Top Chef spin-off features guest judge Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama guest judged a competition between former contestants on Top Chef Friday, and it turns out that’s actually for a mysterious spin-off to the Bravo series, which will be called Life After Chef.

The New York Times casually mentioned in an article about her healthy eating that “Obama had just finished judging a Top Chef competition to pick the best school lunch. She and her co-judges — the celebrity chef Tom Colicchio and the Obamas’ personal cook and food policy adviser, Sam Kass — declared it a tie among the three entries. The first lady told the children at the taping that when it comes to healthy school lunches, ‘everybody wins.’”

That was in Dallas, and that doesn’t make any sense: Top Chef Texas long ago concluded production in the state, and is about to go into its finale. But it turns out that it was actually for a spin-off series about which we know very little.

Here’s what Dallas’ Pegasus News reported:

“Emceed in part by White House chef Sam Kass, the healthy cooking competition featured Top Chefs Richard Blais, Fabio Viviani, Jenn Carroll, Spike Mendelsohn, Grayson Schmitz, and Paul Qui, while students from Nancy Moseley Elementary School in Dallas watched and cheered from bleachers. In the end, no winner was picked: When kids eat healthy food, ‘everybody’s a winner,’ Obama said.

The event took place on the basketball court at the Kleberg-Rylie Recreation Center, which had been turned into the set of the Bravo show Life After Top Chef, complete with temporary lamps hanging from the rafters for better light.

Six students scored the high-profile assignment of running ingredients back and forth to the cooking stations where the Top Chefs were tasked with creating a healthy meal in 30 minutes. The chefs were paired up and placed on the red, white, or blue team. Season 9 contestants Grayson and Paul were paired together and dubbed by Colicchio the ‘Texas team.’ The blue team was Fabio and Richard, and White was Jenn and Spike.”

With information on just this one non-competitive challenge, the name is the only other thing we have to guess what the show will be about; based on Friday’s events, it seems like it will bring together past chefs in some context to do something, or perhaps will just follow them wherever they’re invited to go. Friday, Tom Colicchio tweeted a picture of himself with the First Lady, but made no mention of the competition.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.