The Truth About Jamie Tran From Top Chef Season 18

Bravo's Top Chef is back. Luckily for fans, the producers of the popular cooking competition show found a way to continue filming during the pandemic, albeit with a few changes. Season 18, which takes place in Portland, Oregon, premieres on April 1, and fans won't want to miss it.

The Bravo network released a preview of the season, complete with the beautiful scenery of the Oregon coast and a glimpse of the 15 contestants who are competing during this uniquely emotional season, which takes place against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and its toll on the restaurant industry.

A comforting sight for fans is the return of Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio, and Gail Simmons. New and exciting surprises await as well, to the delight of the chefs, including pandemic-friendly video visits with icons like Alice Waters and Jose Andres and a special studio appearance from Portlandia stars Fred Armisten and Carrie Brownstein.

One of the lucky 15 contestants is chef Jamie Tran of Las Vegas, who is chef and owner of the acclaimed Vietnamese restaurant The Black Sheep. According to Tran's BravoTV profile, the name of her restaurant is an acknowledgement of her rebellious personality and determination to succeed in what is still a boy's club. The preview on the network website offers a brief preview of Tran's silly and quirky side. Tran's competitors would be remiss, however, to be made complacent by Tran's playful energy, though. Beneath it lies some serious skill. 

She was determined to challenge the boy's club

A pivotal moment in Tran's culinary evolution came at age 21, when the Northern California native tasted foie gras with huckleberry jam at the Eifel Tower restaurant in Las Vegas. She called the experience "life changing." She said a particularly delicious and boozy night at Mon Ami Gabi also convinced her the Las Vegas fine dining scene was her goal (via Eater).

After graduating with a business degree from San Francisco State University (where she confidently predicted she would one day move to Las Vegas and open a restaurant), Tran went on to study at Le Cordon Bleu (via Eater Las Vegas) and rise to the rank of sous chef at Charlie Palmer's Aureole in Las Vegas and executive chef at DB Brasserie by Daniel Boulud, according to Food & Wine. After opening Black Sheep in 2017, Eater recognized Tran with the title of "Chef of the Year" and named Black Sheep "Restaurant of the Year."

Tran's elevated comfort food cooking style is influenced by the Vietnamese foods her mother made as well as the cuisine of Korea, where Tran's parents (her dad is also a chef) lived for a while. In opening Black Sheep, Tran was determined to introduce a broader audience to the depth of Vietnamese food beyond pho and banh mi, she told Las Vegas Weekly, and she has also shown how fusion cuisine can be executed well.

Top Chef Season 18 premieres Thursday, April 1 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.