The Truth About Sarah Welch From Top Chef Season 19

The long wait is finally over for high-stakes, high-status cooking contest fans: "Top Chef" is back with a new season taking place in, and highlighting, Houston, Texas, "one of the most diverse cities in the nation," according to the Season 19 trailer. "Top Chef" Season 19 premiered on March 3 on fuboTV, Peacock, and Hulu; it's also streaming on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, and Vudu, according to TV Guide. The subsequent 13 episodes will likewise run on Thursday nights. As promised, all three perennial co-hosts-slash-judges (i.e. Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons, and Padma Lakshmi) are back once again. However, big changes are afoot in "Top Chef" Season 19.

First, the Season 19 set features "incredible art," according to Bravo TV, as well as refrigerators that you can see right into. And then there's the "really unique pantry" stocked with ... wait for it ... ingredients chosen BY the cheftestants. Some will even be homemade and brought onto the set by the cheftestants themselves with the point being that Houston's global cuisine is about to be riffed upon in some very personal ways. And that brings us to one of the first breakout cheftastants, Sarah Welch.

Welch is not only a chef and restaurateur but also a butcher shop owner. And if you think for even a second that Welch isn't going to bring her meat-prowess to the table, then you don't know the truth about Sarah Welch from "Top Chef" Season 19. Read on for that, because it is, in fact, satisfyingly meaty. 

Sarah Welch knows meat, and now everyone else knows that, too

Chef Sarah Welch knows what she brings to the table: a knowledge of meats, the perfect cuts thereof, and how to tease the best taste out of any the challenges might throw her way. Welch is the owner of a Detroit butcher shop, in addition to being a top-level Detroit chef and restaurateur, per Hour Detroit, so the other 14 cheftestants may wish to consider themselves warned. 

"I own a butcher shop, so I can't 'f' this up," a confident but self-deprecating Welch told her Brown Teammates at the start of Episode 1's elimination challenge involving beef as the focus ingredient. As it turns out, Welch's teammates, Robert Hernandez of San Francisco (who has experience working the kitchen in a Michelin-starred restaurant, per Food & Wine) and Jackson Kalb of Los Angeles (an Ivy League-educated restaurateur who just recovered from COVID-19 and may not have a sense of smell or taste — uh oh) need not have worried. 

Welch's beef and eggplant dish, which she paired with agrodolce shallots, was the favorite of local chef and guest judge Kiran Verma, according to Hour Detroit, and the Brown Team took top honors overall. Of course, Welch is going to have to watch her back vis a vis Hernandez, whose beef dish was deemed "star of the show" by judge Dawn Burrell and earned Hernandez the overall win. 

She's no stranger to winning top honors

The other thing fans will want to know about Chef Sarah Welch as they place bets on who will come out on top by the end of "Top Chef" Season 19 is that she's already quite the hotshot. Eater Detroit alluded to Welch's esoteric approach to running her meat-centric restaurant, Marrow Detroit, in a story highlighting the essential five dishes to order at the relatively new entrant into the Detroit foodie scene (it opened in 2018, and to rave reviews). The truth according to Welch appears to be that just because your restaurant is known for its impressive cuts, that doesn't mean it has to be called a "steakhouse" (per Eater Detroit). In fact, Welch refuses to call Marrow a "steakhouse." 

If that makes Welch seem opinionated, it seems we're onto something. Regarding the widely-held belief that star chefs live the glamorous life, Welch let it be known on Episode 1 of Season 19 that "it's a grueling profession that undervalues cooks." Nevertheless, Sarah Welch has received her fair share of glory as the head of the kitchen at Marrow, which was a James Beard semifinalist and named one of Eater's top restaurants in 2019, per Bravo

Welch, who has a business degree from Michigan State in addition to her foodie credentials degree from NYC's prestigious International Culinary Center, has also been a James Beard semi-finalist in the category of "Best Chef: Great Lakes."