Top Chef Texas is almost upon us. An enormous group of chefs from around the country have agreed to step into the ring with two of Austin’s best cooks; Paul Qui and Andrew Curren.

Lots of star power will be featured on this season including Charlize Theron, Pee-wee Herman, Cat Cora, John Besh, Tim Love and Patti LaBelle.

To enhance the drama of the affair there’s a new, web only, gimmick called Last Chance Kitchen where two eliminated contestants will brawl for an opportunity to return to the show. Think Kurt Russell vs Ox Baker in Escape From New York [hopefully including the baseball bat studded with nails]. The producers hopefully sat around watching lots of old Jim Cornette, loser leaves town, videos before hatching this scheme.

Nyesha Arrington – LA, Wilshire Restaurant

Lindsay Autry – West Palm Beach, Fla., Michelle Bernstein’s at Omphoy Ocean Resort

Jonathan Baltazar – Long Beach, Calif., Heights Cuisine

Ty-Lör Boring – New York, Spasso

Molly Brandt – Hollywood, Fla., Allure of the Seas for Royal Caribbean

Chaz Brown – New York, Fatty Crab

Kimberly Calichio – New York, Fishtail

Beverly Kim – Chicago, Aria Restaurant

Chris Crary – LA, Whist Restaurant in the Viceroy Hotel

Andrew Curren – Austin, Texas, 24 Diner

Berenice deAraujo – Miami, Fla., Sra. Martinez

Janine Falvo – Atlanta, Ga., Briza Restaurant

Richie Farina – Chicago, MOTO

Sarah Grueneberg – Chicago, Spiaggia

Chris Jones – Chicago, MOTO

Edward Lee – Louisville, Ky., 610 Magnolia

Whitney Otawka – Cumberland Island, Ga., Greyfield Inn

Simon Pantet – Seattle, 22

Colin Patterson – Seattle, Sutra

Laurent Quenioux – LA, Vertical Wine Bistro

Paul Qui – Austin, Texas, Uchiko Restaurant

Keith Rhodes – Wilmington, N.C., Catch Restaurants

Grayson Schmitz – New York, Villa Pacri

Tyler Stone – Sacramento, Calif., Personal Chef

Heather Terhune – Chicago, Sable Kitchen and Bar

Chuy Valencia – Chicago, Chilam Bilam

Nina Vicente – Seattle, Spur Gastropub

Ashley Villaluz – Seattle, Sous Chef

Dakota Weiss – LA, 9:30 Restaurant and The Backyard

all our Top Chef Texas articles here

That’s a lot of chefs-29. Thankfully there will be a vicious bloodletting on the first night so the viewers can have their options winnowed down to a manageable number [16] right off the bat.

Here’s video of Andrew Curren of 24 Diner, one of the top cooks in Austin,

and here’s more video of Paul Qui of the Uchi family

We’ll be reporting more on this august season as the week progresses. Good luck to Curren and Qui.

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