Top Chef Season 21 uses brand partnerships to engage fans on and off the screen

While the infamous phrase “pack your knives and go,” might be words that no cheftestant wants to hear, Bravo’s Top Chef has become more than just a culinary competition. For fans of the long-running, award winning series, Top Chef Season 21 will offer even more opportunities for everyone to taste that chef-driven experience.
Top Chef Season 21
Top Chef Season 21 / Bravo

Ahead of Top Chef Season 21 debuting on Bravo, the NBCUniversal Team announced its strategic brand partnerships that will flavor the upcoming competition. While the participating cheftesants will head to Wisconsin to experience all that the Dairy State has to offer, the carefully chosen brand partners will season several of the challenges these culinary greats will have to master.  

From early in its inception to last season’s World All Stars finale, Top Chef has endeared itself to food lovers because it is more than just fast and furious cooking or immaculately plated dishes. Bravo viewers become connected to the cheftestants. From their personal stories to their growth within a season, the food that wows the judges is just one chapter in their multifaceted story.  

Over the years, that deep connection has had people travel distances to eat at their restaurants or try to recreate that highly praised dish at home. More recently, the NBCUniversal Brand Partnerships have allowed fans to satisfy that craving in even more tangible ways. Whether it was making that Ritz Crackers appetizer or buying a pint of that Talenti Gelato, people are hungry for more ways to connect with their favorite food television show.  

NBCUniversal revealed several of the brand partnerships that will be highlighted in Top Chef Season 21. As seen in this long list, it is a smart balance of Wisconsin-centric moments as well as concepts that are trending in the food world. Given that Top Chef is a platform to not only entertain but inform viewers, Season 21 has a lot to serve viewers.  

Speaking about this announcement, Jamie Cutburth, Executive Vice President, Marketing and Content Partnerships, NBCUniversal Advertising and Partnerships, said, “Bravo’s ‘Top Chef’ has been inspiring viewers for nearly two decades. Whether it's the thrill of the competition, the heartfelt stories of our cheftestants, the elaborate meals or thriving destinations, this highly engaged fan base keeps coming back for more. The passion of our fans is enhanced even further by creatively integrating our brand partners directly into the action, bringing the storyline and elements to life in new ways. Together, we can develop innovative challenges, spotlight new locations, elevate chef profiles, and more that would not be possible otherwise. We are especially thrilled for season 21 as the show heads into a new delicious era with freshly curated marketing moments with new and returning partners.”   

The list of brand partners include: BMW of North America, Finish Dishwasher Detergent and Additives, Holland America Line, Miller High Life, Morton Salt, Saratoga Spring Water, the Wells Fargo Active Cash Credit Card, as well as other brands.  While some companies are continuing their relationship with Top Chef, others are new to the conversation.  

Since Top Chef 21 is set in Wisconsin, the show is highlighting a local favorite, brand sponsor Molson Coors’ Miller High Life. Many Wisconsin natives celebrate with that Champagne of Beers, but the cheftestants will have to carefully craft a high-end meal on a beer budget. This concept is one that many fans could appreciate and might be able to replicate in their own kitchen.  

On a bigger scale, Top Chef Season 21 is heading out to the open waters. According to the announcement, Holland America will serve as the backdrop for Season 21’s penultimate elimination challenge. Previously, Holland America announced a new direction for its Global Fresh Fish program and introduced Chef Masaharu Morimoto as the program’s Fresh Fish Ambassador. While on board the MS Eurodam, the final four cheftestants will experience a visit from Chef Morimoto, then will have to showcase their skills in an eight-course fish tasting menu.  

From Quickfire Challenges to Last Chance Kitchen, the seamless integration of brand partners into the narrative is what Top Chef does well. More importantly, these moments can inspire the viewer to watch then get into the kitchen to test their hand at some culinary creative or book a trip to experience what they saw on screen. When entertainment stretches into tangible, real world moments, it is a win for everyone involved.

Too Chef Season 21 is set to debut on Bravo Wednesday, March 20 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Episodes will be able to stream the next day on Peacock.