Since first lighting up our screens with adrenaline-fueled cooking challenges and mouthwatering plates in 2006, Bravo’s “Top Chef” remains a favorite reality show among foodies, culinary pros and those who aspire for greatness in the kitchen.
Twelve participants from “Top Chef: Portland,” season 18, are reuniting in Boulder to cook for a cause on Sept. 23 and 24.
As part of a two-night benefit gala, taking place at the stunning Greystone Castle, chefs will sauté and chop to create an unforgettable dining experience. All of the proceeds will benefit those impacted by the Marshall Fire that blazed through Boulder County on Dec. 30, 2021.
“After the tragic fire happened in Boulder, we immediately wanted to help,” said Jacqueline Malcolm-Peck, chef and owner of Greystone Castle — which also happens to be her childhood home. “We also thought people might still be suffering months after the initial outreach, so we hoped to create an event to benefit later in the year. ‘Top Chef’ season 18 wanted to have a reunion, so we thought, why not host a charity event where the money can go towards a great purpose.”
Malcolm-Peck, along with “Top Chef” participant Byron Gomez, are organizing the two unforgettable nights of gastronomic wonder.
“I moved to this beautiful town in May from Aspen, and seeing how amazing it is here, I wanted to bring something great, but also keeping it in the community,” Gomez said. “The unfortunate events that happened with the fires have left many people distraught, and we thought this would be a great way to give back to those who lost so much.”
Gomez grew up in New York, but his family’s cooking reflected the distinct flavors and nuances of his ancestral homeland.
“My parents migrated from Costa Rica when I was 8 years old, and they wanted to make sure I was rooted and knew who I was,” Gomez said. “ I think food is a great way to keep customs, culture and traditions alive.”
Tickets are $450 per night, per person, and those interested can also purchase an exclusive meet-and-greet cocktail hour with participating chefs for $150.
The historic Greystone Castle was redesigned by Malcolm-Peck’s late mother Melissa Malcolm-Peck in the 1990s. The 12,000 square feet of living space — that boasts impeccable stone work and mountain views — is a popular locale for weddings and special celebrations. Given the royal setting and exceptional menus, diners will certainly eat like kings later this month.
“We are bringing in 12 different chefs with 12 different backgrounds and expertise,” Gomez said. “No one besides Bravo has done a ‘Top Chef’ reunion close to almost a decade. Diners can expect to meet everyone and try their food. Not many can say they’ve tried various ‘Top Chefs’ cooking in one shot besides the three to four judges on the show, so that alone is very unique.”
The Front Range offers an abundance of top-quality ingredients that chefs plan to incorporate into the dishes.
“We will be using local beef from Mile High Meats, local farms will provide produce,” Gomez said.
Colorado chefs will also offer an amuse-bouche, a single, bite-sized hors d’œuvre, as part of the meals. Wine will also be featured at each seating.
Local chef Brian Lockwood — who has worked at Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder and The French Laundry in California — will help create the welcome canapés.
“We have local sponsors that will be highlighted throughout the night,” Malcolm-Peck said. “We have some guests coming both nights because they want to experience both menus.”
Gomez has worked in some of the country’s top-tier restaurants, including as executive chef at 7908 in Aspen. His experience on “Top Chef” was rooted in bonding, team work and camaraderie.
“The most rewarding aspect for me was the friendship and becoming the family we all are,” Gomez said. “We filmed during a very unique period.”
Filmed over September and October 2020, after several months of isolation, the show brought talented chefs together during a time when so many craved connection.
According to Gomez, cast members of season 18 all got along and remain close today.
“To be part of a show that was not based on drama made it extra special,” Gomez said.
It’s only a matter of time before Gomez will be featured on the screen once again.
“I have some TV show appearances coming up, this one is on the judging side now which is nicer,” Gomez said. “But I would do reality TV again to keep telling my story.”
During lockdown, folks turned to shows to escape the dread and boredom of the pandemic. People were also more inclined to experiment in the kitchen.
“I’m definitely a fan of ‘Top Chef’ now and started watching more during the pandemic,” Malcolm-Peck said. “The show has such high level of talent and gives inspiration to a lot of people — home cooks and professional chefs. It also gives a new opportunity for chefs to broaden their outreach. After success on the show, the chefs are able to travel, cook around the country and be recognized for their hard work.”
Season 18 of “Top Chef” was recently recognized as one of the “50 Most Influential Reality TV Seasons of All Time” by Time Magazine.
In addition to Gomez, cast members from “Top Chef” season 18 that will be preparing food for the upcoming benefit dinners include Brittanny Anderson, Avishar Barua, Nelson German, Maria Mazon, Sasha Grumman, Roscoe Hall, Kiki Louya, Sara Hauman, Jamie Tran, Gabriel Pascuzzi and Chris Viaud.
“We are hoping to raise $20,000 to give away to two families,” Malcolm-Peck said. “We wanted to choose the families so we knew it was going to someone in need. We are so excited to unite these talented chefs and host them in our hometown.”
To purchase tickets and learn more, visit exploretock.com/summeringreystonecastle/event/328682