“Top Chef” is coming back to Los Angeles. And to Santa Barbara. And to Palm Springs. And to San Francisco. And to Oakland. And to San Diego.
In fact, Season 13 of Bravo’s top-rated cooking show is going to be lucky for California in general.
Hosted by Padma Lakshmi with head judge Tom Colicchio and judges Gail Simmons and Richard Blais, the show is returning to its California roots — the first two seasons were filmed in San Francisco and Los Angeles — but it hasn’t returned since, except for some featured challenges.
But six stops in a five- to six-week shoot? That’s taking getting reacquainted to a new high.
“We’re going to be all over the place,” says Colicchio. “We’re moving around a lot more than we ever moved around before. I don’t even know where we’re heading right now, but obviously this leads us into a lot of different options.”
Shooting will begin in late spring. The exact schedule of when the crew will be visiting the different cities — and, of course, which challenges they’ll be encountering when they arrive — has yet to be announced.
“Honestly, I haven’t really started working on that, yet,” Colicchio says. “It’s hard to say what the specific challenges will end up being. Typically, we’ll be working on them right up to the day we’re shooting them.”
The cooking competition reality show field has become a crowded (and noisy) one over the last few years. But Colicchio says what he’s most proud of with “Top Chef” — even more than the Emmy awards it has won — is that the quality of the contestants has been so high.
“I’m really proud that when you look at the chefs who have come out of ‘Top Chef,' there are a lot of serious chefs who are doing great work,” he says. “They’re winning Beard awards, they’re wining best new restaurant awards. I think that’s one thing that separates us from the other shows.
“I’m not suggesting we discovered them or made them, but we gave them a platform to show what they could do so they could go out and raise money and do things like that.
“We still manage to attract really talented chefs. And they come to us and want to do the show. Sometimes, they may come in with a little attitude, but a couple shows in, they’re saying, ‘Oh, my God, it’s hard. I didn’t know it was going to be like that.' ”