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'Top Chef Masters' announces June 10 premiere, contestants, guest judges

April 8, 2009 | 12:10 pm

Top chef masters Bravo has finally taken the lid off "Top Chef Masters." The cooking competition spinoff -- this one featuring "world-renowned chefs" -- will premiere June 10 at 10 p.m. and has recruited a star-studded lineup of guest judges.

They include Neil Patrick Harris, Zooey Deschanel, Morgan Spurlock, "Lost" writers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof, "Flipping Out's" Jeff Lewis, and all of the previous "Top Chef" winners. Tom Colicchio, Padma Lakshmi and Gail Simmons will also appear.

With the large number of competitors, producers have tweaked the format of the original series. From Bravo's press release:

In each episode, money will be at stake for the chefs, with the winners of eliminations being awarded cash donations for their charities. The first six episodes will consist of four chefs competing against each other to name one winner. The six winners of each episode will then meet up for the final four weeks when one person will get eliminated each episode until the finale where one winner is crowned Top Chef Master. The winning chef will receive $100,000 for the charity of his or her choice.

The following are the 24 contestants competing (hometown chefs in bold):

- Rick Bayless – Frontera Grill, Chicago
- Wilo Benet – Pikayo, San Juan, Puerto Rico
- John Besh – Restaurant August, New Orleans
- Graham Elliot Bowles – Graham Elliot Restaurant, Chicago
- Michael Chiarello – Bottega Restaurant, Yountville, Calif.
- Michael Cimarusti – Providence, Los Angeles
- Wylie Dufresne – wd~50, New York
- Elizabeth Falkner – Orson, San Francisco
- Hubert Keller – Fleur de Lys, San Francisco
- Christopher Lee – Aureole, New York
- Ludo Lefebvre – Ludo Bites, Los Angeles
- Anita Lo – Annisa, New York
- Tim Love – The Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, Fort Worth, Texas
- Rick Moonen – Rick Moonen's RM Seafood at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas
- Nils Noren – French Culinary Institute, New York
- Lachlan MacKinnon-Patterson – Frasca Food & Wine, Boulder, Colo.
- Cindy Pawlcyn – Mustards Grill, Napa Valley, Calif.
- Mark Peel – Campanile, Los Angeles
- Douglas Rodriguez – Alma de Cuba, Philadelphia
- Michael Schlow – Radius Restaurant, Boston
- Art Smith – Table Fifty-Two, Chicago
- Suzanne Tracht – Jar, Los Angeles
- Jonathan Waxman – Barbuto, New York
- Roy Yamaguchi – Roy's Restaurants, San Diego

"On 'Top Chef,' the biggest names in the industry join us as guests to pass judgment on the cheftestants," said executive producer Dan Cutforth. "Now we'll get to see how they handle equally tough challenges."

Food journalist Kelly Choi will host "Masters." New York Magazine food critic Gael Greene, Saveur magazine Editor in Chief James Oseland and British food critic Jay Rayner will judge.

-- Denise Martin

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Photo: host Kelly Choi. Credit: NBC Universal