While it’s been on the air since 2006, Bravo’s culinary competition Top Chef has only set up shop in a handful of locations around the country.
Of course, early seasons centered around fine-dining hotspots like New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, but as celebrations of local food culture have exploded in the past decade in just about every corner of the map, so too has the list of must-visit culinary cities. And today, Bravo has officially announced the location for the upcoming 18th season: Portland, Oregon.
With a thriving scene of forward-thinking restaurants to food carts and unmatched access to local produce, wine, and quality seafood, it’s a fitting (if perhaps overdue) moment for the City of Roses. And given Oregon’s lush landscape and scenic beauty nestled between Pacific Ocean and the Cascades, the show won’t just be limiting itself to the city limits, and “will feature a new batch of talented chefs battling from PDX to the coast, exploring the famous Hood River Fruit Loop, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory, Tillamook Bay, Tualatin Valley and Willamette Valley wine country.”
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“Portland has been on our radar for the last few years as a burgeoning culinary destination known for its innovative dining scene driven by independent, chef-owned restaurants, local farms and purveyors,” Shari Levine, Executive Vice President, Current Production, Bravo, said in a statement. “The city’s unique culture alongside Oregon’s natural pantry of indigenous ingredients and incredible scenic beauty makes it the ultimate chef’s playground and an ideal destination for Top Chef to explore.”
″Considering all our community is facing this year, Top Chef’s selection of Portland as its filming location means more than if we had been selected any other year because it recognizes that, in spite of everything, our city remains a world-class culinary destination,″ said Jeff Miller, Travel Portland President and CEO, as part of the announcement. ″The show will serve as a window into what Portland has to offer when viewers are ready to travel again."
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Beyond a new setting, the format of the judges' panel will change as well. In addition to returning host and judge Padma Lakshmi, as well as fellow judges Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons, the cheftestants will be scrutinized by a “rotating judging and dining panel comprised of Top Chef All Star winners and finalists including Richard Blais, Carrie Baird, Nina Compton, Tiffany Derry, Gregory Gourdet, Melissa King, Kristen Kish, Edward Lee, Kwame Onwuachi, Amar Santana, Dale Talde, and Brooke Williamson.”
And to top it off, this announcement isn’t just a teaser of some far-off, post-COVID premiere—the show is currently filming.
“Production is underway with a comprehensive health and safety plan developed in accordance with CDC guidance, all state and local orders, as well as NBCUniversal’s own safety guidelines,” a statement from Bravo reads. “The health and safety of the cast and crew is the priority of Bravo & [production company] Magical Elves on all of its shows.”
Season 18 of Top Chef in Portland is set to air sometime in 2021.
This article originally appeared on Food & Wine.
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