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Did You Know a Top Chef Alum Is Now a Producer on the Show?
The former cheftestant and other producers reveal how they choose locations to film outside of the Top Chef kitchen and more behind-the-scenes secrets.
There's a familiar face among the production team for Bravo's Top Chef — and she knows exactly what it's like to be in this intense culinary competition.
Sandee Birdsong, who Top Chef viewers first met as a contestant in Season 3 in Miami, now serves as the supervising culinary producer on the show. As fans might recall, Sandee came in 14th place that season, which crowned Hung Huynh as the winner. (Hung notably made his return to the competition as a guest judge earlier in Season 19, 15 years after being named Top Chef.)
But as you can see, Sandee's time on Top Chef didn't end with her elimination. You can watch Sandee at work as the supervising culinary producer on the series over the years in several behind-the-scenes videos on BravoTV.com, including her recent tour of the Top Chef kitchen in Houston.
Top Chef host and executive producer Padma Lakshmi previously opened up about working with Sandee on the show during Season 18 as strict safety protocols were put in place amid the pandemic. "I’m really close to my culinary producer, Sandee Birdsong," Padma told Variety in February 2021. "I’m not allowed to hang out with her! I talk to her on the phone, and I wave to her across the set."
But all of that hard work paid off as Sandee was among the producers to receive a nod when Top Chef was nominated for Outstanding Competition Program at the 73rd Emmy Awards last year.
Sandee has even shared major life moments on Top Chef. She was among those who got married when Padma officiated a wedding for 25 same-sex couples in Season 13.
Now, Sandee is one of the producers taking fans inside the making of the current Top Chef Season 19 in a series of special "Secrets Revealed" videos exclusively on BravoTV.com.
In the above video, Top Chef producers take us behind the scenes of how they find and film locations for a season. Sandee shares why it's so important to get the contestants cooking outside of the Top Chef kitchen. "If you're stuck in the kitchen for every episode, you'll end up getting the same food over and over again," she says in the above clip. "But I think that by allowing our chefs to get out, there's a lot of inspiration involved in their cooking."
Check out the above video to find out what Top Chef producers consider to be "the best locations" to film at, including one of the "hardest" yet "coolest" places an elimination challenge has ever been set in the history of the competition.
Top Chef producers are serving up even more secrets of Season 19. Find out exactly what cheftestants are allowed to bring in their knife bags, what makes a great guest judge, why Top Chef challenges seem to be getting "harder" year after year, and so much more. You can check it all out here or in the playlist, above.
As you continue to watch Season 19 of Top Chef on Thursdays at 8/7c (or catch up through the Bravo app), don't miss Last Chance Kitchen with new episodes available on BravoTV.com, On Demand, or wherever you stream Top Chef at the conclusion of each week's episode.
Watch the latest episode of Last Chance Kitchen, below, and catch up on the Bravo app.