‘Top Chef’ star loses taste and smell after contracting COVID


“Top Chef: Houston” competitor Jackson Kalb has revealed he lost his taste after contracting COVID-19.

The Los Angeles-based restaurateur, 31, came down with the contagious virus last August, just two weeks before he was set to fly to Houston to compete on the reality show.

“It was totally mild — I just felt like I had a cold — except all of my smell and taste were gone,” Kalb told the Los Angeles Times in an interview on Friday.

The panicked cook tried a “wild list of things” in order to regain his sense of taste before filming the series.

“I did acupuncture. I took all the supplements and vitamins A through E,” Kalb claimed, saying that nothing helped.

“Top Chef: Houston” competitor Jackson Kalb has revealed he lost his ability to taste after contracting COVID-19. He is pictured competing on the program, which was filmed last year in Texas.

“Four or five days before I had to leave [for filming], I started getting these weird sensations on my tongue — this tingling or burning with salts, as well as acids like champagne vinegar or lemon juice, but there was no discernible difference for me,” he continued.

Kalb was still able to compete on the show after testing negative for the virus prior to shooting. However, his sense of taste had failed to return, leaving him at a massive disadvantage in the competition.

Despite the drawback, the chef still shined in the series, even winning multiple challenges before ultimately being eliminated on Thursday night’s episode.

Asked how he managed to make his meals without knowing whether the taste was right, Kalb stated: “Honestly, a lot of it was instincts, and a lot of it was a total crapshoot.”

Despite the drawback, the chef still shined in the series, even winning multiple challenges. He was eliminated on Thursday night’s episode of the show.
NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Kalb said “about 75%” of his taste had returned two months after he wrapped the series.

Now, eight months on, the chef says he “thinks” his taste has returned 100%, although he is “not sure.”

Loss of both taste and smell is a common symptom of COVID-19, with researchers at 23andMe finding 68% of all patients experienced the loss of at least one of those senses.

The percentage was determined by the company after analyzing data from almost 70,000 people in both the US and UK who contracted COVID.