Yes, dear foodies, "Top Chef All-Stars" is almost over for the season, but fear not!
"Top Chef Masters" returns April 6 with more gorgeous food for you to look at, plus a new format and the addition of legendary food critic Ruth Reichl as a judge. What else is changing, and who will be competing? Here's what we can tell you:
"Top Chef Masters" used to be judged on a scale, but this time out, the show is going with the same kind of elimination-style challenges that are used on original-flavor "Top Chef." The competitors will be able to earn $5,000 for their designated charities if they win a quickfire, and $10,000 if they win the elimination challenge. The ultimate winner of the competition garners another $100,000 for his or her charity.
Ruth Reichl also joins the judges' table this season, where she will keep company with returning judge James Oseland. Reichl, a newspaper food critic from 1973 to 1993 and editor of Gourmet magazine from 1999 until it was shuttered in 2009, has also published four books of essays about food and three cookbooks. In short, Ruth Reichl is a culinary badass.
Also joining the "Top Chef Masters" staff this season is cutie-patootie celebrity chef Curtis Stone as host. Guest judges will include "Mad Men" star Christina Hendricks and her husband, actor Geoffrey Arend, the band Maroon 5 and singer Kelis.
This season's competitors number 12 and include the follow cheftestants:
- Hugh Acheson, Five & Ten, The National and Gosford Wine in Georgia
- Floyd Cordoz, Tabla and a new Danny Meyer restaurant
- John Currence, City Grocery Restaurant Group in Mississippi
- Traci Des Jardins, Jardinire, Manzanita and Mijita Cocina Mexicana in San Francisco
- George Mendes, Aldea in New York City
- Mary Sue Milliken, Border Grill in Los Angeles
- Naomi Pomeroy, Beast in Portland, Ore.
- Suvir Saran, Devi in New York City
- John Rivera Sedlar, Playa in Los Angeles
- Alex Stratta, Stratta in Las Vegas
- Celina Tio, Julian in Kansas City, Mo.
- Sue Zemanick, Gautreau's in New Orleans
"Top Chef Masters'" previous two champions are Rick Bayless and Marcus Samuelsson.