Chef Amar Santana laughing

At summer’s end when I finally caught Chef Amar Santana in his restaurant, I asked him where he’d been hiding all summer. He replied with a sly smile and a cheeky response, “You’ll find out soon enough.”

On Monday, the whole world found out what Chef Amar Santana has been up to when Bravo’s Top Chef announced that Chef Amar will be competing in this season’s upcoming show for $125,000 in winnings and multiple, high-brow appearances.

Debuting Dec. 2nd, Chef Amar of Laguna’s Broadway by Amar Santana, will be one of 17 “cheftestants” who gather from all points of America to compete in the famed show. This year, the chefs will be cooking for a myriad of stars including MC Hammer, supermodel Chrissy Telgen, and a host of culinary celebrities as well. A six-city expedition includes Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Oakland and Palm Springs with Top Chefs’ own brand of sweaty, rushed competitions, Sudden Death Quickfire Challenges and what they term “the most daunting” Restaurant Wars ever.

“As you can imagine, it’s been the most incredible experience,” says Chef Amar. “I just went in with an attitude that I’d have fun and enjoy the process, and it’s been a blast.”

The chefs joining Chef Amar Santana in the competition come from highly successful restaurants of their own. With the exception of three chefs hailing from New Orleans, Shawnee Mission, Kansas, and Atlanta, the bulk of the competitors come from the Eastern Seaboard or California. In alphabetical order, this season’s “cheftestants” include: Karen Akunowicz (Boston, MA), Angelina Bastidas (Miami, FL), Carl Dooley (Boston, MA), Garret Flemming (Washington, DC), Jeremy Ford (Miami, FL), Renee Kelly (Shawnee Mission, KS), Phillip Frankland Lee (Los Angeles, CA), Marjorie Meek-Bradley (Washington, D.C.), Kwame Onwuachi (Washington, D.C.), Amar Santana (Orange County, CA), Grayson Schmitz (New York, NY), Jason Stratton (Seattle, WA), Frances Tariga-Weshnak (New York, NY), Isaac Toups (New Orleans), Wesley True (Atlanta, GA), Giselle Wellman (Los Angeles, CA), and Chad White (San Diego, CA & Tijuana, Mexico).
Of course, Chef Amar can’t talk about how long he remained in the competition or what oddities he cooked up (despite my pleas and absolute, pathetic whimpering.) So, we all wait in gleeful anticipation of December 2nd’s debut show. My thoroughly uneducated, no-hints-given guess, though? Chef Amar is the kind of talent that’s in for the long haul.