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The Daily Dish Top Chef

Meet the Cheftestants Competing on Top Chef Season 21

Get to know the 15 talented, rising star chefs and James Beard nominees from across the country competing on Top Chef Season 21.

By Shannon Raphael

Please unpack your knives and stay a while, because Top Chef is officially back for Season 21. 

How to Watch

Watch the Top Chef Season 21 premiere on Wednesday, March 20 at 9/8c on Bravo and next day on Peacock.

On February 7, the line-up of cheftestants was revealed, as was the city location for the upcoming season.

Alum and Season 10 winner Kristen Kish is taking on the hosting role for the first time on Season 21, and she's joined by veteran judges Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons

Meet the chefs who are competing on Season 21 — and also get all of the details on the new season — below. 

Here's What Else Is Happening on Bravo:

Where to Watch and Stream Top Chef

Padma Lakshmi, Gail Simmons, and Tom Colicchio React to Kristen Kish Being the New Top Chef Host

See What Top Chef Alums Were Up to at the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen 2023

Meet the Cast of Top Chef Season 21

The following 15 chefs will be competing in Quickfire Challenges and Elimination Challenges in Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 

Alisha Elenz

Full lengths of Alisha Elenz in her chef's uniform in a kitchen pantry.

HOMETOWN: Palatine, IL

CURRENT CITY OF RESIDENCE: Chicago, IL

OCCUPATION/PROFESSION: Private chef

Amanda Turner

Full length of Amanda Turner in her chef's uniform in a kitchen pantry.

HOMETOWN: Arlington, TX

CURRENT CITY OF RESIDENCE: Austin, TX

OCCUPATION/PROFESSION: Chef de Cuisine, Olamaie  

Charly Pierre

Full length of Charly Pierre in his chef's uniform in a kitchen pantry

HOMETOWN: Cambridge, MA

CURRENT CITY OF RESIDENCE: New Orleans, LA

OCCUPATION/PROFESSION: Head chef and owner, Fritai

Dan Jacobs

Full length of Daniel Jacobs in his chef's uniform in a kitchen pantry

HOMETOWN: Chicago, IL

CURRENT CITY OF RESIDENCE: Milwaukee, WI

OCCUPATION/PROFESSION: Chef and co-owner, EsterEv & Dandan 

Danny Garcia

Full length of Danny Garcia in his chef's uniform in a kitchen pantry

HOMETOWN: Brooklyn, NY

CURRENT CITY OF RESIDENCE: Brooklyn, NY

OCCUPATION/PROFESSION: Executive Chef, Saga Hospitality Group

David Murphy

Full length of David Murphey in his chef's uniform in a kitchen pantry

HOMETOWN: Houston, TX

CURRENT CITY OF RESIDENCE: San Francisco, CA

OCCUPATION/PROFESSION: Chef & Co-Owner, Shuggie’s Trash Pie + Natural Wine

Kaleena Bliss

Full length of Kaleena Bliss in her chef's uniform in a kitchen pantry

HOMETOWN: Seattle, WA

CURRENT CITY OF RESIDENCE: Chicago, IL

OCCUPATION/PROFESSION: Executive Chef, Chicago Athletic Association & Cindy’s Rooftop

Kenny Nguyen

Full length of Kenny Nguyen in his chef's uniform in a kitchen pantry

HOMETOWN: Philadelphia, PA

CURRENT CITY OF RESIDENCE: Athens, GA

OCCUPATION/PROFESSION: Head Chef & Owner, Pretty Boy (Opening 2024) – Executive Chef, The Expat

Kévin D'Andrea

Full length of Kevin Dandrea in his chef's uniform in a kitchen pantry

HOMETOWN: Oloron-Sainte-Marie, France

CURRENT CITY OF RESIDENCE: Austin, TX

OCCUPATION/PROFESSION: Chef & Owner, Foliepop’s

Laura Ozyilmaz

Full length of Laura Ozylimaz in her chef's uniform in a kitchen pantry

HOMETOWN: Acapulco, Mexico

CURRENT CITY OF RESIDENCE: San Francisco

OCCUPATION/PROFESSION: Executive Chef & Owner, Dalida 

Manny Barella

Full length of Manuel Barella in his chef's uniform in a kitchen pantry

HOMETOWN: Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico

CURRENT CITY OF RESIDENCE: Denver, CO

OCCUPATION/PROFESSION: Culinary Director, Camp Pickle & Jaguar Bolera (Opening 2024)

Michelle Wallace

Full length of Michelle Wallace in her chef's uniform in a kitchen pantry

HOMETOWN: St. Louis, MO

CURRENT CITY OF RESIDENCE: Houston, TX

OCCUPATION/PROFESSION: Chef, Owner & Pitmaster, B’tween Sandwich Co. 

Rasika Venkatesa

Full length of Rasika Venkatesa in her chef's uniform in a kitchen pantry

HOMETOWN: Chennai, India

CURRENT CITY OF RESIDENCE: New York

OCCUPATION/PROFESSION: Chef De Cuisine

Savannah Miller

Full length of Savannah Miller in her chef's uniform in a kitchen pantry

HOMETOWN: Southern Pines, NC

CURRENT CITY OF RESIDENCE: Durham, NC

OCCUPATION/PROFESSION: Chef de Cuisine, M Tempura

Valentine Howell Jr. 

Full length of Valentine Howell in his chef's uniform in a kitchen pantry

HOMETOWN: Boston, MA

CURRENT CITY OF RESIDENCE: Dorchester, MA

OCCUPATION/PROFESSION: Executive Chef 

Who is the host of Top Chef Season 21?

Per a press release, Kristen Kish is the host of Bravo’s Emmy, James Beard and Critics’ Choice Award-winning series, Top Chef, and the chef/partner of Arlo Grey in Austin, Texas.

"She’s also the host and producer of Restaurants at the End of the World on National Geographic/Disney+. In 2023, she was named to TIME 100’s Next, AdWeek’s Creative 100 and Marie Claire’s Power lists," according to the release. "Born in South Korea and adopted into a family in Kentwood, Michigan, Kish showed an affinity for cooking at a young age. After culinary school, she honed her skills at several high-profile restaurants in Boston."

Full length of Kristen Kish wearing a white vest and white pants in a kitchen pantry

"Kish’s TV career began when she competed on and won Season 10 of Top Chef. In a full-circle moment, she was named host of the beloved series for the 21st season. Her credits also include co-star of Fast Foodies on truTV/Food Network and co-host of Iron Chef on Netflix.

"In 2017, Kish released her first cookbook, Kristen Kish Cooking: Recipes and Techniques, and a year later opened her first restaurant, Arlo Grey at the Line Hotel. The restaurant reflects Kish’s playful yet refined cuisine, pulling inspiration from her classical training as well as nostalgic dishes that highlight her upbringing and love of travel."

Who are the judges for Top Chef Season 21?

Tom Colicchio

Full length of Tom Colicchio wearing a brown shirt and jeans in a kitchen pantry

"Tom Colicchio is the head judge and executive producer of Bravo’s Emmy, James Beard and Critics’ Choice Award-winning series Top Chef. Tom is the eight-time James Beard Award-winning chef and owner of Crafted Hospitality, which includes New York’s Craft, Temple Court and Vallata; Las Vegas’ Craftsteak; and Small Batch in Garden City, N.Y. Born in Elizabeth, N.J., Collicchio made his New York cooking debut at prominent restaurants that include the Quilted Giraffe, Gotham Bar & Grill and Gramercy Tavern before opening Craft in 2001.

"A vocal and outspoken social justice advocate, Colicchio executive produced the 2013 documentary A Place at the Table about the underlying causes of hunger in the U.S. This eye-opening experience led him on a journey to Washington D.C., where he has been a mainstay in our nation’s capital in the years since. From holding members of Congress accountable on their voting records around food to working with former FLOTUS Michelle Obama on the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, Colicchio has established himself as the leading 'Citizen Chef' advocating for a food system that values access, affordability and nutrition over corporate interests.

"Colicchio is a frequent contributor on several television shows and networks, including MSNBC, CNN, ABC and Bloomberg, and is the host of the iHeart Radio podcast, Citizen Chef. He will star and executive produce a new show in 2024 titled The Pantry on Spirits network.

"Colicchio and his restaurants give back to the community through their impact partnerships with organizations such as Children of Bellevue, City Harvest and Southern Smoke Foundation. He’s a founding member of the Independent Restaurant Coalition, which was formed to save the local restaurants and bars affected by COVID-19 and the subsequent economic fallout.

"Colicchio lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Lori Silverbush, and their three sons. When not in the kitchen, he can be found tending his North Fork Long Island garden, fishing or playing guitar."

Gail Simmons

Full length of Gail Simmons wearing a dress in a kitchen pantry

"Gail Simmons is a trained culinary expert, food writer and dynamic television personality. Since the show’s inception in 2006, she has lent her expertise as the perennial judge on Bravo’ Emmy, James Beard and Critics’ Choice Award-winning series Top Chef, which is now entering its 21st season. She also serves as an Executive Producer.

"In 2022, Simmons was seen as co-host of The Good Dish, the daily syndicated series offering delicious recipes, real-life wisdom and conversations on the topics of the day, and was formerly host of Top Chef Amateurs as well as Iron Chef Canada. From 2004-19, Simmons served as special projects director at Food & Wine magazine. 

"Simmons’ first cookbook, Bringing It Home: Favorite Recipes from a Life of Adventurous Eating, was released by Grand Central Publishing in 2017. Nominated for an IACP Award for Best General Cookbook, it features recipes inspired by her world travels — all made with accessible ingredients and with smart, simple techniques for successful family meals and easy entertaining. Simmons’ first book, the memoir Talking with My Mouth Full, was published by Hyperion in 2012. 

"Simmons frequently appears on daytime television shows such as TODAYRachael Ray and The Talk, and was named the #1 Reality TV Judge in America by The New York Post

"She is the co-founder of Bumble Pie Productions and the newest Global Ambassador for Children in Conflict, an international organization committed to protecting, educating and providing critical aid for the world’s most vulnerable children affected by war. Simmons sits on the board of several other nonprofit organizations and philanthropic endeavors, including City Harvest and Hot Bread Kitchen. She currently lives in New York with her husband, Jeremy, and their two children, Dahlia and Kole."

When does Top Chef Season 21 premiere?

All of the episodes in Top Chef Season 21 will be supersized. The season premieres on Wednesday, March 20 at 9/8c on Bravo.

Episodes will air on Wednesdays at 9/8c, and they will be available to stream on Peacock the next day. 

Stream Top Chef on Peacock now. 

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