Chefs, your time starts now! In the premiere for Bravo’s 17th season of Top Chef, head judge Tom Coliccho and Padma Lakshmi waste no time putting the all-star contestants to the test.
Held at the historic Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, the chefs immediately size each other up to see how everyone has progressed since last competing.
“Enough small talk,” says Lakshmi in Us Weekly’s exclusive clip of the Thursday, March 19 premiere. “Who’s ready for your first Quickfire Challenge?”
The host introduces a favorite — albeit difficult — contest that fans and contestants have come to love: the mise en place race. Chefs are timed and have to quickly and expertly prepare random ingredients for cooking.
Thursday’s challenge has chefs turning artichokes, delicately using a paring knife to supreme oranges and cracking California almonds. The fastest chefs will have to cook a dish using the prepped ingredients. Easy enough, right?
The contestants are quick to react. “Have I ever shelled an almond?” asks Kevin Gillespie.
“I don’t have a nut cracker in my bag!” adds Karen Akunowicz.
Jennifer Carroll has a different approach, however. “Hopefully I won’t get to the almonds,” she quips, aiming to secure a spot in the cooking portion of the challenge by prepping one of the other two ingredients.
This is Carroll’s fourth time on Top Chef (Season 6: Las Vegas, Season 8: All-Stars, and Last Chance Kitchen Season 7), but she’s not the only fierce chef in the competition.
Other competitors include Angelo Sosa, Eric Adjepong, Gregory Gourdet, Joe Sasto a.k.a. Mustache Joe and several others.
And while this season takes place in Los Angeles, the Bravo hit has taken its contestants around the world, hosting seasons in Chicago, Boston, Charleston and elsewhere.
Judge Gail Simmons is joining in on the fun — as are a slew of celebrity guests including Kelly Clarkson, Ali Wong and more.
Top Chef’s 17th season premieres on Bravo Thursday, March 19 at 10 p.m. ET.
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