South Florida mom and food blogger Tamara Johnson quarantined alone in a Portland, Oregon, hotel for 10 days to claim her spot on Bravo’s newest reality cooking show, “Top Chef Amateurs.”
“We knew absolutely nothing. We didn’t know what our challenge was going to be. We didn’t know who we were going to be challenging. We didn’t know who the judges were going to be,” she said about the one-day filming of the show last Fall.
“Top Chef Amateurs” is a spin-off of the network’s long-running show ”Top Chef.” But instead of a season-long competition pitting professional chefs against each other, Bravo has opened the “Top Chef” kitchen to talented home cooks who might also have other careers like a pharmacist or sales rep.
Bravo approached Johnson after finding her Razzle Dazzle Life food blog, which she launched after moving to Pembroke Pines from Texas in 2019.
“I use to be a dental hygienist and my license didn’t transfer here to Florida … and that’s why I started a food blog. I was already cooking all the time. I had time on my hands, all of a sudden a stay-at-home mom,” said the 36-year-old who has two teenagers and 10-year-old twin boys.
Johnson says she comes from a long line of great home cooks and caterers with the family specialty being hearty soul food and barbecue. She said her food blog has done so well she may not go back to work.
The opportunity to be on “Top Chef Amateurs” is still hard to believe, she said. “I was elated. It was a whirlwind to go as far as I did,” said Johnson, whose episode airs July 29 at 9 p.m. on Bravo.
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In each episode, two contestants are paired with a “Top Chef” mentor who helps them prepare the dishes for the judges. Johnson says she can’t talk about who her mentor was (although she shares a photo on Instagram of herself and Kwame Onwuachi, a James Beard award winning chef and author).
“When I walked into the studio to film…it was pure elation,” said Johnson. “It was absolutely insane. It was an honor, it was greatness that was in the room.”
We won’t know who wins until her episode airs this week, but the home cook is flying to Houston where she has a watch party planned for friends and family.
“I reserved a Black woman-owned winery in Katy, Texas, named ErmaRose Winery … lots of wine, light bites, mainly finger foods, live music, a photographer, and fellowship with family and friends!
“Top Chef Amateurs” airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on the Bravo network.