|Top Chef: Houston|
|Hosted by||Padma Lakshmi|
|No. of contestants||15|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||14|
|Original release||March 3 –|
June 2, 2022
Top Chef: Houston is the nineteenth season of the American reality television series Top Chef. It was first announced by Bravo and NBCUniversal on September 21, 2021. The competition was filmed in Houston, Texas, which was not featured during the series' previous Texas-themed season, as well as Galveston Island. The season finale took place in Tucson, Arizona. The winner received US$250,000.
Filming in Houston covered roughly five weeks, beginning in late September 2021 and completing at the end of October. The same COVID-19 protocols used for Top Chef: Portland remained in effect, requiring frequent tests for the coronavirus and masks to be worn by production staff. The campaign to promote Houston as the next location for Top Chef was led by Houston First, who showed off the city to Magical Elves Productions and helped scout for potential sites to highlight during the season. The set for the show was constructed at the NRG Arena. Filming for the final two episodes in Tucson was completed in November 2021, with Visit Tucson offering US$750,000 to cover production and relocation costs.
A variation of Top Chef: Portland's alumni judging panel was implemented. In each episode, the trio of Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio, and Gail Simmons were joined by a former Top Chef competitor, along with a local or nationally acclaimed chef as a guest judge. In addition to the returning Last Chance Kitchen, a new web series titled Top Recipe was released each week, which featured Top Chef alum Dale Talde demonstrating how to cook winning Quickfire and Elimination Challenge dishes from the season.
Top Chef: Houston premiered on March 3, 2022, and concluded on June 2, 2022. In the season finale, Buddha Lo was declared the winner over runners-up Evelyn Garcia and Sarah Welch. Damarr Brown was voted Fan Favorite.
Fifteen chefs were selected to compete in Top Chef: Houston. One contestant, Jackson Kalb, was notable for contracting COVID-19 a few weeks before the show began filming. While Kalb did not lose his spot among the cast, he ended up having to compete without his sense of taste or smell.
|Damarr Brown||Chicago, Illinois||Chicago, Illinois|
|Jo Chan||Palmdale, California||Austin, Texas|
|Monique Feybesse||San Francisco, California||Vallejo, California|
|Leia Gaccione||Passaic, New Jersey||Morristown, New Jersey|
|Evelyn Garcia||Houston, Texas||Houston, Texas|
|Robert Hernandez||Downey, California||San Francisco, California|
|Jae Jung||Seoul, South Korea||New York City, New York|
|Jackson Kalb||Los Angeles, California||Los Angeles, California|
|Sam Kang||Gardena, California||Brooklyn, New York|
|Luke Kolpin||Seattle, Washington||Seattle, Washington|
|Buddha Lo||Port Douglas, Australia||Brooklyn, New York|
|Stephanie Miller||Bismarck, North Dakota||Bismarck, North Dakota|
|Ashleigh Shanti||Virginia Beach, Virginia||Asheville, North Carolina|
|Nick Wallace||Edwards, Mississippi||Jackson, Mississippi|
|Sarah Welch||Ann Arbor, Michigan||Detroit, Michigan|
|Contestant||Elimination Challenge Results|
^Note 1 : The chef(s) did not receive immunity for winning the Quickfire Challenge.
^Note 2 : Following Episode 5 of Last Chance Kitchen, Ashleigh returned to the competition.
^Note 3 : Following the final episode of Last Chance Kitchen, Sarah returned to the competition.
Main article: List of Top Chef episodes
|Title||Original air date||US viewers|
|275||1||"Primal Instincts"||March 3, 2022||0.70|
Quickfire Challenge: In teams of three, the chefs were asked to create cohesive dishes while cooking relay-style. The chefs took turns cooking their team's dish, but were only allowed ten minutes each. In addition, teammates were not allowed to communicate with each other about the direction of their dishes. The members of the winning team received immunity from elimination. The guest judge was Top Chef: Portland runner-up Dawn Burrell.
Elimination Challenge: Working in the same teams as the Quickfire Challenge, the chefs were tasked with creating three-course menus featuring primal cuts of beef to be served at The Annie Café & Bar. The five options included chuck, rib, short loin, sirloin, and round. Each team was only allowed to use one of the five primal cuts, which were available first-come, first-served. They were also responsible for butchering the meat themselves. The guest judges were Top Chef: Seattle winner Kristen Kish and chef Robert Del Grande.
|276||2||"Friday Night Bites"||March 10, 2022||0.79|
Quickfire Challenge: The chefs put their own spin on queso. They had to include an accompanying item to dip into their queso, but were not allowed to make tortilla chips. The winner received immunity from elimination. The guest judge was chef Irma Galvan.
Elimination Challenge: The chefs were divided into two teams: the blue "Wildcats" and the red "Cougars". Each team was coached by a Top Chef alumni, with Dawn Burrell leading the Wildcats and Top Chef: Los Angeles finalist/Top Chef: Charleston contestant Sam Talbot leading the Cougars. The teams competed in seven head-to-head battles for a Friday Night Lights football-themed challenge at the Tomball ISD Stadium. The dishes, which were required to be heavy in carbohydrates, were presented to the judging panel, consisting of Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons, Top Chef: Seattle runner-up/Top Chef: Charleston winner Brooke Williamson, and chef Chris Shepherd. Each judge voted for their favorite dish in each head-to-head battle. One vote netted the team five yards, with a maximum of 25 yards available per round. The objective of the game was to score 100 yards to cross the football field from one end zone to the other, thus scoring a touchdown and securing victory. If a team was unable to score a touchdown by the end of seven rounds, then chefs from either team were eligible to win or be eliminated.
|277||3||"Noodles and Rice and Everything Nice"||March 17, 2022||0.75|
Elimination Challenge: The chefs were challenged to create street food dishes inspired by Asian flavors. The dishes were served to 100 guests at an Asian night market held at the POST Houston cultural center. The contestants were randomly assigned cuisines for inspiration, which included Vietnamese, Indian, Chinese, Filipino, and Japanese. Despite sharing cuisines, the chefs competed individually. The winner received US$10,000. The guest judges were Top Chef: Miami winner Hung Huynh and chef Kiran Verma.
|278||4||"Doppelgängers"||March 24, 2022||0.76|
Quickfire Challenge: The chefs created biscuit dishes from scratch. Instead of immunity, the winner received an advantage in the Elimination Challenge. The guest judge was chef Chris Williams.
Elimination Challenge: The chefs, working in pairs, had to make two dishes that looked exactly the same, but tasted completely different. As the winner of the Quickfire Challenge, Jackson was able to choose his partner first. His team also earned 30 extra minutes of cooking time. Both members of the losing team were eliminated. The guest judges were Top Chef: Boston finalist/Top Chef: All-Stars L.A. winner Melissa King and Top Chef Masters alum Wylie Dufresne.
|279||5||"Don't Mess with BBQ"||March 31, 2022||0.83|
Quickfire Challenge: The chefs made dishes using Texas toast for Tom Colicchio and guest judge Brooke Williamson. The winner received immunity from elimination and US$10,000.
Elimination Challenge: The chefs were asked to create innovative dishes highlighting smoked brisket. Upon meeting at J-Bar-M Barbecue, the contestants trimmed and seasoned their brisket before placing it in the restaurant's smoker for 12 hours. The guest judges were Brooke Williamson and pitmaster Greg Gatlin.
|280||6||"Texas Trailblaze-hers"||April 7, 2022||0.77|
Quickfire Challenge: To start, half of the chefs were instructed to grab a salty ingredient, while the other half grabbed a sweet ingredient. The full nature of the challenge was then revealed, which required the chefs to pair up to make sweet and salty desserts for a Talenti gelato-sponsored challenge. The winning team received immunity from elimination and US$10,000 to split between them. Following Episode 5 of Last Chance Kitchen, Ashleigh rejoined the competition. The guest judges were Top Chef: Kentucky winner Kelsey Barnard Clark and Top Chef: Kentucky/Top Chef: All-Stars L.A. contestant Nini Nguyen.
Elimination Challenge: The chefs were tasked with creating dishes that honored the lives of five trailblazing Texas women: Ann Richards, Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Barbara Jordan, Bessie Coleman, and Selena. Despite sharing the same pioneers for inspiration, the chefs competed individually. The dishes were served to a table of prominent guest diners, including Suzette Quintanilla, Sheryl Swoopes, Lori Choi, Lauren Anderson, and Cecile Richards. The guest judges were Top Chef: D.C. contestant/Top Chef: All-Stars finalist Tiffany Derry and MasterChef Season 3 winner Christine Hà.
|281||7||"Swallow the Competition"||April 14, 2022||0.66|
Quickfire Challenge: The chefs were randomly assigned one of three swallows, a starchy and dough-like Nigerian staple food: amala (green plantains), eba (cassava), and iyan (pounded yams). After sampling the swallows with some accompanying Nigerian soups and stews, such as egusi soup, efo riro, and seafood okra soup, the chefs were asked to cook their own dish to compliment their swallow. The winner received immunity from elimination. The guest judges were Top Chef: California contestant Kwame Onwuachi and chef Ope Amosu.
Elimination Challenge: The chefs, split into three teams, created dinosaur-themed progressive menus for a Jurassic World Dominion-sponsored challenge. Each team received dossiers on the Mosasaurus, Quetzalcoatlus, and Velociraptor, which served as inspiration for their courses. The dinner was held at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. The winning team received a VIP trip to the world premiere of Jurassic World Dominion. The guest judges for the challenge were Kwame Onwuachi and Top Chef: Colorado winner Joe Flamm. Actress DeWanda Wise appeared as a guest diner.
|282||8||"Restaurant Wars"||April 21, 2022||0.74|
Elimination Challenge: The chefs, separated into two teams, competed in Restaurant Wars. In addition to the returning VIP chef's table concept from the previous season, the teams went back to serving dining rooms full of guests. The restaurants were set up inside the POST Houston cultural center and featured open kitchens, allowing the judges and diners to watch the contestants cook during service. The teams had no restrictions on the number of dishes and courses needed to be served. While the judges declared an individual winner, each member of the winning team received US$10,000. The guest judges were Tiffany Derry and Food & Wine editor-in-chief Hunter Lewis.
|283||9||"Freedmen's Town"||April 28, 2022||0.73|
Quickfire Challenge: The chefs were randomly assigned a box containing produce of the same color. The available colors were red, orange, yellow, green, purple, black, and white. They then had to use their ingredients to create a monochromatic vegetarian dish. The winner received immunity from elimination. The guest judge was Top Chef: Texas contestant Nyesha Arrington.
Elimination Challenge: The chefs catered a block party fundraiser held at the Bethel Baptist Church in honor of Juneteenth's Texas roots and the establishment of the freedmen's town located in Houston's Fourth Ward. The contestants had to contribute dishes that spoke from their hearts and souls, in reference to soul food. All proceeds from the fundraiser went towards the Houston Freedmen's Town Conservancy. The guest judges were Dawn Burrell and Kwame Onwuachi.
|284||10||"Dinner in Zero Gravity"||May 5, 2022||0.71|
Quickfire Challenge: The chefs visited the Houston Farmer's Market, where they were tasked with putting their own spin on fajitas for a Chipotle Mexican Grill-sponsored challenge. The winner received US$10,000. Beginning with this Quickfire Challenge, immunity from elimination was no longer available as a reward. The guest judge was Top Chef: Colorado contestant Claudette Zepeda.
Elimination Challenge: After touring the Space Center Houston, the chefs prepared dishes that could feed astronauts in space. The dishes were required to follow NASA guidelines on food consumption in a micro-g environment, such as limiting ingredients that could potentially create crumbs or free-floating liquids. The guest judges were Melissa King and Top Chef Masters Season 2 winner Marcus Samuelsson. Retired astronauts Cady Coleman, Tony Antonelli, and Susan Kilrain appeared as guest diners.
|285||11||"Family Vacation"||May 12, 2022||0.69|
Quickfire Challenge: The chefs traveled to Galveston Island and created two-tier seafood towers at the beach. Each tower needed to include a hot dish and a cold dish. The winner received an advantage in the Elimination Challenge. Following the final episode of Last Chance Kitchen, Sarah rejoined the competition. The guest judge was Top Chef: Portland runner-up Shota Nakajima.
Elimination Challenge: The chefs served family-style dishes catering to their own family members' tastes at a beachside vacation home for a Vrbo-sponsored challenge. As the winner of the Quickfire Challenge, Evelyn received an extra 30 minutes of cooking time. The winner received a complimentary stay, worth US$10,000, at any Vrbo vacation home around the world. The guest judges were Top Chef: Colorado runner-up Adrienne Cheatham and Top Chef: Seattle/Top Chef: Charleston finalist Sheldon Simeon.
|286||12||"We're on a Boat"||May 19, 2022||0.72|
Elimination Challenge: The chefs went fishing off the Gulf of Mexico with Tom Colicchio and Dawn Burrell. They then had to make two different preparations using the fish they caught, to be served at the Bludorn Restaurant. The contestants were provided US$200 each to buy additional ingredients for their dishes. However, if they failed to catch anything, they would have to use their remaining budget to purchase fish from the market. The guest judges were Top Chef: Chicago winner Stephanie Izard and chef Daniel Boulud.
|287||13||"Cactus Makes Perfect"||May 26, 2022||0.63|
Quickfire Challenge: The chefs were moved to Tucson, Arizona, for the final rounds of the competition. After meeting at El Charro Café, the oldest family-run Mexican restaurant in the United States, the contestants were asked to create a dish featuring carne seca. The winner received an advantage in the Elimination Challenge. The guest judge was chef Carlotta Flores.
Elimination Challenge: The chefs had to make one savory dish and one sweet dish highlighting cactus and chiltepin. Prior to cooking, the chefs met with Top Chef: Portland contestant Maria Mazon at the Mission Garden to gather ingredients. As the winner of the Quickfire Challenge, Sarah received an extra 30 minutes of cooking time. The guest judges were Kristin Kish and Carlotta Flores.
|288||14||"The Final Plate"||June 2, 2022||0.69|
Elimination Challenge: The chefs were responsible for cooking the best four-course progressive meals of their lives. Each finalist was able to select a previously eliminated competitor to act as their sous chef; Buddha chose Jackson, Evelyn chose Jo, and Sarah chose Robert. The meals were served at the Tanque Verde Ranch to the regular judging panel, guest judges Stephanie Izard and Éric Ripert, as well as several guest diners, including Kristen Kish, Hunter Lewis, Top Chef: Boston runner-up/Top Chef: All-Stars L.A. finalist Gregory Gourdet, Top Chef: Texas contestant Edward Lee, chefs Janos Wilder and Alexander Smalls, and restaurateur Bricia Lopez.
Main article: Top Chef § Last Chance Kitchen
|No.||Title||Original air date|
|1||"Two Cloche for Comfort"||March 10, 2022|
Challenge: The chefs were given 30 minutes to create dishes highlighting local Houston ingredients. In addition, each chef was assigned an exotic protein to incorporate into their dish. Leia was given rattlesnake meat, while Stephanie was given alligator meat.
|2||"PotatOH No You Don't!"||March 17, 2022|
Challenge: The chefs were given 30 minutes to make potato dishes. Prior to cooking, the chefs were presented with various ingredients and kitchen equipment, which they took turns selecting. Once chosen, these items became unavailable to their competitor. Leia chose the mandoline, peeler, bacon, onions, and cream, while Sam chose the fryer, grill, butter, garlic, and cheese.
|3||"Double Jeopardy"||March 24, 2022|
Challenge: The chefs were given 30 minutes to create both a savory dish and a sweet dish. Tom Colicchio selected his favorite savory dish first, granting the winner immunity. Brooke Williamson then judged the two remaining chefs' sweet dishes, resulting in one elimination.
|4||"Panic in the Pantry"||March 31, 2022|
Challenge: The chefs were given 30 minutes to cook any dish. However, they only had three minutes to shop in the Top Chef pantry. Once their shopping time expired, they were not allowed to go back into the pantry to grab extra ingredients. Two chefs advanced to the next round.
|5||"Station Swap"||March 31, 2022|
Challenge: The chefs were given 30 minutes to create any dish using their competitor's ingredients from the previous challenge. The winner returned to the main competition, while the loser remained in Last Chance Kitchen.
|6||"Oh Broth-er!"||April 7, 2022|
Challenge: The chefs were given 30 minutes to create a composed dish which included a flavorful broth.
|7||"The Right Stuffed"||April 14, 2022|
Challenge: The chefs were given 30 minutes to make a stuffed dish.
|8||"Ghost Kitchen"||April 21, 2022|
Challenge: The chefs were given 45 minutes to cook three dishes for their own ghost kitchen concepts. After time expired, the contestants delivered their meals to Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons at a separate address for judging.
|9||"Blind Taste Test"||April 28, 2022|
Challenge: The chefs first competed in a blind taste test. They were given five minutes to identify 20 different spices and herbs while blindfolded. If guessed incorrectly, the contestants were unable to use the ingredient. They then had 20 minutes to cook any dish.
|10||"Last Chance Kitchen Finale Pt. 1 / Pt. 2"||May 5, 2022|
Challenge (Part 1): The chefs were given 30 minutes to make a dish featuring three different textures: crunchy, chewy, and creamy. Once the dishes were complete, the chefs were instructed to leave the kitchen. Tom Colicchio then had the remaining non-eliminated contestants from the main competition (Ashleigh, Buddha, Damarr, Evelyn, and Nick) vote for their favorite of the two dishes through a blind tasting. Their votes directly influenced the second part of the challenge.
Challenge (Part 2): The chefs were allowed to create any dish of their choosing for Tom Colicchio and Shota Nakajima. Each contestant started with a 30-minute timer. They earned an additional three minutes toward their timer for every vote they received during the previous round. Ashleigh, Buddha, Damarr, Evelyn, and Nick all voted for Sarah, giving her a total of 45 minutes of cooking time. The winner returned to the main competition.