New Show ‘Top Chef Amateurs’ to Debut in 2021. Here’s What You Need to Know.

updated Feb 24, 2021
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Gail Simmons
Credit: Amy Sussman/ Getty

Top Chef is back, with an oxymoronic new series. While the definition of a “chef”, technically, is someone in charge of a professional kitchen, food television has long played fast and loose with the term — especially when it comes to celebrity chefs like Alton Brown or Rachael Ray, who never helmed a restaurant kitchen. So it shouldn’t come as too much of a shock that Top Chef Amateurs features people who are, by definition, not chefs. The competitors are all home cooks stepping into the kitchen — but what’s a little technicality when Gail Simmons will host, and the judges’ table will be full of former cheftestants including fan pleasers like Richard Blais, Kwame Onwuachi, Dale Talde, Shirley Chung, Jennifer Carroll, and Isaac Toups?

The show is filming in Portland, Oregon and has set up a production bubble much like the one used to bring us this season of the Great British Bake-Off. “We get tested every two days,” said Gregory Gourdet, Portlander and one of the Top Chef competitors returning as a judge in the new format. The show is slated to air sometime next year, according to Variety.

The show itself is something of a crossover between Chopped-style single episode battles and classic Top Chef challenges from previous seasons. Fans can actually add their own voice to help pick the challenges they want to see by voting this week via Twitter: Seven Deadly Sins or Aphrodisiac. But don’t expect the big event-style competitions for the home cooks — pandemic precautions mean that those were out of the question. “But we’re doing stuff outdoors, at local vineyards, local farms, and things like that,” says Tom Colicchio, who will be back as the head judge.