Season 18 of “Top Chef,” which was shot in Portland during the COVID-19 outbreak, is still making waves. The critics gushed. According to FoodSided, it met the high bar established by “Top Chef” for outstanding food programming. The Ringer went even farther, claiming that “Top Chef: Portland” demonstrated that the show was headed on the right path, “away from harsh competition” and toward cheftestant companionship. The Los Angeles Times was likely the most enthusiastic about Season 18. The publication mentioned the friendship, as well as the contestants’ wider cultural diversity and the varieties of food used in the challenges.

Finally, on July 13, the cast and crew of “Top Chef” discovered that they had been nominated for five Emmys, including a group nomination for Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio, and Gail Simmons in the Outstanding Host category (via Bravo). Season 18 was a huge hit, despite the fact that the winner, Gabe Erales, was fired before the season aired for breaking his restaurant’s harassment policy (via The Washington Post).

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Despite the emotional disappointment, all signs point to a Season 19 of “Top Chef.” Bravo has yet to announce whether the show will be renewed for a second season. Here, we’ll look at the most likely debut dates, judges, and locations.

On Top Chef Season 19, who will serve as judges?

In the volatile realm of culinary television, “Top Chef” has been unusually stable with its cohosts/judges. Tom Colicchio has been a part of the show since the beginning, while Padma Lakshmi joined in Season 2. (via IndieWire). Gail Simmons has been a judge from the show’s inception (via, with the exception of Season 16 when she had a child, according to Bravo’s The Daily Dish blog.

The trio’s nomination for an Emmy for Outstanding Host (via Bravo) simply goes to show that Lakshmi, Colicchio, and Simmons are still at the top of their game. There’s every reason to believe they’ll all return as hosts for Season 19 – barring any new-parent leave.

Top Chef Season 19 - Release Date, Judges, And More

The mystery will revolve around who will be chosen as guest judges. Early seasons of “Top Chef” included celebrity chefs such as Anthony Bourdain (via Los Angeles Times), but Season 18’s rotation of “Top Chef” alumni as judges proved popular. The harassment allegations leveled against Season 18 champion Gabe Erales (via The Washington Post) have ended his chances of returning to the show. However, keep an eye out for another finalist. Shota Nakajima, the enthusiastic chef with the contagious giggle, won the Fan Favorite award (via Parade).

When will Season 19 of Top Chef premiere?

Bravo has recently allowed more than a year between seasons of “Top Chef.” Season 16 premiered in December 2018, according to Bravo. Season 17 featured returning cheftestants and premiered in March 2020. (via Food & Wine). According to TheWrap, the most recent season of “Top Chef: Portland” premiered on April 1 this year.

Bravo released the Season 18 debut date less than two months before the event, so we shouldn’t expect to hear anything about Season 19 anytime soon. However, assuming the current trend continues, Season 19 of “Top Chef” should premiere in mid-2022.

Top Chef Season 19 - Release Date, Judges, And More

Of course, the producers must first recruit a new generation of high-quality American cooks for the competition. Following the controversy surrounding Gabe Erales’ Season 18 win (via The Washington Post), Bravo may choose an all-female team of cheftestants for Season 19.

The host city is just as significant as any member of the “Top Chef” ensemble. Given the pandemic limitations and protests, Portland provided a compelling background for Season 18. (via The Ringer). Over the course of 18 seasons, “Top Chef” has visited numerous locations across the United States. What direction might the show take next?

Which city will host Season 19 of Top Chef?

Over the course of 18 seasons, “Top Chef” has wiped a lot of amazing places from the map. The show has traveled to New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and a slew of other great food destinations, including Charleston, South Carolina (via Top Chef Stats). To find the next likely location for “Top Chef,” we looked at some web lists of the finest American cuisine cities.

According to The Washington Post and Far & Wide, Philadelphia is the best candidate. Far & Wide ranked Philadelphia 10th, the highest among cities yet to participate in “Top Chef,” based on a study and a WalletHub poll. According to the Far & Wide list, Atlanta, Tampa, and Oakland are all possible new destinations.

Top Chef Season 19 - Release Date, Judges, And More

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Only one person’s opinion counted in the Washington Post’s top ten list of American food cities: food critic Tom Sietsema. Although the Post’s selection is more subjective than Far & Wide’s, we came to the same conclusion. Philadelphia was the only city on the list that “Top Chef” has yet to use. So, the early odds favor the City of Brotherly Love.

Unless the producers want to recreate the stresses and limits of Season 18, “Top Chef” will need to travel somewhere somewhat COVID safe. In any case, fans are hoping that they will choose a place soon and begin filming. Season 19 of “Top Chef” is already on our minds.

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