Shota Nakajima in the secret Portland lair where contestants filmed Top Chef's 18th season.

Bravo just released a teaser of this next season of Top Chef. Look closely and you’ll see: Fifteen chefs lined up on Portland’s Burnside bridge. Lots of former competitors returning to judge. So many evergreens. Tom Colicchio rocking a mod dad cardigan. Oh, and Shota Nakajima!

The chef behind Adana and Taku confirmed on Instagram that he’s one of the season 18 competitors, following in the footsteps of other impressive Seattle chefs like Jason Stratton, Carrie Mashaney, and a number of others. You might recall Nakajima closed his restaurant Adana this past May and put his newest spot, Taku, on a bit of a hiatus.

As competitors go, he seems like a pretty formidable combo of technique and flexibility (and camera-ready hair). Japan born and Bellevue raised, Nakajima was longlisted for the James Beard Foundation's Rising Star award a few times. He opened his meticulous kaiseki restaurant, Naka, on Capitol Hill in 2015 at just 25 years old, and reconcepted it to the more casual Adana a year and a half later. 

This season, filmed in a pandemic-induced safety bubble, doesn’t air until April 1. “There’s a big part of me that carries Japan on my back,” Nakajima tells the camera in the Top Chef promo. But he’s repping Seattle, too.

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