“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