Vista-raised chef to compete on ‘Top Chef’ season 18

Vista-raised Sara Hauman is one of 15 chefs competing on Season 18 of Bravo's "Top Chef."
(Bravo/Stephanie Diani )

Sara Hauman, a native of Vista whose early kitchen experiences included cooking stints at local health spas, is one of the 15 chefs chosen to compete this spring on Bravo’s “Top Chef” season 18 in Portland, Ore.

The upcoming season, which premieres April 1, was filmed in a quarantine bubble at a Portland resort last fall. Bravo has not made Hauman available for a phone interview yet, but her website, Instagram account and online articles filled in some details on her background.

"Top Chef" season 18 contestants Kiki Louya,  Sasha Grumman and Sara Hauman.
Vista-raised chef Sara Hauman, right, with fellow contestants Kiki Louya, left, and Sasha Grumman, center, on the season premiere of Bravo’s “Top Chef” season 18 in Portland, Ore.
(David Moir/Bravo )

According to her website, the 33-year-old Hauman discovered her obsession with food when she moved to Spain to live with her father after graduating from a Vista high school. When she returned to San Diego a year later, she earned a culinary degree from The Art Institute in 2008 while working in local resort kitchens. At 22, she moved to San Francisco, where she worked for chef Brandon Jew at Bar Agricole.

In 2013, she spent seven months staging (interning) at Spain’s Asador Etxebarri restaurant. When she returned to San Francisco as executive chef of Huxley, she was named a James Beard Rising Star Chef semifinalist in 2016 and 2017 and she earned a 3-star review from the San Francisco Chronicle. She went on to work as chef de cuisine at Michelin-starred Octavia in San Francisco, where the Chronicle named her to its 2017 Rising Star Chef list. Since August 2019, she has been executive chef at Soter Vineyards in Carlton, Ore.

Hauman is one of two California chefs competing on “Top Chef” this season; the other is Nelson German, the chef/owner of AlaMar Kitchen in Oakland. Also featured this coming season as regular guest judge is Richard Blais, the Del Mar chef who won “Top Chef: All Stars” in 2011.

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Kragen writes about restaurants for The San Diego Union-Tribune. Email her at