BJ Smith has been a busy man. Busier than we thought, actually.
Before he and Han Ly Hwang opened Kim Jong Smokehouse in Pine Street Market—and long before he put the finishing touches on Vancouver’s recently opened Smokehouse Provisions—Smith was in Charleston, South Carolina, secretly competing in the upcoming season of Bravo’s Top Chef.
As you can see by the teaser embedded below, Smith gets plenty of screen time.
“I’ve been preparing myself for Top Chef for the last 10 years,” he says. “I’ve worked at La Bernadin, and Picholine, Veritas, so I’ve got some tricks up my sleeve for sure.”
“I never really thought I’d be on the show,” Smith tells Eater. “It’s been one of my career and personal goals since season one.”
And he acknowledges that the ordeal was one of the hardest things he’d ever gone through.
“It was really challenging and difficult,” he says, an experience that was compounded by spending two months away from his friends, his family, and his employees—all while keeping mum about what he was doing and where he was, and preparing to open Provisions, his most ambitious restaurant to date. (It didn’t help that his dog of 12 years, Miles, passed while he was away.)
“People were getting mad that they couldn’t get hold of me for those two months,” Smith says. “Just being able to talk about it now feels good. It feels awesome.”
Smith joins Departure’s Gregory Gourdet and Bullard’s Doug Adams as Top Chef’s sole Portland contestants. Beast’s Naomi Pomeroy and Lincoln’s Jenn Louis both competed in Top Chef Masters.
When Top Chef returns to Bravo on December 1, Smith and seven other first-time Top contenders will be joined by another eight returning competitors for a rookies-meets-veterans kitchen free-for-all.