On April 1, the Bravo cooking competition series Top Chef returns for its 18th season, which will be set in Portland and will feature two Portland chefs in the running, as well as some famed Portland chefs as judges. (Watch the trailer here for a preview.) As you tune in to the premiere, you might be curious about the artfully plated dishes you see onscreen and want a taste for yourself. We've gathered this guide to Portland spots associated with the show, including restaurants that have been linked to past and present contestants and judges, as well as places featured in the new season (like Akadi and Tillamook Creamery). The Portland Mercury's Blair Stenvick has also outlined five things to watch for in the first episode. For more ideas, check out our food and drink guide.
FEATURED ON SEASON 18
In the trailer for the 18th season, the chefs are seen sharing an emotional meal together at the lauded West African restaurant Akadi. Sadly, the restaurant is on hiatus right now, but you can still pick up its dishes, such as fufu, jollof rice, spicy okra and spinach, mafe, and gofu, at Green Zebra Grocery.
Arden Wine Bar & Kitchen and Soter Vineyards
Portland chef Sara Hauman is among the 15 contestants in the upcoming season. Hauman has previously worked as the chef at Arden Wine Bar + Kitchen, as the head chef at Huxley in San Francisco (where she received many awards and accolades, including a nomination for a James Beard Award for Rising Star Chef in 2016 and 2017), and at the Michelin-starred restaurant Mister Jiu's. She currently works as the head chef at Soter Vineyards in Carlton, OR.
Departure and Kann Winter Village
Portland chef Gregory Gourdet competed alongside Adams in the show's 12th season and made it to the finale, ultimately losing to season winner Mei Lin. He'll also be on the new season's panel of all-star judges. Gourdet previously worked for the swanky downtown rooftop lounge Departure for years and is now preparing to open his highly anticipated debut restaurant Kann, which refers to the Haitian Creole word for "cane" (a nod to his childhood memories of sugar cane vendors in Haiti) and is inspired by his Haitian roots. The Kann restaurant concept first appeared on Top Chef: LA All-Stars' "Restaurant Wars" (a challenge in which chefs come up with and present restaurant concepts to the public under a strict time constraint) and debuted at a pop-up preview at Mama Bird last summer. A preview of Kann's menu is currently available as a "yurt village" in the Redd parking lot—reservations are currently available exclusively for American Express cardholders. While you wait for Kann to officially open, look for Gourdet's upcoming cookbook Everyone's Table, which contains globally inspired recipes for healthy food and is set to be released in May.
Le Pigeon and Canard
James Beard Award-winning chef Gabriel Rucker, known for his elegant but unpretentious bistro Le Pigeon and its cafe sibling Canard, will serve as a guest judge on the show's upcoming season.
Mama Bird and Stacked Sandwich Shop
Portland-born chef Gabriel Pascuzzi, owner of the gluten-free and allergy-friendly chicken restaurant Mama Bird (which opened just six months before the pandemic) and the locally sourced sandwich shop Stacked, is also one of the contestants in the new season. Pascuzzi was named Eater Portland's chef of the year in 2018 and has previously worked for Daniel Boulud, Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio, and the acclaimed Copenhagen restaurant Noma. He's also looking to launch the health-minded grain bowl restaurant Feel Good, based on his pop-up of the same name, later this year.
The trailer shows a brief glimpse of the famed cheese factory, which appears to be a destination in the new season.
FEATURED ON PREVIOUS SEASONS
Bullard and Holler
Texas-born, Portland-based chef Doug Adams competed in Top Chef's 12th season, where he was axed before the finals, then made a triumphant comeback via the show's "Last Chance Kitchen" web series (which allows eliminated chefs to vie for the chance to make it back into the competition). The Texas native then made into the final three (which also included fellow Portlander Gregory Gourdet). Adams has previously worked for some of Portland's most notable chefs, including Vitaly Paley of Paley's Place, Gregory Denton of Ox, and Andy Ricker of Pok Pok. He opened his Tex Mex-inspired restaurant Bullard in 2018, which is currently open for takeout and delivery. (In a 2019 review, the Mercury's Andrea Damewood called Bullard's cold-smoked steak "the stuff of [her] dreams" and referred to the fried chicken as "achingly good.") His Sellwood fried chicken operation Holler, which was initially meant to launch in June but was postponed due to the pandemic and ended up opening as a takeout-only enterprise last July, will open its dining room on April 15.
Ripe Cooperative and Expatriate
Pioneering Portland chef Naomi Pomeroy appeared on the third season of Top Chef: Masters (which pits accomplished chefs against one another) in 2011 and nearly made it to the finale before being eliminated in the ninth episode. She's also appeared on the show as a guest judge in the 10th and 15th seasons. This year, Pomeroy replaced her landmark fine-dining restaurant Beast, which won a James Beard Award in 2014, with Ripe Cooperative, a sustainability-focused community market with prepared foods, wine, ice cream, fresh bread, homemade pasta, and specialty pantry items. You can also sample Pomeroy's food from her internationally inspired bar Expatriate, which serves drinking snacks like hot and sour Indian-spiced fries and shrimp toast and is currently open for pickup and delivery.