The Truth About Avishar Barua From Top Chef Season 18

Chef Avishar Barua is a perfectionist who likes a challenge. So it remains to be seen whether Barua is a good fit for season 18 of Top Chef, which premieres April 1 on Bravo. His perfectionism could be a liability as he and the 14 other "cheftestants" race against the clock in Portland, Oregon to complete each culinary challenge. After all, as executive chef of the Columbus, Ohio restaurant Service Bar, Barua is known for creating perfect french fries: crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. The only problem is, Barua's fries take three days to make (via USA Today). On Top Chef, Barua simply won't have that much time.

Barua's hometown publication Columbus Alive said the pandemic has forced the chef to relax his standards a bit — and that this can only help him in a fast-paced reality-TV cooking competition. As Barua told Alive, he hasn't been fixating on the details of a dish during the upheaval caused by COVID-19. Rather, he's simply trying to make sure his customers leave happy. "Anytime I add anything more than that," he said, "it gets complicated."

Avishar Barua turned a Taco Bell menu item into something sublime

On Top Chef, Barua only needs to focus on one thing: making host Padma Lakshmi and judges Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons happy. Guest judges will weigh in, too, pulled from the ranks of Top Chef alumni: Richard Blais, Tiffany Derry, Kwame Onwuachi, and others (via Variety). In one challenge, described in Variety, contestants will spend five minutes inside a pitch-black room with a mystery dish created by a Portland chef. Their goal will be to replicate that dish after touching, smelling, and tasting the food — but never seeing it. If Barua makes it that far, will his particular skill set serve him well?

Maybe. Another dish Barua is famous for in Columbus is a copy. He loved Taco Bell's tacos as a child. At age 5 he could eat four in one sitting, to the amazement of his Bangladeshi parents (via Food & Wine). At Barua's restaurant, the Cheesy Gordita Crunch has become the Cheesy Brisket Crunch, with Bengali fry bread coated with chili powder and turmeric to make it look like a taco shell.

Barua's attention to detail helped him figure out how to make fast food tacos and french fries into sublime things. But can someone who masters a dish only after a long period of tweaking win on Top Chef? We can start to find out by tuning in for the premiere of season 18, 8 p.m. Eastern time, April 1 on Bravo.