Meet The ‘Top Chef’ Season 19 Contestants From Michelin-Starred Cooks to Restaurant Owners

Things are heating up in Houston as 15 of the biggest names in the culinary world descend on the city to show off their skills in a bid to be named Top Chef.

Season 19 of the professional cooking show sees its contestants range from Michelin-star chefs to restaurant owners. Here’s everything you need to know about the cooks vying to win Top Chef.

Meet The ‘Top Chef’ Season 19 Contestants

1. Ashleigh Shanti

Ashleigh Shanti hails from Virginia and is the chef and creator of Good Hot Fish in Asheville, North Carolina, a fish fry pop-up.

TV network Bravo says Shanti’s “cuisine honors Black foodways while also paying homage to her coastal Virginia upbringing where she stripped collard greens before she could walk.”

2. Buddha Lo

Buddha Lo currently resides in Brooklyn, New York, but he is originally from Port Douglas in Australia. He is the executive chef at Huso, the Michelin plate restaurant inside Marky’s Caviar.

The chef found his passion for cooking at a young age while working at his father’s Chinese restaurant, before starting out his professional career. He worked at the three-Michelin-star Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in London.

3. Damarr Brown

Damarr Brown is from Chicago, Illinois, and he works as the chef de cuisine at Virtue Restaurant in the Windy City.

His love of cooking stemmed from his time helping his grandmother in the kitchen as a young boy, and he trained at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Chicago.

4. Evelyn Garcia

Evelyn Garcia hails from the city Season 19 is based in, Houston, Texas, and she is the chef and co-owner of Kin HTX.

Garcia is a Culinary Institute of America graduate and spent 10 years working as a chef in New York City before returning to her hometown to launch her own restaurant.

5. Jackson Kalb

Jackson Kalb is from Los Angeles, California. He is the chef and owner of restaurants Jame Enoteca and Ospi, which he runs with his wife, Melissa.

He has been working professionally since the age of 13 and trained in restaurants such as L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Las Vegas.

6. Jae Jung

Jae Jung is originally from Seoul, South Korea, and now resides in New York City, where she is the chef and owner of KJUN, a Korean-Cajun pop-up.

Jung attended the Culinary Institute of America in New York and after graduating moved to New Orleans, where she worked in top restaurants such as August, Domenica, Herbsaint and Dooky Chase, before returning to NYC in 2014.

7. Jo Chan

Jo Chan hails from Palmdale, California, but is now based in Austin, Texas, where she works as the executive chef at Eberly.

Chan began her career in 2015 when she started working at Nobu Fifty Seven. She went on to work at multiple top restaurants before her move to Austin.

8. Leia Gaccione

Leia Gaccione is from Passaic, New Jersey, and currently resides in Morristown, where she is the chef and owner of the South + Pine American Eatery.

Gaccione trained at the New York Restaurant School and has also appeared on shows like Iron Chef America, Beat Bobby Flay and Iron Chef Showdown.

9. Luke Kolpin

Luke Kolpin resides in Seattle, Washington, where he is a native, and where he works as a chef.

He previously worked as a sous-chef in the renowned three-Michelin-star restaurant Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark.

10. Monique Feybesse

Monique Feybesse’s hometown is San Francisco, and she now resides in Vallejo, California, where she owns the brand Tarts de Feybesse alongside her husband, Paul.

During her illustrious career, Feybesse worked as part of the team at Chef Yannick Alléno’s restaurant Pavillon Ledoyen, which went on to earn three Michelin stars in the first year it was opened.

11. Nick Wallace

Nick Wallace is from Edwards, Mississippi. He now resides in Jackson in the same state, where he is the founder and chef of Nick Wallace Culinary, Nick Wallace Catering and Nissan Cafe by Nick Wallace.

Wallace has worked as an executive chef at some of the best restaurants in the country, and he also serves on the board of directors for Hunger Free America and helps countless organizations in Mississippi.

12. Robert Hernandez

Robert Hernandez currently resides in San Francisco, California, but he is originally from Downey. He works as a private chef.

Hernandez was recognized as Rising Star Chef in San Francisco in 2019, and he has worked at one-Michelin-star restaurant Octavia.

13. Sam Kang

Sam Kang is from Gardena, California, and now resides and works in Brooklyn, New York, as a chef educator.

Kang has previously worked at chef David Chang’s two-Michelin-star restaurant Momofuku Ko, and he has also worked with chef Daniel Humm at Eleven Madison Park, which has three Michelin stars.

14. Sarah Welch

Sarah Welch resides in Detroit, Michigan, but she originally hails from Ann Arbor. She is the executive chef, a founding member and equity partner at Marrow.

Welch is also the co-founder of seafood restaurant Mink in Detroit’s Corktown, which was voted 2019’s Best New Restaurant in the country by the James Beard Foundation.

15. Stephanie Miller

Stephanie Miller is a native of Bismark, North Dakota, where she also currently resides and works as the chef and owner of Butterhorn. She is also the owner of Shelter Belt.

Miller attended Le Cordon Bleu in Minneapolis, and she worked at the James Beard-nominated restaurant Piccolo and was also an executive chef at Italian Eatery.

Top Chef Season 19 premieres on March 3 at 8/7c on Bravo.

Top Chef Season 19
Left to right: Nick Wallace, Evelyn Garcia, Damarr Brown, Jae Jung, Leia Gaccione, Stephanie Miller, Jackson Kalb, Sarah Welch, Robert Hernandez, Ashleigh Shanti, Luke Kolpin, Sam Kang, Buddha Lo, Monique Feybesse and Jo Chan, the contestants of “Top Chef” Season 19.
David Moir/Bravo

Rebecca R. Ammons

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