Dan Levy’s upcoming HBO Max cooking competition “The Big Brunch” has found its judging panel: Joining Levy at the judges’ table will be chef Sohla El-Waylly and restaurateur Will Guidara. The unscripted series — created and hosted by Levy, and produced by Boardwalk Pictures — will premiere on the streamer later this year.
In the announcement, Levy and fellow executive producers Andrew Fried and Sarina Roma of Boardwalk Pictures said: “We owed it to our competing chefs to find judges who could help them in really meaningful ways — both in the kitchen and beyond, and Sohla and Will do just that. They each have such distinctly unique culinary voices that combined, speak not only to flavor and technique, but also business and hospitality. We couldn’t be more excited that Sohla and Will have joined us, as their expertise and insight are an invaluable asset to our incredibly inspiring group of undiscovered chefs.”
Guidara, the co-author of four cookbooks, is the former co-owner of Make It Nice, the restaurant group that included the NoMad restaurants, Davies and Brook at the Claridges Hotel, Made Nice and Eleven Madison Park — the last of which won seven James Beard Foundation awards. His forthcoming book, “Unreasonable Hospitality,” which will be released in October, is about lessons in service and leadership he’s learned over the course of his career.
El-Waylly was one of the stars of Bon Appétit’s popular “Test Kitchen” YouTube channel and then in 2020 helped spur the uprising against the magazine’s former Adam Rapoport over Bon Appétit’s tokenizing and underpaying of the channel’s BIPOC chefs, which led to Rapoport’s resignation. According to her official bio, “Sohla parted ways with the publication, amidst a very public conversation about publication’s treatment of people of color and lack of equitable pay. Her voice sparked a very public movement for more diverse representation in culinary media and forged the way for other BIPOC cast members to speak out and be heard.” She has since gone on to contribute to the New York Times cooking vertical, be on the TIME100 Next list and star in History’s “Ancient Recipes With Sohla.” El-Waylly is represented by Range Media Partners and Brecheen Feldman Breimer Silver Thompson.
The logline for “The Big Brunch” describes the show thusly: “Co-creator and star of ‘Schitt’s Creek’ Dan Levy has teamed up with Boardwalk Pictures (‘Chef’s Table,’ ‘Cheer’) for the next great American culinary success story. Created by Levy and centering around one of the most versatile and underestimated dining experiences, ‘The Big Brunch’ is a cooking competition series that celebrates the most inspiring undiscovered culinary voices from every corner of the country. Chefs will be offered the opportunity to share their stories and their business dreams, while also competing for a life altering prize. All while finding innovative and personal ways to redefine what it means to dine between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.”
In addition to Levy, Fried and Roma, other executive producers of “The Big Brunch” are Dane Lillegard and Faye Stapleton.