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Meet Three Austin Culinary Talents Starring in the New Season of “Top Chef”

Cheer on hometown contestants during this season of this hit television series

Top Chef Season 21 press portraits. (By Stephanie Diani/Bravo)

Fans of Bravo’s iconic cooking competition “Top Chef” have the chance to jump into a new season of the hit show, that kicked off on March 20. Viewers can expect some major changes from past “Top Chef” iterations, but one thing that’s always true of this show is that they bring in skilled chefs from all over the country to vie for the title. We’re thrilled to report that some of Austin’s finest culinary talents appear in the “Top Chef” kitchen this season, along with an iconic new host to step into Padma Lakshmi’s role.

Amanda Turner is a James Beard Award semifinalist and chef de cuisine of Olamaie.

Amanda Turner (photo by Weston Carls)

Fans of Olamaie, the trailblazing New Southern restaurant right near the UT campus, will be thrilled to see Olamaie’s remarkably talented chef de cuisine, Amanda Turner, competing on Season 21 of “Top Chef.” Prior to joining Olamaie, Turner studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Austin, then joined Chef Tyson Cole’s team at the Uchi empire. Her experiences staging in the Uchi kitchen got her a position on the opening team of Uchiko (while she was still studying at culinary school), and she eventually moved over to East Side King, but the Uchi head honchos never forgot about her. Eventually, they persuaded Turner to return to Uchi and work with the restaurant group’s pastry chefs, honing her skills in that department.  

After Uchi, Turner headed up the baking program at Odd Duck, worked her way up from sous chef to chef de cuisine at Juniper, became the chef de cuisine at Jester King Brewery, and finally wound up at Olamaie in 2021. Turner’s very Austin chef journey led to her designation as a James Beard Award semifinalist in the Emerging Chef category in 2022. She’s a master of weaving global ingredients and techniques into classic Southern dishes, and her skills in the pastry department will surely make her a force to be reckoned with in the Top Chef kitchen.

RELATED: Amanda Turner’s Inspiring Culinary Journey

Kévin D’Andrea was a contestant on “Top Chef: France” and is the owner of FoliePops in Austin.

Kévin D’Andrea (photo courtesy of Foliepop’s)

Chef Kévin D’Andrea is hardly a stranger to the Top Chef franchise; in 2015, he competed in “Top Chef: France,” where he became a finalist. A French native, D’Andrea launched his culinary career in France where he trained with and worked under Michelin-starred chefs like Alain Ducasse and Alain Llorca. After working at the three-Michelin-star Parisian restaurant Le Meurice, D’Andrea hopped over to London to spend some time at the relaxed by very stylish bistro Bob Bob Ricard in Soho. Upon returning to Paris, he opened his own restaurant Mensae, a chic and minimalist space with a classic French menu. He left Paris after marrying an American and found himself in Houston, where he served as the executive chef for La Villa. His Austin move coincided with the opening of Foliepop’s, a French pastry shop that D’Andrea opened to exercise the skills he honed in France. H-E-B now carries Foliepop’s tartlets, and D’Andrea is ready to jump back into the Bravo TV series as a contestant on Season 21.

Kristen Kish is a former “Top Chef” champion, the owner and chef of Arlo Grey in Austin, and the new host of “Top Chef”.

Kristen Kish
Kristen Kish

In 2012, Kristen Kish, a young chef from the Midwest who was making a name for herself in Boston’s restaurant scene, walked away with the “Top Chef” title during the Season 10 finale. Kish’s undeniable talent and camera-friendly presence made her a frequent guest star on future episodes, and she first made her mark in Austin in 2018, when she moved to our city and opened Arlo Grey, a modern American restaurant in the LINE Hotel. 

Now, this relatively-new Austinite will occupy the position held by former model and cookbook author Padma Lakshmi for almost 20 seasons: the host of “Top Chef.” We look forward to see how this hometown hero handles the spotlight, and we’re excited to root for Turner and D’Andrea as the competition heats up!

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