With a focus on celebrating culture and diversity, the Emmy and James Beard Award-winning culinary competition Top Chef selects Houston (ranked the nation’s most diverse city) for its series’ 19th season. The series, produced by Magical Elves, will premiere on Bravo in 2022. A new batch of talented chefs will be challenged all over the city, and host Padma Lakshmi, head judge Tom Colicchio, and judge Gail Simmons will all be back to crown the next Top Chef.
Hosting Top Chef is a prime example of Houston’s continuing growth into a global culinary destination. Charged by the blend of nationalities that call the city home (one in four Houstonians is an immigrant), the city has become a mecca for discerning and adventurous eaters – a truly international metropolis where travelers can taste more than 140 different types of food and become immersed in cultural traditions from around the world. From culturally specific festivals and bold culinary fusions to heritage-rich neighborhoods, like Freedmen’s Town (Houston’s oldest Black neighborhood, known for its barbecue) and Asiatown (home to a dizzying array of Asian restaurants, including some that blend Vietnamese and Cajun influences), visitors will discover international authenticity in Houston’s multicultural metropolis. Top Chef and Houston are no strangers; Season 18 Finalist, Chef Dawn Burrell, honed her skills in Houston, representing the wealth of innovative F&B talent that can be found throughout the city.
“I cannot think of a more perfect pairing than Top Chef and the City of Houston. Both represent a celebration of cuisine, culture and innovation,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. “We are proud of the diverse community and unique heritage that makes our city such a hot culinary destination — from classics like Tex-Mex and barbecue to local inventions like Viet-Cajun and Japanese Tapas. As any Top Chef contestant will tell you, the best food is born out of passion, and Houstonians exemplify this idea with every dish we create.”
The news was confirmed on BravoTV.com: “Top Chef Season 19 is in production in Houston, the fourth largest city in the U.S. The racial and ethnic diversity of Houston’s population is represented in the city’s vibrant culinary scene, making it a perfect backdrop to inspire our next wave of cheftestants. We hope to showcase the rich heritage of Houstonians through the food that defines them.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented challenges to the food and beverage industry nationwide throughout 2020 and into 2021, Houston’s resilient hospitality scene is positioned to emerge stronger than ever thanks to local culinary leaders supporting the industry by creating new charitable organizations and innovative restaurant solutions. Houston’s craft beer world has not slowed down, with 10 new breweries debuting since 2020, and Downtown Houston has experienced a marked uptick in restaurant and bar openings and announcements, with further projects set to debut later in the year and beyond.
In addition to being a city with incredible food, Houston is known for its great street art. Bringing those two strands together, local artist David Maldonado has created a spectacular mural interpretation of the Top Chef logo.