The Truth About Sara Hauman From Top Chef Season 18

Viewers in Portland, Ore., will have two local chefs to root for as they watch season 18 of Top ChefThe 15 "cheftestants" competing for the $250,000 prize include Portland chefs Gabriel Pascuzzi and Sara Hauman, who lives in Portland and works as head chef at Soter Vineyards, according to Food & Wine. Hauman earned her chef stripes after culinary school with stints at restaurants in San Francisco and Spain (via Eater). She established her identity at Huxley in San Francisco, focusing on simple, locally sourced dishes with some Spanish influence added to the mix. However, Hauman isn't so interested in breaking new ground as a chef. 

"It's really hard to do something that no one's ever done before," she told the outlet. Instead, she makes what she calls "grandma food," gathering ideas from her grandmother's church cookbooks. Hauman has demonstrated a strong work ethic in her career. Back in culinary school, her days started before 6 a.m. and ended after 11 p.m. She preferred to work alone in the kitchen of the 25-seat Huxley because she says she works well under pressure. "I like the good stress where you push yourself," she said. "But if it's too tight the food is going to suffer."

Sara Hauman works well under pressure and has a relaxed attitude

If chef Hauman likes to work alone in high-pressure conditions, then she should do well during the intense challenges on Top Chef. She'll also need to flash some creativity to impress host Padma Lakshmi and judges Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons. Her resume includes a job that required her to make delicious food within strict limitations — a scenario that might have been ideal training for a reality-TV cooking competition. Hauman cooked at various health spas in San Diego, where her use of butter and salt were limited (via Eater). However, she explained that eventually she had to break out of that restrictive environment.

We don't know what Hauman thought of her experience on Top Chef, which filmed last year, because Bravo isn't allowing cheftestants to do interviews (via Pacific). We'll just have to watch and find out for ourselves. But Hauman's background and her attitude should serve her well. As she told Menu Stories, "I lean toward not doing anything too fancy. I like cracking jokes in the kitchen. If I spill something, it's not the end of the world."