Top Chef finally includes Twin Cities contestant
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Top Chef finally includes Twin Cities contestant

The Twin Cities finally has a contestant on one of the most respected cooking competition shows, Bravo's "Top Chef."

Chef Sara Johannes is executive chef at Shoyu, the Japanese noodle and sushi shop at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. It was announced Wednesday that she is one of 18 contestants on the show's 11th season, which takes place in New Orleans.

Johannes was initially a theater major at the University of Minnesota, but ended up getting a degree in culinary arts from Saint Paul College.

After graduation, Johannes served as executive chef for Wolfgang Puck's Five Sixty restaurant in Dallas and WP24 in Los Angeles before moving back to Minneapolis.

Though Brian Malarkey (finalist on "Top Chef" Season 3, and now a judge on ABC's "The Taste") had worked in Minneapolis for a time, he was a California resident by the time the show aired in 2007. Former Stillwater resident and cruise ship chef Molly Brandt similarly lived in California by the time she was eliminated in the qualifying round of Season 9.

"Top Chef" is hosted by Padma Lakshmi, and the head judge is celebrity chef Tom Colicchio. Emeril Lagasse, New Orleans' own culinary icon, will be a standing judge this season as well. The show airs at 9 p.m. Wednesday nights on Bravo starting Oct. 2.