The Emmy-winning Bravo series is back with its 18th season tonight on April 1st.

It has been tough year for filming with the pandemic, but that does not stop the cooking. (We could argue that it has made us cook even more).


These contestants are in the running for the title Top Chef and are using every culinary power they have to get there.

Bravo released a statement which read:

"The chefs will be put to the test in a variety of new challenges this season, including celebrating PDX's Pan-African cuisine, feeding hundreds of frontline workers, 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. They will also visit some of Oregon's most famous locations, including the Hood River Fruit Loop and Tillamook Creamery. This season's Restaurant Wars will be unlike any other as the teams must execute a micro-restaurant concept with a cohesive seven-course tasting menu."

Top Chef traveled to a new filming location this year-- Portland, Oregon.

And to top off new changes, they are running the show a little bit different this year. This season consists of 15 "cheftestants." Compared to years all-star season, these new chefs are going on their first rodeo next season.

The contestants are from all over the country. The list of new Top Chefs are:

—Brittanny Anderson, Richmond, Va.
—Avishar Barua, Columbus, Ohio
—Dawn Burrell, Houston
—Gabe Erales, Austin, Texas
—Nelson German, Oakland, Calif.
—Byron Gomez, Aspen, Colo.
—Sasha Grumman, Houston
—Roscoe Hall, Birmingham, Ala.
—Sara Hauman, Portland, Ore.
—Kiki Louya, Detroit
—Maria Mazon, Tucson, Ariz.
—Shota Nakajima, Seattle
—Gabriel Pascuzzi – Portland, Ore.
—Jamie Tran – Las Vegas
—Chris Viaud – Milford, N.H.

The judges for season 18 will be Padma Lakshmi, a returning judge and host, as well as Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons.

In addition to the new "cheftestants', there will be a rotating panel of edit judging and dining that is made from Top Chef alumni only.

The panel of judges consists of:

—Richard Blais (season 4 runner-up, season 8 winner, seasons 12-14 judge)
—Carrie Baird (season 15 finalist, season 16 Last Chance Kitchen competitor)
—Tiffany Derry (seasons 7, season 8 finalist)
—Gregory Gourdet (season 12 runner-up, season 17 finalist)
—Melissa King (season 12 finalist, season 17 winner)
—Kristen Kish (season 10 winner)
—Edward Lee (season 9)
—Kwame Onwuachi (season 13, season 15 Last Chance Kitchen competitor)
—Amar Santana (season 13 runner-up)
—Dale Talde (seasons 4 & 8)
—Brooke Williamson (season 10 runner-up, season 14 winner)

This season was filled with more challenges than just cooking. Filming through the pandemic and the Oregon wildfires posed major setback for the chefs.

Through the pandemic the team had to take precautions for the safety of the crew that included new protocols. Everyone had to quarantine themselves in a "Bubble" throughout filming, video chats between the panel judges were utilized this year, and the production was broken into different zones for filming.

In addition, cooking and eating had to have some regulations. Judges had to have their own plate of food and every tasting utensil had to be thrown away after its use. Chef were giving their own spices and used curbside pickup groceries instead of in-store shopping.

The wildfires had made the film crew pause their outdoor filming and move to indoors, shifting their schedules for everyones health.

You can watch the brand new season 18 of Top Chef Thursdays at 8pm ET on Bravo and the next day on the Bravo website.

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