The Truth About Luke Kolpin From Top Chef Season 19

"Top Chef" season 19 is traveling from its Season 18 locale of Portland, Oregon down south to Houston, Texas for its latest installation. Of course, a new season means a fresh new slate of contestants to root for. Last season showcased the beautiful, fresh ingredients of the Pacific Northwest in challenges that included dishes using beer and coffee to local Dungeness crab. Down in Texas, however, we expect the local flavor might include brisket and steaks cooked on barbecues and in smokers.

Season 19, hosted again by Padma Lakshmi and featuring longtime judges Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons, will pit 15 competitors against each other as they vie for the title of "Top Chef." One contestant who might have felt more at home last year in the Pacific Northwest is Luke Kolpin, a native of Seattle. Kolpin attended culinary school in the coastal city and got his start in some of Seattle's restaurants (per Bravo). How will he fare in South Texas, where the challenges could include barbecue, biscuits, and fajitas, we will have to watch and see.

Kolpin is already a culinary sensation

The competitors of "Top Chef" Season 19 would do well to keep an eye on Luke Kolpin, a veteran of Canlis, an iconic fine dining restaurant in Seattle. To add more dazzle to his resume, in 2012, Kolpin accepted a position as a sous chef at Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark. With three Michelin stars, Noma has been called the best restaurant in the world (via The World's 50 Best Restaurants).

When Kolpin left Noma, the restaurant paid tribute to the sous chef on its Facebook page, calling him a "true champion, a massive culinary talent, and a role-model for all of his colleagues." In 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic, Kolpin returned to Seattle to be close to family and launch his own restaurant. It was then that friend and "Top Chef" season 18 runner-up, Shota Nakajima, encouraged him to try out for "Top Chef (per KING). Whether it was Nakajima's stamp of approval or his own impressive experience, Seattle Met reports that Kolpin skipped the audition, as producers offered him a spot on the show sight unseen.

Kolpin's Instagram displays many seafood dishes, including king crab and salted cod. You'll also notice an artistic touch, as seen in a plate of golden raspberries and coriander. For himself, Kolpin tells People his go-to food is a bit more down-to-earth — sandwiches. 

You can watch Kolpin's performance on "Top Chef" Season 19, which airs Thursdays on Bravo at 8 p.m.