The Truth About Maria Mazon From Top Chef Season 18

Behind every great season of Top Chef is an even better lineup of contestants, eager to take home the title. And the upcoming season 18 of the popular Bravo cooking competition — which premieres on April 1, 2021 — is no different. Eighteen cheftestants have been selected to battle it out in a series of culinary contests to see who has what it takes to be crowned Top Chef as judged by the likes of Padma Lakshmi and other celebrity chefs. One of said cheftestants? Maria Mazon.

The Tucson native, who specializes in Mexican cuisine and who was a James Beard Award semi-finalist for Best Chef in the Southwest Region in 2020 (via Bravo TV), posted on Instagram that she's "ready to take on the world and represent my Arizona-Sonora home!" Here's what you need to know about Maria Mazon before the new season, which takes place in Portland, Oregon, begins next month.

Maria Mazon owns a taco shop in Arizona

While Maria Mazon was born in Tucson, Arizona, she was actually raised in Sonora, Mexico, she explains on the "About" page of her website. Blending her love of authentic Mexican fare and her Arizona roots, she opened BOCA Tacos y Tequila in Tucson in 2010. The shop, which was featured on "Man V. Food," serves up flavorful Tex-Mex dishes like grilled octopus, carne asada, and of course, tacos galore (via This Is Tucson).

Mazon believes that being a chef is an opportunity to be creative and express herself. "Being a chef for me is a way to scream who I am as a person," she says in her bio. "Every day I get to create something so original. And at the same time, so authentic and true to who I am." And even more importantly, she sees being on Top Chef as a way to put Mexico on the foodie map. "I said, yes, this is my time to showcase what Mexican cuisine is to the world," she told This Is Tucson.