July 13, 2006 11:20 PM by Joe Blackmon
Principal photography will commence this month in Los Angeles on thirteen episodes of the second season of Bravo’s acclaimed culinary competition series "Top Chef." The announcement was made by Frances Berwick, Executive Vice President of Programming and Production for Bravo, during the network’s session at the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Pasadena, CA. The second season will feature a new crop of 15 rising chefs who will compete for the coveted title of "Top Chef" and participate in stringent culinary challenges against a glitzy new backdrop – the city of Los Angeles. The contestants will reside and most of the season’s production activity will be centered in the city’s culturally burgeoning downtown area. The second season premiere is scheduled for October 2006.
"Los Angeles is a city of marvelous and diverse cuisine with a rich culinary history," said Berwick. "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. This is an exciting backdrop that will present new challenges and opportunities for our competing chefs."
Known as the first Indian supermodel, actress and award-winning writer Padma Lakshmi joins the second season as host of "Top Chef," introducing the challenges to the contestants and sitting at the judges’ table each week. Lakshmi is currently working on her second cookbook for Miramax Books due in Spring 2007, a culinary endeavor of over 150 recipes from around the world and intriguing personal memoirs. This is a follow up to her successful first cookbook, "Easy Exotic," for which she won the International Versailles Event for best cookbook by a first time writer.
Lakshmi hosted "Padma’s Passport" on The Food Network, cooking diverse and low-fat cuisine based on her best selling book, "Easy Exotic." Lakshmi also hosted the documentary series "Planet Food" for The Food Network and worldwide Discovery Channel, in which she journeyed the world for exotic cuisine.
Lakshmi’s acting credentials are also extensive. In April 2006, Lakshmi portrayed the Egyptian Princess Bithia in ABC’s mini-series "The Ten Commandments." In September she will portray the beautiful Indian courtesan Madhuvanthi in BBC America’s "Sharpe’s Challenge," a two-part mini-series that is the continuation of the popular BBC series based on Bernard Cornwell’s novels. Coming later this year on the big screen, she joins Aishwarya Rai and Dylan McDermott in Paul Mayeda Berges’ newest film "Mistress of Spices."
Tom Colicchio, one of the culinary world’s most celebrated figures and co-owner of New York City’s Gramercy Tavern and Craft Restaurants, returns as Head Chef/Judge for the new season, guiding the chefs through the challenges and demanding that they perform only at their best. Food expert and tough critic Gail Simmons of Food & Wine magazine also returns as a regular judge for the series.
Off the heels of its Emmy-nominated hit "Project Runway," Bravo newest hit reality competition series "Top Chef" offers a fascinating window into the competitive, pressure-filled environment of world-class cookery and the restaurant business at the highest level. The series features fifteen aspiring chefs who compete for their shot at culinary stardom and the chance to earn the prestigious title of "Top Chef." Each episode holds two challenges for the chefs. The first is a quickfire test of their basic abilities and the second is a more involved elimination challenge designed to test the versatility and invention of the chefs as they take on unique culinary trials such as working with unusual and exotic foods or catering for a range of demanding clients. The challenges not only test their skills in the kitchen, but also uncover if they have the customer service, management and teamwork abilities required of a Top Chef. The competing chefs live and breathe the high-pressure lifestyle that comes with being a master chef, and each week someone is asked to "pack up their knives" and go home.
Season one of "Top Chef" averaged a 1.2 HH coverage rating and over 1.2 million total viewers, ranking as the top food series on cable among P18-49 (878,000) and P25-54 (826,000) for 2006 to-date. The "Top Chef" finale on 5/24/06 averaged a 1.4 HH coverage rating, 1.6 million total viewers, 1.1 million P18-49 and 1.1 million P25-54.
Magical Elves returns to produce the second season of "Top Chef." Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz, who also produced "Project Runway" and "Project Greenlight" for Bravo, return as executive producers. Shauna Minoprio serves as co-executive producer.