‘Top Chef’ Boston season revealed
We knew “Top Chef” was here. Bravo execs told us in April that the 12th season of the show — which premieres Oct. 15 — would be filmed around Boston during the late spring and early summer. Of course, after that original announcement, those execs kept quiet, leaving us to scour Twitter and Instgram for shots of host Padma Lakshmi at local farmers’ markets and “Top Chef” contestants making their way through Whole Foods.
Finally, though, Bravo is spilling some details. The network, which had its crew here in May and June, reveals its list of contestants Wednesday. The one local chef on the roster is Stacy Cogswell, 33, the executive chef at the Regal Beagle in Coolidge Corner.
The Johnson & Wales-trained contestant, who worked at the Bouchee, Atlantic Fish Company, and UpStairs on the Square before joining the Brookline restaurant, told us that she expects her family to be furious when they find out that she lied to them about being on the show. She told most of her family that she was traveling in Europe during the local shoot. Only her boyfriend, who was deployed during filming, and her brother, who lives with her, knew the truth. “They’re going to be really upset with me,” she said on Monday, knowing that her extended family in Quincy would soon be hearing the news.
Bravo’s Wednesday announcement of the cast includes some new details about the local season, including the fact that Richard Blais, the winner of “Top Chef All Stars,” will join Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons, and Hugh Acheson as a recurring judge. Blais will also offer contestants some guidance during the episodes.
Famous faces who will appear in the Boston season include “Shameless” actress Emmy Rossum (who was spotted in Boston in May), Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, MLB Hall of Famer and NESN analyst Dennis Eckersley (who shares his episode with the Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy), Jacques Pepin, “Cheers” actor George Wendt, “Watch What Happens Live” host Andy Cohen (who went to Boston University), and local chefs such as Todd English, Barbara Lynch, Jasper White, Ming Tsai, Ken Oringer, and Jamie Bissonette. Locations include Fenway Park, the Museum of Science, and Plimoth Plantation.
Cogswell, who’s from Wareham and now lives a few blocks from her restaurant, admitted that she only watched the first season of “Top Chef” before competing on the show. After season one, she was working more than 100 hours a week at Bouchee, and didn’t have much time for television. But when a Regal Beagle staffer let her know that “Top Chef” had called to ask about her, she was all in. “To me, it was the most respectful cooking show on TV.” Some Beagle management knew about her “Top Chef” gig, but most of the staff was told Cogswell was off for personal reasons. She returned to work after filming concluded. She’s not allowed to reveal how far she made it on the show.
“Top Chef” fans taking notes should know that Cogswell describes her culinary style as eclectic. “I’m so all over the place. One week I’m really into baking bread, the next week I’m into custards.” She told us that she learned kitchen basics from an uncle who worked at pubs in Southie and Dorchester.
Cogswell told us that the Regal Beagle understands that “Top Chef” is going to change the scope of its business. The restaurant is putting itself on the website OpenTable so that people can make reservations, and Cogswell says she’s amping up the menu for the fall. “I want to say it’s more intense,” Cogswell told us. “We’re just going to try to bring our A game.”
Here’s the full list of “Top Chef” contestants:
Doug Adams, 29, Portland, Ore.
Stacy Cogswell, 33, Boston
Joy Crump, 46, Fredericksburg, Va.
Ron Eyester, 40, Atlanta
Gregory Gourdet, 39, Portland, Ore.
Aaron Grissom, 27, Los Angeles
Adam Harvey, 29, New York
Melissa King, 30, San Francisco
Rebecca LaMalfa, 32, Chicago
Mei Lin, 28, Los Angeles
George Pagonis, 31, Washington, D.C.
Michael Patlazhan, 31, Brooklyn, N.Y.
James Rigato, 29, White Lake, Mich.
Katsuji Tanabe, 33, Los Angeles
Keriann Von Raesfeld, 28, San Jose, Calif.
Katie Weinner, 35, Salt Lake City