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Going into filming Season 18 of Bravo's Top Chef in Portland, Oregon last fall, the production crew knew that filming the culinary competition amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic was going to be a challenge. However, they weren't as prepared for another obstacle that came their way during the season.
During a recent interview about the upcoming season of Top Chef, which premieres with a supersized episode on Thursday, April 1 at 8/7c, Matt Reichman, Vice President, Current Production at Bravo, told Variety that the wildfires in Portland last September were “a massive curveball thrown to the production."
This interrupted an already-complex shooting schedule for Top Chef as production wanted to keep everyone safe amid the deadly wildfires across the state that month, which gave Portland the worst air pollution in the world at that time. “And then when the fires came, completely eliminating our ability to shoot outdoors, and even indoors in some cases where we weren’t able to avoid the smoke — it turned our entire season on paper on its head," Reichman said.
Production shifted the schedule and moved locations in order to keep this season going. “The testament goes to the producers who just were able to think on their toes, and they are just a fantastic, seasoned bunch,” Reichman told Variety. “They just were so pumped up to shoot Top Chef again, and they just grinded through it.”
Top Chef host and executive producer Padma Lakshi shared a similar sentiment as she applauded everyone involved in the culinary competition for successfully filming the season in a post on Instagram on February 8.
"We did it! Through COVID, fires and everything else. And it’s a great season!" Padma wrote in the post. "Thank you to my @bravotopchef crew for working so hard to keep us all safe. We got through it without anyone getting sick."
Padma added, "We love you Portland and were so happy to shoot there in support of the city and the BLM protesters for civil rights."
Padma returns to the Judges' Table in Season 18 of Top Chef, along with head judge Tom Colicchio and judge Gail Simmons. They will also be joined for the first time ever by an elite rotating judging and dining panel made up of Top Chef all-star winners, finalists, and favorites, 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.
A new batch of 15 cheftestants from all over the country will be competing for the coveted title of Top Chef in Season 18, which will see them taking on challenges honoring the culinary heritage and culture of Oregon with picturesque Portland as the backdrop.
Last Chance Kitchen also returns on Thursday, April 8. Hosted by Tom Colicchio, Bravo Media's Emmy-winning digital companion series will follow Season 18's eliminated chefs as they go head-to-head to try to cook their way back into the competition. The latest installment of Last Chance Kitchen will be available at the conclusion of each week's episode of Top Chef on BravoTV.com, on demand, or wherever you stream Top Chef.
Watch the above trailer to see everything coming up in Top Chef Season 18.
Want more Top Chef? Catch up on the Bravo app.
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