San Diego may not be the country’s best food city but, increasingly, it is becoming the country’s best Food TV city. In fact, over the course of the last year San Diego has made a strong move to the front of the pack. It started last year when San Diego teenager Nathan Odom won Fox TV’s MasterChef Junior.
Not to be outdone, Claudia Sandoval took on the adult version of the same competition and won Masterchef herself! It is not the first time that San Diegans have done well on Masterchef (indeed, another San Diegan lost in this year’s semifinals) but our town now holds both the senior and junior MasterChef titles at the same time.
We’ve done well before on Food TV. At least two winners of Food Network’s Next Food Network Star show — Amy Finley and Melissa d’Arabian — are San Diegans, and Stacey Poon-Kinney was a finalist. Hardly an episode of Guy’s Grocery Games airs without at least one San Diegan in a judging chair. Indeed, the first episode of the show featured three San Diego judges: d’Arabian, Richard Blais and Troy Johnson (who himself had a Food Network show, Crave).
But it may be on Bravo TV’s Top Chef (and its offshoots such as Top Chef Masters) that San Diegans have most prominently shined. Juniper & Ivy’s Blais won season 8 of Top Chef All Stars and was a finalist on Top Chef several years before. Other San Diegans have featured on the show including Brian Malarkey, Amanda Baumgartan and Rich Sweeney.
Now, though, San Diego is taking its Top Chef connections to a new level. Chef Chad White of Común Kitchen & Tavern and Tijuana’s La Justina will be taking center stage as one of this season’s featured contestants. One of regular Judges for whom White will be competing is, of course, Blais. Also making an appearance on the show will be Javier Plascencia of Bracero Cocina de Raiz. But perhaps most exciting is the fact that this time it will not just be San Diegans who will be featuring on Food TV, it will be San Diego itself. One of the host cities on this road trip-themed season of Top Chef: California will be ours.