Production is underway on Top Chef season 17 in southern California, and involves many returning contestants from previous seasons of Top Chef, making it likely that this will be a full all-star season.
Over the past two weeks, there have been sightings reported on social media of the production in Los Angeles, including Monday at the Century City Mall. In recent years, the show has typically filmed in the summer, with new seasons premiering in December, so this seems like a later production start.
A person who lives in Los Angeles tweeted on Sept. 19, “They’re filming Top Chef in my neighborhood & I think it’s All Stars?” There was also a potential sighting of the production at a farmer’s market in San Diego.
On Sunday, a chef tweeted that, at a Los Angeles-area Whole Foods, “a cooking show just rushed in here and contestants are buying all the produce and honestly I might fight them.” That person posted a photo and added that “One of the crew members just said he wasn’t allowed to say what [filming] was for.”
We know for sure that Restaurant Wars will be filmed next Thursday because the James Beard Foundation is auctioning off two tickets, and the auction says that will be filmed on Oct. 10.
While the auction doesn’t give a specific location, it says the “experience will take place on the west coast.”
Top Chef 17’s all-star cast
In April, host Padma Lakshmi mentioned the possibility of a returning cast: “We may bring back some oldies but goodies. We’ll see. But we’re not sure yet. It’s not set. So let’s see.”
The last pure all-star season was season 8, and this new season will be season 17.
While it seems likely this is a full all-star season, there’s always the possibility it could have a mix of returning and new chefs, like Top Chef Charleston did. Considering how the returning chefs mostly decimated the new chefs, and how in general reality TV seasons of returnees and new players just don’t work because of the massively uneven playing field, I hope it’s just all-stars.
A thread on Reddit has gathered together potential cast members, based on sightings in California and also on their social media activity. That thread says the following chefs, who I’ve arranged in season order, are “basically confirmed”:
- Lee Anne Wong, Top Chef season 1 and Top Chef: Colorado (season 14)
- Stephanie Cmar, Top Chef: Seattle (season 10) and Top Chef: New Orleans (season 11)
- Gregory Gourdet, Top Chef: Boston (season 12)
- Melissa King, Top Chef: Boston (season 12)
- Jamie Lynch, Top Chef: Charleston (season 14)
- Nini Nguyen, Top Chef: Kentucky (season 16)
- Eric Adjepong, Top Chef: Kentucky (season 16)
- Kevin Scharpf, Top Chef: Kentucky (season 16)
These former contestants have also been potentially spotted on location, though it’s unclear if they’re cast members or guest judges, which would be a more likely role for a few of them:
- Brian Malarkey, Top Chef: Miami (season 3)
Bryan Voltaggio, Top Chef: Las Vegas (season 6) and Top Chef Masters
- Jennifer Carroll, Top Chef: Las Vegas (season 6), Top Chef All Stars (season 8), and Top Chef: Colorado (season 14)
- Angelo Sosa, Top Chef: DC (season 7)
- Karen Akunowitz, Top Chef: California (season 13)