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Top Chef Masters Tweaks the Recipe

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I am not one to complain about more Top Chef in any form. I love the original, I liked Top Chef Masters, I even—in theory if not in first-season practice—liked Top Chef Just Desserts. But while I eventually grew used to the format of Top Chef Masters, I wished from the beginning that it could have had the same format as the original, with a constant cast and one chef being eliminated each week.

Well, my order is up! For the new season, debuting April 6, Bravo has announced that Masters will indeed follow this more serial format, rather than the playoff system that it has used the first two outings. The flip side, I’m guessing, is that it meant the show could not attract quite as huge names for the cast (though I don’t know the details of production, I have to assume this format is a greater time commitment). But the new cast, listed below, still contains some names that will be familiar to restaurant and/or food-TV junkies (including Floyd Cardoz, Traci Des Jardins and Mary Sue Milliken).

All this, and Christina Hendricks! This season’s specials coming up after the jump:

NEW YORK – March 2, 2011 – Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters” returns with a brand new format and 12 new award-winning chefs hungry to compete for the title of “Top Chef Master” and win $100,000 for their charity. This season, the masters will no longer be judged on a scale, but in elimination style challenges just as the tried and true format of the original “Top Chef.”  In each episode, money will be at stake, with the winners of every quickfire challenge winning $5,000 and elimination challenges winning $10,000 for their designated charities. As previously announced, celebrity chef Curtis Stone will serve as the newly appointed host of the series along with returning judge and culinary expert, James Oseland, and new series judge, the legendary food critic and author, Ruth Reichl. The third season of “Top Chef Masters” premieres on Wednesday, April 6 at 11 p.m. ET/PT and will move to its regular time period on April 13 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

“Top Chef Masters” pits 12 world-renowned chefs against each other to see how well they fare in fierce culinary competition. Each week will whittle down the chefs until the finale where one winner is crowned “Top Chef Master” and receive the grand prize of $100,000 for the charity of their choice.  With so much money at stake, the chefs are bringing more than their knives to the table; they’re bringing their egos and stirring up the drama.  The chefs must face off in some of the most difficult challenges we’ve seen thus far – including the infamous restaurant wars – and they’re serving up food for some master entertainers and celebrity guest judges including: Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks, pop/rock group Maroon 5 and pop sensation Kelis, among others. For a sneak peek of the third season of “Top Chef Masters” go to: http://www.bravotv.com/top-chef-masters/season-3/videos/for-culinary-glory

To meet the cast of “Top Chef Masters,” visit http://www.BravoTV.com.  Photography and bios are available at http://www.nbcumv.com.

Following are the 12 “Top Chef Masters” competing chefs:

–       Hugh Acheson – Chef/ Partner: Five& Ten, The National, Gosford Wine – in Athens, GA and Empire State South, Atlanta, GA; Competing for Wholesome Wave Foundation
–       Floyd Cardoz – Former Executive Chef/Partner- of Tabla and soon-to-be Executive Chef/Partner of a new Danny Meyer restaurant; Competing for Young Scientist Cancer Research Fund
–       John Currence – City Grocery Restaurant Group, Oxford, MS Competing for No Kid Hungry
–       Traci Des Jardins – Chef/Co-owner of Jardinière, Mijita Cocina Mexicana and Public House and Manzanita, San Francisco, CA; Competing for La Cocina
–       George Mendes – Chef/Co-Owner of ALDEA, Manhattan, NY; Competing for Charity: Water
–       Mary Sue Milliken – Co-Chef/ Owner: Border Grill Restaurants and Truck, Los Angeles, CA; Competing for Share Our Strength
–       Naomi Pomeroy – Owner: Beast in Portland, OR; Competing for Seed Savers Exchange
–       Suvir Saran – Executive Chef: Dévi, New York, NY; Competing for Agricultural Stewardship Association
–       John Rivera Sedlar – Owner: Playa, Los Angeles, CA; Competing for American Diabetes Association
–       Alex Stratta – Executive Chef: Stratta, Las Vegas, NV; Competing for Faster Cures, part of the Milken Prostate Cancer Foundation
–       Celina Tio – Chef/Owner: JULIAN Restaurant, Kansas City, MO, Competing for Harvesters
–       Sue Zemanick – Executive Chef: Gautreau’s, New Orleans, LA; Competing for the Louisiana SPCA

The second season of “Top Chef Masters averaged over 1 million adults 18-49 and over 1.6 million total viewers.  The series is produced by the Emmy Award-winning Magical Elves with Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz serving as executive producers.