Verifying online reports that began emerging last week, Bravo has confirmed that Top Chef host Katie Lee Joel won't be returning for the reality show's recently announced second edition.

"Before I get to what I did last night -- and I know you can't wait for that -- I want to address something you may have heard, that Katie Lee Joel won't be joining us next season on Top Chef. It is unfortunately true that Katie has left us to pursue other opportunities," Andy Cohen, Bravo's Vice President of Production and Programming, wrote in a recent posting on his blog. "She is a dynamic, beautiful woman who is passionate about food with a real zest for life. Everybody at Top Chef is going to miss her next season but she will always be part of the Bravo family."

Despite Cohen's praise of her, many Top Chef viewers had been critical of Joel's performance in the show's first season and deemed her appearances to be even more wooden and robotic than those of long-time Big Brother host Julie "Chenbot" Chen. A Hollywood newcomer who had no previous television experience prior to landing her Top Chef role, Joel had been previously best known as the 24-year-old new trophy wife of 56-year-old music icon Billy Joel.

Back in November, Bravo's original announcement had cited Joel's "lifelong passion for good food" as one of her chief qualifications for the Top Chef position (her status as the new Mrs. Billy Joel was unmentioned.) Other examples of Joel's "broad and diversified" qualifications cited by Bravo included the facts that she'd taken "a wide range" of culinary classes, spent a semester abroad in Florence, worked in several restaurants, helped open a Hamptons restaurant, and teamed with a friend to start a culinary website.

Bravo has not announced who will replace Joel on Top Chef's second edition.