‘Next Level Chef’ contestant credits Portland for help with a kombucha cooking challenge (2024)

Portland’s image in the national media may have taken a hit in recent years, but apparently, the Rose City’s reputation for healthy foodie culture is still alive and well. Consider a moment from Thursday’s episode of “Next Level Chef,” which saw a contestant mentioning Portland as the place that introduced her to a key ingredient featured in the cooking challenge.

(No cable or antenna? Stream “Next Level Chef” on Fubo, which offers a free trial; or watch episodes the day after they air on Hulu.)

That ingredient? Was it a microbrew? Organic coffee? Farm-to-table whatever? Nope, it was kombucha, a fermented beverage that has supposed health benefits, and which turns up a lot in Oregon, from grocery store shelves to do-it-yourself brew kits.

If you’re not familiar with “Next Level Chef,” it’s one of what seems like an endless number of TV shows featuring celebrity chef-turned-media-mogul Gordon Ramsay. In this one, Ramsay and fellow chefs Nyesha Arrington and Richard Blais choose from among a group of contestants -- who may be home chefs, social media chefs, or professional chefs -- to compete on the show.

Depending on how they do with challenges, the contestants are sent to one of three levels: a top floor, which is a fancy kitchen; the second floor, which is in the middle range; or the grungy bottom floor kitchen. Ingredients are arranged on a moving platform that goes from top to bottom floors, and contestants have to lunge at the platform and grab ingredients before the platform moves to the next level.

The five contestants in the episode that aired Thursday, “Kombucha Kulture,” were asked to grab ingredients that would allow them to prepare a delicious dish featuring kombucha.

It doesn't get any trendier than this. 🙌

Keep up with the times with an all-new #NextLevelChef NOW on @FOXTV! pic.twitter.com/BFewJD2Qbs

— Next Level Chef (@NextLevelFOX) April 26, 2024

As Ramsay said at the start of the episode, being a “Next Level Chef” means having to “move constantly with the times. That means keeping up to speed with the latest food trends.” For that week’s challenge, Ramsay said, “You’ll be working with an ingredient that has exploded in popularity -- kombucha.”

Arrington added that kombucha started out as your “everyday fermented probiotic drink,” that has now become “synonymous with a sort of healthy lifestyle.”

That was music to the ears of one of the contestants, Gabrielle Chappel, or Gabi, as she’s known on the show. “This is definitely my wheelhouse,” Chappel said. “I’m a very Zen kind of person. I lived in Portland, Oregon for a little bit, and that was when I first learned about kombucha. I know how that flavor works.”

According to her website, Chappel says before “choosing to spend my days in a kitchen, I spent six years as a freelance creative producer. I worked with brands and agencies, often managing teams of designers and copywriters and helping clients reach their full creative potentials. I would moonlight as a journalist and on-camera reporter, working with publications and news stations covering anything from the arts to sports.”

A look at her LinkedIn profile suggests that Chappel, now based in New York, worked from June through September in 2016 as an intern at Wieden + Kennedy.

Her Portland-fueled kombucha knowledge clearly impressed Ramsay, Arrington and Blais, who all praised a dish she made using cod, and acai and blueberry mint kombucha. Chappel won the week’s challenge, and moves on to the semifinals, competing for the $250,000 prize.

Stories by Kristi Turnquist

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  • Fans are campaigning to save ‘So Help Me Todd,’ Portland-set TV show that CBS canceled
  • ‘Little People Big World’ season finale airs Tuesday, though family tensions remain
  • Portland’s Gregory Gourdet says he would do ‘one more’ season of ‘Top Chef’

— Kristi Turnquist covers features and entertainment. Reach her at 503-221-8227, kturnquist@oregonian.com or @Kristiturnquist

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‘Next Level Chef’ contestant credits Portland for help with a kombucha cooking challenge (2024)


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