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Justin Sutherland X Miller High Life X Top Chef: Wisconsin

For 20 seasons, Top Chef has thrilled audiences with its high-stakes cooking competition featuring some of the world’s best chefs, many of whom have gone on to launch related ventures. As the 21st season of Top Chef is underway, we recently spoke with former contestant Chef Justin Sutherland to discuss the Midwest focus of the new season and the show’s partnership with Miller High Life.

Top Chef: Wisconsin is currently airing on Bravo and Miller High Life is the official beer for this season. Justin Sutherland, a native of Minnesota, spoke with us briefly about his time on the show, what cuisines the Midwest is known for, and how Miller High Life plays a part in his recipes.

We opened the chat by asking Sutherland, who is a graduate of the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Atlanta, about his experience on the 16th season of Top Chef and what he took from the experience.

“It was one of the most intense but rewarding experiences I ever had,” Sutherland began. “It was trying on a lot of levels, especially when trying to put your culinary skills to the test. It’s definitely the ultimate test for a chef.”

With the focus shifting toward the Midwest, it would be natural to assume that diary will play a prominent part in what the chefs will create on Top Chef: Wisconsin. Sutherland shared his excitement about the focus on a region where he has deep family roots and says that there is more than just cheese abound.

“I’m really excited to see folks who aren’t familiar with our cuisine to see what it’s all about,” Sutherland said. “It’s always been this flyover region and people aren’t aware of what’s going but we have so much to offer and I can’t for people to see what we can do.”

Miller High Life, as we mentioned above, partnered with Top Chef: Wisconsin, and Chef Sutherland says not only is he a fan of sipping the brew but also using it in his cooking.

“Miller High Life has such wide appeal because it’s just good beer and there is nothing pretentious about it,” Sutherland explained. “It’s an easy-drinking beer for everyone. It’s comfortable and fresh.”

Sutherland adds, “I’ve been working with Miller High Life to create recipes that pair well with the beer and ways to use the beer in your recipes. We have a great beer-battered fish taco recipe and that’s one of my favorite ways to use Miller High Life, in batters. It’s just so light and crispy and fresh.”

As is the focus on Top Chef, the show’s producers look across the nation to food the best chefs and invite them to test their skills against their peers under the bright lights and observant glare of host Kristen Kish, who won top honors in the 10th season of the show. Sutherland once more exhibited pride in the show highlighting some of the foods he grew up on and even shared some of his favorites.

“The show looks for the best around and I’m just excited they’re putting the Midwest on the map,” Sutherland shared. “It’s great to get to show off some of the stuff we do in these parts, and that includes the people, the culture, and of course, the food.”

Sutherland says that for the uninitiated, a good place to start with a true Midwest staple is his home state’s famed “Juicy Lucy” burger, a cheese-stuffed burger that many restaurants in the Twin Cities area stake their claim on.

Adding to Miller High Life’s role as a sponsor for the new season, the brand also has a sweepstakes where folks can win a chance at a private cooking class with Chef Sutherland. There is also a new merch line connected to the new season, and a line of cooking apparel from Tilit among other surprises to come this spring.

“Miller High Life toasts to celebrating the everyday moments in life from good friends to great food,” said Frank Cirone, senior director of marketing for Miller High Life. “As the beer that’s beloved by chefs across the country, we’re proud to be the Official Beer of Season 21 of ‘Top Chef’ and look forward to serving up ways for consumers to taste the High Life all year long.”

Top Chef: Wisconsin made its debut on March 20 and the contestants will get a chance to test their skills with Miller High Life in a food challenge that we can’t wait to see.

To learn more about Top Chef, click here.

To learn more about Miller High Life Click here.

Follow Chef Justin Sutherland here.

Photo: Miller High Life