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Austin's food scene going above and beyond the restaurant doors, as Season 18 of Bravo's "Top Chef" welcomes three Texas chefs—all of whom have cooked in Austin—to the kitchen.


The new season, set to air on April 1, takes place in Portland, Oregon. The competition will pit 15 chefs from all over the country against each other for the crown, with a 20% chance of a Texan taking home the gold.

So what does Texas have to offer?

The only current Austinite on the list, former Comedor executive chef Gabe Erales was let go from the Mexican restaurant for "repeated violations of (restaurant) policies and for behavior in conflict with our values" in December. Erales was with the restaurant since it opened in April 2019, winning "Best New Restaurant" from Texas Monthly, Esquire Magazine and Austin Monthly while under his direction.

A native of El Paso, Erales said he has been heavily influenced by his family's Mexican heritage and draws inspiration from having worked in both Mexico City, Mexico and Copenhagen, Denmark, in his Top Chef bio.

Erales has worked all over Austin, from Dai Due Taqueria (closed due to the pandemic), Fonda San Miguel, La Condesa, and Geraldine's. More recently, he is working on a new restaurant concept that he "hopes to announce soon."

Though Dawn Burrell no longer calls Austin home, the now-Houston chef is a jack of all trades. Outside competing for the USA's Track & Field team during the Summer 2000 Olympics, Burrell is a 2020 James Beard semi-finalist and has worked for major chefs like Monica Pope and Tom Aiken.

Burrell hopped from Houston's Uchi before moving to Austin's hugely popular Uchiko as a sous chef. Burrell now leads the kitchen at Houston restaurant Kulture, but she has since announced her next stage is working on a new restaurant dedicated to "Afro-Asian flavors" alongside Lucille's chef-owner Chris Williams.

Prior to serving food at Rosalie Italian Soul in Houston, Sasha Grumman spent a year in Austin as the chef de cuisine at Launderette, a gourmet New American restaurant converted from a laundromat-gas station.

Grumman recently started a focaccia, or Italian bread, business that she hopes to take national.

Season 18 will welcome back judges Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons, along with a host of Top Chef alumni, who will watch the chefs compete through 15 weeks of challenges.

The new season will celebrate food in Portland, even including a cameo from "Portlandia" stars Fred Amisen and Carrie Brownstein, and challenge chefs to feed frontline workers, perfect their surf and turf and create Portland-famous Pan-African cuisine.


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Whether you became a home chef when the pandemic began or have always enjoyed crafting delicious meals, it’s undeniable that no home is complete without a cozy kitchen.

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(Chili Cold Blood Chili Cook Off/Facebook)

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Eat some chili
When: 12 p.m. Saturday
Where: Sagebrush, 5500 S. Congress Ave.
What: Enjoy great chili and great music at the 14th Annual Chili Cold Blood Chili Cook-Off. All proceeds will be donated to Health Alliance for Austin Musicians in memory of Nick Curran.

Enjoy some local art
When: 4 p.m. Saturday
Where: Neill-Cochran House Museum, 2310 San Gabriel St.
What: The Neil-Cochran House Museum will host a multi-media art exhibition by Austin artist Nell Gottlieb, titled “Land as Persona: An Artist’s Journey.” Gottlieb works in multiple media to reexamine her coming of age, white and female in the Jim Crow South.

Catch some improv comedy
When: 7 p.m. Sunday
Where: GameOn! ATX, 1515 Dungan Ln.
What: ColdTowne ThrowDowne is an improv comedy tournament between troupes that will take place in front of a live studio audience and streamed live to the world on Twitch.

Catch a Johnny Cash-style show
When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday
Where: Georgetown Palace Theatre, 810 S. Austin Ave.
What: Experience music history with a unique musical about love and faith, struggle and success, rowdiness and redemption, and the healing power of home and family set to the tune of the legendary Johnny Cash.