Wolfgang Puck joins “Top Chef Seattle” on Bravo

As a person who rarely cooks, I can’t help but admire those who do it for a living. And as much pressure as those pros are under at their respective restaurants, it must pale in comparison to the heat the contestants feel on Bravo’s Top Chef Seattle.

Premiering tonight at 10pm ET/PT, the popular culinary show heads to the state of Washington, and it’s celebrating its 10th season in high fashion by adding famed chef and restaurant mogul Wolfgang Puck to the judges panel alongside head arbiter Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons, Hugh Acheson and Emeril Lagasse.

Hosted by the elegant Padma Lakshmi, Top Chef has always been about pushing the contestants as hard as possible to see who shines in the limelight and who cracks under pressure. And make no bones about it, the 21 chefs gathering tonight with the hopes of winning the $125,000 grand prize feel the pressure.

“I’m intimidated, because Tom’s ready to make or break some of these dreams here,” contestant Jorel Pierce said in a promotional video on the Bravo website.

Unfortunately, some of the contestants might not even make it to Seattle, because there appears to be a tryout of sorts tonight to see who makes the cut and who doesn’t. Those who underestimate how hard it is to wow Colicchio might be packing their bags early.

“Chefs, this is season 10, and I’ve judged over 150 challenges and eaten more dishes than I can possibly count,” he said. “This season we have an extraordinary group of chefs. The judges have to decide who continues on in the competition and goes to Seattle. Only the chefs that impress me today will keep competing and the rest will be going home.”

It’s that pressure to perform task after task that makes Top Chef one of the top reality shows on television. For those who like to play the culinary equivalent of fantasy football, here are this season’s contestants:

– Lizzie Binder, 37 – Napa, California

– Tina Bourbeau, 42 – New York, New York

– Chrissy Camba, 30 – Chicago, Illinois

– Stephanie Cmar, 27 – Boston, Massachusetts

– Micah Fields, 28 – Los Angeles, California

– Eliza Gavin, 38 – Telluride, Colorado

– Anthony Gray, 35 – Macon, Georgia

– Jeffrey Jew, 34 – Washington, DC

– Gina Keatley, 32 – New York, New York

– Kristen Kish, 28 – Boston, Massachusetts

– Danyele McPherson, 31 – Dallas, Texas

– Daniel O’Brien, 32 – Washington, DC

– Carla Pellegrino, 43 – Las Vegas, Nevada

– Jorel Pierce, 28 – Denver, Colorado

– Sheldon Simeon, 30 – Lahaina, Hawaii

– John Tesar, 54 – Dallas, Texas

– Joshua Valentine, 32 – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

– Bart Vandaele, 41 – Washington, DC

– Tyler Wiard, 41 – Denver, Colorado

– Brooke Williamson, 33 – Los Angeles, California

– Kuniko Yagi, 35 – Los Angeles, California

Top Chef Seattle premieres Nov. 7 at 10pm ET/PT on Bravo.


Credit: Matthia Clamer/Bravo