Meet The Final Group of 'Top Chef' Contestants
The final batch includes a "gnocchi Queen" and a theatre-nerd-turned-culinary pro.
So far this week we've unveiled the first two groups of Top Chef contestants for Season 11. And now Bravo is proud to unveil the final batch of five. From a self-proclaimed "gnocchi Queen" to a theatre-nerd-turned-Executive Chef, meet the last crew of competitors below.
Top Chef will invade New Orleans this year to crown the culinary world's next big star. Tune in to Bravo on October 2 at 10p ET/PT to watch the premiere. And for those who can't wait, we're also psyched to launch a a new web-only show this afternoon titled Padma's Picks. The exclusive Bravotv.com series will follow host Padma Lakshmi as she selects a Cheftestant to represent the Big Easy in this year's competition.
Without further ado...
Nina Compton, 34, Miami, FL
A native of St. Lucia, Nina Compton has trained in French, Caribbean and Italian kitchens. She has worked under renowned Chef Daniel Boulud and now lives in Miami where she is the Chef de Cuisine for acclaimed chef Scott Conant. A self-proclaimed “gnocchi Queen,” Nina always keeps Maldon salt, good olive oil, lemon, calabrese chilies, and either pancetta or guanciale on hand.
Bret Pelaggi, 34, Miami, FL
Chef Bret Pelaggi began his cooking career as a teenager at a local Norwood, MA restaurant. After graduating from the New England Culinary Institute, he went on to work at Boston-area restaurants including L'Espalier, Kingfish Hall, Sibling Rivalry and Chiara. Bret believes in using local products along with pasture fed meat and game, and enjoys a rustic approach to cooking, saying, "I love braising and cooking on the bone, and classic stock based sauces."
Catch a first look at Top Chef Season 11
Carlos Gaytan, 42, Chicago, IL
Chef Carlos Gaytan arrived in Chicago in early 1991, quickly working his way up from pantry cook to line cook at Sheraton North Shore Hotel. After earning a position as Chef Garde Manger, Carlos discovered his creative ability to carve on ice, fruit and vegetables, winning several awards for his talent. In 1996, Carlos earned a position as Chef Garde Manger at the Union League Club of Chicago, ranked as the best private club in the nation. In April of 2004 Carlos became the Chef de Cuisine at Bistrot Margot where he worked with renowned French Chef Dominique Tougne and participated in such events as the Confrerie de la Chaide de Rotisseurs, the Moet and Chandon Brunch and the Annual Flora Springs Dinner Auction in Napa Valley. In May of 2008, Carlos opened his own restaurant—Mexique on Chicago Avenue in Chicago. With great creativity, love and dedication he applies his knowledge of French cooking techniques and ingredients to his roots of traditional Mexican cuisine, creating a revolution of Mexican gastronomy. Mexique has received much recognition since its opening, including one of Chicago Magazine’s top new restaurants of 2009, Best Restaurant of 2010 and received its first star in the Michelin Guide in 2013. Most recently Carlos was awarded "Chef of the Year 2011," by the American Culinary Federation.
Aaron Cuschieri, 29, Chicago, IL
Chef Aaron Cuschieri has worked in some of the top kitchens in the country, from Assaggi Bistro in his home state of Michigan to the world-renowned Alinea in Chicago. Ultimately, Aaron earned a position at Takashi Restaurant where he met his most influential mentor, Takashi Yagihashi. Under Takashi’s direction, Aaron further developed his simple and fresh cooking philosophy, learning the importance of upholding the integrity of ingredients and always looking for the right balance of texture and flavor. Recognizing his skills, Chef Takashi tapped Aaron to oversee his Japanese comfort food concept, Slurping Turtle, as Executive Chef.
Preview Padma's Picks
Sara Johannes, Minneapolis, MN
Chef Sara Johannes started as a Theater Major at the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities, before a redirection ultimately led her to culinary school. Falling in love with food at a young age, Sara could always be found diligently listening to the cooking shows on PBS on Saturday mornings and was inspired by her grandparents, who always let the season, mood and occasion dictate their menu. Sara served as executive chef for Wolfgang Puck’s Five Sixty restaurant in Dallas and WP24 in Los Angeles at the Ritz Carlton before heading back to Minneapolis. Currently, Sara serves as the executive chef at Shoyu at the Minneapolis St. Paul Airport.