L. top R.: Byron Gomez, Nelson German, and Avishar Barua on the April 1, 2021 episode of Top Chef. (Photo by David Moir/Bravo)

Chef Byron Gomez, a Central Islip native, qualified for the next competition round after Thursday night’s season premiere of Bravo TV’s Top Chef.

Gomez, the executive chef of a supper club in Aspen known as 7908, was one of 15 contestants in the season 18 premiere. The contestants had to compete in cooking dishes with bird as the main component. The contestants ordered their ingredients from Whole Foods rather than shopping in person due to the pandemic.

Gomez served head judges Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons and Melissa King, along with several other rotating judges with a sweet Thai-styled squab dish, a green mango Jicama salad and sweet potato cake.

“Respect for serving us claws, I love that,” said Chef Richard Blais, a Top Chef Chicago and All Stars Winner.

“I loved the approach,” added Chef Dale Talde, who competed in seasons four and eight of Top Chef. “I just didn’t feel like the potato and the green mango salad really tied the entire dish together.”

Though his side dishes received criticism, Gomez’s squab dish impressed the judges enough to advance him to the next round for next week’s episode.

The winner of the Top Chef competition will receive $250,000, a feature in Food & Wine magazine and an appearance at the annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen.

Gomez is a self-taught chef who worked his way up the industry, eventually working at some of the most prestigious restaurants in Manhattan under some of the best chefs in the industry such as Daniel Boulud, Daniel Humm and Gavin Kaysen. Gomez gained a lot of his experience working at Michelin-starred restaurants like Cafe Boulud, Atera and Eleven Madison Park.

Eventually becoming Sous Chef at Eleven Madison Park, the restaurant won the title of Top
Restaurant in the World by San Pellegrino. Following this award, Gomez traveled to Eleven
Madison Park’s pop-up restaurants in the Hamptons and Aspen before he finally settled in Aspen to work for 7908 in the Spring of 2019.

“Thank you for all the support and know that hard work always pays off,” said Gomez in a recent Instagram post, “Filming during a pandemic was a very unique experience and to be part of this will forever be engraved in my heart.”

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