I forgot to remind CC! The new season started tonight. There were quite a few special protocols in place to film last fall. They also were greatly impacted by the wildfires, and had to change a lot of their plans for filming in the surrounding area. Based on a few things Padma said, it sounds like they have a higher grade of cheftestants than most seasons - no sous chefs! Maybe we won’t have to go on so many personal journeys.
Don’t click on the link if you don’t want to be spoiled for the first show, but in general discussion here assumes posters have seen the most recent episode.