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‘Top Chef’ Season 18 Gets Premiere Date – Meet the Chefs Competing Amid Pandemic (Video)

Culinary competition will return with a supersized episode

Bravo has set the premiere date for Season 18 of “Top Chef,” which was shot in Portland, Ore., amid the pandemic. The network also released a trailer featuring the crop of new contestants who packed their knives and headed off to cook for Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons in the Pacific Northwest. See that video above.

The new season of the culinary competition will premiere with a supersized episode airing Thursday, April 1 from 8-9:15 p.m. ET/PT.

“This season, a new batch of 15 extremely talented executive chefs and restaurant owners, representing a cross section of kitchens and food around the country, vie for the coveted title bringing their unique skillsets, diversity of cuisines and gamut of flavors,” per Bravo. “With Portland as a picturesque backdrop and culinary inspiration, the chefs compete in a variety of challenges including celebrating PDX’s Pan-African cuisine to feeding hundreds of frontline workers and crabbing on the Oregon Coast in a tribute to culinary icon and Oregonian James Beard.”

Here are the 15 new chefs competing on Season 18 of “Top Chef”:

Brittanny Anderson – Richmond, VA

Avishar Barua – Columbus, OH

Dawn Burrell – Houston, TX

Gabe Erales – Austin, TX

Nelson German – Oakland, CA

Byron Gomez – Aspen, CO

Sasha Grumman – Houston, TX

Roscoe Hall – Birmingham, AL

Sara Hauman – Portland, OR

Kiki Louya – Detroit, MI

Maria Mazon – Tucson, AZ

Shota Nakajima – Seattle, WA

Gabriel Pascuzzi – Portland, OR

Jamie Tran – Las Vegas, NV

Chris Viaud- Milford, NH

According to Bravo, “During a time of extreme hardship in the restaurant industry, these chefs have more on the line than ever before. From working with foraged mushrooms and picking produce at the famous Hood River Fruit Loop to visiting the Tillamook Creamery, the chefs are tasked with cooking with Oregon’s natural bounty of ingredients. With Padma, Tom and Gail and a table full of alums to impress, the expectations have never been higher, especially in this year’s unique Restaurant Wars where the teams must perfectly execute on a micro-restaurant concept with a cohesive seven-course tasting menu that rivals the best in the world. To stay in the game, the chefs must cook at their best while contending with a Quickfire using ingredients used on the Oregon Trail and a surf and turf elimination challenge honoring the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. While in the ‘City of Roses,’ the judges definitely don’t hold back their thorns as they narrow it down to find this season’s ‘Top Chef.'”

While Lakshmi will be back as host and Colicchio and Simmons as judges, they will be joined this year by a rotating judging and dining panel 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.

“Top Chef’s” Portland season will also feature José Andrés, Massimo Bottura, Gabriel Rucker and Alice Waters, as well as “Portlandia” stars Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, who stop by the “Top Chef” kitchen for a Quickfire Challenge.

The series is produced by Magical Elves with Casey Kriley, Jo Sharon, Doneen Arquines and Hillary Olsen serving as executive producers.

Season 18 of “Top Chef” will premiere Thursday, April 1 at 8/7c on Bravo. Digital companion series “Top Chef: Last Chance Kitchen” will launch Thursday, April 8.