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Watch Detroit chef Kiki Louya compete on ‘Top Chef: Portland’

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The upcoming season of the Top Chef cooking contest will have someone on hand for Metro Detroit viewers to put down roots for, but it will also address the tough issues the nation faced in 2020 when they met in Portland, Oregon, was filmed.

Detroit native, chef, activist, and consultant Kiki Louya is one of 15 chefs selected to compete on the popular reality series. In addition to competing for the grand prize of $ 250,000, just participating in the show can transform a chef’s career and open new doors.

When it was cast, Louya said she wasn’t sure it was something she wanted to do because of everything that was happening at the time: the pandemic, the fight for racial justice, and how both of them were intertwined with the restaurant industry. When she arrived in Portland, she said she felt, “I’m supposed to be here now.”

“It all seemed like this, somehow, why now? But at the same time I realized that this was going to be a very defining moment in the history of the show,” she said. “The moment we landed in Portland when we started on set was amazing.”

“Top Chef” is moderated by the TV presenter and author Padma Lakshmi and consists of the longstanding culinary expert Gail Simmons and the restaurateur Tom Colicchio. Known as the intimidating character on the series, Colicchio became an industry go-to place back in the early days of the pandemic.

Detroit chef Kiki Louya

“He was the one I feared would intimidate me the most because he seems very stoic on the show and some of his remarks can be a little cutting, but I really think Tom is at the end of the day too a cook … I think that’s what makes all the difference, what he tells you, in passing or not, he understands what you are doing. He understands what you’re going through. ”

Louya said that while it was a competition, it was also a group of people in the same industry with similar problems.

“We are all experiencing all of this at the same time and we are seeing our industry grapple with this tough year. Not only seeing the restaurant shut down but seeing restaurants as well has to grapple with some really tough truths about how we treat people, ”she said. “So we all go through this and it felt a lot like it was Tom too.”

Your first look at top chef Portland! | Bravo TV official website

Louya, who hasn’t seen any of the episodes and plans to watch them with the other fans, said she expected the “Top Chef” to be mentally challenging but was surprised at how physically challenging it was.

“It’s a very physical competition, and while it looks like we’re just cooking, we’re running … we’re running through this kitchen,” she said, adding that chefs are used to standing for 15 hours a day but that was more intense than that.

A graduate of the University of Michigan and Le Cordon Bleu, Louya is well known in the Detroit area food scene as a founding partner of the prestigious Folk restaurant in Corktown and the female-owned hospitality group Nest Egg. She left the group in March last year to go out alone as a cook and management consultant.

Kiki Louya, left, co-founded Farmer's Hand and Folk in Corktown and Rohani Foulkes.

Prior to that, she was featured in a July 2019 article in the New York Times calling her one of 16 black chefs who “change food in America.” She advocates ethical and sustainable business practices and advocates fair wages and other concerns in the food and hospitality industries.

We have to prepare for the show to see how Louya fares against the other chefs in the “Top Chef” competition. She indicated what her next step could be on the spot.

“I’m not done with grocery stores. This won’t be the last time you’ll see me in the kitchen at a full-service restaurant,” she said. “There’s more to come and I’m very happy to officially announce that.”

“Top Chef: Portland” premieres on April 1st at 8pm on Bravo. For more information about Louya, please visit her website at kikilouya.com.

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Twitter: @melodybaetens

“Top chef”

Season 18 premiere

8 p.m. April 1st

Bravo

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Dusty Kennedy