Before ‘Top Chef: World All-Stars,’ Catch Up With Bravo’s Returning Alums

Top Chef: World All-Stars Buddha Lo
David Moir/Bravo

It’s no hyperbole to say the 20th season of Top Chef, premiering March 9 at 9/8c, will be the most epic yet. For the first time, the Bravo reality competition is going abroad for the entire season, every episode will be supersized, and the 16 contestants include all-stars from international Top Chef adaptations.

“This special All-Stars installment features winners and finalists, representing 11 different Top Chefversions around the world as they vie for the ultimate World All-Stars title,” Bravo explains. “This time the chefs return to the kitchen to battle it out throughout London before moving on to the grand finale in Paris.”

Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio, and Gail Simmons are back as judges, of course, but American fans will see a lot of new faces — contestants from the Canadian, Mexican, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Polish, Brazilian, Thai, and Middle Eastern & North African versions of Top Chef.

That said, fans of Bravo’s Top Chef will also reconnect with old favorites in Season 20. Scroll down to get reacquainted with the four alums from the American Top Chef who are coming back for another culinary showdown on Top Chef: World All-Stars.

Top Chef: World All-Stars, Season Premiere, Thursday, March 9, 9/8c, Bravo

Top Chef: World All-Stars Amar Santana
Stephanie Diani/Bravo

Season 13 finalist Amar Santana

Santana, who was the runner-up in Top Chef’s California-set 13th season, is now executive chef and owner at Broadway by Amar Santana in Laguna Beach, CA, and Vaca in Costa Mesa, CA. He has also guest-judged on Top Chef, Top Chef Jr, and Top Chef Family Style. “It’s a great experience, just getting to do Top Chef from the other side, getting to know Padma and Tom on a different level than you do when you’re competing as a chef,” Santana said in a Bravo featurette in 2021. “I mean, I’m still like that little kid walking into class for the first day every time I see Tom and Padma on set. I was just recently shooting an episode with her, and I was shaking. I didn’t even know what to say. I was just nervous. I was like, ‘I’m doing this next to Padma!’”

Top Chef: World All-Stars Sara Bradley
Stephanie Diani/Bravo

Season 16 finalist Sara Bradley

Nearly three years after she came in second place in Top Chef: Kentucky, and these days, Bradley is still hanging around the Bluegrass State and is still the chef and proprietor at freight house, a Southern-inspired restaurant and bourbon bar in Paducah, KY. “We saw a direct impact on our revenue at the restaurant,” she told The Travel Addict in 2020, reflecting on life post-Top Chef. “It was great for us. People talk about the Top Chef effect, and you hear about it, but until you are on the show, you don’t get to see what happens. It has opened up a lot of things for me, be it traveling or going to festivals or cooking with other chefs. It has opened up this whole network of other chefs around the country, even around the world. It has been great for me, for my employees, for my town.”

Top Chef: World All-Stars Dawn Burrell
Stephanie Diani/Bravo

Season 18 finalist Dawn Burrell

Burrell, who had already made a name for herself as an Olympic long jumper by the time she joined Top Chef: Portland, teamed up with Chris Williams, a fellow Houston chef, for a new company called Lucille’s Hospitality Group in 2021. Now the business partners are working on opening a “global comfort” restaurant called Late August in a former Sears department store building in Houston. The restaurant will be Burrell’s first ownership-stake restaurant. “Being a part of this team is really a dream come true for me. I get to do what I love to do with food creatively while also meeting the needs of so many people through [the nonprofit] Lucille’s 1913,” she told the Houston Chronicle in 2021. “I’m excited to be a part of it.”

Top Chef: World All-Stars Buddha Lo
Stephanie Diani/Bravo

Season 19 winner Buddha Lo

Lo, a contestant from Top Chef: Houston and the Bravo show’s latest victor, is still the executive chef at HUSO, a 14-seat restaurant located inside the New York City storefront of Marky’s Caviar. When he talked to TV Insider in June 2022, he said that his Top Chef win will be an “instrumental key” for his career. “I think with the money, I will live a little more comfortably in life, knowing that I can go from A to B and not worry about how it will affect me financially. I don’t think $250,000 will do me well for a restaurant in New York City. Maybe part-ownership,” he said. “The main thing is the platform, which is more important. I’m happy to achieve this platform because I think my thoughts and opinions can help change the food industry. I’d love to be an advocate to help the food industry get to a better place. I think there are a lot of things that can be fixed, and I can try to help move them in the right direction.”

Top Chef: World All-Stars contestants
David Moir/Bravo

The competition

Santana, Bradley, and Burrell, and Lo face intense competition from abroad in Top Chef: World All-Stars. The other contestants in this 20th season are Top Chef Middle East & North Africa winners Ali Ghzawi and Charbel Hayek, Top Chef Canada winners Nicole Gomes and Dale MacKay, Top Chef France winner Samuel Albert, Top Chef Brazil winner Luciana Berry, Top Chef Spain winner Begoña Rodrigo, Top Chef Mexico winner Gabriel Rodriguez, Top Chef Poland winner Sylvia Stachyra, Top Chef Germany finalist Tom Goetter, Top Chef Italy finalist Victoire Gouloubi, and Top Chef Thailandfinalist May Phattanant Thongthong.