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'Top Chef' season finale set in Tucson

El Charro
Posted at 12:13 PM, May 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-21 16:30:13-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — A Tucson restaurant will take center stage on a major cooking show next week.

The season finale of Bravo's "Top Chef" was filmed at El Charro late last year. The episode, titled "Cactus Makes Perfect," will air at 8 p.m. Thursday, May 26.

According to the restaurant, El Charro was chosen because it is the oldest family-run Mexican restaurant in the United States.

El Charro will hold viewing parties. For more information, please visit their website.

Padma Lakshmi hosts "Top Chef" with head judge Tom Colicchio and judge Gail Simmons.

This show pits chefs from across the country against one another.

"When searching for a finale location, we often look for opportunities to showcase a city which is both a visually stunning destination and a culinary hidden gem,” said Magical Elves Producer Diana Schmedeman, in a statement. “Tucson was all that and more with its majestic mountains, lush deserts and fantastic resorts, all creating an epic environment for a spectacular season finale. Having been introduced to influential culinary figures and local growers who help shape Tucson’s scene, we knew we had found everything needed to help inspire our finalists for a memorable season finale."

The presence of the show is a boon to the Tucson food industry.

"Tucson food history is the fusion of cultures found only here in Southern Arizona, and one of several reasons we were designated as the first UNESCO City of Gastronomy in the country,” said Visit Tucson CEO Felipe Garcia, in a statement. “We are honored Top Chef chose Tucson as the destination for the Season 19 finale and we’re excited to share our rich culinary story with millions of viewers across the country."

Also featured in the episodes are landmarks including Tucson Mountain Park, Pima County Historic Courthouse, JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa, and Tanque Verde Ranch.

Phil Villarreal is the senior real-time editor for KGUN 9. He is also a digital producer and host of "Phil on Film" seen weekly on Good Morning Tucson, Phil moved to KGUN after 17 years with the Arizona Daily Star. He is married and has four children. Share your story ideas and important issues with Phil by emailing or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.