Laguna Restaurateur Selected as ‘Top Chef’ All-Star


Amar Santana returns to reality TV as an all-star for ‘Top Chef’ Season 20

Broadway owner and “Top Chef” all-star chef Amar Santana (left) stands outside his restaurant with Jamie Black, owner of Village Travel of Laguna. Santana and Black are hosting a week-long cruise in Portugal featuring food, wine and history. Photo/Clara Beard

Local chef and restaurant owner Amar Santana will be back on our TV screens March 9 when he takes on international competition as one of the 16 contestants selected for “Top Chef All-Stars” in London, England.

Santana, who owns Broadway By Amar Santana in Laguna and Vaca in Costa Mesa, had his first taste of reality television in 2016 when he became a finalist on “Top Chef” Season 13. Since then, he’s been a finalist on “Korean Food Battle” and a guest judge on “Top Chef” Season 18.

For the all-stars edition, alum from international “Top Chef” franchises will come together to compete. The show premieres on Bravo on March 9 at 6 p.m. PST.

“In the all-stars competition, there are definitely more personalities because with people from all over the world,” Santana said. “The ‘Top Chef’ format is a little different in every part of the world, despite being the same overall brand. Having everyone together from different shows was interesting because I learned how they do it in different countries.”

The winning chef of “Top Chef All-Stars” will win $250,000, be featured in Food & Wine magazine, and appear at the 40th annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, Colo.

Santana said when it comes to succeeding on “Top Chef,” performing well under pressure is one of the most important factors.

“The way I look at it, at the end of the day, it’s just putting a plate of food in front of the judges,” said Santana, who studied at the Culinary Institute of America on a full scholarship. “If you know how to cook, it doesn’t matter if you’re cooking with a solar panel or you’re cooking with gas, with electric, it doesn’t matter. You will make something happen. What’s important is putting in front of the judges in the time that they give you. You get a lot of Michelin Star chefs who think, ‘it’s my way or the highway,’ and they always struggle because they can’t adapt to certain situations. I think I’m pretty flexible when it comes to that.”

If running two restaurants and competing in “Top Chef” wasn’t enough for the busy restauranteur, Santana’s also organizing “Sail with Amar,” a seven-day cruise along Portugal and Spain. Spearheaded by Village Travel of Laguna, food and wine enthusiasts will experience cooking classes, wine tastings and more alongside Santana.

Village Travel of Laguna Beach’s owner Jamie Black said attendees can expect a cruise with history, food and wine combined.

“We wanted to do a cruise that featured a chef with a flair for Spanish and Portuguese cuisine. It just sparked. Amar, Spain and Portugal. What could be better? We’ll have private tours that will include cooking demos with the chef,” Black said. “We want to have the chef very much involved with interacting with the guests. And have a menu on the on the ship that is inspired by him and his creations. And it’s not only food, we’re also going to have special cocktails created by Broadway. Anyone who knows his cooking knows this cruise is going to be extraordinary.”

The “Sail with Amar” cruise leaves from Porto, Portugal on Nov. 5 and returns Nov. 12.

More information about the cruise can be found by calling Village Travel of Laguna at (949) 464-5778 or by emailing [email protected]

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