Spoiler Alert: This article contains significant spoilers for Top Chef: Houston.
After Season 18 filmed during the height of the pandemic and crowned a victor whose win was shrouded in a harassment controversy, Top Chef returned in March of 2022. Many viewers were hopeful that the season would serve as a fresh start for the series.
The 19th season of the hit Bravo competition covered the food scene in Houston, Texas, and Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio, and Gail Simmons all returned to taste and to judge.
Like in Top Chef: Portland, a Top Chef alum joined the judges each week on the panel for Season 19.
Fifteen hopeful chefs started out in the competition, but the eliminations kicked off at the end of the March 3 premiere with Padma uttering her now-famous phrase: "Please pack your knives and go."
Following many weeks of intense Quickfires and Elimination Challenges, the season officially came to a close on June 2.
On the finale episode, Padma officially named Buddha Lo as the next Top Chef. Before the Aussie secured his victory, most of his competitors were sent home. Read on to find out the elimination order for Top Chef: Houston.
1. Leia Gaccione
The New Jersey-based chef was the first to get sent home on the Houston season.
During the first Quickfire, the chefs drew knives and they formed teams of three. Leia, Jae Jung, and Stephanie Miller worked together, and they were one of the two bottom teams in the pre-elimination test.
The chefs had to work together again for the Elimination Challenge, which was a butchery task utilizing primal cuts of beef. The red team chose last, and they had to work with the round cut.
When the competitors went to spend their $600 at Whole Foods, Leia revealed that she was dealing with a bladder infection. She spent the first night resting instead of getting to hang out with the other chefs or to further plan out her team's menu.
On Elimination Day, Leia created a top round steak summer roll with peaches and a Tahini lime sauce and Basil oil, which failed to impress the judges.
Once again, the red team ended up in the bottom, and Leia was sent home.
2. Stephanie Miller
After a cheesy Quickfire, the chefs were divided into two teams for a football-themed Elimination Challenge.
Chef and author Sam Talbot led Stephanie and the other six members of the Cougars for a cooking face-off against the Wildcats.
Stephanie went head-to-head against Jo Chan in the fourth round, and her feijoada with rice fell short. She lost the round, and she didn't get a single vote from any of the judges.
Because neither team scored enough points to earn a touchdown, all of chefs were eligible to be on the chopping block.
Stephanie was the sole Cougar in the Bottom Three group, and she was ultimately the one who was sent home.
3. Sam Kang
The first individual Elimination Challenge of the season took place in the third episode, and the chefs were tasked with cooking for 100 people at their own night market.
Buddha Lo, Luke Kolpin, and Sam selected the knives to make Indian cuisine for host Padma Lakshmi.
Sam, a New York-based educator, made a lackluster potato vindaloo (he called it "Sam-aloo"), which ultimately cost him a spot in the competition. Though Sam's time on the show was brief, he made quite a strong impression on fans with his confessionals.
4. Robert Hernandez
Following the night market challenge, Chef Wylie Dufresne joined the remaining cheftestants in the kitchen to discuss the next team elimination. He asked the stars to create two different tasting dishes that looked exactly the same.
Padma then shared that it would be the first double elimination of the season, so one full team would be going home.
Robert and Sarah paired up, and the latter star made the savory dish. Chef Robert chose to make a strawberry panna cotta with crème fraîche, a Japanese brown sugar crumble, with basil and kiwi. His panna cotta didn't hold the right shape, though the judges noted that the flavor was there.
The team landed in the bottom, and the two chefs were ultimately sent home. Sarah was able to return to the kitchen on the May 5 episode after she won the second round of Last Chance Kitchen.
5. Monique Feybesse
Though Ashleigh Shanti went home directly after Sarah and Robert, she was brought back in the next episode after she won the first round of Last Chance Kitchen.
As a result, Monique was the next chef to go home for good on the show. The California-based chef was eliminated on the April 7 episode, when the contestants were asked to make meals inspired by trailblazing women from Texas.
Monique was inspired by Barbara Jordan, and she chose to make fried oysters, pickled okra, beans, and a pancetta bean broth.
Toward the end of her cook time, Monique made a last-minute decision to cut her oysters in half. This choice meant that she had to limit the amount of broth in her dish, so her oysters wouldn't drown. The judges critiqued Monique for not having enough flavor in her meal, and she was sent home.
6. Jo Chan
The Austin resident was quickly becoming a fan favorite, but a tough challenge in the seventh episode took the chef out for good. The chefs were asked to work in teams to create dishes inspired by the dinosaurs featured in Jurassic World Dominion.
Jo was one of the three contestants on the Quetzalcoatlus team. To celebrate the air dinosaur with an expansive diet, Jo made a stuffed quail with glazed carrots. Unfortunately, the carrots weren't glazed the way that Jo wanted, which was one of the reasons why she lost her place in the competition.
7. Jackson Kalb
Though Jackson appeared to be a frontrunner from the start (despite not being able to taste or smell due to a recent bout with COVID-19), he did not make it through this season's round of Restaurant Wars.
In addition to working at the front of the house for the annual Restaurant Wars challenge, Jackson made a dessert for his team, No Nem. His citrus cured shortbread cookies were "uninspired," and his hands-off approach to being at the front of the restaurant turned the judges off.
Before he left, Jackson finally told his fellow competitors about his inability to taste or to smell — and they were not pleased.
8. Luke Kolpin
The chef, who previously worked at Noma in Copenhagen, was sent home on the April 28 episode, "Freedmen's Town."
Luke performed well in the Quickfire, when the chefs were asked to create a monochromatic plant-based dish (he got purple, and he served up a cauliflower and cabbage dish with purple purée). Unfortunately, he narrowly missed out on winning the last immunity of the season.
For the Elimination Challenge, the contestants made dishes that spoke to their souls for a fundraiser. Luke made a meatloaf that was inspired by his mom. The judges thought that it was too tough to cut the meat while standing at an event, and he was eliminated.
9. Jae Jung
Jae got off to a bad start on the May 5 episode when she didn't finish making the crêpe in her dish during the fajita-themed Quickfire. For the Elimination Challenge, the contestants cooked for three retired astronauts at the Houston Space Center.
The New York-based chef made bulgogi with gochujang barley, sesame mushrooms, and carrots. The judges critiqued Jae for missing the mark on the two main elements of her dish, which were the meat and the barley. She was eliminated at the end of the episode.
10. Ashleigh Shanti
Ashleigh was initially eliminated on the March 31 episode when she served thick cuts of brisket in a cream of collard soup.
The Virginia Beach-based chef got a shot at redemption when she won the first round of Last Chance Kitchen.
After she was invited back to the kitchen, Ashleigh often struggled to find her way (though she did win Restaurant Wars).
Though she was in the top following a seafood tower Quickfire on the May 12 episode, Ashleigh didn't perform quite as well when she cooked a paella-inspired heirloom rice with shrimp and calamari for her mom.
Her squid was undercooked, and Padma had to spit a bite out into her napkin. Unsurprisingly, Ashleigh was eliminated for the second time at the end of the episode.
11. Nick Wallace
For the final Elimination Challenge before the chefs left Houston, the five remaining contestants had to catch and cook fish. Nick made a fried redfish for his first dish, and a seared bull redfish cake for his second meal.
The chef's fried redfish was dry, and he struggled to get his fishcake to bind. He was the last cheftestant to be sent home before the finalists went to Tucson, Ariz.
12. Damarr Brown
Though Damarr was one of the frontrunners (and fan favorites!) for most of the season, he was the last chef to be sent home before the final episode. Once the final four chefs made it to Tucson, they got to work on the final Quickfire of the season.
After Sarah secured an advantage during the carne seca Quickfire, the chefs were asked to make two dishes — one would highlight cactus, while the other would showcase chiltepin.
Unfortunately, the beans Damarr made for his pork shoulder dish were not cooked the way he wanted. A small mistake was enough to get him sent home.
13/14. Evelyn Garcia and Sarah Welch
Neither Evelyn nor Sarah was technically sent home, as Buddha was simply named as the winner on the June 2 finale. On the 14th episode, the three finalists were asked to make a four-course progressive meal for the judges.
While Sarah worked on a hunter-gatherer meal and Evelyn focused on her favorite flavors, Buddha wowed the panel by inspiring each course off of one of his family members (before dedicating his dessert to the United States).
Season 19 officially came to a close with Buddha's victory, and viewers will have to wait until 2023 to root for a new set of cheftestants.
You can stream Top Chef: Houston on Peacock.