs from Michelin-starred restaurants. “You have got to start cooking to win," she says.
Colicchio also closes out the trailer with a cliffhanger. “This isn’t going to be easy,” he says. “At the end of this, there’s only one person left. You got to make sure it’s you.”
Meet the 15 chefs heating up the competition this season:
The Chicago native is a two-time James Beard-nominated chef and the 2019 recipient of the Jean Banchet for Rising Chef of the Year. Specializing in Mediterranean cuisine, she helms her own private chef and events company.
Turner, who’s from Texas, was named a James Beard semifinalist for Emerging Chef in 2022. She’s worked for many renowned chefs, including Top Chef season nine winner Paul Qui.
This two-time James Beard nominee has been working as a chef since he was 15 years old, learning from his professional chef father. His Haitian-inspired restaurant, Fritai, in New Orelans, has gotten several awards, including including Zagat’s 30 Under 30 and Eater NOLA’s 2022 Restaurant of the Year.
Jacobs, who lives in Milwaukee, is no stranger to this season’s Wisconsin backdrop. He’s the head chef and co-owner of popular Milwaukee restaurants EsterEv and DanDan. Jacobs was diagnosed with Kennedy’s Disease, a genetic neuromuscular ailment that is often mistaken for ALS. The disease can make simple tasks like chopping up an onion difficult, so the pro chef is “proud to run two standout restaurants,” according to Bravo.
This Brooklyn native has worked at many notable restaurants, including Thomas Keller’s the French Laundry. Since he grew up in a close Dominican and Puerto Rican family, Garcia says food has always been the center of gatherings for him.
The Texas native studied at the world-renowned Le Cordon Bleu. In 2022, he opened Shuggie’s Trash Pie + Natural Wine, a San Francisco restaurant with a heavy focus on climate change solutions. It was on the best new restaurant lists by Esquire, Bon Appetit and the New York Times.
Bliss started cooking when she was just 16 years old. Originally from Washington state, she was named a Puget Sound Business Journal 40 Under 40 honoree. Now, she lives in Chicago where she’s the executive chef at the Chicago Athletic Association hotel.
A first generation American, Nguyen says he’s learned most of his cooking from his Vietnamese grandma. He’s looking to honor her by opening his own Vietnamese restaurant in Athens, Georgia, called Pretty Boy, the English translation for her nickname for him.
D’Andrea is no stranger to the cooking competition franchise. In 2015, he was a finalist on Top Chef France. He’s also cooked alongside Michelin star chef Alain Llorca at Hôtel Belles Rives in the French Riviera.
Ozyilmaz was born and raised in Mexico, where she fell in love with cooking at a young age. She’s worked at restaurants Eleven Madison Park and Café Boulud in New York and Saison in San Francisco. Her accolades include being named a Rising Star by the San Francisco Chronicle. And in 2024, she was announced as a 2024 James Beard Best Chef Semifinalist for California.
Born and raised in Mexico, Barella once was on a different career path — to become an attorney. However, he left law school to enroll in a culinary program. His career change paid off: In 2022, he was named a James Beard semifinalist for the Emerging Chef category.
Wallace was studying healthcare administration at Texas Southern University when she fell in love with cooking for her friends. The passion then became lucrative when her cousin, a player for the Houston Texans NFL team, began paying her to cook for his teammates. After working for several renowned chefs, in 2021, she was nominated for CultureMap Houston’s Rising Star Chef.
Venkatesa was most inspired by watching her grandma cook while growing up in India. She’s worked at the French Laundry and she won StarChefs’ Rising Star Award in the San Francisco/Oakland area in 2022. Her passion is learning to reinvent Tamil cuisine by traveling across Tamil Nadu, India learning from local communities.
Miller started a career in food service when she was only a teenager. Her passion took her from her native North Carolina to New England Culinary Institute and all the way back to Durham, N.C. where she helped chef Michael Lee open M Tempura in Durham as his chef de cuisine.
Valentine Howell Jr.
Howell has over two decades of experience working in Boston’s most well-known restaurants, working under talented chefs like Lydia Shire. In 2023, he was a James Beard Award finalist for Best Chef in the Northeast. Being in front of the camera won’t be new for this Top Chef cheftesant: He’s appeared on shows, including A Moveable Feast on PBS.
Top Chef season 21 premieres March 20 on Bravo with supersized episodes airing every Wednesday night from 9 p.m. to 10:15 p.m.
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