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The 24 Chefs of ‘The Final Table’: Everything You Need to Know

The chefs on Netflix’s culinary competition have worked at some of the world’s best restaurants

Timothy Hollingsworth and Darren MacLean
Greg Gayne/Netflix

Netflix’s new culinary competition The Final Table features 24 acclaimed chefs from around the world, working in teams of two through a series of country-themed challenges. Only one of them will get to join the nine master chef/judges at the titular Final Table at the end of the show. A big part of the fun of watching the competition is seeing how these talented chefs work together and draw upon their culinary backgrounds to create new dishes during the hour-long competitions. Here’s a look at all 12 of the teams, with information about where each chef works when they’re not competing on The Final Table.

Monique Fiso and Amninder Sandhu

Adam Rose/Netflix

Monique Fiso spent years cooking in New York City — including at Manhattan’s celebrated Italian restaurant A Voce — before heading back home to New Zealand, where she launched a pop-up tent restaurant serving her own version of Māori cuisine. Many of the dishes at Hiakai were prepared using the traditional Māori underground hot rock cooking style called hāngi. The Māori-Samoan chef recently opened a permanent location of Hiakai in Wellington.

At her Mumbai restaurant Arth, Amninder Sandhu prepares specialties from all over India made entirely using sandpits or coal- and wood-fired ovens — no gas cooking whatsoever. The menu is inspired by recipes that Sandhu collected over 15 years of traveling around India.

Shane Osborn and Mark Best

Shane Osborn has plenty of experience working in acclaimed kitchens, having been a part of the staff at L’oranger in London that garnered a Michelin star in 1996, and he served as executive chef at London’s Pied à terre when it won a second star in 2003. Since 2014, Osborn has run his own restaurant, Arcane in Hong Kong, which holds one star for its seasonal fare that blends the cuisines of Japan, the United Kingdom, and France.

In his mid-20s, Mark Best embarked on a culinary career that saw him win the Josephine Pignolet Award as Sydney’s best young chef in 1995, the same year he opened his first restaurant, Peninsula Bistro. He has since worked with iconic chefs such as Alain Passard and Raymond Blanc, operated more restaurants in Sydney, and now runs Bistro by Mark Best, which offers Australian surf-and-turf aboard the Genting Dream cruise ship.

Timothy Hollingsworth and Darren MacLean

Timothy Hollingsworth skipped culinary school, instead spending a decade learning his trade under celebrity chef Thomas Keller at the French Laundry in Yountville, California, and Per Se in New York City. In 2012, he struck out on his own in Los Angeles where he now is chef-owner of Otium, which serves the steak, seafood, and vegetable dishes that make up “new American cuisine,” and C.J. Boyd’s, a tribute to Hollingsworth’s family roots in the South with a menu of fried chicken sandwiches, waffle fries, and banana pudding. Hollingsworth also recently opened a new sports gastropub in Los Angeles called Free Play.

Darren MacLean’s Calgary restaurant, Shokunin, is currently listed as the 35th-best restaurant in Canada on the Canada’s 100 Best list. Prior to opening his 50-seat Japanese brasserie in 2015, MacLean traveled through the country that inspires his cuisine. The menu features sushi, yakitori, and other small plates that are complemented by a selection of Japanese whiskeys, cocktails, and sakes.

Johnny Spero and Jessica Lorigo

Johnny Spero’s resume as a chef spans the globe, with time at such celebrated European institutions as Mugaritz in San Sebastian, Spain, and Rene Redzepi’s Noma in Copenhagen, as well as stints at Minibar and Komi in Washington, D.C. These days, Spero runs the kitchen at the newly opened Reverie, a 64-seat restaurant in D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhood that specializes in modern American cuisine — think charred cucumbers with ramp vinaigrette, boqeurones, and cured egg yolk; scallop crudo topped with buttermilk, dill, and dried scallop; and ribeye with lovage, potato, and beef tongue.

Jessica Lorigo got her big break in the restaurant industry when, following her graduation from culinary school, she was accepted as an intern at the lauded Basque Country restaurant, Mugaritz, in 2013. Upon the completion of her internship, chef Andoni Luis Aduriz asked her to stay on as part of a new project in the beachside city, and three years later she began overseeing the kitchen as executive chef at Topa Sukalderia, which blends Basque cuisine with Latin American fare, offering dishes such as guacamole, tiradito of bacalao, tacotalo al pastor, and asado de ternera.

Rafael Gil and Esdras Ochoa

Adam Rose/Netflix

Brazilian-born chef Rafael Gil is the culinary director of Keraton at the Plaza in Jakarta. Before moving to Indonesia, the chef worked in the Michelin-starred kitchens of Martin Berasategui in Lasarte-Oria, Spain, and EVO in Barcelona.

Esdras Ochoa made a name for himself as the chef/partner of popular Los Angeles Mexican restaurants Mexicali Taco and Salazar before moving to Hong Kong where he runs another taqueria called 11 Westside. The chef was the subject of a 2016 LA Times profile by Amy Scattergood titled “Esdras Ochoa, the taco missionary.”

Charles Michel and Rodrigo Pacheco

Adam Rose/Netflix

A graduate of the Institut Paul Bocuse cooking school in Lyon, French-Colombian chef Charles Michel has explored the science behind taste and perception as the chef-in-residency at Oxford University’s Research Laboratory. According to his LinkedIn page, Michel is now a “roamer intending to set a work base in U.S./California” in the fields of culinary consulting, performance art, public speaking, and event producing.

Like his teammate Charles, Ecuadorian-born chef Rodrigo Pacheco also graduated from the Institut Paul Bocuse. After school, Pacheco worked for French heavyweights Pierre Gagnaire, Michel Bras, Alain Ducasse, and Alain Chapel. He now runs the kitchen at Bocavaldivia, a restaurant in Puerto Cayo, Ecuador, that specializes in local, sustainable seafood.

Benjamin Bensoussan and Manuel Berganza

Adam Rose/Netflix

Before opening his Madrid fast-casual restaurant Honest Greens, French-born chef Benjamin Bensoussan worked in the kitchens of Michelin darlings El Celler de Can Roca and Mugaritz. Over the course of his decade living in Madrid, Bensoussan also opened the tapas restaurant Le Cabrera.

After cooking at various Michelin-starred restaurants in his native Spain, as well as Chicago’s groundbreaking modernist restaurant Alinea, chef Manuel Berganza opened the forward-thinking Spanish restaurant Andanada 141 on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The restaurant got a Michelin star after its first two years in business. Last year, Berganza moved to Singapore to launch a new Spanish restaurant called the Tapas Club Project, which has since expanded to Malaysia and Indonesia.

Ash Heeger and Alex Haupt

Adam Rose/Netflix

Before striking out on her own, chef Ash Heeger worked alongside Luke Dale Roberts at his acclaimed South African destination The Test Kitchen, and she spent time in London working at The Ledbury and Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. Heeger recently closed her meat-centric Cape Town restaurant ASH, and reopened the space as a fine dining establishment called Riverine Rabbit, which offers three different tasting menus as well as a Chef’s Table experience.

Australian-born Alex Haupt is the chef/owner of 101 Gowrie, a farm-to-table restaurant in Amsterdam that’s slated to open later this month. A veteran of Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, Haupt also cooked at the well-regarded Amsterdam restaurants Ron Gastrobar Oriental and Hoofdstad Brasserie.

Colibrí Jiménez and Collin Brown

Adam Rose/Netflix

Originally from Morelos, Mexico, Colibrí Jiménez worked at the restaurant Casa Morales/My Bowls in Oaxaca. She is the author of the cookbook Una Aventura Gastonomica, which chronicles specialties throughout the states of Mexico.

Jamaican-born chef Collin Brown has cooked Caribbean food in kitchens all around the world, including an eponymous restaurant in London’s Canary Wharf area. He was recently named the executive chef of Cottons Caribbean Rum Shack, a UK-based chain with four locations throughout London.

Ronald Hsu and Shin Takagi

Adam Rose/Netflix

Ronald Hsu is the chef and co-owner of Atlanta’s forthcoming tasting menu restaurant Lazy Betty. As a young chef, Hsu spent time working with his future Final Table partner Shin Takagi in Japan. Later in his career, Ronald also worked with famed French chef Eric Ripert at his Manhattan restaurant Le Bernardin, where Hsu served as executive sous chef and later creative director. “I grew up in the South working in the restaurants of my Malaysian-Chinese parents,” Ronald recently told Eater Atlanta. “Asian food has played such a huge role in how I approach cooking and hospitality. I thought this international cooking competition would be a great platform.”

Shin Takagi is the chef/proprietor of Zeniya, a kaiseki restaurant in Kanasawa, Japan that holds two Michelin stars. The menu at the restaurant changes daily based on guest preference and what’s available at the market. “Once you make a reservation, my staff ask you where you come from, what you don’t like to eat, how long you’re staying in Kanasawa, did you go to other restaurants in the area,” Takagi told the blog Gourmatic back in 2011. ”This kind of information helps me to design the menu.”

Graham Campbell and Aaron Bludorn

Adam Rose/Netflix

As a young chef, Graham Campbell worked his way through several acclaimed kitchens in England before landing back in his native Scotland at the Ballachulish House near Fort William. With a 25-year-old Campbell in charge of the kitchen, that restaurant received a Michelin star back in 2009. For the last two years, Campbell has worked as the executive chef at Castlehill restaurant in Dundee, where he serves a menu of contemporary Scottish cuisine.

Aaron Bludorn is the executive chef at Cafe Boulud in New York City. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Bludorn began his culinary career working at Canlis in Seattle and then at Napa Valley’s two Michelin-starred restaurant Cyrus. He moved to New York City in 2009 to work for Cafe Boulud under its executive chef at the time, Gavin Kaysen, and took over from his mentor in 2014.

James Knappett and Angel Vazquez

Adam Rose/Netflix

James Knappet is the chef/proprietor of the conjoined tasting menu restaurant Kitchen Table and the hot dog parlor/Champagne bar Bubbledogs, both in London. The menu at his tasting counter changes daily, but the emphasis is always on local ingredients. “If it lives or grows in Britain, we’ll use it, but we might have three or four foreign ingredients on the menu at any one time, like a cheese from France or a pineapple for example,” the chef recently told Staff Canteen.

A native of Puebla, Mexico Angel Vazquez worked in restaurants in New York City, Paris, Thailand, and Barcelona as a young chef. Those international influences can be found on the menu at his Puebla restaurant Intro. The chef also operates the casual seafood bar Salomé, a contemporary Mexican restaurant by the name of Augiro, and a burger stand called Carbon, all of which are located in Puebla.

All Coverage of The Final Table [E]