Who Won “Top Chef?” Finalists Sara, Gabriel and Buddah Aren’t Saying.

The 20th season of Bravo's hit show, "World All-Stars in London," wraps tonight

June 8, 2023 7:00 am
"Top Chef" finalists Sara Bradley, Gabriel Rodriguez and Buddha Lo.
"Top Chef" finalists Sara Bradley, Gabriel Rodriguez and Buddha Lo aren't spilling the beans
Fred Jagueneau/Bravo

Last week, longtime Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi announced she made the “difficult decision to leave the Bravo reality show she has hosted for 19 of the program’s 20 seasons “after much soul-searching.” Thanks to that announcement, the current season of the show, “World All-Stars,” will be remembered by fans as a special one, as it will be the last one with Lakshmi judging the cooking prowess of contestants alongside her colleagues Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons. Top Chef’s 20th season will also always be a special one for the show’s three finalists, Sara Bradley, Gabriel Rodriguez and Buddha Lo, as one of them will walk away as champ when the final episode airs tonight.

The final three to emerge from a slate of 16 all-star cheftestants from 11 previous global editions of Top Chef have known which one of them will emerge victorious on Thursday night since the show finished taping back in October. If it is Lo who is crowned champ of “World All-Stars,” he’ll have back-to-back titles after getting the win in Houston-during season 19. As Lo tells InsideHook, not spilling the beans about what happens in the season 20 finale has been “super hard.”

“This is the second time that I’ve done it,” Lo says. “The interim time between the final episode and watching the finale is 200 days or something crazy like that. You have to keep a secret for a long time. But, at the end of the day, you have to think about how worthwhile it is. If you tell a loved one, you’re spoiling the journey all three of us have been on the finale. It’s really cool for them to join us and not know what the results are. So, you have to keep the secret.”

“Top Chef” Champ Buddha Lo Reveals a Hidden Challenge of Winning the Title
Lo delivered the goods during Season 19 of “Top Chef “in Houston

For Bradley, who was the runner-up on the 16th season of Top Chef, keeping her mouth shut has not been an issue. “I am an amazing secret keeper,” she says. “If you have one, you can tell me. Also from being in that Top Chef family, sometimes you find out things during the season about how people place and who wins. It really takes all of the fun out of watching the show because it gets rid of all of the mystique when you know.”

For the big reveal, Bradley rented out a performing arts center in her Kentucky hometown of Paduchah and invited friends and regulars from her restaurant Freight House to come to watch. “We’re gonna go over there and throw a big party and watch me either win or lose. Who knows?” she says. “I love an opportunity to throw a party like I’m a chef. I love to entertain people, so I’m all about it if there’s a chance to have a get-together. We’re going to have a lot of booze and we’re just doing simple snacky stuff. But, it’s mostly about the booze for us here.”

As for Lo, who was born in Australia but is now the executive chef at HUSO in New York City, he’ll be watching at a 50-seat theater he rented in Brooklyn. “Since it’s at a cinema, we can’t really bring our own food, so we have some pastries coming from a friend, we’re going to get some Artichoke Pizza because that’s close by and then some Popeyes as well because why not?” 

Hélène Darroze, Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons.
We’ll find out who won “Top Chef” on Thursday night
Fred Jagueneau/Bravo

The winner of Top Chef Mexico, Rodriguez will be at a tiny gastro bar in his hometown that’s already fully booked with guests who want to see him win. Whether he does or not, Rodriguez, a Mexico City native, has enjoyed the ride. “It’s been a journey,” he says. “Everything has changed for me, and I think everything’s going to change a lot more. I don’t know how to describe it, but being on this season has just been such an honor. Competing against the best of the best has improved every aspect of my life, especially professionally. I’m just focusing on being more refined. It’s been amazing and I’m so grateful for it.” Even if he doesn’t remember all of it. “It’s funny, but in most of the interviews between episodes I was drunk on mezcal,” Rodriguez adds. “I’m so funny.”

A learning experience for all three finalists, Bradley, Rodriguez and Lo will all likely be better off following the Top Chef finale regardless of the winner. “It’s such a learning experience,” Los says. “I remember the first time we were able to walk around and try everyone’s dishes in the first episode. Being in the World All-Stars realm, there are so many people you can learn from. There are so many backgrounds and so many ethnicities. Top Chef is a competition, but they give you a chance to learn as well. It’s incredible what has become of this TV competition and seeing all the people that have been through it.”

“To be a great chef, not only do you have to learn new things, but you have to be able to teach new things,” Bradley says. “I think Top Chef embraces chefs’ ability to feed off of each other’s energy and see what other people are doing. It’s the coolest experience I have ever had as a chef. It’s like Top Chef summer camp. That’s why I came back to do it. I say I wouldn’t do it again, but maybe I would. Who knows?”


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