Pat Clark

‘Top Chef’ returns to its culinary roots in California

Modesto-area foodies can rejoice – and be included in the big daddy of television’s many culinary competitions as “Top Chef” returns to the scene of its fledgling season, San Francisco.

Well, not just San Francisco, where all the cooking glory began in Season 1; the show intends to travel throughout the Golden State, making stops in Oakland, Santa Barbara, Palm Springs, Los Angeles and San Diego, according to the Bravo Twitter page. Production was set to begin this spring.

“Top Chef” judges also have taken to Twitter, asking fans to apply to be diners on Season 13 of the hit competition/reality show on Bravo.

The same Tweet – “Calling all #TopChef Fans! Want to be a diner? Email for more info. 21+ only. #TopChefCalifornia @BravoTop Chef” – has been posted recently by host Padma Lakshmi and judges Richard Blais (a former “Top Chef” winner), Food & Wine’s Gail Simmons and head judge and celebrity restaurateur Tom Colicchio.

Folks from around Modesto can apply to be part of the dining fun that goes on each season, as foodies give their takes on the dishes served during the various culinary battles.

If you apply and get on the show, I’d love to hear from you (email address below).

“We’re going to be all over the place,” Colicchio said in the Los Angeles Times. “We’re moving around a lot more than we ever moved around before. I don’t even know where we’re heading right now, but obviously this leads us into a lot of different options.”

The new season will premiere this fall and the cheftestants “will battle it out in iconic destinations across the Golden State to see if they have what it takes to earn the title and culinary bragging rights,” according to Bravo’s Daily Dish website.

The series’ return to California raises the question: Have any Modesto-area chefs applied to be competitors on the show? The city has some fine culinary chops at top restaurants not just in downtown Modesto, but in other parts of town, too.

The region already has had a surprisingly impressive presence on the show – two people who hailed from the area have competed on the mother ship “Top Chef” series, plus a third from Stockton, and a former Sonoran competed on its short-lived spinoff “Top Chef Just Desserts.” In addition, Turlock-raised celebrity chef Michael Chiarello not only competed on the “Top Chef Masters” spinoff, but has been a repeat judge on the main show.

But wouldn’t it be nice to see a chef from some of the city’s top-rated restaurants compete? Chefs from places like (but not limited to) Dewz or Galletto, Greens, Harvest Moon, Surla’s, Tresetti’s, Papapalvos or the hidden gem Bauer’s Skillet & Grill, tucked into a corner of McHenry Village, where the city’s chefs themselves apparently head to after hours to feast?

It’s no secret that I’m a mega-“Top Chef” fan, so pushing local chefs to apply is a no-brainer. Come on, cooks, give it a go for Season 14.

Reach Scene editor Pat Clark at