'Our food scene punches above its weight': Milwaukee chosen for Top Chef Season 21

NOW: ’Our food scene punches above its weight’: Milwaukee chosen for Top Chef Season 21

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee's time starts now.

Bravo TV announced Tuesday that Season 21 of the Emmy Award Winning cooking competition show Top Chef will take place in Milwaukee and Madison, highlighting the Dairy State and the talented chefs that live and work here.

"As all locals know, our food scene punches above its weight," said Claire Koenig with Visit Milwaukee. "They (Top Chef) draw, what, like 800,000 viewers per episode. They feature the best chefs the country has to offer. A seal of approval from them means a lot and it can drive more business."

Koenig says Visit Milwaukee worked with partners in Madison and Door County to make the Top Chef dream a reality.

"Teamwork was the number one thing. We worked with our partners across the state to do this," Koenig said. "We also relied on a whole bunch of people and businesses, from food makers to restaurants to hotels across the community to make it happen and to impress them, the producers, and make sure there was no doubt in their mind that we were the perfect place to be a part of a Wisconsin season."

Gregory León is chef and owner at Amilinda in Milwaukee. The James Beard nominee was also one of the chefs chosen to help sell the Top Chef producers on the 414.

"I was one of the three chefs that got to cook for the scouts," León explained. "Hopefully, our food made them choose Milwaukee, but there's a lot of good reasons for them to choose the city."

Having auditioned for Top Chef during the show's early stages, León says he has no interest in competing, but would love to serve as a guest judge or host one of the competitions at his restaurant. He's excited about the exposure the show will bring to the Milwaukee food scene.

"This is so great for the city of Milwaukee. It's great for the culinary scene; it's going to be amazing for some of the local chefs who get to compete," León said. "Milwaukee's been underrated. It's always been under the radar, and I think we have such great food here that it's time we hit that national platform."

Season 21 of Top Chef will be the first with Season 10 champion Kristin Kish serving as the host, replacing longtime host Padma Lakshmi, who left the show in June 2023.

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