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Top Chef is the latest reality series to head back into production amidst ongoing concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. In accordance with CDC guidance, production is now underway to safely shoot the latest cycle in Portland, Oregon.
“Portland has been on our radar for the last few years as a burgeoning culinary destination known for its innovative dining scene driven by independent, chef-owned restaurants, local farms and purveyors,” said Bravo executive vp current production Shari Levine. “The city’s unique culture alongside Oregon’s natural pantry of indigenous ingredients and incredible scenic beauty makes it the ultimate chef’s playground and an ideal destination for Top Chef to explore.”
In addition to returning talent Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons, the new season will be the first to showcase a rotating panel of Top Chef alums — including Richard Blais, Carrie Baird, Nina Compton, Tiffany Derry, Gregory Gourdet, Melissa King, Kristen Kish, Edward Lee, Kwame Onwuachi, Amar Santana, Dale Talde and Brooke Williamson. The upcoming season, the first to head to Portland, is set to move production from in the culinary city to the Oregon coast, the Hood River Fruit Loop, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory, Tillamook Bay, Tualatin Valley and Willamette Valley wine country.
“Filming Top Chef in the current climate has been possible because of our strong partnership with Bravo and the city of Portland and the state of Oregon,” said Casey Kriley and Jo Sharon, co-CEOs of Top Chef production company Magical Elves. “We are excited to highlight the cuisine and culture of the state through our talented chefs and judges. This season promises to be unique in a multitude of ways.”
Per a release from Bravo, production is underway with a comprehensive health and safety plan developed in accordance with CDC guidance, all state and local orders, as well as NBCUniversal’s own safety guidelines.
Lakshmi spoke with THR about returning to Top Chef during the pandemic earlier in the summer. “We have to be really creative about finding ways [to tweak production] that don’t feel like they are concessions for corona,” she said. “We want to put on the show we know how to put on, but we will be taking extraordinary measures; I don’t think we can survive otherwise. I’m sure we’ll have to reconfigure. Our kitchens are already really big, but I’m worried most about the Quick Fires, to be honest. I can guarantee you that I won’t be sharing any plates with anybody else.”
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