What To Know About The Top Chef World All-Stars Contestants

The Bravo series "Top Chef" hasn't just kept America tuned in to see who will "pack their knives and go." The cooking competition runs in nearly 30 countries and regions worldwide — that's a lot of restaurant wars! Padma, Tom, and Gail are taking the competition abroad for the first time in the U.S. production's 19 seasons. "Top Chef" will celebrate its 20th season with the first All-Stars competition set in the Big Smoke, AKA London.

For viewers, this means a bit of armchair travel and getting to know 16 exceptional chefs from the series' previous international "Top Chef" franchises. The series will showcase some of the U.K.'s best regional products, like Scottish salmon and Welsh lamb, alongside longstanding traditions like the ubiquitous British pub. However, the season isn't just about Great Britain's past. It's also about its future. We'll meet some of the capital city's most prominent food influencers, like chef and activist Asthma Khan, founder of Darjeeling Express and its female-led South Asian kitchen. After this season's inspiration, we fully expect to see a new wave of food tourism take off in London. Here's a sneak peek at who you can expect to watch in the kitchen.

Samuel Albert 

Samuel Albert is the chef-proprietor of Les Petits Prés in France and the winner of "Top Chef France" Season 10. His restaurant Les Petits Prés in Angles, France, is run out of Albert's childhood home and pays tribute to Albert's family history. He pays homage to his grandmother's and mother's cooking and uses the products grown or reared by his father.

Albert's culinary training has benefited from international education. At a tender 19 years of age, Albert worked under Joel Robuchon at Métropole palace in Monaco. From there, the already talented and disciplined chef benefited from international experience and education in England, Switzerland, Australia, China, and Japan. He refined his skills while working as the executive chef for the Belgium Embassy in Tokyo before returning home to open his family restaurant. He is known for his attention to detail — including impeccable plating — and for his French and Japanese cuisine interpretations.

Luciana Berry 

Born in Salvador, Brazil, Luciana Berry runs her own private catering company, Catering on the Hill. With a pension for all things entrepreneurial, she's also the successful founder of the sauce brand BerryBartt. Berry was the second winner of "Top Chef Brazil."

A resident of London since 2004, Berry had initially enrolled in school for electrical engineering. Berry now serves as an Ambassador of Brazilian cuisine in Europe and is an active partner with the Brazilian Fruit Association. She helps promote and showcase many much-loved Brazilian products and resources, including one of her favorite ingredients, cassava. Berry wears many other (chef's) hats that help showcase her pride for her origins, including regular work with the Brazilian Embassy and the Brazilian tourism board. Her mission is to showcase her home country's dishes, ingredients, and traditions.

After moving abroad for an engineering degree, Berry quickly switched gears, completing her culinary training at London's renowned Cordon Bleu in Marylebone. She encourages others to see their mistakes as opportunities to learn, both inside the kitchen and out.

Sara Bradley 

Bradley was the celebrated runner-up from "Top Chef" Season 16 in Kentucky, Bradley's hometown state. Bradley is the chef and owner of Freight House, a restaurant and bourbon bar in her hometown of Paducah. Bradley works to celebrate and showcase the cuisines and traditions of the region, including a perspective that honors and acknowledges her family's mixed background of Appalachian-meets-Jewish heritage. Freight House is also dedicated to working with local partners to help support the local community of growers and caretakers.

Bradley is not just an advocate for local Southern, Appalachian, and Jewish cuisines. She also advocates for equity in the kitchen, including fair wages, reasonable hours, and an environment that refuses to force employees to choose between a career and a family. Bradley participated in the James Beard Chef Bootcamp for Policy and Change, which helps chefs become successful and passionate advocates for positive change, including equity and sustainability within the industry.

Dawn Burrell

Dawn Burrell is not one to shy away from competition of any kind. The finalist from Season 18 in Portland had an entire career in Track & Field that took her to the summer 2000 Olympic games in Sydney, Australia. Burrell credits the international travel during her athletic career as having kickstarted her second career, stoking her love of food and desire to learn more.

A highly driven person, Burrell changed gears, enrolling in the culinary arts program at the Art Institute of Houston, her current residence. Burrell has studied under expert chefs, including Tom Aikens in London, Monica Pope in Houston, and Tyson Cole. Burrell received her first James Beard nomination for "Best Chef: Texas" in 2020 and is currently in the throws of her first solo venture. She plans to open her own establishment, Late August, in Houston. Given her competitive prowess and grace under pressure, this is one cheftestant who doesn't let fear or a challenge get in between her and her goals.

Ali Ghzawi 

Winner of "Top Chef Middle East & North Africa" in Season 3 in 2019, Ghzawi hopes to add a second win to his name. He is the chef and proprietor of Alee, a fine dining restaurant in Amman, Jordan, that showcases the rich culture and cuisine of Middle Eastern cooking and ingredients. Ghzawi has been developing his creative food-meets-business skills since high school. He began his proprietary career by making sandwiches to sell to students and faculty before training at the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts in Les Roches. His pedigree career included work at the Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton, and Michelin-starred Enoteca Paco Pérez in Barcelona.

Notably, in response to the tragic outcomes of the earthquake in Syria and Turkey, Ghzawi's restaurant donated all revenue taken in on Valentine's Day, a notoriously busy night for restaurants everywhere, to the UN's World Food Programme in support. Alee was also named among Middle East North Africa's 50 Best restaurants.

Tom Goetter

Cheftestant Tom Goetter, who hails from Mainz, Germany, was in the select crop of finalists for Germany's first "Top Chef" season. Goetter has benefited from extensive culinary training, earning a Master's in Culinary Arts and working under celebrity chef Thomas Keller alongside other Michelin-starred establishments.

The ocean is Goetter's current home. He works as the Executive Chef Director of Food & Beverage for the Scenic Group's Ocean Collection of Luxury Cruises, including the Scenic Eclipse and Emerald Yacht Cruises, serving high-end cuisine to guests on board. These aren't your regular cruise ships — these sophisticated vessels are meant to look more like yachts than family vacation boats. One scroll through Goetter's Instagram account, and it becomes clear that he draws inspiration from the local markets, fresh produce, and cuisines at each port. It appears that the culinary world has taken note of his inventive cruise dishes: In 2022, Goetter landed Scenic Eclipse the title of "World's Best Cruise Ship for Dining."

Nicole Gomes

Cheftestant Nicole Gomes comes into the competition with wisdom garnered from an exceptional 28 years of experience within the industry. Gomes won "All-Stars Top Chef Canada" Season 5, notably making her the first woman crowned Top Chef Canada. She is the proud co-owner of Calgary-based Cluck'N'Cleaver, specializing in Canadian-raised Halal chicken, from rotisserie to fried. Gomes runs her unassuming, high-quality restaurant alongside her sister Francine.

Gomes' competitive streak and ability to maintain calm under pressure have awarded her several accolades, winning "Beat Bobby Flay," second place on Iron "Chef Gauntlet," and securing her position at the judges' table for Food Network Canada's "Fire Masters."

Gomes' Italian-themed beef carpaccio with pine nut aioli, handmade goat cheese-filled tortellini, and vanilla bean pannacotta was the final meal that won her the Top Chef Canada title in 2017. This dish showcased that simple dishes, benefiting from high-quality ingredients and thoughtful execution, is a winning approach Gomes applies to all she takes on.

Victoire Gouloubi

Originally from the Republic of the Congo, Gouloubi was a finalist in "Top Chef Italy" Season 2. Gouloubi first moved to Italy alongside her younger brother in 2002 to study law. Her uncle, already in Italy, advised her to consider changing careers, choosing vocational training instead. She followed her uncle's suggestion, and now Gouloubi combines her past with her present, showcasing African cuisines alongside Italian to create a unique culinary perspective. In an interview for UN Human Rights, Gouloubi discusses her experience of being a Black African woman in the kitchens of predominantly white men, using this experience as fuel to promote the beauty of African cuisines and gastronomy. She says, "My greatest strength was to express my culture through my cuisine."

Gouloubi's passion and talents have taken her across Europe, working under Marc Farellacci at L'Assassino. She is a charismatic and passionate creator and hosts several cooking shows. This includes "Il Tocco di Victoire" and "La Mia Africa," which take viewers on a journey through Afro-Caribbean cuisine and history. 

Charbel Hayek 

Beirut native Charbel Hayek won "Top Chef Middle East & North Africa" Season 5, which took place in Saudia Arabia. Having studied the culinary arts at the French School of Excellence, Hayek relocated to Los Angels to work under Michelin-starred chef Josiah Citrin at his restaurant Mélisse, which focuses on marrying exceptional California produce with global cuisines. Hayek returned to Beirut to compete and win "Top Chef Middle East & North Africa." He shared in an interview with Ecole Ferrières that his mother, who is also a chef and his first teacher, was his source of inspiration and drive for excellence.

Hayek currently resides in Lake Worth, Florida, where he works as a private chef. His food reflects his Lebanese heritage and French training. We suspect this cross-cultural perspective will also feature in Hayek's cookbook, which will be released in 2023. Since he was just 24 years old when he won "Top Chef Middle East & North Africa," making him the youngest winner, Hayek proves that age really is just a number.

Buddha Lo

The U.S.'s most recent winner of Season 19 in Huston is back for more! Buddha Lo, originally from Port Douglas, Australia, is the executive chef of an exclusive 14-seat caviar-studded restaurant with a caviar-soaked tasting menu. The New York City restaurant, Huso, won a Michelin star in 2021. Lo began his culinary career by helping in his parent's restaurant as a teenager. He was immediately hooked, leaving home at 17 for further training in Melbourne and London.

Lo has worked under prestigious chefs with high expectations, including Gordon Ramsay, Clare Smyth (who also appears during the season), and Matt Abe. Lo's pedigree training earned him a position at New York City's highly acclaimed Eleven Madison Park, a three-star Michelin restaurant with notoriously high standards, before moving on to his current position with Huso.

Lo told Mashed he cooked his winning meal with his brother, mother, and father in mind, creating flawless hamachi, lobster laksa, Mongolian lamb, and pumpkin mille-feuille. He credits the amount of preparation he did — including watching the show — for helping him to secure his title.

Dale MacKay

Saskatchewan-born and raised Dale MacKay won Canada's first season of "Top Chef." MacKay claims to have known from a young age that he was meant to be in the kitchen before training in the prestigious kitchens of Gordon Ramsay and Daniel Boulud. His "Top Chef" win in 2011 helped launch his career further. MacKay moved from working in the kitchens of others to running his own, opening five award-winning restaurants in his hometown of Saskatoon under Grassroots Restaurant Group, which he co-founded and co-owns.

This is not MacKay's first (or second) competition rodeo; he's also appeared on "Iron Chef Gauntlet," "Fire Masters," and "Wall of Chefs." Clearly, the man has a thing for cooking competitions. MacKay has also appeared on "Top Chef Canada" as a judge, bringing an acute understanding to the show since he once was in the chef contestants' shoes. In a 2022 interview with Food Network Canada, Mackay admitted he would jump at the chance to be on "Top Chef" once again. Who knew it wasn't just a throw-away comment, but a bit of foreshadowing?

May Phattanant Thongthong

Self-taught chef May Phattanant Thongthong is the perfect example of how drive, never-ending curiosity, and the quest for knowledge are just as important, if not more so, than classical training. Despite not attending culinary school, Thongthong's exposure to restaurant life began when she was 10 years old when she helped out in her father's restaurant.

Throughout her "Top Chef" competition experience, she became known for her ability to replicate a dish, a talent she can date back to her childhood. She was known for recreating KFC's iconic gravy mashed potatoes when she was 10. Thongthong's drive and competitive spirit are like a bottomless well; she was the runner-up of the first season of "Top Chef Thailand" and won "Iron Chef Thailand" not once but twice.

Thongthong, originally from the northern region of Chiang Mai in Thailand, is the executive chef and co-owner of Maze Dining in Bangkok. The restaurant was featured in the Michelin Guide following its opening in 2020, and W Magazine named it one of Bangkok's Top 20 restaurants for two years running.

Begoña Rodrigo

Winner of Spain's first season of "Top Chef" in 2013, Begoña Rodrigo has since gone on to drive her culinary career with impeccable standards. Born and raised in Valencia, Spain, Rodrigo opened her Michelin-starred restaurant La Salita in her hometown. It opened in 2005 and was awarded the star in 2019. The name translates to mean "the little room."

Rodrigo is the chef and creator of Anarkía, under which all her culinary projects are housed. This includes La Salita in the Ruzafa neighborhood of Valencia, known for being one of the city's coolest and most creative neighborhoods. 

Rodrigo, like many others, did not decide to venture into cooking immediately, but took the road less traveled and studied industrial engineering before deciding to switch paths and move to Amsterdam. There she gained experience working in the kitchens of the Amsterdam Marriott Hotel under chef Nick Reade before moving once more to London for further knowledge and exposure to new cuisines. All roads eventually circled back to the beginning, and Rodrigo returned to her home of Valencia to open her exceptional restaurant.

Gabriel Rodriguez

Gabriel Rodriguez, the second winner of "Top Chef Mexico," grew up in Mexico City, working tirelessly up the kitchen ranks, as so many do. There is something to be said about picking the restaurant where you begin your culinary training, and Rodriguez knew this. He took a dishwashing role at Pujol, which was run by chef Enrique Olvera and named number nine in The World's 50 Best restaurants in 2017. Rodriguez's hard work paid off; he was offered the sous chef position for Eduardo Garcia at Maximo's Bistrot. In this position, with Garcia's support, Rodriguez went on to win "Top Chef Mexico," further launching his culinary career. 

After his "Top Chef" win, Rodriguez was offered the opportunity to really let his creativity shine by accepting the role of executive chef at the restaurant Presidio in Mazatlán, a resort town in Sinaloa, Mexico, known for its beaches. His latest life shake-up includes a recent move overseas, now residing in Madrid, Spain, and working as a private chef.

Amar Santana

Amar Santana was the runner-up of "Top Chef" Season 13 in California. Originally from the Dominican Republic, Santana moved to Queens, New York, as a young teenager. He started his culinary career shortly after that, when he mistakenly enrolled in a cooking class in high school. Santana has since left New York City to make Santa Ana, California, his home. He is the chef and proprietor of two successful California-based restaurants: Vaca, located in Costa Mesa, and Broadway by Amar Santana, located in Laguna Beach. Having opened Vaca just before his debut appearance on "Top Chef," Santana credits his opportunity for increasing the restaurant's popularity.

Having been mentored by greats like chef Charlie Palmer, Santana worked to tell the story of his culinary heritage through his dishes. He returned to "Top Chef" not as a contestant but as a guest judge for the show's 18th season in Portland, which was filmed amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Santana told South Coast Plaza his experience on "Top Chef" has helped to mature him as a chef, the results of which we'll see during the show's 20th season.

Sylwia Stachyra

Sylvia Stachyra was born and raised in Lublin, Poland, where she lives today. She has returned after earning her culinary diploma from Bournemouth College and training with Gordon Ramsay at his Savoy Grill in London. Stachyra made her way around the world often via boat, completing a nautical course and then working on various yachts as a private chef. Her unique perspective, combining French and Asian fusion cuisine with her Polish heritage, won her the "Top Chef Poland" title in Season 7.And now she's back for more with "Top Chef World All-Stars."

Uniquely, Stachyra has focused her skills and talents on teaching and consulting. She is a lecturer at the University of Lublin and the owner of the CookShe consultancy business, under which she works with restaurants and clients primarily on menu development. She also works as a cooking teacher, helping improve the skills of a range of students, including amateurs and professionals.