Bravo announces ‘Top Chef: Texas’ premiere, contestants and celebrity guests

Foodies will soon be able to get their television fix, as Bravo has announced “Top Chef: Texas” will premiere Wed. November 2 at 10 p.m.  ET/PT.  Season nine will introduce a record 29 chefs  – almost double the amount of chefs in season”s past – though only 16 will go on to compete across in Austin, Dallas and San Antonio. I’m not sure bigger is necessarily better with “Top Chef” contestants — it’s hard to keep track of everyone when there are only 16 contestants on the show — but hopefully Bravo has found a way to make it work.
As befits a state known for its oversize charms, the Texas edition of the show will feature a fleet of celebrities, including Charlize Theron, Pee-wee Herman, Cat Cora, John Besh, Tim Love and Patti LaBelle. The judges table will also be getting a little more crowded. Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons are back, though they will be joined by Emeril Lagasse and Hugh Acheson. For those of you who watched the most recent cycle of “Top Chef Masters,” you probably already know Acheson, with his dry wit, will be a welcome addition to the show.
Head judge Tom Colicchio says, “Just like Texas, this will be our biggest season ever.”
Adds Host Padma Lakshmi, “I’m so excited for everyone at home to get a glimpse of all the great and talented chefs. This season is bigger and better than ever! Yum!”
Following are the 29 “Top Chef: Texas” hopefuls:
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-Lör 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
But that’s not all! New this season, eliminated contestants will have a second chance at the “Top Chef” title through a “Top Chef: Last Chance Kitchen” webisode series, hosted by Tom Colicchio. Each week, two eliminated chefs face-off to compete for a chance to return to the show.  
Will you be watching “Top Chef: Texas”? What do you think about Emeril joining the judges’ table? And what do you think about the oversized contestant list?