Bravo serves up another season of Top Chef Masters

by Athena Voulgaropoulos

Bravo’s Top Chef Masters returns for its third season on Wednesday, April 6 at 11 pm ET/PT with a brand-new format and new award-winning chefs hungry to compete for the title of “Top Chef Master” and win $100,000 for their charity.

This season, 12 world-renowned chefs battle for culinary glory in some of the toughest challenges ever seen on the series, including the infamous restaurant wars. In a change from the previous two seasons, the masters will no longer be judged on a five-star rating scale, but in elimination-style challenges similar to the tried-and-true format of the original Top Chef.

Celebrity chef Curtis Stone takes over as host of the series and also serves as a judge, along with returning judge and culinary expert, James Oseland, and new series judge, the legendary food critic and author, Ruth Reichl. The fourth critic’s seat will be filled by a variety of celebrity guest judges, including Mad Men‘s Christina Hendricks, rock group Maroon 5 and pop sensation Kelis, who is, surprisingly, a trained chef in her own right.

Egos and attitudes abound among the cheftestants, all seasoned kitchen veterans who own upwards of 25 restaurants between them and boast dozens of cooking honors. Newly appointed host Stone was blown away when the latest cast was announced.

“The accolades in this room alone are unbelievable!”  emphasizes Stone, who notes the special intensity that such a high level of skill and expertise brings to the series. “You don’t want to be the first chef to go home. Your entire reputation, everything you’ve worked for is on the table.”

In addition to reputation and pride, lots of cash is on the line for these masters, with the winners of every quickfire challenge winning $5,000 and elimination challenges winning $10,000 for their designated charities.

Competing this season are the following 12 master chefs:

Hugh Acheson – Chef/ Partner: Five& Ten, The National, Gosford Wine in Athens, GA and Empire State South in 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 in Oxford, MS; Competing for No Kid Hungry
Traci Des Jardins – Chef/Co-owner of Jardinière, Mijita Cocina Mexicana and Public House and Manzanita in San Francisco, CA; Competing for La Cocina
George Mendes – Chef/Co-Owner of ALDEA in Manhattan, NY; Competing for Charity: Water
Mary Sue Milliken – Co-Chef/ Owner: Border Grill Restaurants and Truck in 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 in New York, NY; Competing for Agricultural Stewardship Association
John Rivera Sedlar – Owner: Playa in Los Angeles, CA; Competing for American Diabetes Association
Alex Stratta – Executive Chef: Stratta in Las Vegas, NV; Competing for Faster Cures, part of the Milken Prostate Cancer Foundation
Celina Tio – Chef/Owner: JULIAN Restaurant in Kansas City, MO, Competing for Harvesters
Sue Zemanick – Executive Chef: Gautreau’s in New Orleans, LA; Competing for the Louisiana SPCA

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.

Photos: © Bravo. Credit: Justin Stephens, Nicole Wilder