Having already knocked out the coasts and Chicago, Top Chef producers have decided it’s time to visit (sigh) the flyover states. Next stop: Texas. The show will bounce between Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio in the upcoming season, which premieres on November 2nd.
This season’s bizarrely random smattering of special guests includes: Charlize Theron, Pee-wee Herman, Cat Cora, John Besh, Tim Love and Patti LaBelle. Do you think the contestants will find themselves pandering to Pee-wee’s well-documented love of porcini mushrooms?
I’m kidding. I have no idea if Pee-wee Herman likes porcini mushrooms.
Host Padma Lakshmi and Judges Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons will be joined by chefs Emeril Lagasse and Hugh Acheson.
Can a humorless host please synopsize the upcoming season in a meaningless sound byte?
“Just like Texas, this will be our biggest season ever,” said head judge Tom Colicchio.
Here is a list of the hopefuls. I recognize none of the names and three of the restaurants. See if you can beat me!
Nyesha Arrington, 28 – Los Angeles, Calif., Wilshire Restaurant.
Lindsay Autry, 29 – West Palm Beach, Fla., Omphoy Ocean Resort &Michelle Bernstein
Jonathan Baltazar, 36 – Long Beach, Calif., Heights Cuisine.
Ty-Lör Boring, 34 – Brooklyn, N.Y., Spasso
Molly Brandt, 30 – Hollywood, Fla., Allure of the Seas for Royal Caribbean
Chaz Brown, 29 – New York, N.Y., Fatty Crab
Kimberly Calichio, 27 – New York, N.Y., Fishtail by David Burke
Beverly Kim, 31 – Chicago, Ill., Aria Restaurant
Chris Crary, 29 – Los Angeles, Calif., Whist Restaurant in the Viceroy Hotel
Andrew Curren, 32 – Austin, Texas 24 Diner
Berenice deAraujo, 33 – Miami, Fla., Sra. Martinez
Janine Falvo, 37 – Atlanta, Ga., Briza Restaurant
Richie Farina, 28 – Chicago, Ill., MOTO
Sarah Grueneberg, 29 – Chicago, Ill., Spiaggia
Chris Jones, 30 – Chicago, Ill., MOTO
Edward Lee, 38 – Louisville, Ky., 610 Magnolia
Whitney Otawka, 30 – Cumberland Island, Ga., Greyfield Inn
Simon Pantet, 30 – Seattle, Wash., Twenty-Two Doors
Colin Patterson, 37 – Seattle, Wash., Sutra
Laurent Quenioux, 51 – Los Angeles, Calif., Vertical Wine Bistro
Paul Qui, 30 – Austin, Texas, Uchiko Restaurant
Keith Rhodes, 39 – Wilmington, N.C., Catch Restaurants
Grayson Schmitz, 27 – New York, N.Y., Exec. Chef
Tyler Stone, 22 – Sacramento, Calif., Personal Chef
Heather Terhune, 39 – Chicago, Ill., Sable Kitchen and Bar
Chuy Valencia, 25 – Chicago, Ill., Chilam Bilam
Nina Vicente, 29 – Seattle, Wash., Spur Gastropub
Ashley Villaluz, 25 – Seattle, Wash., Sous Chef
Dakota Weiss , 35 – Los Angeles, Calif., 9:30 Restaurant and The Backyard
If the list seems long to you, you’re not alone. They have increased the field from 16 to 29, though only 16 will be making it to Texas. Why are they doing this? Who the hell knows. Probably some sort of “bigger is better” philosophy because they’re in Texas and everything is bigger in Texas. Like the size of the list of mentally retarded people they execute. That’s huge.