World All-Stars’ 20th season in London ‘feels larger’

World All-Stars’ 20th season in London ‘feels larger’

Pack your knives because Top Chef is heading to London! Bravo has brought together 16 of the best chefs from different international versions of the franchise to compete in a World: All-Stars edition.

Season 20 of the Emmy-winning series hosted by Padma Lakshmi with judges Tom Colicchio And Gail Simmonswill feature returning US candidates Amar Santana (Season 13), Sarah Bradley (Season 16), Dawn Burrell (Season 18) and reigning Season 19 winner Buddha Lo Competing against winners and finalists from other Top Chef iterations including Italy, Canada, Germany, the Middle East and more.

“I wouldn’t call it a normal top chef season,” Lakshmi exclusively told Us Weekly while on set in London in the fall of 2022. A host of competitors who are already experienced and know what the show is about and more or less knowing what to expect, there are also people who belong to the crème de la crème in their country.”

Speaking of the caliber of the competition, she said, “I know so many top chefs who haven’t even won and who haven’t even made it past Restaurant Wars. And yet their restaurants are full and their reservation books are full and closed for months because of the experience and the attention they have received. So this is where you start with people who are already at the top of their game and that’s exciting. So it’s not like a regular season of Top Chef at all.”

(L-R) Buddha Lo, Begoña Rodrigo, Amar Santana, Gabriel Rodriguez, Padma Lakshmi, Tom Goetter, Charbel Hayek and May Phattanant Thongthong. David Moir/Bravo

Simmons agreed, telling us, “They’re all finalists or winners of their respective seasons, so they were in that game, they won that game, they conquered that game. And although it’s a bit different than ours, I think their competitive spirit is really evident.”

Lo, who took first place at Top Chef: Houston in early 2022, is back to defend his title in this All-Star Edition. “I think it’s great. I think I’d want to do that too,” Lakshmi said of his return for consecutive seasons. “Buddha is a very competitive chef. I think he’s smart too, knowing he wants to try “To keep his title a little longer if he can. Only time will tell if he can do that, but he also has the last practice behind him.”

Simmons shared that sentiment, calling Lo “unstoppable.” She added, “I think he’s at a peak right now and he’s like, ‘Let’s just move on. I’m in the groove I’ll just keep plowing forward. world domination.’ I mean respect I can’t believe when I showed up here and saw that he was one of our candidates.”

In previous seasons, the finale has been staged in locations around the world such as Singapore, Italy, China and Mexico, but this is the first time the production has shot an entire season outside of the US

Lakshmi actually lived in London for eight years and was therefore familiar with the culinary offerings. “I would say London’s food scene is the most international in the world,” the cookbook author told Us. “London is very diverse as it is also the center of the world. I think in North America we’re a bit isolated and of course we have so many immigrant kitchens that influence food in big urban areas like New York or LA. But here in London I find what’s wonderful is that not only can you find restaurants from all over the world, both high-end and mom-and-pop style, little hole-in-the-wall.”

Gail Simmons teases Top Chef World All-Stars Season 20 in London March 3rd

(L-R) Tom Colicchio, Padma Lakshmi and Gail Simmons. David Moir/Bravo

The Taste the Nation presenter continued: “You can also find grocery stores with everything – lots of African cuisine, lots of Middle Eastern cuisine. All Asian countries are represented here. I mean, that’s in large part due to colonialism and a post-colonial world, but it’s also because London, New York – of the places I’ve been – and maybe Hong Kong are the best cities in the world to eat in.”

Simmons also loves the UK’s “streamlined modernity”. “Yes, there’s the traditional British food, but there’s also incredible food from everywhere,” she explained. “You can get the best of the best, the best Sri Lankan food, the best Nigerian food, the best Malaysian food, the best Filipino food [cuisine]. This city has so much energy. My list of restaurants is endless and endless because there are so many places I want to try. But I also love the British sensibility that many restaurants here really bring to their food.”

The Food & Wine editor added, “It’s also just great not to be in America for a while. It gives you a perspective on our food, on what we think is important not only in life but in cooking and eating in particular. It’s always a great test to step out of your comfort zone and be in another country that doesn’t care about America as much as America cares about America – like every country takes care of itself you know you’re very introspective . There’s a lot of navel gazing. And so it’s just nice to see that there are bigger trends, bigger stories being told, more stories than we’re used to hearing. It really changes your mindset.”

Padma Lakshmi teases Top Chef World All-Stars Season 20 in London 2

(L-R) Angela Harnett, Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons. David Moir/Bravo

The series has been nominated for 42 Emmy Awards since its inception in 2006, winning two – Outstanding Picture Editing for Reality Programming and Outstanding Reality-Competition Program.

“This season feels bigger than ever,” Simmons said of the landmark 20th season. “I know we’re not a tiny show anymore. I used to like to say, ‘Oh, we’re just this tiny little show,’ and eight seasons later they had to say, ‘Yeah, we’re not that small.’ And as you can see, we’re quite a big production here, but it feels really special this season. I noticed it. Every place we pull up, every time I’m on set I’m like, ‘Wow, we’ve really created something that can’t be replicated.’ We did that really well. And our producers have always been open to new perspectives, and they’re always open to our ideas and to the changing moments in our industry.”

As for the future of the show, Lakshmi told Us: “I think everything has a beginning, a middle and an end. It’s difficult to say. I think we can only judge that in hindsight. We are very lucky. We have a very loyal fan base.”

Top Chef: World All-Stars premieres on Bravo Thursday, March 9th at 9pm ET.