Saugerties resident Lorenzo Beronilla will compete on the inaugural season of Top Chef Amateurs, a spinoff of Bravo’s longtime staple Top Chef. The new series, filmed in Portland alongside the next season of Top Chef, sees two amateur chefs battling head-to-head each week with guidance from renowned professionals.
“To walk in and cook in the Top Chef kitchen was mind-blowing and such an honor,” said Beronilla. “It’s all still a blur; everything was moving so quickly and I was just in awe that I was even there. My heart was beating so fast out of nervousness, but soon the passionate home cook in me kicked into gear and I was ready to compete.”
Born in Pittsburgh, Beronilla has lived in Saugerties for around six years, has been in the Hudson Valley for the past two decades. An actor and writer, Beronilla is no stranger to marrying his love of cooking with his screen-friendly personality.
“Since I’m comfortable in the kitchen, I’m always drawn to gigs that include cooking, good knife skills, and chef-related roles,” Beronilla said. “About two years ago, I was given the opportunity to cook on the Epicurious pilot show 4 Levels. The series was a hit, several shows went viral with millions of views, and even led to another popular show I’m on called Pro Chef vs Home Cook Swap Ingredients which also became a viral success.”
Beronilla found his way to Top Chef Amateurs through a casting call.
“Last September I saw a listing for an opportunity to be on a new spin-off cooking show. I’m a huge fan of Top Chef so when I saw the post my eyes bulged out of my head and I couldn’t believe they were opening it up to amateur cooks,” he said. “Usually I wouldn’t put myself out there for this kind of thing, but being in the middle of the COVID pandemic I needed something to look forward to and thought, ‘Why not give it a shot?’ Much to my surprise, they actually picked me.”
Unlike the season-long competition seen on its parent show, Top Chef Amateurs pits two home cooks against one another in head-to-head competition, with aid from celebrity chefs along the way. Viewers will have the opportunity to play a role as well, with online voting, along with influencing whether competitors will compete in the Seven Deadly Sins challenge (with dishes inspired by one of the seven deadly sins) or the Aphrodisiac challenge (self-explanatory).
Beronilla’s episode, which first airs on Thursday, July 8, includes guest Top Chef All-Stars Richard Blais and Melissa King. The program is hosted by Gail Simmons, a food writer, cookbook author and longtime Top Chef judge.
Beronilla’s screen presence didn’t just lead to a spot on Top Chef Amateurs; his debut cookbook, Let’s Do This Folks: Home Cooking With Lorenzo, was published in early June by Page Street Publishing.
“Being on Epicurious gave me the platform to show off my cooking skills and personality to the world,” Beronilla said. “This allowed me to get noticed and approached by publishers who were fans of the shows…When writing the book, I loved the creative aspect of putting together family recipes with my own twists to share with everyone. I wanted to write it as if I was standing next to you in the kitchen helping you cook. The editing, however, was a very long, tedious, and tiring process, but it was all worth it for the rewarding outcome.”
Beronilla’s love of cooking can be traced back to his youth.
“The fondest memories I have from my childhood are always being in the kitchen watching my family cook,” he said. “As I grew up, I knew I wanted to join in on the fun and be the one cooking. Cooking relaxes me and takes me back to those good old days of being that kid on the counter.”
Beronilla’s episode will air on July 8 at 9:30 p.m. on Bravo. For streaming and rebroadcast information, visit: https://www.bravotv.com/top-chef-amateurs