Wednesday, October 18, 2006

TOP CHEF 2 Premieres Tonight On Bravo - Fifteen Hottest Rising Chefs

Bravo′s TOP CHEF Serves Up Fifteen Of The Nation′s Hottest Rising Chefs With Its Season Two Premiering Tonight At 11 P.M. ET/PT, Following The Third Season Finale Of PROJECT RUNWAY
Series Moves To Its Regular 10 P.M. Timeslot On Wednesday, October 25

Actress And Award-Winning Writer Padma Lakshmi Joins Series As Host; Tom Colicchio Returns As Head Chef/Judge; Gail Simmons Of Food And Wine Is Back As A Regular Series Judge

Bravo serves up the second season of its hit culinary competition series TOP CHEF tonight at 11:00 p.m., following PROJECT RUNWAY′s third season finale. TOP CHEF moves into its regular 10:00 p.m. timeslot on Wednesday, October 25. The announcement was made by Lauren Zalaznick, President, Bravo.

TOP CHEF debuted last March as a new reality competition program to critical and ratings success, earning the title of the highest rated food show on cable so far this year among Adults 18-49 and 25-54.

Bravo introduces a new crop of fifteen of the country′s most impressive rising chefs in the second season, all wanting to follow in the footsteps of season one winner, Harold Dieterle, who plans to open his Manhattan restaurant, Perilla, later this year.

"We′re excited to present a new season of our newest hit TOP CHEF, which will have all of the rivalries and dramatic entertainment Bravo viewers have come to expect with our competitive reality shows," said Zalaznick.

"This season the stakes are even higher as the title of TOP CHEF holds true meaning for these talented chefs, who are eager for this opportunity to make a name for themselves in the competitive culinary world," said Frances Berwick, Executive Vice President, Programming & Production, Bravo.

Known as the first Indian supermodel, actress and award-winning writer Padma Lakshmi joins the second season as host of TOP CHEF, introducing the challenges to the contestants and sitting at the judges′ table each week. Lakshmi is currently working on her second cookbook for Miramax Books due in Spring 2007, a culinary endeavor of over 150 recipes from around the world and intriguing personal memoirs. This is a follow up to her successful first cookbook, "Easy Exotic," for which she won the International Versailles Event for best cookbook by a first time writer. Lakshmi hosted "Padma′s Passport" on The Food Network, cooking diverse and low-fat cuisine based on her best selling book, "Easy Exotic." Lakshmi also hosted the documentary series "Planet Food" for The Food Network and worldwide Discovery Channel, in which she journeyed the world for exotic cuisine.

Tom Colicchio, one of the culinary world′s most celebrated figures and co-founder of New York City′s Gramercy Tavern and Craft Restaurants, returns as Head Chef/Judge for the new season, guiding the chefs through the challenges and demanding that they perform only at their best. Food expert and tough critic Gail Simmons of Food & Wine magazine also returns as a regular judge for the series. In addition, each week will feature a special guest judge, some of the most respected figures in the culinary industry.

The second season also features a glitzy new backdrop - the city of Los Angeles. The contestants will reside in the city′s culturally burgeoning downtown area, where most of the season′s production activity will be centered.

The TOP CHEF season two chefs are:

* Elia L. Aboumrad - 23 - Las Vegas, NV
* Otto Borsich - 46 - Las Vegas, NV
* Marisa Churchill - 28 - San Francisco, CA
* Clifford Crooks - 28 - West Caldwell, NJ
* Carlos Fernandez - 36 - Fort Lauderdale, FL
* Betty Fraser - 44 - Los Angeles, CA
* Mia Gaines - 32 - Oakdale, CA
* Ilan Hall - 24 - New York, NY
* Michael Midgley - 28 - Stockton, CA
* Josie Smith-Malave - 31 - Brooklyn, NY
* Emily Sprissler - 30 - Las Vegas, NV
* Suyai Steinhauer - 29 - New York, NY
* Sam Talbot - 28 - New York, NY
* Frank Terzoli - 39 - San Diego, CA
* Marcel Vigneron - 26 - Las Vegas, NV

The fifteen chefs will be chopped down to the finalists who will face-off in the grand finale. 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 2007, and earn the coveted title of TOP CHEF.

Off the heels of its Emmy-nominated hit PROJECT RUNWAY, Bravo′s newest hit reality competition series TOP CHEF offers a fascinating window into the competitive, pressure-filled environment of world-class cookery and the restaurant business at the highest level. The series features fifteen aspiring chefs who compete for their shot at culinary stardom and the chance to earn the prestigious title of TOP CHEF. Each episode holds two challenges for the chefs. The first is a quickfire test of their basic abilities and the second is a more involved elimination challenge designed to test the versatility and invention of the chefs as they take on unique culinary trials such as working with unusual and exotic foods or catering for a range of demanding clients. The challenges not only test their skills in the kitchen, but also uncover if they have the customer service, management and teamwork abilities required of a Top Chef. The competing chefs live and breathe the high-pressure lifestyle that comes with being a master chef, and each week someone is asked to "pack up their knives" and go home.

Season one of TOP CHEF averaged over 1.2 million total viewers, ranking as the top food series on cable among P18-49. The TOP CHEF finale on 5/24/06 averaged 1.6 million total viewers, 1.1 million P18-49 and 1.1 million P25-54.