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Joe Sasto and Bruce Kalman on How They Ended Up on This Season’s Top Chef

The Cal Mare chef de cuisine and Union chef come from very different places

LA’s Top Chef

Top Chef’s season 15 begins tonight with two chefs representing Los Angeles on Bravo’s enduring cooking competition show. There’s Bruce Kalman, owner of Union in Pasadena and Knead & Co at Grand Central Market and recent LA transplant Joe Sasto, currently chef de cuisine at Adam Sobel’s recently opened Cal Mare.

Kalman is no stranger to television, with television appearances shows since 2013, including the Food Network’s Chopped and Beat Bobby Flay, FX’s Knife Fight, and Fox’s Hell’s Kitchen. Kalman also received a James Beard nomination for Rising Star Chef. Sasto arrived in Los Angeles this year, coming from San Francisco’s three Michelin star Quince, and two Michelin star Lazy Bear.

Eater spoke with both chefs on how they landed a contestant spot on Top Chef.

Bruce Kalman: “Eight or nine years ago, I was taking a break and working for a big corporate restaurant, and as a creative chef had lost my soul. I did the whole (Top Chef) application process, went to the casting call and didn’t make it. I did Best New Restaurant with Tom Colicchio three years ago. I’m good friends with (season six winner) Michael Voltaggio and (season 14 winner) Brooke Williamson. We had long conversations about it. I even did other competition shows. I just wanted to be on Top Chef for the right reasons, and not just to be on TV. It’s a big commitment, and a tough show to be on. This season has a really good group of chefs.”

Joe Sasto: “I never saw an episode, and didn’t know what I was getting myself into. While working at Lazy Bear, and the show’s producers came into eat, and we set up a call. I refused to apply initially, and my girlfriend called me an idiot. Next thing you know, I’m flying to Denver to compete on a show that I knew nothing about.”

Top Chef airs on Bravo on Thursday night at 10 p.m. Eastern Time.

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