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Bravo's Top Chef Season 13 runner-up Amar Santana has many fond memories of his time in the culinary competition — his favorite being his first Elimination Challenge win after wowing the judges with a self-described "flavor bomb" of squab with tourné vegetables, truffle sauce, seared foie gras, and sweetbreads.
But if you asked Amar to vie for the title of Top Chef again, well, let's just say he wouldn't be jumping at the chance to get back into the kitchen. "When I got the call from Top Chef, the first thing I said when I answered the phone, I was like, 'Please tell me I am not competing,'" Amar recalled in the above video for BravoTV.com.
He later learned that he was being called upon to serve as one of the alums in a rotating panel of guest judges for Top Chef Season 18. Now that was music to Amar's ears. "Just tell me what you need from me," Amar said of his response to the invitation. "I want to do it."
Sitting on the other side of Judges' Table has been "a great experience" for Amar, who has appreciated "getting to know" Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio "at a different level than you do when you're competing as a chef."
However, introducing and judging challenges with Padma took some getting used to. "I'm still like that little kid walking into class for the first day every time I see Padma on set. I was just recently shooting an episode with her, and I was shaking. I didn't even know what to say. I was just nervous. I'm like, I'm doing this next to Padma, right?" Amar said. "It just took me back to the first day I walked in the kitchen on Top Chef, and I see Tom and Padma standing there, and I'm like, oh my god, this is real. This is Tom and Padma right there."
It looks like Amar is definitely enjoying himself this season — especially the food. "Judging all the food, you know, it is a cooking competition. When something is good, I'm gonna say it's good," he shared. "Like, the other day, I tried a dish, and it was so good, I licked the plate. That basically lets that person know that this is really freaking good."
Want more Top Chef? New episodes air every Thursday at 8/7c or catch up on the Bravo app.
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