Top Chef season 18 will have some COVID induced changes

A new season of Top Chef is coming, but things will be a little different this season. Like many of us, Top Chef had to navigate the show through a global pandemic. The popular cooking competition show was able to make changes and film a full season 18.

Thanks to The Daily Dish, Now we know it will begin on April 1st on Bravo (I don’t think this is a cruel April Fools’ Day joke).

Every season Top Chef is filmed primarily out of one city or location. With season 18, we will see contestants making themselves at home in Portland, Oregon. Since filming took place during the fall and amidst the coronavirus pandemic, the show had to adjust and add new safety protocols. This meant changes both on and off the screen.

One of the notable changes we will see in the upcoming season will be how the judges eat the food from contestants. In past seasons, the judges often ate off of the same plate during Quickfire and Elimination Challenges. This season we will not be seeing this. The judges will not be sharing any food or plates at all this season.

Another change will be the Judges’ Table. To keep with social distancing guidelines and recommendations, the judges will no longer be side by side at a rectangular table this season. Instead, they will be at a U-shaped table so that each judge can sit six feet apart from the others.

To make Top Chef Season 18, new safety protocols and arrangements were made

For the chefs, they were all given their own spices rather than sharing as they have in the past. The kitchen is also going to be larger this season to allow for more distance between chefs and the production crew.

While the chefs will still be grabbing groceries at Whole Foods, we are more likely to see curbside pickup than the normal frantic shopping trips we have become used to.

Everyone involved in Top Chef season 18 was part of a cast and production bubble in Portland. The chef contestants lived in a Portland hotel along with the production crew. No other guests were at the hotel during this time.

All of the judges were lodged at Airbnb locations with testing conducted every other day. The season does still have a star-studded guest judge lineup. Along with the normal regular trio of Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio, and Gail Simmons, we will also see some familiar faces.

The list of former contestants that will appear as judges includes Carrie Baird, Nina Compton, Tiffany Derry, Gregory Gourdet, Melissa King, Kristen Kish, Edward Lee, Kwame Onwuachi, Amar Santana, Dale Talde, Brooke Williamson, and one of my personal favorites Richard Blais.

Some of the celebrity judges include Jose Andres, Massimo Bottura, Gabriel Rucker, and Alice Waters. We will also see Portlandia stars Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein make a judging appearance.

It all is adding up to what should be another great season of Top Chef. It will start with 15 contestants on April 1. If the past has any indication, it should be a wild and fun ride to the finale.