Thursday, May 04, 2006

TOP CHEF To Include Reunion Special - Also Announces Casting For Second Season

Season One Of Bravo′s TOP CHEF Extended To Include Reunion Special And Two-Week Finale

Bravo announces that its breakout series TOP CHEF will return for a second season of culinary competition, offering a new group of rising chefs with the opportunity to showcase their talent and creativity. Due to the popularity of the inaugural season of the hit series, Bravo also announces that a special reunion episode has been added to the season one schedule, airing on Wednesday, May 10 at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT. In addition, the season one finale of the search for the culinary world′s next TOP CHEF will be extended to two hours, airing over two weeks on Wednesday, May 17 at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT, when the field will be cut from three to two candidates, and concluding with the winner being announced on Wednesday, May 24 at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.

Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz of Magical Elves, the Emmy-nominated producers of PROJECT RUNWAY, will return as executive producers for the second season of TOP CHEF, along with executive producer Shauna Minoprio. Casting for trained and self-taught professional chefs, as well as non-professional cooks, begins this month. Interested applicants can go to to download the online application form, and open calls will be held in the following cities:

Las Vegas, NV - May 11 and May 12 at the Las Vegas Hilton
New York, NY - May 16 and May 18 at Prey Lounge & Bar
Chicago, IL - May 24 at the Rock Bottom Brewery
Los Angeles, CA -- TBD
San Francisco, CA - June 4

"With strikingly intense personalities and intricate challenges, TOP CHEF has a flavor and spice viewers are savoring, making it one of the most successful new cable shows to debut this year," said Lauren Zalaznick, President of Bravo. "We′re committed to this series and look forward to another successful season showcasing some of the best culinary talent in the country."

Top Chef has seen additional success with interactive TV. Bravo and NBC Universal Cable entered into an interactive partnership with Time Warner Cable around this new series. Each week, viewers are invited to respond with their remote control to a series of topical questions that pop up on the screen during each TOP CHEF episode. Responses are highlighted through an on-screen graphic, allowing viewers to see how others responded in real time in their local markets. Average viewer response rates are now as high as 26%, up more than 300% since the March premiere.

May′s TOP CHEF finale will feature live voting results across three platforms -- cable remote, mobile text messaging and online -- which is the first time this multi-platform strategy has ever been applied in the U.S.

"The success of our partnership with Time Warner Cable to offer interactive TV demonstrates how consumers are becoming more comfortable with iTV applications," said Jean-Briac Perrette, Senior Vice President, NBC Universal Cable. "We will continue to look at more ways to engage our viewers in our programming."

In its premiere season, Bravo′s TOP CHEF has sizzled with critical acclaim and ratings heat to grow steadily in its first eight episodes. The April 26 episode was the highest rated installment for the series with over 1.3 million total viewers tuning in to see the grandiose Stephen Asprinio packing his knives, narrowing the competition to Harold Dieterle, Tiffani Faison, Dave Martin and Lee Anne Wong. The episode posted a 1.29 HH rating, 929,000 viewers 18-49, and 901,000 viewers 25-54.

On Wednesday, May 10 (10:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m., ET/PT), viewers will have an opportunity to see some of the dramatic moments from the previous challenges that did not make it into the preceding shows as all twelve chefs reunite with Katie, Tom and Gail. The episode will also feature new interviews with the contestants and judges reacting to their experiences during the course of the challenges, as well as their personal reactions as they watch the series on television. Contestants will share their thoughts on how the series has also impacted their careers and lives.

On Wednesday, May 17 (10:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m., ET/PT), the final three contestants head to the MGM Grand in Las Vegas for a week of high-stakes competition. Upon arrival to Sin City, the three finalists are immediately thrown into the fire and must showcase their technique, timing and guest service ability through a fast-paced room service challenge. Returning to the series for a guest appearance in the episode is renowned chef Hubert Keller, owner of San Francisco′s famous Fleur de Lys. One of the final three will be sent packing their knives at the end of the episode.

On Wednesday, May 24 (10:00 - 11:00 p.m., ET/PT), the remaining two chefs will face-off for one final competition. In the end, only one chef will make it through the spectacular final competition to take the top culinary title. The winning chef will receive $100,000 in seed money to help encourage their culinary career, be featured in Food & Wine magazine, appear at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen in June 2006, and most importantly, earn the prestigious title of TOP CHEF. Their home will also be outfitted with a complete gourmet kitchen courtesy of Sears Kenmore. Lorraine Bracco of THE SOPRANOS guest stars, helping to judge the final dishes.