The Truth About Damarr Brown From Top Chef Season 19

Bravo's reality cooking competition series"Top Chef" first made its way onto our televisions and into our homes in 2006. The show, which features Padma Lakshmi as the host, brings together chefs from across the country to compete for a title that comes with bragging rights, the coveted title, and a prize of $250,000. This month kicked off Season 19 with a whole new batch of chefs competing for the prize and we can't wait to get to know each contestant's back story as they rise to culinary challenge after culinary challenge. 

This year's competitors are a pretty accomplished class of 15 chefs, including a contestant who might soon become a fan favorite: Damarr Brown. Brown hails from Chicago, Illinois, per Bravo, where he is the head chef at the Southern-inspired restaurant Virtue. Virtue is situated in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood and is the creation of Brown's mentor, Erick Williams. But before Brown landed his dream job of working at Virtue, he spent his youth learning the ins and outs of cooking in his grandmother's kitchen. This core memory greatly influenced the chef, so much so it led Brown to become a student at Chicago's Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. 

He has his own apparel line

Per Block Club Chicago, after graduating from Le Cordon Bleu, Damarr Brown knew "it was really important to [him] to work under a chef that looked like [him]," which is when Williams entered his life. Brown worked for Williams at his restaurant mk. Brown said, "I externed there for three months, then stayed there for seven years — I literally grew up at mk." From there, he went on to work at Roister, a one Michelin-star restaurant, and eventually started working with Williams again when Virtue opened in 2018 (via Bravo).

The "Top Chef" contestant has also dribbled out a few other notable tidbits about himself. Brown shared he's a fan of collard greens, saying, "I love cooking collard greens. Everything brings me back to childhood on [Virtue's] menu." And, according to SK Pop, Brown also runs an online apparel shop with his friend and pastry chef, Lisa. They sell hoodies and t-shirts with the phrase 'Say It How You Feel It' written on the clothing items.

He is a French trained chef

Damarr Brown shared with Block Club Chicago that he grew up watching the show and is admittedly excited about the potential of his "Top Chef" opportunity. Brown said, "I've watched 'Top Chef' for years — it's one of my favorite cooking shows. I'm hoping that it'll not only be a huge opportunity for me, but it can provide more light on Virtue and what we do here with the culture of the restaurant." Still, the French-trained culinary chef also wants viewers to walk away with a sense of who he is and how good the food scene is in the Windy City. Brown said, "I wanted to share where I come from and rep Chicago at the same time."

The dishes that this group of competitors is expected to cook up are a nod to Houston, Texas where the season was filmed. Fans can expect a little Tex-Mex, some barbecue, and even a NASA-inspired meal. Per Bravo, other "Top Chef" Season 19 contestants include Buddha Lo, Evelyn Garcia, Jackson Kalb, Sarah Welch, Jo Chan, Jae Jung, Leia Gaccione, Monique Feybesse, Luke Kolpin, Nick Wallace, Sam Kang, Robert Hernandez, Stephanie Miller, and Ashleigh Shanti.