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(Watch) What Happens in Vegas: Bravo Announces Cast, Launch Date for "Top Chef: Las Vegas"

Best news of the day: Bravo has announced a launch date for the sixth season of Top Chef, entitled Top Chef: Las Vegas, and it's a hell of a lot earlier than I anticipated.

Cabler Bravo announced this morning that it will kick off the sixth season of the culinary competition series on Wednesday, August 26th at 10 pm ET/PT and announced the seventeen-member cast for Top Chef: Las Vegas.

Meanwhile, judges Tom Collichio, Gail Simmons, Toby Young, and host Padma Lakshmi are all on board for the Vegas-based edition and we can look forward to such guest judges as Natalie Portman, Wolfgang Puck, Daniel Boulud, Tyler Florence, Penn & Teller, and Nigella Lawson. (Yes, you read that correctly: NIGELLA LAWSON!!!)

UPDATE: The full press release from Bravo, along with official bios for the Top Chef: Las Vegas contestants and video, can be found below.

Video: Chef Introductions
Get introduced to the chefs that will be competing on this season.



Video: The Judges on the Sixth Season
The judges share their thoughts on this exciting season in Las Vegas.



THE "STEAKS" ARE HIGHER IN SIN CITY ON BRAVO'S
"TOP CHEF: LAS VEGAS" WED. AUGUST 26 AT 9 PM ET/PT

17 New Chefs Rack It Up Along With Guest Judges And Stars
Natalie Portman, Wolfgang Puck, Daniel Boulud, Tyler Florence,
Penn & Teller And Nigella Lawson


NEW YORK – July 8, 2009 – What happens in Vegas won't stay in Vegas. The sixth season of the No. 1 food show on cable, Bravo's Emmy and James Beard Award-winning series returns with "Top Chef: Las Vegas," premiering Wednesday, August 26 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. The 17 new chef'testants take on Sin City this season to see if they have what it takes to become Top Chef. And for the first time ever – the series has a set of brothers competing against each other.

This season captures Sin City's high stakes and high rollers in addition to exploring what Vegas has to offer beyond the Strip. Some of the top names in food, movies and entertainment including Wolfgang Puck, Todd English, Natalie Portman, Daniel Boulud, Penn & Teller, Hubert Keller, Laurent Tourondel, Tim Love, Michelle Bernstein, Tyler Florence, Charlie Palmer, Paul Bartolotta, Nigella Lawson and Jerome Bocuse will be featured this season on "Top Chef: Las Vegas."

Once again returning to the kitchen, cookbook author, actress and host Padma Lakshmi presides over the judge's table alongside head judge Tom Colicchio, renowned culinary figure and chef/owner Craft Restaurants, and judges Gail Simmons, of Food & Wine magazine and Toby Young, food critic and best-selling author of the book How to Lose Friends and Alienate People.

"Las Vegas has become a culinary destination – some of the world's best chefs and restaurants are here – so it's only fitting that our newest season was the best yet," said Colicchio. "You'll be surprised by the quality of chef'testants we discovered this season. They really raised the bar."

The Emmy-nominated Magical Elves return to produce "Top Chef: Las Vegas." Dan Cutforth, Jane Lipsitz ("Top Chef Masters," "Project Runway," "Top Design"), Liz Cook and Casey Kriley serve as executive producers. Nan Strait serves as co-executive producer.

The 17 "Top Chef: Las Vegas" chef'testants will be whittled down week by week as they compete to outshine their competition. The winning chef will receive $100,000 furnished by the makers of the Glad family of products, $100,000 of merchandise provided by Macy's, a feature in Food & Wine magazine, a showcase at the Annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen and will earn the title of "Top Chef." The M Resort Spa & Casino served as the production location for "Top Chef: Las Vegas."

Following are the 17 new "Top Chef: Las Vegas" chef'testants:

-Ash Fulk, 29 – Hometown: Pleasant Hill, Calif.; Resides in New York City
-Ashley Merriman, 32 – Center Sandwich, N.H.; Resides in Seattle, Wash.
-Bryan Voltaggio, 33 – Hometown: Frederick, Md.; Resides in Urbana, Md.
-Eli Kirshtein, 25 – Hometown/Resides in: Atlanta, Ga.
-Eve Aronoff, 40 – Hometown/Resides in: Ann Arbor, Mich.
-Hector Santiago, 41 – Hometown: San Juan, Puerto Rico; Resides in Atlanta, Ga.
-Jennifer Carroll, 33 – Hometown/Resides in: Philadelphia, Pa.
-Jennifer Zavala, 31 – Hometown: Cromwell, Conn.; Resides in Philadelphia, Pa.
-Jesse Sandlin, 30 – Hometown/Resides in: Baltimore, Md.
-Kevin Gillespie, 26 – Hometown/Resides in: Atlanta, Ga.
-Laurine Wickett, 38 – Hometown: Rochester, N.Y.; Resides in San Francisco, Calif.
-Mattin Noblia, 29 – Hometown: Biarritz, France; Resides in San Francisco, Calif.
-Michael Isabella, 34 – Hometown: Little Ferry, N.J.; Resides in Washington, D.C.
-Michael Voltaggio, 30 – Hometown: Frederick, Md.; Resides in Los Angeles, Calif.
-Preeti Mistry, 33 – Hometown/Resides in: San Francisco, Calif.
-Robin Leventhal, 43 – Hometown: Sun Valley, Idaho; Resides in Seattle, Wash.
-Ron Duprat, 40 – Hometown: Mare Rouge, Haiti; Resides in Hollywood, Fla. and Naples, Fla.

Bravo's "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 seventeen 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 inventiveness 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.

This season, BravoTV.com is taking a page from one of "Top Chef''s" most beloved challenges and is reinventing the classics. Fans will find the "Top Chef Fantasy Game," "Memory Match," "Rate the Plate," and blogs from judges and contestants old and new. But this season, BravoTV.com is also bringing some changes – "Top Chef: New York's" Italian Stallion Fabio Viviani will be host to this season's "Top Recipe," where viewers learn to cook each episode's winning recipe. Two new webisode series will also debut – "Guest Judges: Strip'd" where fans can get more intimate with guest judges, learning about their personal styles and backgrounds; and a new series with the chefs out on the town in Las Vegas, where viewers get a peek into the chefs' lives outside the kitchen.

"Chef" fans can also visit m.bravotv.com from their web-enabled phone for exclusive content including contestant and judge Q&A's, photo diaries, foodie faves, video clips, wallpapers and ringtones. Fans who text CHEF to 27286 can join the Top Chef mobile fan club and receive behind-the-scenes dish and exclusive interactive content from the chef'testants, hosts and judges. A new exclusive mobile video series hosted by Toby Young pits the Las Vegas contestants against each other to win the "Slice & Dice Showdown." Contestants are grouped into two teams and led by brothers Bryan and Michael to compete in foodie challenges and earn points culminating in the ultimate dessert bake-off.

"Top Chef" has steadily increased audiences season-to-season, debuting in March 2006 to critical acclaim and ratings success, returning with season two in October 2006 which averaged over two million total viewers, then season three which premiered on June 2007 finished out the season averaging over 2.5 million viewers. Most recently season four which premiered in March 2008, averaged over three million viewers and finally, season five, "Top Chef: New York," was the series' highest rated season ever, averaging almost three million adults 18-49 and almost four million total viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. Additionally, the season five finale was the highest rated telecast ever for the series among adults 18-49 and total viewers (with almost five million).

Top Chef: Las Vegas premieres Wednesday, August 26th at 10 pm ET/PT on Bravo.

Comments

Melissa said…
OMG! Nigella on TC? My mind is blown, so excited for the meeting of two of my favorite things.
Wes said…
Awesome news, Jace! I'm liking TCM but it's not the same as the original. Can't wait for this and love that they got Nigella and Tyler on board for guest judging.
Bella Spruce said…
SO excited that Nigella will be on Top Chef. That's fantastic! Now, if only they could get Jamie Oliver...
Liz said…
I can't believe they're actually bringing back Toby Young.
Mazza said…
Awesome! Love that Nigella is on board. Hate that Toby is back. Blech.
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