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The Daily Dish Top Chef

Bravo's Top Chef Judges on Season 18: "We Also Have Some Tricks Up Our Sleeve"

Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio, and Gail Simmons reveal what Portland brings to the table in the new season.

By Laura Rosenfeld
Your First Look at Top Chef Portland!

Ever since it was announced that the upcoming Season 18 of Bravo's Top Chef would be taking place in Portland, Oregon, we've been excited to see what the picturesque and culinary-rich city will bring for the competition's new crop of cheftestants. Now, judges Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio, and Gail Simmons are giving us a taste of what we can expect from PDX when Season 18 of Top Chef premieres with a supersized episode on Thursday, April 1 at 8/7c.

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A recent video shared on Top Chef's Instagram goes behind the scenes with Padma, Tom, and Gail as they spill on what makes Portland special. "The food scene here is vibrant, it's young," Tom said in the clip. "Portland's gonna loom large in this season."

Padma added, "We'll show what Portland is really like and how diverse this community and its food is." 

Gail also teased that the new season of Top Chef has some surprises in store. "We also have some tricks up our sleeve," Gail revealed. "Because it wouldn't be Top Chef if we kept things the same every year."

One way Top Chef will be notably shaking up the competition this season is with, for the first time ever, an elite rotating judging and dining panel made up of Top Chef all-star winners, finalists, and favorites, including Richard BlaisCarrie BairdNina ComptonTiffany DerryGregory GourdetMelissa KingKristen KishEdward LeeKwame OnwuachiAmar SantanaDale Talde, and Brooke Williamson.

This season's challenges will also celebrate what makes Portland unique, including highlighting PDX's Pan-African cuisine, a surf and turf elimination challenge honoring the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, and crabbing on the Oregon Coast in a tribute to culinary icon and Oregonian James Beard. The cheftestants will also visit some of Oregon's most famous locations, including the Hood River Fruit Loop and Tillamook Creamery.

Season 18 of Top Chef will include appearances by José Andrés, Massimo Bottura, Gabriel Rucker, and Alice Waters. Portlandia stars Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein also stop by the Top Chef Kitchen for a Quickfire Challenge.

Also returning this season will be Last Chance Kitchen, kicking off on Thursday, April 8. Hosted by Tom, 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. Last Chance Kitchen will be available at the conclusion of each week's episode of Top Chef on, on demand, or wherever you stream Top Chef.

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