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Bravo's 'Top Chef 2' to begin filming this month, premiere in October

By Reality TV World staff, 07/13/2006 

Bravo has announced that the second edition of its Top Chef culinary reality competition series -- which will feature a new host and take place in a new city -- will begin production later this month and premiere in October.

As previously announced by the network, first season host Katie Lee Joel won't return for Top Chef 2. Instead, Top Chef's second edition will be hosted by Padma Lakshmi, an actress/writer that -- in its best Janice Dickinson impression -- Bravo describes as "the first Indian supermodel." Lakshmi -- who unlike Joel, the 24-year-old trophy wife of 56-year-old music icon Billy Joel, actually has some relevant previous experience for the position -- previously hosted The Food Network's Padma's Passport and Planet Food programs and published Easy Exotic, a best selling cookbook. Like Joel, the 36-year-old Lakshmi also has a famous husband -- author Salman Rushdie.

In addition to adding a new host whose qualifications extend beyond a "lifelong passion for good food" and "spending a semester abroad in Florence," Top Chef's second season will also move from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

"Los Angeles is a city of marvelous and diverse cuisine with a rich culinary history," Bravo executive Frances Berwick stated during the Television Critics Association summer press tour session in which she announced the Top Chef 2 details. "It's home to wonderful farmers' markets, restaurants, fresh homegrown ingredients, classic burger stands, and a fine dining scene inspired by the city's many ethnic influences including Mexican, Japanese, Italian, Thai, and of course cuisine prepared with a healthy California flair."

Top Chef 2 will also feature a larger cast aspiring chefs -- fifteen, an increase from the first season's group of twelve. As a result, Top Chef's second season will also run longer and last thirteen episodes.

One thing that won't change much for Top Chef's second edition will be the show's judges. While Lakshmi will replace Joel as a member of the judging panel, both of the show's other regular judges (celebrity chef Tom Colicchio and Food & Wine magazine writer Gail Simmons) will return. In addition to continuing to serve as a member of Top Chef's judging panel, Colicchio will also reprise his role as Head Chef and guide the aspiring chefs through the show's challenges.

While Bravo didn't reveal an exact premiere date for Top Chef 2, an October premiere date would appear to indicate that, as it did during its initial Spring 2006 edition, Top Chef's second season will air in the Wednesdays at 10 PM ET/PT time period currently occupied by the third edition of Project Runway, the network's biggest hit. Project Runway 3, which premiered yesterday, is expected to broadcast its finale in early October. Back in March, Bravo even took the highly unusual step of premiering Top Chef at 11PM ET/PT -- outside the primetime broadcast period -- in order to attempt to expose the show to as many of Project Runway 2's finale viewers as possible.

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