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Seattle’s Shota Nakajima Will Be a Contestant on the Upcoming Season of ‘Top Chef: Portland’

The chef, who grew his reputation from Capitol Hill restaurants Adana and Taku, appears on the show’s 18th season, airing in April

A photo of Shota Nakajima in a “Top Chef” apron with shelves of pantry items in the background
Chef Shota Nakajima has been among Seattle’s rising culinary stars in recent years.
Courtesy of Bravo

Seattle will have some solid representation on the next season of Bravo’s ‘Top Chef.’ On Monday, February 8, the network announced the slate of contestants for ‘Top Chef: Portland,’ the show’s 18th season, and local culinary star Shota Nakajima is among them. New episodes begin airing April 1.

Born in Japan and raised in the U.S., Nakajima earned the title of Eater Young Gun in 2018 on the heels of his successful multi course Japanese restaurant Adana on Capitol Hill. In early 2020, he followed that up with a new street food spot called Taku, influenced by his time spent cooking in Osaka. But the pandemic took its toll on the businesses. Last May, Nakajima announced that Adana would be closing permanently, and — after shifting to takeout — Taku closed temporarily (the future of the small spot on E Pike Street remains unclear).

“This last year has been such an emotional roller coaster,” Nakajima said in a statement on Instagram. “My spirit was lifted when I got the call from Top Chef that I was selected for this year as a contestant… My first emotion was that I was scared… then humbled, thrilled, and excited to get back to it! And spread happy vibes in the process — it’s when I’m happiest!”

After filming during COVID in 2020, the new episodes on Bravo will feature challenges that include feeding frontline health care workers, celebrating Portland’s Pan-African cuisine, and crabbing on the Oregon Coast, as well as visits to the Hood River Fruit Loop and Tillamook Creamery. In a first, a collection of past “Top Chef” all-stars, such as Richard Blais, Carrie Baird, Nina Compton, Kristen Kish, Kwame Onwuachi, and Brooke Williamson, will join the main judges panel. 

Seattle hosted “Top Chef” back in 2012, with Kish as the winner. Although no local contestants were featured on that season, there have been several contestants representing Seattle’s food scene in the past, such as Lia Bardeen (Bramble House), Carrie Mashanay (Mamnoon), and Jason Stratton (Spinasse, MBar).

The trailer for the “Top Chef: Portland” season is below.

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