First, the good news.  Congratulations to Jessica, who won $10 worth of veggie treats at this weekend’s DC VegFest!  We selected her comment using Random.org’s integer generator to select a number between 1 and 43 (the number of comments we received by the deadline).  We’re hoping Jessica will come back after the festival and let us know what she spent the VegFest bucks on!

Now on to the bad news.  On Wednesday, Bravo announced the lineup for Season Nine of Top Chef.  Set throughout the Lone Star State, it is fittingly called “Top Chef: Texas.”  Normally, this would be the time when we here at Capital Spice would get all excited about rooting for another local chef.  After all, we’ve had a string of talented representatives stretching all the way back to Top Chef: Chicago in Season 4:

Chicago: Spike Mendelsohn
New York: Carla Hall
Vegas: Mike Isabella, Bryan Voltaggio
DC: Tamesha Warren
All-Stars: Spike, Carla and Mike, with Isabella going all the way to the finale

We’ve also had contestants in both seasons of Top Chef: Just Desserts – Heather Chittum in Season 1 and Matthew Peterson, who is still competing in Season 2.

All this to say, Washington has certainly been well-represented within the franchise over the past few years.  Until now.  And it’s worse than you think.

This time, Bravo’s press release didn’t just announce the finalists who will be competing for the title of Top Chef.  Instead, they announced a total of 29 “hopefuls” who will be pared down to 16 for the statewide competition.  So we didn’t just miss out on having at least one local representative among the 16 cheftestants…we missed out on even having one among the 29 aspiring cheftestants!

To be fair, Washington isn’t the only culinary destination without a hometown chef to root for: Philadelphia, Las Vegas and San Francisco were similarly shut out.  In all, 18 of the 29 chefs who will appear in the season premiere on November 2nd hail from four cities: Chicago (6, including 2 from the SAME RESTAURANT), New York/Brooklyn (4), Los Angeles (4)  and Seattle (4).

Because we’ve worked with the folks at Bravo to interview so many of the previous competitors, we reached out to ask about lack of geographic diversity among this season’s cast.  A spokesperson for Bravo told us location “simply isn’t a factor” when determining who the cheftestants will be.  “We don’t pick our chefs based on where they cook,” they went on to say.  “These twenty-nine chefs are the best of everyone we saw.”

That made us wonder about where Bravo and Magical Elves (Top Chef’s production company) went looking for chefs for Season 9.  We found this seemingly official image from Harlem World back in March announcing casting dates across the country.  Open calls were held in Chicago, New York, LA and Seattle…but they were also held in Philadelphia and Las Vegas.

So what do you think?  Were DC chefs passed over for this season of Top Chef?  Or did our top talent take a pass on this season’s auditions?

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