Although the reality culinary competition's second edition has yet to conclude its broadcast run, Bravo has announced that it has already renewed Top Chef for a third season.

"We look forward to discovering another group of culinary talents with the same passion for food and cooking with commanding personalities that make Top Chef a must see every Wednesday night," said Bravo president Lauren Zalaznick.

A nationwide casting tour for Top Chef 3 will come out of the oven later this month with casting calls scheduled in Dallas, Las Vegas, Miami, New York and San Francisco.  Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz of Magical Elves, the production company that also produces the network's Emmy-nominated Project Runway, will return as executive producers for the third season of Top Chef, as will executive producer Shauna Minoprio.

Given the strong ratings that Top Chef's currently airing second edition has drawn, Bravo's early third season renewal is easy to understand.  Top Chef 2 currently ranks as the number one rated food series in all of cable television, averaging more than 1.2 million viewers in the Adults 18-49 demographic.  The show is also Wednesday's number one cable series among Women 25-54, averaging 755,000 viewers in the demographic.

"The second season of Top Chef has outperformed even our highest expectations both in ratings and the quality of this non-fictional competitive drama," said Zalaznick. 

After taking a holiday season hiatus, Top Chef 2 will return with a new "supersized" 70-minute episode on Wednesday, January 3 at 10PM ET/PT.  Queer Eye star Ted Allen and Robert Ivan, the consulting chef of Mauro's CafĂ© at Fred Segal, will serve as the episode's guest judges.

Seven contestants remain in the running to be crowned Top Chef's second season champion -- Elia L. Aboumrad, Clifford Crooks, Betty Fraser, Ilan Hall, Michael Midgley, Sam Talbot, and Marcel Vigneron. Top Chef 2's finale is scheduled to air Wednesday, January 31.