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'Top Chef' takes on a Texas-sized group of contestants

September 21, 2011 |  6:15 pm

'Top Chef' Texas

Too many cooks in the kitchen? It sure looks as if that could be the case in Bravo’s new season of “Top Chef,” where a record 29 contestants will try to sauté, braise and grill their way to the top of the food preparation chain.

Premiering Nov. 2, the ninth season in the highly rated cooking competition will be set in Texas. Only 16 of the chefs, several of whom currently work in Southern California restaurants, will advance to the cook-offs in the Lone Star State.

Last season, 18 contestants competed in “Top Chef All-Stars,” with Richard Blais taking the top toque. Hugh Acheson, the colorful cook from the last “Top Chef Masters,” will join Emeril Lagasse as a regular “Top Chef” judge. The guest judges will include Charlize Theron, Pee-wee Herman and Patti LaBelle.

The local chefs are Nyesha Arrington, 28, of Santa Monica’s Wilshire Restaurant; Jonathan Baltazar, 36, from Long Beach’s Heights Cuisine; Chris Crary, 29, of Santa Monica’s Whist Restaurant; Laurent Quenioux, 51, of Pasadena’s Vertical Wine Bistro; and Dakota Weiss, 35, from Westwood’s NineThirty.

“Just like Texas, this will be our biggest season ever,” head judge Tom Colicchio said in a statement.


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-- John Horn

Photo: Gail Simmons, Padma Lakshmi  and Tom Colicchio from “Top Chef: Texas.” Credit: Scott McDermott / Bravo