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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Bravo announces Top Chef Masters contestants

On June 10th, Bravo premieres Top Chef Masters, a spin-off to its (justifiably) popular reality competition series Top Chef. The twist is that the competing chefs are not scrappy young line cooks, sous chefs, or small-time proprietors looking to catch their big break, but established, world-renowned executive chefs from around the country. In other words, if you want to see Hubert Keller searing vending-machine trash into haute cuisine treasures, then this is the show for you.

Hosted by food journalist Kelly Choi, who also hosts NYC TV’s Eat Out NY, Top Chef Masters will pit 24 chefs against each other for charity dollars (and, of course, lots of free exposure for their restaurants). That number sounds like the recipe for a grueling 22-week trial, but in fact, the chefs will have much more limited screen-time than regular Top Chef contestants. Here’s how the format works, according to Bravo’s website:

The first six episodes will consist of four chefs competing against each other to name one winner.  The six winners of each episode will then meet up for the final four weeks when one person will get eliminated each episode until the finale where one winner is crowned Top Chef Master. The winning chef will receive $100,000 for the charity of their choice. [There will also be charity money dispensed to winners in individual episode, too.]

Today, the network announced the 24 contestants on Top Chef Masters, and it’s a formidable list that includes several guest judges on previous seasons like Rick Bayless, Wylie Dufresne, Hubert Keller, and Roy Yamaguchi. Here’s the complete list:

• Rick Bayless – Frontera Grill, Chicago, Ill.

• Wilo Benet – Pikayo, San Juan, Puerto Rico

• John Besh – Restaurant August, New Orleans, LA
      • Graham Elliot Bowles – Graham Elliot Restaurant, Chicago, Ill.


• Michael Chiarello – Bottega Restaurant, Yountville, Calif.

• Michael Cimarusti – Providence, Los Angeles, Calif.

• Wylie Dufresne – wd~50, New York, N.Y.

• Elizabeth Falkner – Orson, San Francisco, Calif.
        • Hubert Keller – Fleur de Lys, San Francisco, Calif.
        • Christopher Lee – Aureole, New York, N.Y.

• Ludo Lefebvre – Ludo Bites, Los Angeles, Calif.

• Anita Lo – Annisa, New York, N.Y.

• Tim Love – The Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, Fort Worth, Texas

• Rick Moonen – Rick Moonen’s RM Seafood at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Nev.

• Nils Noren – French Culinary Institute, New York, N.Y.
        • Lachlan McKinnon Patterson – Frasca Food & Wine Boulder, Colo.


• Cindy Pawlcyn – Mustards Grill, Napa Valley, Calif.

• Mark Peel – Campanile, Los Angeles, Calif.

• Douglas Rodriguez – Alma de Cuba, Philadelphia, PA
        • Michael Schlow – Radius Restaurant, Boston, Mass.
        • Art Smith – Table Fifty-Two, Chicago, Ill.


• Suzanne Tracht – Jar, Los Angeles, Calif.

• Jonathan Waxman – Barbuto, New York, N.Y.

• Roy Yamaguchi – Roy's Restaurants, San Diego, Calif.


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