A new spin-off, entitled Top Chef Masters, is scheduled to begin June 10, but it's a little different from its creator. Instead of two dozen talented but unknown culinary artists, the series will feature 24 world-renowned chefs.
The 24 gastronomic celebrities will compete four at a time in six rounds. The winners of those rounds will then face off in the final four episodes, one chef eliminated in each episode, until the top 'Top Chef' is declared the winner.
Each episode winner will earn cash for the charity of his/her choice, and the final winner's charity will receive $100,000.
Three of the master chefs will represent Chicago: Rick Bayless of Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, Graham Elliot of graham elliot, and Art Smith of Table Fifty-Two. They'll be competing against colleagues like Roy Yamaguchi of Roy's Restaurants and Nils Noren of the French Culinary Institute. (A full list of competitors can be viewed at Bravo's website.)
The show will also include guests like Neil Patrick Harris, Zooey Deschanel, and Jeff Lewis (Flipping Out).
Don't expect to see the judges you're used to. The Masters' judges panel will include Jay Rayner (British journalist and food critic), James Oseland (editor-in-chief of Saveur), and Gael Greene ("Insatiable Critic").
And while Top Chef favorites Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio will be making appearances, they won't be hosting. Instead, that honor goes to Kelly Choi of Eat Out NY, a New York City based television series that explores local restaurants.
Which Top Chef will you root for?
Matt Bartosik, editor of Off the Rocks' next issue and "between blogs" blogger, has a secret man-crush on Tom Colicchio.