Why Padma Lakshmi Is Calling Top Chef Season 20 A 'Highlight' Of Her Career

If you're into food or TV or both, chances are you've seen at least one or two seasons of "Top Chef" over the years. Well, the Emmy-winning show is back and bigger than ever. For the first time, Bravo's upcoming 20th season is going global, calling London home for this year's "World All-Stars" season. "We've always wanted to do a season of 'Top Chef' with winners, finalists and frontrunners," senior vice president of NBCUniversal Television and Streaming Ryan Flynn explained to Variety, "but to take that ... one step further with cheftestants from localized versions across the world has been a dream come true." Along with head judges Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons, the ever-stylish Padma Lakshmi, who will return as host, has hinted at what we can expect for the upcoming season.

Lakshmi took to Instagram earlier this year with a snapshot in front of London's most famous landmarks, the Tower Bridge, suspended across the River Thames. She announced the much-anticipated show's return to her 1.3 million followers, which will premiere Thursday, March 9. The trailer spotlights 16 renowned chefs selected from the original U.S. series and a hand-picked pool of previous winners and finalists of Top Chef from 29 international syndications, which means viewers will be seeing culinary experts from Thailand, Germany, Mexico, Canada, Italy, Spain, the Middle East, France, Poland, and Brazil.

Stiff competition and series' firsts

"The competition just got really, really serious," judge Tom Colicchio admits in Bravo's first-look preview of "Top Chef" Season 20. We can presumably expect challenges that will push the All-Star chefs to new levels of culinary excellence. People Magazine reveals a taste of what to expect from the season's challenges, noting that the contestants will be "battling it out in London pubs" and "serving dishes outside the real-life Downton Abbey." While it's no scandal from "Top Chef" history, it's also long been known that attempts at making an exceptional risotto on the show's difficult timed challenges have often been lackluster. However, this season, remarked Lakshmi, "the spell has been broken."

It's no wonder Lakshmi called this season a "highlight" of her career in her post announcing the show's return. The ambitious 20th season of "Top Chef" is expanding its horizons and borders with worldwide competition, including the likes of Buddha Lo, winner of last season's "Top Chef" Houston; Dale MacKay, winner of "Top Chef" Canada Season 1; and Begoña Rodrigo, winner of "Top Chef" Spain Season 1. Now culinary celebrities in their own right, they will go head-to-head with each other in the kitchen and around London, one of the cosmopolitan food capitals of the world.