padma-Lakshmi-top-chef-texas.jpg“Top Chef” really is mixing things up for its ninth season.

In addition to the three-city tour of Texas, the show will now kick off with a record 29 finalists who will vie for a chef’s coat. After narrowing them down in the premiere, a chosen 16 will get the coveted title of “chef’testant.”

Competition will take the series to Austin, Dallas and San Antonio, where scheduled guest judges include Charlize Theron, Pee-wee Herman, Cat Cora, John Besh, Tim Love and Patti LaBelle.

Previously reported additions to the judging table Emeril Lagasse and Hugh Acheson will join returning host Padma Lakshmi, head judge Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons.  And Colicchio has an extra task this season. He’ll host  “Top Chef: Last Chance Kitchen,” a web series where eliminated chefs will face off in an effort to get back on the show before the finale.

Scroll down for details on the 29 finalists — and a charming photo of Colicchio dressed like a cowboy:

Nyesha Arrington, 28 – Los Angeles, Calif., Wilshire Restaurant.

Lindsay Autry, 29 – West Palm Beach, Fla., Omphoy Ocean Resort &Michelle Bernstein

Jonathan Baltazar, 36 – Long Beach, Calif., Heights Cuisine.

Ty-L�r Boring, 34 – Brooklyn, N.Y., Spasso

Molly Brandt, 30 – Hollywood, Fla., Allure of the Seas for Royal Caribbean

Chaz Brown, 29 – New York, N.Y., Fatty Crab

Kimberly Calichio, 27 – New York, N.Y., Fishtail by David Burke

Beverly Kim, 31 – Chicago, Ill., Aria Restaurant

Chris Crary, 29 – Los Angeles, Calif., Whist Restaurant in the Viceroy Hotel

Andrew Curren, 32 – Austin, Texas , 24 Diner

Berenice deAraujo, 33 – Miami, Fla., Sra. Martinez

Janine Falvo, 37 – Atlanta, Ga., Briza Restaurant

Richie Farina, 28 – Chicago, Ill., MOTO

Sarah Grueneberg, 29 – Chicago, Ill., Spiaggia

Chris Jones, 30 – Chicago, Ill., MOTO

Edward Lee, 38 – Louisville, Ky., 610 Magnolia

Whitney Otawka, 30 – Cumberland Island, Ga., Greyfield Inn

Simon Pantet, 30 – Seattle, Wash., Twenty-Two Doors

Colin Patterson, 37 – Seattle, Wash., Sutra

Laurent Quenioux, 51 – Los Angeles, Calif., Vertical Wine Bistro

Paul Qui, 30 – Austin, Texas, Uchiko Restaurant

Keith Rhodes, 39 – Wilmington, N.C., Catch Restaurants

Grayson Schmitz, 27 – New York, N.Y., Exec. Chef

Tyler Stone, 22 – Sacramento, Calif., Personal Chef

Heather Terhune, 39 – Chicago, Ill., Sable Kitchen and Bar

Chuy Valencia, 25 – Chicago, Ill., Chilam Bilam

Nina Vicente, 29 – Seattle, Wash., Spur Gastropub

Ashley Villaluz, 25 – Seattle, Wash., Sous Chef

Dakota Weiss , 35 – Los Angeles, Calif., 9:30 Restaurant and The Backyard


Posted by:Mikey O'Connell